The Princeton Tec Snap Solo is a clever twist on an old classic, the essential headlamp. It has a magnetic head that slides out of its holster, so that the light can attach to any metal surface, a great feature for camping in particular. Weighs 3.5 oz / 99 g. Cost is $34.99.
Affordable, innovative, and versatile: You can use it as a headlamp and leave it at that. But it has so many other ways and means, that would almost be a shame. The light slides out of its tunnel easily, to be slapped onto various surfaces, for multi-uses. // With 300 lumens, the headlamp offers plenty of light.
It is about a third (30–31 percent) heavier than, say, a light Biolite (330 lumens) at 2.4 oz, 69 g. No big deal to some of us. // The Snap Solo is not USB rechargeable, so always take some spare batteries (three Triple A’s) into the backcountry.
Princeton Tec is a solid company, producing lighting equipment since 1975, coming into climbing and mountaineering from a dive background, and those people deal with a worse, darker dark than we do. (Have you seen The Rescue? Please.) The company gives a five-year warranty.
Three modes: Spot high, spot low, and flash beam. High will run you a solid 10 hours and low an impressive 155. Peers into the murk well.
Durable plastic holder and lens (I accidentally dropped the headlamp in a parking lot, NP), and it’s kind of fun how solidly—thunk—the light goes back into the holster.
3.5 oz / 99 g
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
You need—need—your headlamp. I’ve overshot a parking lot when returning from a crag to a vehicle, and wandered an hour the wrong way in pitch dark on a rocky ridge; was caught behind a slow party on a four-pitch route and, hiking down after finally finishing at dusk, got a tree branch in the eye (corneal abrasion); and have forgotten a headlamp when camping at Maple Canyon, my tent just a little ways into the woods from the car. But enough to stumble.
Always bring your headlamp, any headlamp.
That said, I am personally tickled by any new idea for an old standard, and upon getting the Snap Solo went around the kitchen picking up paper clips, forks and—emboldened—knives and scissors with its magnet. Then I took it outside, and lo: You can put it on your Coleman two-burner on a picnic table (which I’ve since done a number of times), on your deck grill, or on your wheel well to deal with your next flat tire. Last time we got one was on a remote 4WD road at dusk.
Heaven knows backcountry and remote settings pose a lot of potential for other use. I have seen a (doctor) friend sew up my husband’s thumb, nail and all, in a yurt by the light of a lantern, and another fixed beam of light would have been nothing but good. (Even so, may I add that it was a very nice bit of field surgery, which … between blades, cactus, and who knows what … is sometimes needed.)