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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp > Test Report by Andrew Buskov

Tikka RXP FrontPetzl Tikka RXP
Petzl's rechargeable headlamp with reactive lighting technology.

Initial Report: June 18, 2015
Field Report: September 28, 2015
Long Term Report: November 9, 2015

Tester Biographical Information:

Name: Andrew Buskov
Age: 40
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 207 lbs (94 kg)
Email: Rescue(at)Corridor9(dot)net
City, State Zip Madisonville, Kentucky  USA

Backpacking Background:

I’ve been backpacking for nearly 25 years, and have slowly started developing my ideal style. I’ve gotten my pack weight down to roughly 20 - 25 lbs (9.1 - 11.3 kg) before water, and am whittling it down every hike. Day hiking is nice, but getting out over multiple nights is really what I enjoy. I like to take my time and view the scenery as opposed to hiking hard. I also like being comfortable and insist on an air mattress. I usually tent or hammock, but stay in shelters when needed.

Tikka RXP  BackProduct Information:

Item: Tikka RXP
Manufacturer: Petzl
Website http://www.petzl.com
Year of Manufacture: 2015
MSRP: N/A
Listed Weight: 4.06 oz (115 g)
Actual Weight: 4.0 oz (113 g)
Color: Coral (also available in Black)

Product Description:
Per information from website & enclosed materials

The Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp is part of Petzl's Performance Headlamp line. It has REACTIVE LIGHTING, discussed further below, as well as a rechargeable battery which provides a maximum 215 lumens during use. It is designed to be compact and powerful without sacrificing quality and usability. While the main mode is driven by REACTIVE LIGHTING, there is a CONSTANT LIGHTING operation mode that outputs the same lumens until changed by the wearer, as well as a RED LIGHTING mode that will provide either a constant red lamp or a red strobe function. The Tikka RXP is designed to be used with OS by Petzl, a customization program that allows a personalized setup of the headlamp's lighting functions for better use by an individual.

Tikka RXP Full Tikka RXP Charge First

Product Impressions:

The Petzl Tikka RXP arrived in a small plastic enclosure with easy to understand information and literature on the outside. Upon opening the package I found a relatively in depth user manual, a short USB cable, and the Tikka RXP itself. The bottom of the packaging even indicates which part of the packaging itself is biodegradable and which part is non-recyclable. After browsing the user manual, I picked up the RXP and noticed a small tag that indicated the unit must be charged prior to use. I know some manufacturers pre-charge their electronics while others don't, but as many times that I've run to a backpacking store just prior to hitting the trail, I would have liked to see a fully charged battery upon opening .

Tikka RXP Top In just looking over the Tikka RXP, one of the things that impressed me was the design of the head strap. It is indeed very comfortable and provides a two-strap configuration on the rear of the wearer's head. As one who gets migraines a lot, especially after long and labor intensive hikes, having a strap that spreads out the pressure and supports the light better is definitely appreciated. The front of the strap that sits over the forehead isn't as elastic as the back, but it does provide a lot more cushioning and comfort. It's definitely not like some of Petzl's Classic line which consist of nothing more than a long elastic strap. The strap adjustment is designed so that as the length is let out, the double strap portion shrinks. This is a rather ingenious design that is easy to use, but supports the light without slipping down my forehead.

There are a total of three LEDs on the RXP that can be used in various configurations; a wide beam flood lamp, a narrow beam spot lamp, and a red lamp. One thing to note is that while there are three LEDs on the device, to my untrained eye it actually looked as if there were four lamps. This additional port on the front is actually a sensor that detects the amount of ambient light and passes this information off to the device so that the REACTIVE LIGHTING function can properly and quickly change the lumen output. When I powered the RXP up for operation, I was immediately impressed with the speed at which the device alters the lumens. Most electronics devices I've seen that have an adaptive lighting mode are quite slow to change the output lumens. However, the Tikka RXP is almost instantaneous. This was one of the problems I was very worried about when this test began; the length of time it would take the device to alter the lumen based on the ambient light. Needless to say, I am no longer worried about this.

