Read reviews for the HeadLamp by Princeton Tec as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
Pros:strong beam; multiple settings
Cons: battery door seems flimsy; humidity or waterproofness problems
I have been through two of these. The first developed a problem after I used it on several kayak trips. It started turning itself on and then not turning on (or sometimes off) when I pressed the button. It seemed that the switch went bad. So to their credit, Princeton Tec replaced the lamp for free, no questions asked.
So, I was out on a camping trip in S. Florida with my new one, the humidity was high, and once again, the switch started acting funny. I couldn't get it to turn off so I had to take the batteries out. At that point, I decided it would serve the remainder of its life as my emergency and house headlamp (perhaps desert too?) because it just doesn't seem to hold up to wet or humid conditions.
It's too bad because the beam is the strongest I have ever owned. Perhaps Princeton Tec has or will improve on this design so that it is more durable.
Try to walk with it at night and you'll find that the bluish and very diffuse beam (a) does not project far enough for even a fast walking speed, let alone paddling speed, and (b) all but obliterates color vision. The latter effect is like viewing under a full moon; everything looks vaguely blue. I found out how much trouble this could be one night when trying to get back to my tent, and I headed towards two others first, even though they were all very different hues and saturations. With a tungsten (such as halogen) bulb, objects would have appeared roughly the "right" color.
The LED does give the Aurora its best feature, namely long battery life. I think the best of both worlds would be a halogen lamp for more focused, long-range use (paddling or hiking) plus LED for close-in applications such as reading or cooking. Such headlights are available, but then again, it'd be worth checking out the NEW Princeton Tec light, the Eos, which has an extra-bright LED in addition to an array of standard ones.