Friday, January 25, 2013

Petzl Tikka 2 LED Headlamp Review

I am quite pleased with the performance of my Petzl Tikka 2 LED Headlamp.  For night time book and map reading in the tent, it works great on the low light setting.  You may have to tilt it up or down slightly to reduce glare on your Kindle screen.  I have not used it on the high lamp setting yet, I found did not need that much light around the campsite or for trail walking.  The headband was comfortable and adjusted easily while wearing it on my head for reading and close work.
Petzl Tikka 2 Headlamp
For night time hiking, I stuff the headband under my belt and aim the light from my waist.  It has worked well for a short walk along a trail, though on a longer walk I may need a more sturdy way to attach it to my waist or belt.  I have also carried it in my hand, like a flashlight, and have been pleased with the headlamp's performance.  While the bright setting was too bright for my slow trail walking style, it may be too dim for running or bicycling with no other lights.  Those lights sold for running and bicycling usually have almost twice the brightness of this one.
There are also accessories available like the Adapt Tikka 2 system that includes different light fixture parts (on the back) that attach to shirts, belts, helmets, just about everything.
As for the battery life, I'm still on my first set of AAA batteries, so I'll have to say it seems to be doing well.  We'll see how that goes after a few sets of batteries, though the user reports online look good.  I generally carry a spare mini flashlight (0.4 ounces), so I won't be stranded on an over night backpacking trip due to dead batteries.  For longer trips, I'll just replace the batteries before I start.
I see how the strobe selection can be used for calling for help, but I wouldn't walk with it in strobe mode at night.  For a kayak or canoe at night, the strobe will keep you seen by most other watercraft.  Walking along a highway in daytime, the strobe will help you to be seen by motor traffic.
I do wish the headlamp had a lower light setting, like 5 lumens, or a red LED lamp for after dark chores around the camp.  The Tikka 2 headlamp has 40 lumens of light or lights up 95 feet on the bright setting and 10 lumens or 42 feet on the low setting.  That's about an hour and a half of battery on high and two hours on the low setting to use the manufacturer's information.  It would also be nice if the headband was easily removable without having to cut the plastic frame.
My older ultra-mini headlamp had only one LED and 3 light settings plus strobe.  While it wasn't bright enough for night time trail walking, it had a low enough power to not blind others in camp, and had a clip for placing on a hat bill when you removed the headband.  I found out the year after I bought it that the coin batteries it used cost a lot more than the whole headlamp did, just for replacements.
At 2.8 ounces, or 80 grams with 3 AAA alkaline batteries this headlamp is lightweight enough for me.  With lithium batteries it may weigh a little less.  REI has it listed online at 2.9 ounces.
At REI the Petzl Tikka 2 was just under $30, which is an OK price.  It is an ounce lighter than my trusty old AA mini-mag flashlights (at 3.8 ounces each) and seems to provide the illumination that I need for overnight backpacking trips.  In time, I'll acquire a headlamp with a red LED or lower light levels.

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