Tikka RXP Buttons The REACTIVE LIGHTING technology itself is quite exciting. Based upon which mode the unit is put into, the maximum lumen output is adjusted thereby increasing or decreasing the amount of time the device can be used before recharging is necessary. For example, in Max Autonomy mode the RXP will operate between 7 - 80 lumens providing usable light between 2 - 70 m (6.5 - 230 ft) for a duration of approximately 10 hours. In Max Power mode, the device will operate between 7 - 215 lumens providing usable light between 2 - 110 m (6.5 - 360 ft) for a duration of approximately 2.5 hours. During CONSTANT LIGHTING operation, the mode best matching Max Autonomy (essentially low light / power usage) will operate at 45 lumens providing usable light for 25 m (80 ft) for 10 hours. The mode best matching Max Power (essentially high light / power usage) will operate at 150 lumens providing usable light for 100 m (330 ft) for approximately 2.5 hours. For me it is easy to see how the REACTIVE LIGHTING mode provides more lumens over a longer duration simply by altering the brightness during times when a brighter light isn't necessary. In addition to the REACTIVE & CONSTANT technologies, a RED LGHTING mode is also provided. This allows the RXP to shine 30 hours with a constant light or up to 90 hours with a red strobe light.

There are two buttons on the Tikka RXP that allow the user to switch between technologies and modes; the power button on the top, and the technology button on the side. If the device is off, pressing either of the buttons for less than two seconds will flash the red light twice. Pressing the power button form more than two seconds will turn the device on and automatically place it into Max Autonomy mode, unless the device was in RED mode prior to being turned off, in which it will resume RED mode. When switching between modes (essentially low, medium, and high power) the power button is used by pressing it once for less than two seconds. This will change the REACTIVE LIGHTING modes between Max Autonomy, Standard, and Max Power; the CONSTANT LIGHTING modes between low, medium, and high; and the RED mode between constant on or strobe operation. Pressing the technology button on the side will cycle between REACTIVE LIGHTING, CONSTANT LIGHTING, and RED LIGHTING modes.

Tikka RXP  Fins It should be noted that when using REACTIVE LIGHTING, pressing the power button to switch modes will cause the spot lamp to flash briefly. This is due to the fact that the lumen output is regulated by the sensor. Therefore if the device is currently running at a lumen output lower than the max lumen available in the current mode, the change won't be noticed as the current lumen output may still be lower than the max lumen available after the mode change, unless switching from high to low. When switching the RXP off, the red led will flash twice indicating that the device is powering down.

One notable aspect of the Tikka RXP that is completely different than any other headlamp I have used is the addition of what appear to be cooling fins between the lamps main body and the rechargeable battery. As seen in the picture, there are a number of black fins that sit behind the battery that match up with a hole on both the bottom and top of the device. This leads me to believe that the RXP might get hot during use, something I will definitely be watching for during the testing period.

The rechargeable battery itself is only slightly larger than three standard AAA batteries. On the top of pack is a micro USB port that allows charging from any 5v USB device. This port can be accessed while the battery is attached to the RXP's main housing through a water resistant port in the top of the body. The back of the battery is designed with ridges that allow the wearer to adjust the angle of the lamp for various uses. On the side of the battery there is also a small led charge indicator which will light for 10 seconds when the device is powered on. A green light will indicate the battery is charged between 66% and 100%, orange indicates a charge between 33% and 66%, and red indicates a charge lower than 33%. When the battery is in reserve, the red led will blink indicating that the battery should be charged or else power loss is imminent.

There is a lot of function in this little light, and I'm sure I'll find more to elaborate on during the Field Report phase of this test. In all though, so far I think the Petzl Tikka RXP appears to be a very useful and intuitive design. I've also downloaded the OS by Petzl software and will comment on my experience in customizing the RXP in a subsequent report.

Field Report: September 28, 2015

Testing Locations & Conditions:

Tikka RXP BatteryDuring the past two months, I was able to get quite a bit of use out of the Petzl Tikka RXP. In trying to get as much use out of the RXP to test battery life and recharging time, I've been throwing this in my EDC (every day carry) bag. This way, whenever I might need a light, I'll have the RXP with me wherever I'm at. Keeping it stowed in this fashion has allowed me to use the light multiple times; when doing wiring work in the attic, searching under the kids bed for missing phones, taking the dog out at night, feeding the rabbits. Most of these tasks take less than 10 -15 minutes each but attic work took upwards of two hours. I've also taken this during my day hikes, though most of the time it stays in my pack without much use.

As far as providing actual light, the Tikka RXP saw the most use on my backpacking trips as it was the sole light that I used throughout the trips. Both of these trips were in the area of the Pennyrile National Forrest located in western Kentucky; an open, backcountry area for camping, backpacking, and hiking. The elevation for this area is roughly 450 - 650 ft (135 - 200 m) with slow rolling terrain that has a number of valleys and ridges. Temperatures in the area for both trips were around 75 F (24 C) during the day and down to 50 F (10 C) at night. Neither night saw any sort of precipitation, though there was a bit of light rain during the trip down. The light was used to primarily to see while walking around at night. I like to set camp early so the RXP wasn't much use during tent setup. However, as there were quite a few exposed roots and stumps, I used it quite a bit at night just to keep from stumbling around. It was also hung inside the tent at night for use as an overhead lamp. The variable output functioned very well in this fashion as I wasn't being blinded when I turned it on.

