Headlamps are undeniably useful, but they are typically dull-looking entities with an emphasis on function rather than fashion. That's changing with Princeton Tec's Spectrum program for customizable headlamps.
Princeton Tec gave me the opportunity to customize a $35 Fuel light. I could have gone with something tasteful, like black and gray. Instead, I went '80s retro with a mix of pink, green, yellow, orange, and blue. It's the Cyndi Lauper of headlamps.
The Fuel has four LEDs that spit out 43 lumens. There are three brightness settings and a flashing setting. It runs on three AAA batteries and goes for up to 146 hours.
The headlamps are hand-assembled in the U.S. to your color specifications. The online design process gives you a very accurate idea of what the final product will look like.
There are 10 colors to choose from, ranging from screaming orange to subdued gray. You can select different colors for each individual part, including the body, battery door, end cap, and bracket.
Currently, the Fuel headlamp is available to customize, but the stronger $45 Remix is expected to be added soon. A non-customized Fuel costs $30, so you're looking at a $5 premium to choose your own colors.
Princeton Tec didn't leave out the social media tie-ins. You can Facebook and Twitter your design so that all of your spelunking friends can be envious or deride your fashion sense.
One of the biggest advantages of having a color-customized headlamp is that nobody else will accidentally pick it up. The pink monstrosity I created doesn't look like anyone else's.
Since it arrived in the mail, the Spectrum Fuel has been pressed into use to search for a lost dog, fix a cracked pipe under the bathroom sink, and locate a baking pan hidden far back in kitchen storage. It's comfortable and plenty bright for these sorts of uses.
I know I should be doing more glamorous headlamp things like exploring cave systems, discovering urban tunnels, and launching expeditions to the Mountains of Madness.
I consulted with my brother, an actual research caver in New Mexico, about headlamps. He owns both the Fuel and the Remix headlamps in regular colors. The more powerful Remix gets the most use when he's working underground. Keep that in mind when you're deciding which model to customize.