Headlamps can be an essential piece of gear for both work and play. In the military, troops use headlamps during combat operations and while on forward operating bases, allowing them to have both hands free to work on equipment and gear. In the civilian world, they are useful in helping navigate the woods or trails. They are especially handy when out for a 2 A.M. nature call.

Headlamps are also essential equipment in career fields where one might regularly find themselves crawling into dark, wet, nasty places. Whatever category of use you fall into, we can all agree a knife or flashlight are usually most needed when we don’t have them.

Lately, you may have noticed an upswing in reviews of various light sources and knives. This is to help everyone gear up before camping and hiking season hits. This week we bring you our first impressions of the Princeton Tec Sync headlamp. Backpacker magazine recently awarded the Princeton Tec Sync with their 2015 Editors’ Choice Award.

Considering Backpacker magazine is one of the most highly respected names in the outdoor adventure community, their endorsement of this little headlamp carries a lot of weight. Let’s take a deeper look at why it won the 2015 Editors’ Choice Award.

Front View of the Sync


Colors available: Green, black/gray, orange, blue

Size: 2 3/4″ L x 1 3/4″ W x 1/3/4″ H

Weight: 2.92 ounces

Battery type: Three AAA batteries

Intensity: 90 lumens

Bulb type: Light-emitting diode


  • Dual beam:  75 hours
  • Spot: 100 hours
  • High flood: 100 hours
  • Low flood: 150 hours
  • Red: 200 hours

Special features: Uses a seven-position rotating dial to select the beam type. Also features a lockout setting so the lamp doesn’t accidentally get turned on.

Uses: Camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, work, running

MSRP: $30

Sync 002
View of the rotating control dial. Visible at the top is the lockout selection.

Bottom line

I have had a blue-colored Princeton Tec Sync for nearly three weeks, and I use it almost every day during my nine-to-five job. I can confidently say this is one of the best lights I have ever used in 20+ years in my field. I’m not saying it’s the best light ever made by mortal man, but it’s damn close.

In three weeks, I have used it under buildings while chasing sewer leaks, in ceilings looking for leaking heating pipes, and while crawling over, under, and around large commercial boilers. It was also useful strapped to my dome while I looked for leaks under my Jeep, while I looked for moose on my property, and while working on my ATV. You get the idea. In three weeks, I have dragged it through mud, shit, slime, and antifreeze. Through it all, it has worked extremely well.

The rotating dial is a godsend. I have used other brands of lights that use a push button to adjust the settings, and I can tell you from experience that while wearing gloves, this is a giant pain in the ass. The beauty of having a large rotating dial is that if you rotate it too far and onto a setting you don’t want, you simply move it back one setting with a twist of your fingers. If you select the wrong setting on most push-button style lights, you have to cycle through all the settings again to find the correct one. This wastes time and quickly becomes aggravating.

The PrincetonTec Sync comes with a five-year warranty; if there is a problem with the light in that time, just call the New-Jersey-based company, get a return authorization, and mail it back to them. It’s hard to beat a simple customer service and warranty policy like that. If you need a headlamp that you can rely on and don’t want to spend a lot, the PrincetonTec Sync might just be the light for you. After all, it’s so easy, even this crayon-eater can figure out how to use it without instructions.

The PrincetonTec Sync is available at amazon.com.