Performance:

The Petzl Tikka RXP has a lot of functionality to it! Because of this it took me a bit of time to get used to activating the various functions, especially with the headlamp on my head. Over and over I found myself turning off the lamp in trying to increase the brightness or change modes. This is quite frustrating when walking down a trail or trying to accomplish something around in camp, only to find that all light is gone due to a mis-pressed button. After some time though, maybe 2-3 hours of use when I was able to change the lamp multiple times to various levels, I finally got the hang of it.

Tikka RXP Heat fins and Power ButtonI had initially setup the RXP with the OS by Petzl software in order to test out changing various settings and functions. However, during my initial setup I was running Windows 7 instead of the Windows 10 version that I'm currently running. As such, in the few minutes that I was experimenting with the software during my first install, I was able to change a few settings and get the feel of the software and its functionality. That is simply not an option now. Unfortunately the software version V3-3.1.537, the same version I installed the first time and the latest on the Petzl website, is not functioning properly on Windows 10. The application crashes, disconnects the device, and locks up about every 4-5 minutes. This is very frustrating as I just spent a long time troubleshooting why it won't work and trying various data cables to make sure the issue wasn't on my end. In short, when Petzl updates their software to properly work with Win 10, then I'll have more on that feature.

After some use with the reactive lighting feature, I wish it would provide a bit more light initially, but I'm not sure if I can modify this using OS by Petzl as it's not functioning. I'd like to see the lamp come on with the high brightness feature for more than 10 seconds before it gets dimmed. While having the reactive light change on demand is nice, usually when I use a light it is because I need to see something better; in essence I want the brightest light I can get as soon as I turn it on. However, this means changing modes repeatedly as the reactive light mode isn't that bright in the waning sunlight.

Charging the headlamp has been easy and painless. I've been able to use both a 4000 mAh charger as well as a 18,000 mAh charger. Charging time using each charger is roughly 5 hours, but I usually just charge it overnight while sleeping without any problems. I've found that it doesn't get too hot leaving it overnight, but this could be due to cut-off circuits in my portable battery devices. In all though, as long as I've made sure to keep the RXP charged on a regular basis, I've not had any problems with the device running dead.

Long Term Report: November 9, 2015

Testing Locations & Conditions:

I have been able to get an additional two nights of testing the Tikka RXP during this session. My son and I were able to attend the 100th Annual Boy Scout Patriot Games at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The weather was clear to cloudy at times, but there was no precipitation. Elevation was 718 ft (219 m) where we were at on the base, but it was the temperatures that really fluctuated. The high was a nice comfortable 64 F (17 C), but the last night we were there the low dropped to 28 F (-2 C) making for a very cold morning packing up and heading home.

Summary:

The last testing period I had mentioned that the OS by Petzl software wasn't functioning properly on Windows 10. To my experience, this is still true to an extent. I was able to trick the software into working by installing in safe-mode, but this is really not a solution for the general user. In the end, while I do think that having the functionality to adjust the lighting settings, it wasn't really something that I found myself using. The default settings seemed to work out rather well for me and switching back and forth was more of a pain than a gain. That being said, I was only using this around camp and during hiking but I could easily see how this feature might be more useful to someone doing caving, or rock climbing at night.

The Petzl Tikka RXP functioned perfectly throughout the entire test. I still found it weird having two buttons on the device and at times still fumbled with the operation a bit, but most of the time I let the default profile take over the light intensity and this seemed to work very well. I found through use that having the light pointed down more towards my face tended to limit any flashing of others in the eyes. This was both due to the angle of the light, but also in how the sensor picked up the ambient light off my face. As such, because the sensor was "seeing" more light due to reflection, the intensity wasn't as bright. This is indeed a very welcome change! Now I wasn't blinding others, but I also wasn't blinding myself as I would have been with a regular intensity light.

All said, the Tikka RXP is one of the better lights I've used. Other than getting a sense of the button function, I haven't really found a negative to its use. The battery life is right in line with what I would expect from a rechargeable headlamp. The light that the device provides on demand is quite bright while the reactionary lighting provides a nice blend of brightness levels. I would like to see a bit longer time for high intensity lighting when momentarily pressing the top switch, but this is by no means a deal breaker to me.

I would definitely recommend the Petzl Tikka RXP to anyone looking for a high intensity, feature packed,and user friendly rechargeable headlamp.

I'd like to thank Petzl and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test the Tikka RXP headlamp.


Read more reviews of Petzl gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrew Buskov

Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp > Test Report by Andrew Buskov



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