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.
At Outdoor Retailer, Backpacker Mag awarded the Princeton Tec Sync headlamp with the 2015 Editors’ Choice Award, because they love how the headlamp combines ease of use and a ton of features into an affordable $29 msrp light. I have been carrying this announcement around in my pocket ever since. Backpacker made us agree to wait until today to share this great news; what a challenge that’s been! The Sync is available at find retailers all around the world. For those of you who work in a shop, we have a special SYNC offer for you – just hit up your manager or PTEC rep to find out more about the killer deal.
This is going to be an exciting year for Princeton Tec.
2015 is Princeton Tec’s 40th anniversary, putting us in a small group of companies that have been around for four decades.
Princeton Tec SYNC is an award-winning headlamp! We can’t say anymore right now, but we’ll be making a formal announcement very soon.
We are expanding as quickly as ever, with a really, really major announcement coming in the next few weeks.
New products are coming out, including our first ever line of lanterns. Those of you who have been asking us for lanterns: don’t say we never listen!
In honor of our 40th anniversary, PTEC will spend the year sharing glimpses into our internal process – product design, engineering, manufacturing and testing. We will begin by shedding some light into the philosophy that guides the creation of PTEC lights.
Photo: Beth Puliti
Years ago, around the time when blogging was cool, and well before it stepped aside to make way for the Facebooks, Twitters and Instagrams of the world, we had a little blog called Living on the Dash. If you scroll down and look on the right hand side – there are posts going back nearly eight years.
Back in 2007, it was all about taking the PTEC brand on the road. That continues!
We’ve shaken a few things up at the office, among them sending Justin off with a one way plane ticket and his touring bicycle, to focus his attention on international business development.
The Princeton Tec brand is well regarded around the world, and we intend to keep that going. Spending face to face time with foreign customers, retailers, and distributors is an important component in the evolution of our products and business. Yes, the internet is fast. But getting there by bike and spending time sharing culture and customs means so much more. It is our willingness to learn and attention to detail that continue to make PTEC shine.
Justin has been sharing with us the trials of a life behind (handle)bars. While we at the office may long for the rewards afforded by fresh air and mountain passes, Justin is always ready to remind us that there are rainy days, gear that acts up, and maps that could use an update. The daily challenges of downsizing from a house to a set of panniers. Even the effort it takes to get your laptop connected from the mountains.
In all, Justin’s recent travels have been a trip, and he’s looking forward to sharing some stories from the road as he continues the journey. From what to pack to sights along the way, we’ll begin sharing regular bits from the road with you here.
I have owned an EOS headlamp for years. I work as a mountain guide in Grand Teton Nat’l Park, where it is imperative that I have high quality light and distance illumination. I travel over steep terrain in the dark with clients. I am very impressed with the quality and distance performance of your headlamps. I had years of quality performance, then I could not turn my headlamp off. I sent it back to see if a minor correction might fix it. Today , I got a brand new headlamp sent to me! So, PTEC makes great products, and stands behind them! Thank you very much!
Sr. Guide, Jackson Hole Mtn Guides
Princeton Tec ambassadors Justin and Patrice La Vigne have finished the North Island of New Zealand and are half way done with their thru hike of the 1900-mile Te Araroa trail. Lighting up their way and keeping them on track is the Princeton Tec Vizz. It not only helps get things done around camp, but Justin and Patrice have relied on their headlamps for night hiking a few times along the way as well! Be sure to follow the rest of their adventure as they start the South Island at www.wanderinglavignes.blogspot.com
Outdoor Retailer Winter Show is a wrap, and we have a few important notes from Salt Lake City to share. To give an idea of the scale of this show, the tally was 22,000 attendees and more than 1,036 exhibiting brands.
This is a very important year for Princeton Tec, marking our 40th anniversary. As a family-owned company. As an American Manufacturer. As a business with skilled tradespeople and manufacturing jobs the likes of which had supposedly all gone overseas.
Something very special went down regarding the Sync headlamp, but we promised to keep our lips sealed for the next couple months. You really should check out this headlamp, that’s all that can be said for now. Yes, we’ve sworn our secrecy.
PTEC was among the finalists for the 2015 American Made Outdoor Gear Awards! Finalists were:
Under 10 Employees:
The American Mountain Company, Clarkston, MI
Topo Designs, Denver, CO
Vedavoo, Lancaster, MA
Voormi, Pagosa Springs, CO
Zootility, Sommerville, MA
10 to 50 Employees:
Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Biddeford, ME
Misty Mountain, Banner Elk, NC
United by Blue, Philadelphia, PA
Sylvan Sport, Brevard, NC
Dahlgren Footwear, West Linn, WA
Duluth Pack, Duluth, MN
Polar Bottle, Boulder, CO
Sterling Rope, Biddeford, ME
Stormy Kromer, Ironwood, MI
Timbuk2, San Francisco, CA
Cascade Designs, Seattle, WA
Jackson Kayak, Sparta, TN
L.L. Bean, Freeport, ME
Lifetime Products, Clearfield, UT
Princeton Tec, Trenton, NJ
PTEC was honred to be among the finalists! Whether a company has been manufacturing domesitcally all along, or they are seeing value in shifting some of their manufacturing to the US, it is great to see more companies making their products here in the US. Congrats to Sterling Rope, winner of 2015 American Made Outdoor Gear Awards!
From the behind the scenes file: all of the mannequins assembled in one place, likely awaiting their ride back home. They all must live in the same Salt Lake City neighborhood.
That’s all for now. More soon!
About a week ago, I came into the office and emptied my pockets onto my desk. I’m not sure why, but this time the contents seemed slightly more interesting to me than normal, so I rearranged it (always be knolling) and took a picture. Phone, Garmin, Pulsar, Wallet and USB key.
It was the start of other people sending in their pics. And us sending them some lights just because we’re cool like that.
Here are a few that stood out for one reason or another. Send us yours if you feel like snapping a pic of what’s on you. And please make sure they are organized neatly. Examples, both good and bad, follow below.