PETZL TIKKA RXP
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
November 17, 2015
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Steven M. Kidd
5' 11" (1.80 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
10 1/2 Wide (US)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Petzl Tikka RXP|
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.petzl.com
MSRP: US $99.95
Listed Weight: 4.06 oz (115 g)
Measured Weight: 3.9 oz (111 g)
Micro USB Charging cord: 0.5 oz (14 g)
Colors: Coral, Black (Testing Black)
The Petzl Tikka RXP is a multibeam headlamp from the Performance Headlamp line. It offers both reactive lighting technology and a rechargeable battery while providing a maximum 215 lumens during use. The primary lighting mode is reactive, but it also allows for a constant mode emitting unchanged lighting if the wearer decides to do so. Finally there is a red lighting option. This can be a constant red or a strobe.
OS by Petzl, a free downloadable operating system, allows the individual user to customize the lamps lighting functions for better performance. The Tikka RXP has a lock function to avoid accidentally turning it on during transit or storage and is powered by a rechargeable 1800 mAh lithium-ion battery. The battery takes approximately five hours to recharge and there is a charge indicator in varying colors indicating the remaining power available. The energy gauge indicator colors are as follows: green [66+%], orange [33-66%], red [0-33%]. It blinks red while in reserve mode. It may be recharged up to 300 times and is replaceable and an optional battery pack using three (3) AAA batteries is available for purchase. It has an IP X4 water resistant rating and the headband is also washable.
Following is a list of the lighting performance as indicated on the Petzl website:
Lighting technology----------Lighting modes-----Brightness---------Distance--------------Burn time
REACTIVE LIGHTING-----Max autonomy------7 to 80 lm---------2 to 70 m------------10 h*
REACTIVE LIGHTING-----Standard-------------7 to 160 lm--------2 to 90 m------------5 h*
REACTIVE LIGHTING-----Max power----------7 to 215 lm--------2 to 110 m-----------2 h 30*
CONSTANT LIGHTING----Proximity------------45 lm for 10 h------25 m for 10 h------10 h
CONSTANT LIGHTING----Movement----------100 lm for 5 h-------75 m for 5 h-------- 5 h
CONSTANT LIGHTING----Rapid movement---150 lm for 2 h 30--100 m for 2 h 30---2 h 30
Reserve mode: 1 h at 25 lm
* Minimum guaranteed burn time
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & SUMMARY
The Tikka RXP arrived in the packaging that can be seen above. I eagerly opened the package and looked over the headlamp. At first glance it is quite similar to most headlamps I've owned in the past. It was only after I began to look it over fully that I began to notice the subtle nuances that differed from a traditional battery operated lamp. There is a micro USB port for charging the battery that is covered with a soft rubberized plastic that lifts up for the charging cord and may be snapped back into place after it has been charged. There is also an opening next to the port on the top of the headlamp that is approximately an 1/8 in (3 mm) wide by 1/2 (13 mm) in long that I presume allows heat to escape. I opened it up to notice the entire lithium-ion battery is removable.
I quickly began to look over the directions and noticed that I had to give the lamp a full charge before the first use. I took a few pictures and plugged it into a wall outlet with another multi-USB charger that I own. I didn't pay much attention to the initial charge level when I first plugged it in, but a few hours later in noticed the energy indicator was green.
I own another Petzl headlamp that is not in the Performance Series and really enjoy using it, but when I began to read about their differing modes of lighting this lamp has my head began to swim! For a moment I wondered if I'd agreed to test a piece of technology that might be above my skill level. I'm used to turning a headlamp on and having two or three modes ranging from high to dim and perhaps a red light as well. This lamp in total has ten varying modes. Three in the reactive lighting setting, another three in the constant lighting mode, a full lumen boost mode and finally a minimal reserve mode.
After the headlamp was charged I tried it on and decided to test the varying modes. I quickly initiated light induced blindness several times for a few seconds while attempting to investigate the varying modes. I quickly decided this may not be the best way to investigate how the reactive lighting varied from the constant setting.
