You may have heard – we designed some pretty cool lanterns. Oh, you want proof that they work well? That’s a lot of light from an LED lantern that fits in your hand! Check em out on our site: http://princetontec.com/helix-basecamp
“I’ll just get up and turn the damn thing on and off,” you say.
However, at our core, Princeton Tec is an engineering company. A company that applies technology to solve problems to make life safer and easier. We’ve been thinking that way since 1975.
The reality is that Bluetooth is pretty common these days – industry estimates say there will be around five billion Bluetooth devices by 2018. We’re adding to that number.
Sure, you don’t need the Bluetooth version of the Helix Basecamp lantern. But trust us, it is pretty cool. See, the Helix lanterns don’t have to sit on the table (rock, ground, or whatever you’re using as a table). We designed them to hang up in your tent, in a shelter on the trail, from the rafters of your cabin and so on. In those cases, it’s pretty handy to have the option to control your lantern remotely. Likewise, when you get all settled into your sleeping bag, and then realize that somebody left the lantern on, you can turn it off without climbing over people and going through the whole process of getting cozy again.
There are a ton of other times when you’ll appreciate this nifty technology – use your imagination. Or don’t. But whatever you do, make sure you score one of the Helix lantern for your next trip, or BBQ. Trust us, you’ll like it.
PT Eric Morton just recently finished a 13,000 mile/20 month bicycle tour of the US. He has been interested in racing the 2,745 mile Great Divide route for some time. He figured what better time than the present, when his body is conditioned to long days in the saddle, to take a shot at the race. He is currently working at a bike shop in Moab, UT and using the local terrain to prepare for the Great Divide race this June. What does one do after seeing so much of the US under their own power?
EM It’s hard to say. Being on the road for that long kinda puts you in constant wanderlust mode. It’s hard to get back into “the real world” and the “9-5″. Luckily I get to work in an industry I love (bicycles & the outdoors). Being on a trip this long definitely makes you more humble, and a lot stronger (both physically and mentally). I do want to keep travelling; and have plans to continue to do so while working in my desired industry. Long term plans: I hope to eventually open my own hostel/bike shop.
PT What led you to long distance cycling? Did you begin with / are you into any other sports?
EM I’ve always been into cycling. (About 12 years now) Working in shops in Charleston, SC, I’ve gotten to meet and even host a few cycle tourers. I always wanted to do an east to west on the trans am route. But every year was something else in the way; bills, new job, etc. So when I finally got the opportunity; I took it. I originally thought I was going to be able to finish my tour in a year. But the more I toured; the more I wanted to see. And since all I needed to do was feed myself and buy supplies; I kept the tour going, knocking off more and more of my traveller’s bucket list. I would stop here and there to find another job, then keep going.
PT Did you have an idea of what might come next when you began Epic Tour?
EM Not really. Like I said; I thought this tour would be a year tops. But I’m super stoked at how much more “epic tour” became. I’ve learned SO much on this tour than I could have even imagined. And I’ve more than doubled my knowledge in the bike/outdoor industry by having the opportunity to work with and learn from companies all over the country.
PT Care to share an important moment from the tour? Personally transformative, reinforces faith that humanity isn’t doomed, really made you laugh, met someone who’s become an important part of your life etc.
EM Wow. More moments than I can even tell right now!
The everyday kindness of people I’ve never met definitely reinforces my faith in humanity.
So many moments that are laugh worthy too!
And most of all; there is a whole new group of people that are super important parts of my life now! Not to mention being able to reconnect with old friends/family across the country, who are now closer than ever.
PT How long have you typically stayed each time you stopped in a city to take a break and earn some cash?
EM On average, about a month or two. But the stops have varied from two weeks to three months. It always depended on how hard it was to find work, how much I needed to earn, and/or how much there was to see and do in the areas I’ve stopped.
PT Is stealth camping the way to go, or more of a means to make the whole thing work?
EM Stealth camping was harder in some areas more than others. I love camping and staying outdoors. But the east coast was much more limited. West of the Mississippi became a lot easier to stealth camp. Also; stealth camping becomes necessary when you start to add up the cost of paying for campgrounds and parks all the time. ($5-25 a night adds up real quick when you camp most of the time) warmshowers.org was a huge help too; such a large network of fellow cyclists across the country who are more than happy to accommodate another cyclist for a night or two.
PT Any idea what’s coming up after the Divide?
EM First off; coming back to Moab to regroup. Earn some more money, pay off the gear I had to accumulate for the Divide, continue to help my new job finish off the season, and start to plan the next adventure.
I’m already looking at new endurance events and tours to do soon
PT We won’t geek out too much about bike gear, and besides you’re still getting that dialed. We’ll just have to wait until after to ask what’s still in your bags! However, what’s the move for lighting on this trip?
