Initially released circa 2014 and revised again in 2020, the Switch MPLS is one of several hands-free illumination products from Princeton Tec. The Switch is a dedicated helmet mounted, variable illumination device that provides usable light for the tactical environment.
Made from a high-impact polymer housing, the Switch features a dual LED light head on an extended, flexible stalk that allows the end user to adjust the beam location to best suit their needs. Rubberized gaskets at all openings give the Switch an IPX4 water and dust resistant rating.
The main housing for the Switch allows the end-user to select through multiple modes as the mission allows. The ON/OFF/Function activation button is rubberized to protect against moisture penetration. This activation button allows the end-user to cycle through:
- Low/High (Color): Pressing and releasing the activation button will cycle between the selected color mode (made at the time of purchase) between Low and High output. Pressing and momentarily holding will turn the light off.
- Low/High (White): Press and hold the activation button for two seconds will engage the ultra-white LED light.
On the bottom of the Switch is a grooved panel that is removable and gives access to the internal battery compartment for the two CR2016 coin batteries.
The bottom grooved panel is also used as the locking mechanism that connects the Switch to any of the six attachment mounts (included). By simply rotating the Switch to the mount, the grooves allow for easy donning/removal as needed.
The Princeton Tec Switch is available in tan (featured), black, or green. The light comes in a variety of color combinations to include red, green, blue, white, and infrared.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Average (3/5): With its list MSRP of $69.99, the Switch brings together a multi-function helmet light in a durable unit body. Multiple mounting solutions ensure that the Switch can be utilized regardless of equipment or model. In comparison, the closest market alternatives that are similar include the Streamlight Stalk ($126.42), the Princeton Tec Charge ($109.99), and the Surefire Helmet Light ($171.00). However, all these alternatives offer more robust housing, and a higher light output. As such, the price of the Switch is appropriate (or average) in contrast to the market and the added features provided included elsewhere on the currently market.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the multi-function and variable output of the Switch ensured the helmet light provided a good level of overall comfort to the end-user. With the LED element having a “high” output of 10 lumens, the pin LED white light was neither blinding nor overwhelming, and allowed the end-user to select the appropriate setting based on mission needs. Likewise, the color settings had an output also of 10 lumens, so the colored powered output settings (in this case red) made tactical low-light settings easier to maintain light discipline. Elsewhere, it was noted the activation button gave an adequate (or average) tangible click when manipulated that helped convey operation without directly being in the visual line of sight. The exact point of activation was somewhat difficult to find however, as the button’s contact to the battery wasn’t consistent and required some “searching” to activate the light. While the Switch was clearly designed with the Ops Core Arc rail in mind, its profile gave it a tight and flush mount. A recommendation to Princeton Tec would be to improve the activation button’s contact points or switch design all together to provide a clear function.
- Durability – Good (4/5): As a helmet-mounted light, the Switch encountered frequent contact with various surfaces regardless if worn on MOLLE webbing or the helmet, especially in more dynamic environments such as indoors or field brush. That said, the polymer housing mitigated those impacts very well, and the lens to the LED light emitter did not become compromised in any way. Drop testing was performed (by dropping the Switch at shoulder height 10 times onto finished concrete), and despite some superficial marring consistent with molded polymers, neither the body nor controls became damaged. It should be noted, at three drops the Switch took a strike directly to the housing and the LED emitter did not stop functioning. Additionally, three drops landed on the LED emitter itself and the bulbs did not break. The various mounting styles also held up well and maintained a solid/secure lock to the Switch despite the various impacts to the light.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally, the Switch demonstrated good performance to project enough usable lumens at a single output so that the end-user could read maps, manipulate up-close controls, or otherwise function in any dark environment in a near field of view. The LED stalk and activation were easy to manipulate while mounted to the helmet, but the latter did not have a consistent contact point to turn the light ON/OFF or select the desired light setting (White and Red). The programming between high-output and low white light, and color necessitated those settings be manually cycled through the fixed programming for use, thus selection was a little challenging while the Switch was mounted and not having a solid activation point. Perhaps the only aspect of the Switch’s functionality recommended for improvement would be the eye-stalk the light is connected to the main housing by. It cannot be secured against the helmet or rail and thus tended to get pulled outward/around if brushed up against vegetation or other objects. While this is a minor issue, end-users should be aware that this places the light emitter at a slight risk of being snapped off if something were to grab at it sufficiently or securely.
- Weight – Good (4/5): The Switch housing and light emitter weighed in at a very light 1.0 ounces combined, yet the final overall weight was determined by which of the mounting methods (helmet, rail, MOLLE, etc.) were selected by the end-user. These mounting methods (E-Mount, Rail Mount, Hook-and-Loop) added a miniscule weight of 0.2 ounces each. Regardless, the multiple functions of the Switch packed a lot of usage into a very lightweight package. None of this added to, nor resulted in the Switch becoming off-balancing when mounted to one side of the helmet or the other. Nor did it pull excessively when mounted to a rail or off MOLLE webbing. In contrast, the Princeton Tec Charge (1.67 ounces), the Streamlight Stalk (2.6 ounces), and the Surefire Helmet Light (3.10 ounces) illustrate that the Princeton Tec Switch is good in terms of weight within the market, and within its design for purpose.
Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)
Product Link: https://princetontec.com/product/switch/
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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