I also noticed that it was really comfortable to wear. The forehead portion of the headband is soft and padded, almost sweatband-like and the back half is elastic splits into two straps that are quickly adjusted with a pair of plastic slides. It can be worn loose or very snug for dynamic activities like running. The padded headband appears to be designed to absorb perspiration. I find this to be a nice feature. I plan on using the light primarily for backpacking, but I do occasionally take an early morning run before the sun begins to rise so I may have to test how stays in place during a run.
I tried to download the Petzl OS to my work computer, but I didn't have the proper administrative rights. I will be sure to report on how I've been able to customize the RXP in the field report in several months. All-in-all I'm excited to give it a try. It is a little heavier than my other headlamps, even my other Petzl and I will also need to carry the USB cord into the backcountry in order to use a portable charger. I'm interested to see how much of the portable capacity it uses since it takes around five hours to give a full charge.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
18 - 19 July, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. My 6 1/2 year old son and I took this overnight trip to the local national forest and met up with another gear tester that I recently learned lives just miles away from me. We hiked a little over 3 mi (5 km) each day in hot and dry conditions. Heat indexes were around 105 F (40.5 C) during the day and I believe the overnight low was still above 75 F (24 C). My little one was a trooper in these miserable conditions and the trail we followed also happened to be open to horses. Intense and record setting rain in the area over the previous three weeks in conjunction with horse traffic created a soupy mess on the trail! We bushwhacked straight downhill the final 0.25 mi (0.40 km) so we could camp directly on the reservoir. That made for a tough start to our exit on the following morning, specifically since I carried two packs back up to the trail.
|Ready Before Sunset|
21 - 23 August, 2015; Brown County, Indiana. This was a solo weekend outing covering a 15 mi (24 km) loop. Weather was around 80 F (29 C) during the day and dropped to around 70 F (21 C) in the evening. Conditions were dry and hot, but it was nice to get into the woods alone.
12 - 13 September, 2015; Camp Gnawbone, Gnawbone, Indiana. This is the outing that embarks the fall season with the Dad's group that I'm involved with, again no serious hiking. It rained in the afternoon just enough to be annoying and get the tarp damp. Temperatures had been considerably warming in the previous weeks, but the high this day was 67 F (19 C) and it dropped to 48 F (9 C) that night. The weather was much cooler than the summer-like temperatures everyone had been accustomed to so jackets were and long pants were very common.
25 - 27 September, 2015; Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana. This was a three-day and two-night outing with our church at a local state park. There wasn't any backpacking involved, but I used the lamp every evening for several hours and took a 3 mi (5 km) run early Sunday morning using it. High temperatures were 67 F (19 C) and lows in the evening dropped to 49 F (9 C). It was mostly cloudy, but there were some intermittent sprinkles on Saturday. The rain was annoying enough to require a rain shell but not miserable.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD & SUMMARY
I've been thoroughly satisfied with the Tikka RXP to date. I've used it on three individual outings and around the house many occasions. I actually keep the headlamp in my nightstand drawer for emergency purposes.
|Tikka RXP in the Field|
My primary excitement centers on the battery life of this rechargeable lamp. Granted, the longest trip I've been in the field has been two nights, but I've never had to recharge the light during an outing. In fact, after my late August outing I specifically decided not to recharge the headlamp when I returned home. It was still clearly above 66% charge based on the green light indicator. I continued to use the light over the next month at home. Nearly every morning around 6 AM when it was still dark out I'd wear the lamp out to our swimming pool to treat it. Then in late September I used the headlamp on a two-night church camping trip without charging it. In fact I continued to take my field charger in hopes of needing to use it. I did not!
By the end of the second night with many hours of use in either the red lighting or reactive lighting setting I finally noticed the orange light that indicates the battery dropping below 66% for the first time.
|Amber Battery Level Indicatory|
The reactive lighting is suitable for almost all my needs, even when walking around in the dark on the trail. I also really enjoy the red lighting option. It saves battery life, gives me plenty of light in camp during most scenarios and doesn't blind my mates.
