When Petzl's original Tikka hit the market nearly 10 years ago, the LED headlamp helped revolutionize the lighting market. Petzl is hoping to cause a stir again, revamping most of the designs in the Tikka headlamp series. We tested the new Tikka Plus headlamp to see how it compared to its original brethren.
The headlamp has one high-output white LED in the center and one red LED next to it. The main LED offers two levels of brightness, and both the white and red LEDs can be shifted to a flashing/strobe mode. We found the beam of the white LED (reportedly 50 lumens) in the brightest mode projects close to 100 feet. The beam is narrow and provides excellent focused illumination – perfect when trying to see what lies ahead on the trail.
Adjacent to the white LED is a battery gauge warning light -- handy as an indicator the batteries are low before one heads out on a long nocturnal adventure. The indicator light activates when the beam illuminates less than 20 feet.
The Tikka Plus takes three AAA batteries or can accommodate lithium batteries to reduce weight. Even with the alkaline batteries, the headlamp was lightweight when worn and hardly noticeable.
The adjustable strap is easy to use when the headlamp is on your head. It's made of soft, stretchy elastic that didn't chafe or cause discomfort. There are two lightweight plastic pieces on the strap -- one of which you can hold with one hand while the other hand slides the second plastic piece to get the right fit. The strap slides through a plastic base that's attached to the headlamp body. The plastic base pivots up or down incrementally by four clicks to adjust the direction of the beam -- very handy for projecting straight ahead as we walked along a trail or pivoting down to study a map and it felt more secure than the original Tikka.
The push-button on/off switch is accessible at the top of the headlamp and easy to use with or without gloves. During our tests, the light was never turned on accidentally when it was jostled around in a pack or bag. Behind the switch is the opener to access the battery pack. Unlike other headlamps where we've had to struggle to find or open the battery compartment, this one had a nice finger tab that was easy to open barehanded – a major improvement over the original Tikkaw here a small screw could be hard to turn and would loosen on its own. Once we changed the batteries, the compartment lid snapped in place easily and remained secure.
Despite instructions to hold down the orange on/off button for two seconds to switch between white and red lighting, a couple of our testers found the switch finicky and somewhat unpredictable. Some of our other testers did not experience this, so perhaps it was problem with the switch – or longer fingernails!
Another one of our testers, who wears glasses, had light reflection problems with the new translucent case. In fact, any company that uses a translucent case needs to hear this feedback loud and clear – while the case make look very cool on the shelf, any case that allows any amount of diffused light to reflect and refract directly downward onto a wearer’s glasses creates a glare that inhibits vision. Our tester was able to correct this by applying a strip of black electrical tape to the bottom of the headlamp but that seems a bit jerry-rigged. Don’t headlamp designers take into account eyeglass wearers anymore?
Despite the hiccups and need for black electrical tape modification, the new Tikka Plus is a major upgrade from its sibling and worth adding to any adventure kit when the need for a lightweight, compact and extremely functional headlamp is called for.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $39.95
For more information:www.petzl.com