I was shivering uncontrollably. My thin warm weather rip-stop Crye multicams did little to ward off the December chill in Northeastern Washington. It was 2030 hours, well past civil twilight this far north and it had been dark for four hours by this point. We’d been evading by moon and starlight and had settled into our third location for the night. Freezing rain occasionally rifted over us in sheets. We huddled into a defilade to make comms via our PRC-112 emergency radio. We received a text message data burst for our next set of coordinates. However the backlight on our radio was not working. “Jones, turn on your headlamp” I nodded while my teeth chattered nearly uncontrollably and when I hit the button on the top of my headlamp to turn it on, nothing happened. Hissed threats against the headlamp followed as I tried fixing it. However she’d given up the ghost after three days in the field – the plastic frame had cracked from the temperature deviation between the day and the night and water had gotten into it. The headlamp was dead and it was the only light we were allowed. Our operation became much more difficult because of that equipment failure.
Critical gear failing in the field is anyone’s nightmare. I never imagined that headlamps could fail in such short notice until I began to do Survival and Evasion exercises as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Specialist (SERE Specialist) for the United States Air Force. My gear needs to be able to survive in all conditions throughout the world. I demand quite a bit. When I finished training as a SERE Specialist I was issued one hell of a headlamp from Princeton Tec known as the EOS and I’ve seen it issued to a variety of other Special Operations forces throughout the military for the plain and simple reason that this thing doesn’t die. I’ve taken the Princeton Tec EOS headlamp everywhere and put it through everything. I have confidence in it to the utmost.
So when I was given the opportunity to review another headlamp from Princeton Tec made specifically for military professionals or outdoors enthusiasts I was ecstatic. I was sent the tan / multicam quad tactical MPLS (Modular Personal Lighting System). What we get compared to the workhorse Princeton Tec EOS is a lighter package, the quad tactical weighs in at just 78 grams compared to the EOS weighing in at 103 grams. With the reduction in weight the quad tactical is outperforming the EOS by emitting 78 lumens compared to the EOS, which emits a healthy 60. Be advised that the quad tactical puts out a wider focused beam that allows your peripherals to work with you compared to the EOS which is more focused beam. In either case I’ve found that I like the wide beam on the quad tactical more. They both take 3 AAA batteries.
The profile on the quad tactical is slimmer and closer to your head / helmet which means I’m not catching this thing on branches or lower overhangs as much. Further the power button up top is much improved in my opinion over the EOS. The power button on the EOS was slightly offset to the right of the top of the device compared to the quad tactical where is it dead center. It’s just more intuitive in my opinion. The headband remains the same between the two lights which doesn’t disappoint me at all. These lights are also all waterproof to one meter. The red filter is interchangeable to three different colors; red, green, blue. Compared to other headlamps that require you to flip a switch a certain way to activate the red light I much prefer pulling the filter over the light – it’s simple and you know you’re going to get red. Plus you won’t be that one guy in the group that accidentally flips to white light and destroys everyone’s night vision.
The quad tactical like the EOS have a variety of different mounting solutions. A NVG adapter is included so that this light can be mounted directly to your helmet. The standard straps can also be removed and attached to MOLLE webbing. Or you can loosen the band and wrap this thing around your helmet and secure with some 100 mph tape (my preferred method).
The headlamp is a simple but essential piece of gear. Make sure you have one that is rock solid. I can’t say enough about the simplicity, reliability and ruggedness of all Princeton Tec designs but also the EOS and quad tactical specifically. Given the lighter weight and the brighter overall output I’ll be sticking with the quad tactical for the foreseeable future.