PETZL TIKKA PLUS LED HEADLAMP
BY JERRY ADAMS
February 21, 2009
6' 1" (1.85 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
Backpacking Background: I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay around Mount Hood, Columbia Gorge, Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, and the Olympic Peninsula. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 15 lb (7 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack. My sleeping pad is a Therm-a-Rest air mattress.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://petzl.com
Listed Weight: 2.75 oz (78 g)
Measured Weight: 2.25 oz (66 g) (with Lithium batteries, Alkaline batteries weigh a little more)
Size: 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 in (5.75 x 3.75 x 3.75 cm) not including elastic band
3 AAA batteries
4 LEDs with silver reflector
Adjustable elastic band
Pushbutton switch functionality
* If the switch is pushed, if light is on, then it turns off.
* If the switch is pushed, if light is off, then it turns light on to high illumination.
* If the switch is pushed again (within about 2 seconds) then it goes to medium.
* If it's pushed again (within about 2 seconds) it goes to low.
* If it's pushed again (within about 2 seconds) it goes to flashing mode.
Pushbutton on back to open and replace batteries
The body of the light swivels on the elastic band strap so the light points straight forward for hiking, or down for use around camp.
Headlamp swiveled to straight forward position. On/off button is the orange button on the top. The clear lens cover if to the right of that. There is a black shade sticking out below the lens cover which prevents light from shining into my eyes:
Headlamp swiveled to down position. The black battery compartment opening latch is at the top left.:
Battery compartment open to replace batteries:
Battery life specified by manufacturer - 100 hours on high, 150 hours on low
I've used the Petzl Tikka Plus for a couple years, about 100 nights of backpacking. I've had no problems with it. Some nights I hardly use the light at all, and other nights I use it for several hours. I have been as high as 8000 feet (2400 m). I have used the Tikka Plus between 28F and 80 F (-2 C and 27 C).
I normally use the Tikka Plus around camp, in my tent,... I almost always use the dimmest mode to prolong battery life, which provides plenty of light.
Rarely, I hike after dark, in which case I use the brightest mode to better scout out the trail ahead of me. The light is bright enough for any but the most extreme uses. If I was doing extensive night hiking on unfamiliar trails or searching for someone I might want a brighter light.
The length of the band is easily adjustable. The band is fairly wide (1 inch 2.5 cm) so it is comfortable, yet stays on. I normally use the headlamp outside a fleece hat.
It seems like either the band slips or stretches because occasionally it's too loose so I have to adjust it tighter. This is no big deal. It would be easy for me to replace the buckle with a different one that didn't slip, but it's not worth worrying about.
To adjust the band, I have to take it off. I make it a bit tighter, put it back on, see if it's the right tightness, repeat if necessary. It would be better if it could be adjusted while I'm wearing it. Again, this is so minor it's hardly worth mentioning.
The button is recessed to minimize accidental opening. It's a bit difficult to open, but that's probably a good thing. I swivel the body away from the elastic band, then press the button with the fingernail of my index finger, then pull it open holding the elastic band strap with one hand and the headlamp body with the other hand. It's a little tricky to get the old batteries out, new batteries in, and the latch properly positioned to close. I try to do this very carefully to avoid breaking it. This is my only real complaint about the Tikka.
To minimize the hassle of battery replacement, and to minimize the chance of breaking it, I try to replace the batteries as infrequently as possible.
I would be happy to buy the Petzl Tikka Plus again, even though the batteries are difficult to replace, but if there was a different model that didn't have this problem, I would probably buy it instead.
End of Life
When the batteries near their end of life, the light gets dimmer and dimmer. Over the course of several trips (maybe 10 hours) I start noticing that the light isn't very bright. I start using the brightest mode rather than the dimmest mode.
I always carry a spare set of batteries, but I don't really need to, because of the slow failure.
If I was going to do extensive hiking in the dark, I might replace the batteries ahead of time to avoid having to replace them in the dark.
I have always used Lithium batteries because they weigh less and last much longer. This minimizes the number of times I have to replace the batteries, which avoids a possible failure mode. They last me about a year.
In the process of writing this report, I noticed that Petzl advises against using Lithium batteries. The LEDs may overheat and cease functioning. I have used Lithium batteries without a problem. Maybe it helps that I seldomly use the brightest mode. I bought my Tikka Plus in 2007. In the literature, they mention that the current Tikka Plus is 80% brighter than the classic Tikka Plus. I probably have the classic Tikka Plus which might not have this problem.
Other manufacturers don't have a Lithium Battery warning. It's possible the Petzl design is susceptible to Lithium battery damage, or it's possible Petzl is just more conservative.
I will probably just continue using Lithium batteries.
I occasionally use the headlamp when it's raining, and haven't had any problems. I haven't actually dunked the headlamp in water which would be a more extreme case.
Operation in the cold
I have used the Tikka Plus down to 28 F (-2 C). I have had no problems.
The main problem with cold is the batteries don't last as long. I haven't really evaluated this carefully as most of my usage has been at warmer temperatures.
If I was going to use a headlamp in extensive cold, I would get a headlamp with a detachable battery compartment that could be put in a pocket to stay warm.
The Petzl Tikka Plus is a good LED headlamp. It's reliable, plenty bright enough, and very lightweight.
THINGS I LIKE
I have used it for a couple years without any problems
Low brightness mode is good for camp use which prolongs battery life
High brightness mode is good for hiking in the dark on unfamiliar trails
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Batteries are difficult to replace
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Elastic band slips a little but this is hardly worth mentioning
I would rather that when the button is first pushed, the light would come on in the least bright mode, rather than the brightest mode. The way it works, I usually have to push the button three times, because I usually use the dimmest mode. This is also a fairly minor complaint.
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