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Gear Review



Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: Matrix

Manufacturer: Princeton Tec

Your Opinion: 
 - 5 Votes


Page By: John

Created/Edited: Feb 16, 2002 / Feb 16, 2002

Object ID: 131

Hits: 2560 


This is Princeton Tec's version of an LED headlamp and as customary, they use the same housing they have for their other 2AA headlamps, the Solo and the Quest. This lamp comes with both a LED light element and a incandescent bulb for more brightness. In essence, it's a Quest with an extra LED light element.
  • Efficient high-output, bright white LED bulbs provides up to 40 hours of light on just 2 AA batteries
  • Incandescent bulb option supplies 2.5 hours of extra-bright light
  • Wide-beam reflector brightly lights up your surroundings making it great for all-around use
  • Waterproof to 2000 feet
  • Includes 2 AA batteries and storage sack


Viewing: 1-5 of 5

JohnUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

A nice headlamp to get if you only want to get one but if you want to go all-LED and don't need lithium for cold temps, my first choice these days is the BD Moonlight.


  • Standard AA batteries: AA batteries are cheap to buy in bulk (alkaline) and available in lithium for even longer life and better cold temperature performance. People with the Petzl Tikka / Zipka LED headlamps have told me that they haven't been able to find AAA lithium batteries. The batteries I use, Energizer Lithium, don't come in AAA. Check out this photo of heating alkaline batteries on Aconcagua ;-) Standard AA batteries also means that they can be used in many other devices such as: flashlights, digital cameras, 2-way radios, GPS units, avalanche transceivers, Walkmans, etc.
  • Long life: Because it's LED with optional lithium, it's good for long trips and won't suck your batteries - you won't feel guilty for using it for things like walking around camp. Since you turn it on / off by turning the lens, it won't generally accidentally turn on in your pack.
  • Waterproof: Ease of mind for rain / river / snow conditions.
  • Multiple light options: You can use the LED, halogen, or krypton bulbs with this light giving you options for brightness vs. battery life. It doesn't come with a halogen bulb, however, you can just purchase a "replacement" for the Solo.
  • Standard parts: It's easy to amass parts for these things since a lot of Princeton Tec products use the same parts: all parts for Solo / Quest; lens & reflector for flashlights.
  • The primary negative is that the LED light is just not as bright as say the Moonlight. I think it's because there's only 3V at work here whereas the Moonlight and Tikka both have 4.5V. It's okay, but a bit dim, for hiking.
  • Not as tiny or lightweight as the Petzl Zipka.
  • Does not have a separate battery compartment for keeping inside your jacket at cold temps. I didn't notice any negative effects from cold / altitude on my Kilimanjaro summit hike, but I was using fresh lithium batteries.
  • The battery compartment lid is delicate so it may break - the price for being waterproof. The one on my Solo eventually broke (so I used duct tape), but since I have upgraded to a Matrix now I just use that body with my Solo halogen bulb / reflector ;-) If you get one of these, buying some broken Vor Tec's from REI is a good idea since you can get extra battery lids on the cheap ;-)
Posted Feb 16, 2002 10:40 pm

mrolphUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

I bought this lamp as a replacement for my Petzl Micro which had a terrible battery life considering it's mediocre light intensity. I chose the Matrix over the Tikka because it uses AA batteries (available in lithium) and for the variety of bulb options. I used the lamp on the JMT last summer (16 days) with the LEDs and 1 set of lithium batteries. It would be nice it the Matrix was lighter and more compact. I also agree with John, the battery compartment lid is weak. I exercise great care when replacing batteries and haven't broken it yet.

UPDATE: 10/14/2002:
In retrospect, my coice of this lamp because it could use AA lithium batteries was a bit lame. The weight savings of the 2 AA lithiums vs. 3 AAA alkaline is not significant when considering the extra weight of the headlamp itself (compared to a Tikka or similar). The Matrix isn't really outstanding at anything. The lack of a focusable beam and generally low amount of light makes the Matrix less attractive for serious night climbing. I will probably buy a Tikka, Zipka or similar light for light weight backpacking then search for a headlamp more appropriate for climbing and mountaineering.
Posted May 31, 2002 10:58 am

GlencoeUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Good light cheap headlamp. With LEDs and lithium batteries it burns and burns. Ability to use lithiums is a real advantage in cold conditions (they las much longer than alkaline batteries). Halogen lamp is not the brightest ever but is as good as most and more than adequate for most climbing applications. Totally water proof - I also use it scuba diving!
Posted Sep 29, 2002 5:40 pm

bigwallyUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Having progressed from my first headlamp, decades ago, that used "C Cells", was unreliable, NOT water-proof and heavy (much more a headclamp or headcramp...than a headlamp) I bought the Princeton Tec Matrix due to its LED, its lightweightness, the use of AA batteries and the low price. The LED might NOT be the brightest, but it works wonderfully for me rock climbing or rappeling in the dark on familiar ground. For hiking or extensive route finding, I suspect that NO LED would be appropriate due to the generally long distances that you need to view. I find the conventionally bulbed headlamps to be much superior in this aspect. The LED does wonders in conserving the batteries. I've owned mine for more than a year. It has ridden in my pack continuously . It is so small and light that it is hardly noticable, there. I have used it extensively and have not yet had any "dim" promptings to replace the batteries. The "water-proof" aspects of this headlamp have been tested repeatedly, and have passed with flying colors. I recommend that ANY ONE who climbs, should carry one of these in their pack. They are durable, lightweight, waterproof and make the inevitable prospect of getting "benighted" much more tolerable. My Climbing Life is much better for owning one !!!!!
Posted Mar 2, 2003 1:29 pm

miztflipUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

A well built lamp that takes a beating and is very waterproof. Great light output and easy on the batteries.

The down side is the bulkiness compared to the other LED lights out there. I don't like having the entire light and battery compartment on the front as it is akward when wearing with out a helmet, especially when running or walking fast. It tends to move around too much unless you've got it so tight that it cuts off blood flow to your head.
Posted Nov 30, 2004 10:47 am

Viewing: 1-5 of 5