If you can offer Eric some support as he begins his next journey, check out his gofundme page here: http://www.gofundme.com/rb142s
Technical outdoor apparel and gear—something we all lust after, treasure, and enjoy putting through the rigors on our latest adventures. We all have our favorite garments and can’t-live-without pieces of technical gear, but what if you were forced to whittle down your prized possessions to fit within the confines of just 40 liters of carrying capacity? Not a challenge you may be faced with on a regular basis, but certainly one worthy of merit. So what would make your cut for fueling your adventures for a full calendar year or more? It just has to fit into the confines of 40 liters, or in my case a few small panniers and bikepacking frame bags.
I’ve been traveling abroad by bike since last July carrying everything I need to survive in a variety of climates, with the added challenge of toting along two mobile offices and everything required for my wife and I to conduct business remotely…very remotely. Here is a bird’s eye view of what that looks like:
While traveling over nine months through more than 16 countries so far, we’ve had the opportunity to see the variety and quality of gear offered around the globe, making us pretty proud of the fine equipment that is found, and even produced here in the states. Here are some highlights of our American-made gear that has been representing well abroad:
Princeton Tec Vizz – 165 lumen spot beam, dimmable area light, and red LEDs take care of everything from stealth wild camping to reaching your daily destination after the sun goes down.
Ibex wool shirts and fingerless wool gloves – Believe it or not you can travel quite a long time with two shirts, so long as they’re wool. Tee for cycling and camping, button down for business and leisure. Fingerless wool gloves make cycling and camp duties far more pleasurable when there is more than a nip in the air.
Delorme inReach SE – This incredibly useful device serves as a tracker for friends and family, an always reachable method of communication for colleagues, and an emergency SOS aid should immediate evacuation be required.
Cascade Designs – When it comes to a good night’s sleep in a lightweight package it’s hard to beat the Therm-a-rest Neo Air Trekker, which is why we are traveling with two of them. For filtering larger quantities of water, the Platypus Gravity Works does the job nicely.
Revelate Designs Frame Bags – For lightweight adventure travel by bike, there is no better system. We’re hauling our prized possessions in a frame bag, two Viscacha seat bags, and two Sweetroll handlebar bags.
Point6 – Seeing a theme here? Merino wool is unbeatable for extended backcountry travel. One pair of short and one pair of high Point6 wool socks provides comfort in a large range of temperatures.
Old Man Mountain rack – A lightweight and rugged American-made solution for adding a rack to nearly any frame design. In our case allowing us to expand our lightweight bikepacking setup to accommodate business requirements on the road.
Greenlite Heavy Industries – These schoeler softshell shorts are great on the bike and off, and best of all handmade in Seattle.
PTEC Bike (Twitter)
PTEC builds lights for all types of adventure, whether that means getting outside, doing work, or growing a family. We hope that you’re enjoying your adventure. Thanks for sharing, Peter. Enjoy that Vizz headlamp, and have fun with the new addition to your family!
“My wife captured this candid moment yesterday. It really got me thinking, Princeton Tec headlamps can be used for both miners, and minors. Enjoying the product, I look forward to other uses and other Princeton Tec products.”
-Peter, Alameda, CA
Princeton Tec ambassadors Justin and Patrice La Vigne recently completed their thru hike of New Zealand’s 3000+ kilometer Te Araroa Trail in 123 days. They endured all types of weather, terrain and logistical challenges to conquer this fairly new trail, but with the Princeton Tec Vizz to light up their way, they were ready to cruise. Read more about their adventures at www.wanderinglavignes.blogspot.com and see pictures at www.instagram.com/patricejustin.
You must know who JayP is by now. Dude is a legendary long-distance cyclist, setting and resetting records on rides including Great Divide, Arrowhead and Iditarod Trail Invitational. Even taking a shot at the RAAM route self-supported because he’s a proper badass. He’s from our home state, NJ, and while he moved west for bigger adventures in wider open spaces, he’s still in touch with us, and a big fan of PTEC lights for … hmm … eight or ten years at least.
Jay sent me an email the other day, confirming that his trusty combination of PTEC Apex, EOS Bike, Swerve and Fuel headlamps yet again lit the way for this year’s Iditarod. Minus 40 degrees for a week straight. You really have to give props to everybody who went for it in those conditions. No matter where they placed. Even if they had a DNF, they had the drive to get out there, give it a go, and learn a whole lot about themselves. I digress.
Salsa Cycles, one of JayP’s biggest sponsors, has been cranking out some great products and some cool marketing to support their focus: Adventure by Bike. Look closely in this screen capture from a recent video – JayP is wearing his signature Rasta PTEC Fuel headlamp. I bring this up to call out the detail that this headlamp is “upside down.”
JayP has been rocking an Apex headlamp pretty much since they came out. The power buttons are on the bottom. I can’t tell you why, that’s just the way it is. The light was designed before I even thought about becoming a Princeton Tec employee. Anyway, in JayP’s mind, the power button on a headlamp goes on the bottom, Apex or Fuel. He’s got his headstrap on right side up, so that won’t be driving our graphic designer nuts. He designs the headstrap graphics, and he takes pride in his work.
