I picked up this headlamp after reading about it in some outdoor magazine or another, after my frustration with our camp lighting situation reached its apex,…and after my REI dividend arrived. Until that time, we’d been getting by with an LED flashlight, a headlamp, and a small LED lantern.
On the surface, I’m sure it seems like that should work just fine…except it wasn’t. The flashlight was a pain to carry around, taking up one of my very valuable two hands. Same goes for the lantern with the added insult of blinding, uncomfortable, uncontrollable light…plus poor quality…something I’m sure the manufacturer would not want me to review. The headlamp, while simple and older, I have no complaints about other than it was the one decent light for the entire Camp Granola crew. The math just wasn’t working out.
Enter the Petzl Tikka xp2…
In general when camping, we tend to let the available daylight dictate our activities and timing. However, a little light for navigating the campsite and campground in the dark is in order especially during the winter months when there’s fewer daylight hours to work with. So I knew we needed a lighting remedy and I knew it needed to be a headlamp to keep hands free.
I also didn’t want to belabor the issue and spend months researching headlamps…I’ve got other things to do. I’d come across a headlamp review roundup in a magazine so I let their research lead my way. Except that I can’t find the article to share with you now. I’ve searched high and low to no avail. Call it a blogger fail if you must. (Why did I not Pin It, bookmark, or save it in some way? No idea!)
The nitty gritty…
Anyway, I’m gooey over this headlamp and it’s LED awesomeness. Here’s some random thoughts on my experience so far:
- Battery life and indicator: I’ve been pretty liberal with my use and by that I mean I’ve let the kids have at it and they’re not terribly mindful when it comes to conserving battery life. It’s been through weeks and weeks of camping and I have yet to see the battery-life indicator fuss at me. Yep, it has a battery-life indicator. A nice little bonus that takes the guesswork out of the how-much-juice-do-I-have equation.
- Red light: You can hum Roxanne if you like when you’re making use of the eye-soothing red light feature…I confess I do. Quirks aside, I’m always surprised by the lack of knowledge when it comes to the use of red light instead of glaring white. As any astronomy buff can tell you, red light allows you to see quite adequately in the dark while allowing your eyes to remain dilated, i.e. adjusted to the dark. There’s no need to induce flinching and groans (and probably some profanity) in your fellow campmates. Red light is friendly and the Tikka comes equipped with the option. I even got the opportunity to use my red light on a nighttime hike in Cades Cove. Click! I was ready to go without the hassle of rubberbanding a red film over my light. Scored points with the park rangers on that one. Plus you can go into blinking mode if you’re trying to remain highly visible.
- Intensity options: The Tikka has two white-light levels (spot and flood), a blinking white light, plus a little diffuser shade.
- Ease of use: Speaking of red light, white light, blinking, intensity levels, and diffuser shades…it’s super easy to switch between all of these.
- Headband (or neckband!): Easy to adjust, even between my noggin and the minions’ melons. As a little side-note that really could be applied to most headlamps…don’t forget you can hang this around your neck too. If you’re looking for general light because you’re not focusing on a specific point or task, the neck position keeps you from accidentally blinding your friends as you look at them. I turn the headlamp upside down so I can tilt the light up just a bit. Otherwise I’m just highlighting my chest and that’s generally not something that needs a spotlight. (TMI?)
- Rotation: So obviously the Tikka has a hinge that allows you to shift the light up or down a bit. I find the range to be generous. I’ve never felt the need for more than it offered.
- Color: Ok, I’m not really trying to be a Pollyanna here but I do have some favorite colors. Fortunately, the Tikka comes in one of my beloved shades of orange. (Take a look at my website and be shocked that I like orange. ) There’s a purple and white version that they call “Iris” but I’m playing favorites with my “Graphite” color scheme.
- Bonus: One of the fasteners on the headband has a built-in whistle. Hopefully you’ll never need it but I thought you should know it’s there if that’s a selling point for you.
- Weight: This isn’t something I worry about a ton as a car-camper/day-hiker. Space is generally more of an issue. But one day I will get back to longer expeditions and I’m not worried about the weight on the Tikka. At 3.1 ounces, sure I could get shave an ounce off with another headlamp but I’d lose a lot of function. Not worth it.
Room for improvement?
Overall, great headlamp. What I have noticed however, is that the battery door doesn’t completely seal against the light housing. There’s a small but clearly visible gap between the two which has allowed some sand to get in. The gap hasn’t proven to be a problem yet but it could if more dirt gets in or if those sand grains work themselves deeper into the bits and pieces of the circuitry.
Like I mentioned in my OtterBox review, I did put our Camp Granola gear through some extreme conditions at Great Sand Dunes but even so, I would like to see a snugger fit to keep sand, dirt, and miscellaneous debris out…it is an outdoor product after all.
I’m going to share one of my life philosophies with you that I know will be a huge shocker … perfection is a myth. So in terms of this headlamp…is it perfect? Of course not! But it is as close as I’ve found for my outdoor recreation purposes and so far I’ve been very pleased. If that changes I’ll let you know.
Also, for those of you who hate changing batteries like I do, there is a CORE rechargeable battery kit for the Tikka. I haven’t tried it out yet but if I do, I’ll certainly give you an update.
And I can’t express the value of the red LED enough. Give red light a chance. Play with red film over a flashlight to get a feel for the difference if you must. There are lots of headlamps out there, even a version of the Tikka without the red light option but it’s worth a little extra…especially for those middle-of-the-night potty runs. No need to wake up the whole camp with your light or risk a face-plant in the dark because you were trying to be considerate…there is a better way. Go red! Ok, the Camp Granola PSA is over…
As always, I must state that Petzl has not influenced my review in any way. I’ve purchased and reviewed this product of my own accord. Happy camping!
And now for your moment of green…
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