Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Gear Review -- Petzl "Tikka XP2" Headlamp
I've had the Petzl "Tikka XP2" Headlamp for about one (1) year now. (Note: the link is for convenience--I did not receive any compensation from Petzl or REI for this review). Before reviewing the particular light, however, I would like to address the use of headlamps in general.
Headlamps are intended as utility lights--they are not, nor should they be used as, tactical lights. First, they are connected to something that you don't want targeted--your head. Second, they cast a beam behind the weapon that can illuminate the weapon and, particularly with a rifle, cast a shadow from the weapon that can obscure the target. Third, and most important, they cannot be quickly and easily operated while using a weapon.
They excel as a utility light, however, for the simple reason that they (i) allow hands-free operations (which is critical when grabbing a load of wood, setting up a tent, working with tools under a car hood, or climbing into an attic) and (ii) they direct the light to where you are looking. I also use mine as a lamp for bike riding at dusk. (While I haven't used it for night riding, I'm sure it would work fine).
For most uses, it is not necessary to purchase an expensive model. We've picked up a few of the inexpensive 3-LED models on sale for $5 - $7 which seem to have held up well through Scout camp outs (and without the worry of them being lost or stolen) and offer a strobe mode for use for bike riding.
The advantage of more expensive lights is generally greater durability (i.e., shock resistance), a more powerful beam, and other special features that may vary from model to model such as variable brightness settings, secondary red lights, water-proofing, etc.
Details: I'm not going to repeat all of the features for the lamp. If you want the specifics, see the web site that I've linked to above. However, it does have a white LED lamp with three settings: high, low, and strobe. It can also switch over to a red LED. Switching between the settings is done by pressing a single switch--press once for the high, twice for the low, etc. The red light is turned on by holding down on the switch for several seconds.
There is a diffuser "lens" that you can slide up over the lamp to provide a diffuse light over a narrower beam. Since I'm using the lamp for short range, I almost always use the diffuser.
It uses three "AAA" batteries, and seems to have a pretty good life if you mostly stick to using the low power.
There is a whistle on the head-band, which is a nice accessory.
The specs say that the lamp is water-resistant, although I have not had the opportunity (or mishap) to test this.
General Impressions: I would give the lamp a thumbs up overall. Good quality, comfortable to wear, and a long battery life. As I noted, I primarily use the diffuser lens, but I like the option of having a more narrow, longer range beam. I have also used the strobe setting quite a bit when bicycling. I have never used the red light.
Pros: I would give special mention to the easy adjustment of the attitude of the light, and the fact it stays in place. I don't mountain bike, so I can't say how it would hold up to the jarring in that use, but I've never had any problems when going over some serious bumps on the paved bike trails and streets that I use.
At 60 lumens (I think it actually brighter with new batteries, but I have no way of testing), the bright beam is sufficiently bright to light up a trail or path.
The lamp is well built and seems solid (although not heavy), like some of the cheaper lamps I've handled and used.
Cons: There are three things I don't like, but these are minor annoyances more than serious flaws. First, is the orange color on the band. That is an aesthetic issue, and fortunately the orange doesn't really stick out on the outside of the band. I'm sure I would change my mind if I happened to drop the lamp and was trying to find it in grass or brush.
Second, I have a hard time getting it to switch to strobe mode without first taking it off my head. May just be me, but if I'm wearing my lamp before turning it on, I have to stop my bike and fiddle with the lamp.
Third, the body of the lamp is partially clear, and when the lamp is pointed downward, I've had some light reflected through the clear portion and into my eyes. This is a minor issue, and is only when it is pointed down at a sharp angle, but still irritating.
Overall Impression: Good buy. Good lamp.
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