There is no wrong way. The Fuel works whichever way. The new Sync works whichever way too – right or left handed. So there you go – you have options, and you don’t even have to void your warranty. But please, whatever you do, make sure your headstrap is right side up if there is a chance of somebody taking your photo. Otherwise, our graphic designer will go nuts if he sees you with an upside down headstrap.
In my last post I mentioned how all of our divisions help inform one another in terms of product design and features. Sometimes a tool that’s necessary to do a certain job ends up seeming like a nice feature to have for another, even in less demanding conditions.
What the military calls light discipline – concealment from the observation of the enemy by controlling and eliminating sources of light – actually makes sense whether family camping, through hiking the PCT, hunting or fishing, though for differing reasons.
An example: the red/green/blue LEDs that our tactical lights incorporate to avoid detection of our military by the enemy will actually work well to avoid waking up your kids on your next family campout. They also help keep on good terms with the other hikers staying in a shelter or adjacent campsite. This is just one instance of how some of the lessons learned through developing military products benefit everybody who has the choice to use Princeton Tec lights.
This warrants a look at an even wider view – the philosophy behind PTEC lights.
There are people who think the brightest/loudest/fastest thing they can get their hands on is always the “best.” We beg to differ. Sure, hammers are great. But brute force is not always the answer. Oftentimes, one will be better served to strike with a little more precision and finesse.
As a lighting company (rather than a company that sells lights and a thousand other things), we gain the advantage of specialization.
Your friends won’t hate you for blasting their night adjusted vision away. You’ll have long enough burn time that headlamp battery change may happen less often than oil changes in your car. With a light like Sync, you’ll get multiple output levels and beam patterns for versatility over a simple on/off light.
Life is not always about raw (lumen) power.
We get a kick anytime a competitor’s reply to our multi-featured light is “well we have one with more power.” *Usable power* is the important part of the story. If a headlamp cranks out 180 lumens at the start, that’s great. Perhaps it looks better on paper than the Princeton Tec Vizz, which “only” puts out 165 lumens. Once the two lights have been on for 30 minutes, however, the Vizz is still at 165 lumens, while the competition is down to 40 lumens. A lot of good that initial output did, right?
The point of this post is not to bash any of the products out there, rather to say that there should be a reason for design and engineering choices. Each of those choices, particularly the balance between lumens and burntime, is a compromise. Does the company you’re buying from understand your needs? Have they developed the product with those needs in mind?
There are a bunch of different scenarios out there, and we think because of our focus on lighting, Princeton Tec does a solid job of building the right tool for the job. And we build a lot of tools for a lot of jobs. Check out the catalogs.
Princeton Tec has put in a lot of time manufacturing the products we’ve sold, since 1975. Starting with SCUBA gear (the company was founded in the back of a dive shop in our namesake town Princeton, NJ), the company’s eventual focus on personal lighting products really brought a lot of opportunity within reach.
When Princeton Tec shifted to designing and manufacturing personal lighting, we were able to recognize several niches, and utilize our expertise and the quick turnaround time resulting from domestic manufacturing, to rapidly grow our position within those niches.
In the late 1990’s, as LED technology was becoming more affordable, Princeton Tec was the first to market with an LED headlamp. This pioneering product made a ton of sense for backcountry use – the bulbs don’t burn out and the energy efficiency allow users to carry a fraction of the batteries that incandescent bulbs required – a real leap forward for explorers and travelers of all types. These days, it’s all about LED.
With a firm foothold in the outdoor world and our products being distributed to local shops and big stores around the world, Princeton Tec gained brand recognition for logically designed, quality, domestically made products.
Next, we recognized military applications for some of our products. Spending more time in that market yielded product feedbackthat could make the lights even better for tactical end users. Our ability to quickly adapt our products meant that we could incorporate that feedback into lights meeting the specific needs of the military.
While we began by selling outdoor products to the military, later adapting those products to add military-specific features, the culmination has been the MPLS line. Designed with and for elite US military forces, these lights are unparalleled tools for demanding users.
In a similar fashion to our growth in the military space, Princeton Tec has been able to take to the field for feedback on what could make industrial users’ lives safer and more efficient. With special details for professionals, and a series of lights certified for use in the most hazardous environments in the midst of potentially explosive gas or particulate, Princeton Tec has taken the lead on providing quality products that help the people whose work makes modern life possible.
Tying all of these very very specific niche products together, there is a big feedback loop in place. Sometimes the lessons we learn in the power plant lead to developments that will make it safer to go caving. Many features requested by the US military end up being useful in the outdoor market. And sometimes the products developed with feedback for SCUBA, our original starting point, look real good to our friends who hunt.
The point to all of this? We’ve traveled down a lot of roads and trails in 40 years. Princeton Tec has logged a bunch of miles, on foot, by bike, under water, on the battlefield and in the oil field. An open minded person finds the common threads in all of these experiences. With that mindset, we all learn. Everybody benefits.
In some ways, today, we are in the same place where we started. Still here in New Jersey, making the best products we know how. In other ways, things could never be more different – we’re growing ever faster, and in the process of moving to a new facility that will allow us to continue down that path.