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May 4, 2009 Comments (0) Gear & Equipment

Princeton Tec AMP 5 Review

100_1981ampaPrinceton Tec lights have been around for over three decades and they know lighting.  I bought my first one, a headlamp, around 1995 I think, and it lasted quite a few years.  Their offerings are extensive, everything from a traditional handheld light to headlamps, bicycle specific lighting, SCUBA lights, industrial and tactical. Just about every lighting need you’ll ever encounter.  The output and burn times are quite good also.  They offer lights with outputs from 2 Lumens all the way to 400 retina burning Lumens.  There is a strobe light in the lineup with a 500 hour burn time!  That works out to almost 3 straight weeks folks.  Waterproof?  They have that covered too with anything from 1 meter down to 100 meters for some of the SCUBA lights. The AMP 5.0 is one of four in their AMP hand held lineup.  This is the bad boy with all the bells and whistles.

100_1999aThe AMP 5.0 carries one Maxbright LED and mounted below that are three 5mm Ultrabright LED’s.  With a push of the soft cycle push button you get the great, long distance lighting of that Maxbright. Another push will bring up the 3 smaller LED’s.  Constant pressure on the switch will shut the light off.  Pretty simple stuff, all wrapped up in a tough rubber over-molded Xylex housing.  Orange and gray are the 2 colors this light comes in, and I got orange.  I love orange.  Knife scales, flashlights, survival whistles, paracord, anything orange is good in my book!  This is also the only AMP model to come with the spring loaded pocket clip.  Small teeth on the clip and the body of the light, plus a strong spring, help keep this light where you store it.  I tried it clipped inside a pants pocket, outside a pants pocket, on the shoulder strap of my Maxpedition bag, on a belt loop on my Levi’s, and lastly on the seat belt strap in my old Land Rover.  My ’72 doesn’t have a working interior light so this was a treat having it right at hand.  Look at Princeton Tec’s web site and check out the AMP 1 as well. It looks like a nice little light with a hole big enough for a carabiner.  This model also comes with a wrist lanyard with a sliding cord lock.

Amp5_lenscopyaThe AMP 5.0’s spec page is fully loaded:
• Power output is 65 Lumens
• Burn Time is 160 hours with the 3 small LEDs
• Burn Time is 150 with the single Maxbright LED burning
• Weight (with batteries) 212g
• Level 2 water proof rating
• Batteries are 4 AA Alkaline or Lithium.
• Regulated Circuitry which provides constant brightness
• Optic Collimator

100_2003aThe power output of 65 Lumens is substantial.  This is the same output as my Sure Fire Z2 CombatLight, a light designed to blind an attacker among other things.  That’s approximately two to three times the output of a big 2 D cell flashlight, depending on whose conversion table you believe.  I’ll assume this is on it’s high setting since the lower one seems less bright, although I could not verify this from the web site.  Burn times listed are pretty accurate too.  I put in new batteries and let her run.  I got about 6 days out of each setting.  Also, when this light was shipped in to us, it was on in the box.  Who knows for how long?  I had it stowed in a messenger bag and it was on when I took it out after getting to work, so I’d pull a battery if you were putting it somewhere that the button might get accidentally pushed.  The AMP 5.0 is nice and light too.  At 212 grams, it’s about 1/3 the weight of that same 2 D cell flashlight so you won’t mind toting it around in your pack.

100_1994aThere are O-rings where needed, hence the Level 2 water proof rating this light carries.  The Princeton Tec rating is equivalent to IPX7 in an IEC standard.  That means it’s good down to 1 meter for half an hour.  Such short depths to me means the light is quite safe at being a glove box backup in the car and accidentally dropping it in a puddle while looking for that pesky noise under the car at night, in the rain.  They do make lights with a Level 1 rating and that covers just what I described, dropping it in a puddle or getting caught in the rain.  I like things more waterproof if I can get them.  You tend to admire things that can stand up to the elements when you drive an older vehicle, especially one as water tight as my old Rover.  Quickie:  Mercedes wanted to show how airtight their cars were so they put a cat in one for 24 hours.  When they came back, the cat was dead.  Land Rover heard this and thought they would try it too.  When the Land Rover engineer came back the cat was gone…  Ok, it’s internet fodder but it’s funny 🙂

100_1985aThe battery choice is a smart one I think.  Keep it simple; get something you can replace anywhere, even out of another piece of your kit if needed.  Or go rechargeable if you want.  A quick search turned up a charger and 4 batteries for under $25.  Princeton Tec’s regulated circuitry maintains initial brightness as long as the batteries have good voltage. Traditional lights are very bright initially, but immediately begin to dim and continue to dim until the batteries are drained.  This sort of reminds me of liquid CO2 in a bottle and as you use it, it maintains a constant head pressure so even if it’s down to 1 pound of liquid, it will still have 200 PSI or so.  The collimator is very efficient setup. It gathers all available light from an LED in the form of scattered rays and re-emits the light as parallel rays, making it more optically efficient than a standard reflector. Princeton Tec calibrates each collimator to the type of LED and application of each light. With proprietary optimized collimator / lens systems, Princeton Tec continues to advance LED technology.

All in all, the AMP line from Princeton Tec is varied and quite useful.  Everything from the AMP 1 which carries a Level 3 waterproof housing, to the model reviewed here, the AMP 5.0 with up to 160 hours burn time and combining the Maxbright and Ultrabright LED’s into one unit.  This light would be a great full size, full power light for a bug out bag, or would be great in a glove box or hiding in the trunk ready for service when trouble comes.  This one has rode with me in the dash of the old Rover, in my bag to the PWYP event in NC, and even went on a “lost dog” finding trip when my girlfriend’s puppy got loose.  It sells for about $46 right from their web site and it’s a pretty good deal that will replace my big black 2D cell in the truck.

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