I don't have much negative feedback to give on the headlamp. It is a little heavier and bulkier than the ones I generally use, but given the performance I've received I will take that minor nuisance in a second. I have been carrying a field charger, but I generally have that to recharge my mobile phone in order to stay connected with my wife while I'm away. Based on that, I needn't take backup batteries so I almost take that as a break-even. I did use my portable charger when I returned home after my last trip to see how much power the lamp would take. Again, the battery was somewhere between 33% and 66% charged and it used less than 20% of the charging power from the charger. This is similar to the amount it takes to recharge my phone. Based on those results, if I used the charger solely for the headlamp I'd guess it could easily recharge the lamp 5 to 6 times if needed.
|Snug inside my Hammock|
My only other negative feedback is that I do find it a little difficult to change the lamp from one setting to another. I continue to struggle with it in the dark even after having reread the instructions. I will push the button on the side of the lamp and then the one on the top to activate the mode change, but I can't seem to get master it! It must take a little getting used to, and I've again removed it from my head, looked at the light and nearly blinded myself with the max feature while trying to change the setting!
Overall I'm very excited to be using the Tikka headlamp and I look forward to continuing to test it over the next few months. I have two longer trips planned as the days get shorter and the miles get longer in November, so I hope to continue putting the RXP to the test!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
16 - 18 October, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. It was Fall Break for my kids and the annual trip that my wife is willing to take with my children and me into the backcountry. We backpacked into and out of a base camp 4 mi (6.5 km) in from the parking area, but hiked around several miles each day once setting camp. Temperatures were at low as 32 F (0 C) and rose to around 60 F (6.5 C) in the day. There were some clouds but it was dry throughout the trip.
12 - 15 November, 2015; Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee and Kentucky. I backpacked for 4 days and 3 nights out of the Bandy Creek area of Big South Fork with eight other hammock campers. We averaged 8 - 10 mi (13 - 16 km) per day with elevations ranging from 400 - 900 ft (122 - 274 m). Low temperatures at night were around 24 F (-4.5 C) and in the day the rose to a high of 52 F (11 C). The weather was wonderful with cloudless skies in the day and starry skies at night. The sun didn't rise until after 7 AM and would set just after 5 PM, allowing for plenty of evening use with the headlamp.
PERFORMANCE & SUMMARY
During the Long Term portion of the test series I went on two more backpacking outings with the headlamp. I continue to be impressed with the Tikka RXP. Both these outings were longer in duration the earlier outings and the dark hours were longer.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
That stated, I never truly needed to field charge the headlamp once. I did so on the final morning of last outing simply to see how long it would take and how much of energy it would draw from my portable charger. I still had more than 66% charge as the light was still green before I started charging and it only took around an hour to return it to a full charge and it used less than a quarter of the chargers energy.
The red light was great around the campfire and I was never that 'rude' camper that blinds his or her buddy during the social hour at camp. It cast plenty of light to start my stove, cook and eat with. I would transition to reactive lighting when I'd walk back-and-forth from where my hammock was hanging. On one evening of the outing we were all separated in the thicket and my hammock was close to 50 yd (45 m) away from our campfire gathering spot. The reactive lighting worked perfectly well on these jaunts to-and-fro. I did utilize the full power mode once when I walked well away from camp for a call to nature.
One thing that I'm happy to report on is that I finally became comfortable with changing from one mode to another when using the lamp and easily turning it on and off. I'd had trouble with this during both the Initial Report and the Field Test portion of the series. I guess it just came naturally with time. The operating system software is neat, but I really found no key use for it. If I were to run in the dark on a regular basis I could easily see the benefit in using it.
The headlamp is a little bulky and heavy, but not having to carry AA or AAA batteries is a positive, since I carry a portable charger to stay in contact with my family on the phone. I find the lighting and charge it holds amazing and easily overcomes the size. Spending $100 on a headlamp was something that struck me as exorbitant, but I found it interesting that my college roommate, a frugal man I've known for over a quarter of a century, showed up to the Big South Fork trip with the exact same lamp. He touted the use for evening exercise with his dog.
I can assure the reader that the Tikka RXP will now become my primary trail headlamp and my older Tikka Plus will move to my nightstand for use during power outages. To clarify, my favorite headlamp always moves to my gear storage for backpacking and my second favorite is saved for emergency uses. It is an excellent product and I'm happy to have it in my stash!
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Petzl for allowing me to test the Tikka RXP.
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Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd