Rin Colombi of Lyon Equipment said:
“ We thought Sarah's review was a great mix of self-deprecating humour and good product comparisons. She managed to find unique uses for the Petzl Tikka XP2, from blinding unsuspecting deer to nightclubbing, while still retaining factually accurate information – no mean feat!”Congratulations Sarah. You are now a UKC Gear Tester for a year.
A huge thanks to Matthew Munro, Sarah Flint, Alexandre Buisse, Bron Edwards and Andrew Warren, and Lyon Equipment and Petzl.
Sarah Stirling, Assistant Editor, UKC.
Matthew Munro, Sarah Flint, Alexandre Buisse, Bron Edwards and Andrew Warren won the chance to become a UKClimbing.com gear tester for a year by answering some questions about Petzl's new TIKKA XP˛, Become A UKClimbing.com Gear Tester. They then all received a TIKKA XP˛ to review.
Below are their entries. The winner will be chosen by a combination of votes from you and the final decision being made by Frank Bennett, Paul Cornthwaite and Rin Colombi at Lyon Equipment who distribute Petzl in the UK.
So have a read, then vote, the voting box is at the base of this page, and feel free to add your comments on the thread associated with this review.
Petzl have a long history of making good head torches. They designed the Tikka XP˛ for mountaineering, ice climbing and trail running. It is also the torch they recommend to take on a day out rock climbing.
The Tikka XP˛ costs £45, and there are good, cheaper torches on the market. However if you are caught out in the dark, the XP˛ makes it really easy to see the route on the crag, and to navigate off the hill after.
There are 5 light settings:
High/ 60m beam
The high beam was amazing for looking for features in the dark - I found my tent from 50m away which, given I've never had a high powered torch before, was just mind-blowing.
The wide angled lens spread the light, lighting the vicinity like daylight. When navigating, this meant that we could see the contours of the hill easily, making micro-navigation a lot less stressful. It also means that when you are exhausted after an epic day, you can walk down a path without any stress about seeing where you are going.
The low/17m beam uses half the battery power and is easily bright enough for walking along a path. It's also more sociable as the high setting is so bright you'll blind your friends if you look at them. I have to admit, that unless I was walking next to a friend, I stuck with the high beam though because it made everything much easier.
The red light setting lights up the ground close to you without affecting your night vision. I loved using this on a clear night so that rather than walking in my own bubble of light, I could see the mountains all around me. The red light also doesn't affect people who get headaches from wearing head torches and means that you won't be dazzled looking at a book or map case.
The emergency setting (or when out cycling). You can set the red or white light to flash.
There is also a whistle worked into the strap for attracting attention.
It's easy to choose the light setting on the XP˛, you hold down the button to change between white and red light, otherwise press the button to cycle through the different settings. This is easy to do with normal gloves on, however I did find it hard when wearing mountaineering gloves. Having said that, I've never used a torch which was easy to turn on wearing mountaineering gloves.
When climbing, I put the torch on high/wide angle setting. It made it really easy to see where I was going and find hand holds. However the main criticism I have is that the Tikka XP˛ is designed to see the ground in front of rather than below you. When I had the torch on my helmet, I had to swing quite far out in order to get an angle where I could see foot placements. If you were doing a hard climb in the dark, this could make it very tricky.
The Tikka XP˛ is powerful, effective and easy to use.
It is good for navigating, route finding and lighting up the ground or the rock. The one thing it doesn't do is allow you to see foot placements on the rock unless you are able to swing out when you look down.
Overall though, I think this is an excellent torch, which I will be glad to have for both expected and unexpected circumstances.
I'm an ordinary Bristol girl. I drink cider; I climb a bit at the smelly church and fumble around on the slippery walls of the Avon Gorge on sunny days. What am I doing on the Mendip Way in the pitch black of a cold April night?
When my friend Zena and I saw this competition we sniggered at first. We have a friendship that goes beyond climbing, which is good because she's crap at it. Her command of inventive expletives makes up for her lack of enthusiasm, and her bloodymindedness is comforting in a crisis. 'Petzl Tikka XP˛, sounds like the noise Dynamo Dave makes when he's choking.' I didn't ask. Then she did her stern scary voice: 'Hey belay bitch, we should do this. You reckon you can write, and I need gear to replace my stuff you've broken and lost.' (She's never learnt to forgive and forget.)
The head torch arrived and we bickered viciously about where to test it – the adrenaline junkie initially rejected the idea of a night walk as 'boring as shit' but a bribe changed her mind.
Two days later I was stumbling along a rocky path at 10pm in total darkness when only moments before we'd been floodlit by 5 torches. 'Just testing the dark' said Zena. 'There's got to be a base line'.
She was taking this seriously. We'd met by the distressingly closed pub in Burrington Coombe. Flipping open the top of her Claire's Accessories rucksack she'd emptied out the contents. 'You don't know your arse from your perimenopausal flushes. We're doing this properly - a comparison'.
Apart from the purple item under review, she had with her a LED cheapy purchased from the evil Tesco behemoth, an expensive posh LED thing with its own remote battery pack (left-overs from an ex), and a hand-held bulb torch used by the emergency services (again, I didn't ask). I had my old Petzl Tikka Plus- looking like a poorer, less well- fed relation next to the new-comer (but weirdly weighing the same).
On 'flood beam' the spread of light from the Tikka XP˛ was so humungous Zena didn't moan she couldn't see her feet and we could both walk along the treacherous path as if it were day. Its single LED easily out-performed the older model with its 4 LEDs. The cheapy was pathetic, and rest couldn't match the equivalent spread.
On 'focused' it was an impressive searchlight. It picked out the reflected retina of a deer thoughtfully standing almost exactly 60m away. The unfortunate animal then became the test subject of the claim that the beam will extend that far. It obviously thought it was a rabbit and stood there while we pointed high velocity lights at it. Before it scarpered (the blinding was only temporary), we found the emergency service's yellow bulb clearly lit up the perplexed beast, the power-pack beam cut through the night like a knife, and the new Petzl picked out something but we couldn't clearly see it (the cheapy and the older model just weren't up to this).
Being around someone with the Petzl on their head can give you a headache. I convinced Zena to use 'economic mode' when we weren't moving: a handy facility – also useful for tent life. The red flashing mode is so good at a distance that Zena took it clubbing last week. It was still shining painfully brightly when she eventually returned it: the alleged battery life in this mode is 750 hours (I imagine the white flashing light was also in use and hopefully didn't cause eye damage to over-excited clubbers). The continuous red light was strong enough to walk by but, as Zena asked: 'who needs night vision when you've got a football pitch floodlight on your head?'
Although it wasn't raining its water resistant was tested - it fell into a stream as Zena was walking and texting by the light of 3 torches. It coped with this treatment every well.
Comfortable to wear and easy to use. 3 AAA batteries make it very economical considering the blinding light it produces. Although it couldn't out-blast the power-pack torch, it would be a great asset if you had to walk or abseil off a crag in the dark - and who'd want to carry that great lumpy thing around when you can have a small lightweight one that does the job required. Anyone wanting precise long distance vision would need something expensively specialist.
The Tikka XP˛ costs £45.
I have been using the older Petzl Tikka XP headtorch for three years, a hardy piece of kit that survived some impressive falls, so I was chuffed to try out its successor. Fortunately the new Tikka XP˛ turned up at my door just as I was leaving to catch a plane to Norway. Where better to test out a headtorch than a country where people do not see the sun for half the year?
Petzl Tikka XP2 Specs:
First of all, I have to say the single high power LED on this thing kicks out a lot of light - expect a fair amount of abuse from anyone you happen to shine in the eyes. Petzl claim the range is 60m, a statement I believe, and with the diffuser on it spreads the light over a large area which is especially useful for climbing, when you're looking for the next hold. Compared to the previous model, the new Tikka XP˛ is easier to operate due to a larger more prominent button, a diffuser which is simply slides up or down and the battery compartment is much easier to open with an improved catch. The Tikka XP˛ also has a smaller red LED, an emergency whistle on the headband and a low battery indicator. There are two light modes and a flashing mode for each LED.
During use I found this headtorch to give plenty light while skiing fluffy Norwegian powder, indeed without it I may well have ended up going for an unplanned attempt at the world record cliff drop...but that's another story. Turning it on and off and tilting it to the right position in gloves is easy and it stays where you want it. Cold weather performance is admirable, even with standard alkaline batteries this was good down to minus twenty. If your going to be out in the cold a lot though it is compatible with lithium batteries, which should keep things lit up nicely until your hands and feet are going black. I can also attest to the units waterproofing as it kept on working after going for a dip in a river.
So far I have never had any reason to want to use the red LED, but apparently it can be better in foggy weather and it helps preserve your night vision. Plus it comes in handy around town when you inevitably forget your bike lights.
Finally with regards to price it's not the cheapest on the market (RRP £45), but it does stand out from its competitors in terms of functionality and quality. If you've ever been on a bold climb trying to fiddle in a piece of gear in the dark then you'll know it's quite easy to justify getting a good headtorch which will do the job, and the Tikka XP˛ doesn't dissapoint.
Headlamps, like hardshells (unless you live in Wales), are one of these items that live inside the bottom of your bag, completely useless until your life depends on it, on the day where you get surprised by nightfall or rain. A good headlamp will often make the difference between being able to finish the route and get off the mountain or have to spend a very cold and uncomfortable night...
I used to think that, even in the days of powerful LED torches, there was a basic choice: either a small and light headlamp which will be enough for emergencies, camping and following a rope on moderate terrain, or a heavy duty version, powerful enough to do routefinding or technical climbing, but at an additional cost in both weight and money. For that reason, I bought a Petzl Myo XP Belt a few years ago. I have been very happy with its powerful light output, but with a total of 220g (including batteries), it made a significant dent in my weight budget and (if you can forgive the pun), the decision to pack it was not to be taken lightly.
Enter the Petzl Tikka XP˛. Advertised as almost as bright for a mere 88g (again, with batteries), I was initially doubtful. After using it in a variety of conditions and locations in the past month, from winter climbing in Scotland to rock climbing in North Wales and camping in French Gorges de la Jonte, I am now such a convert that I am hard pressed to find applications for my Myo XP anymore!
The Tikka XP˛ appears very simple, with no top headband, no cables anywhere and a single big button. The very first thing that you will notice upon turning the torch on is how powerful the beam is. Petzl says it lights up to 60m away, and I am inclined to believe their figure. It is certainly enough for almost all climbing needs, and I would not hesitate to use it to finish a route, even on lead. One of the greatest features is the diffuser, a simple piece of translucent plastic that can be slid in front of the light. The result is a very wide and even beam, which, unless full power is required, is much more useful in almost any scenario.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some photos of the full beam in both focused and diffused modes. The trees were 15 to 20m away, on the other side of the Jonte river, and the first image should give an idea of the light level when the photos were taken.
Of course, there is also an economy mode, which is enough for camping or even approach marches. It is still powerful enough to blind if you look at it directly, though, so be considerate of your climbing partners. Like most LED torches, battery life is superlative and given at over 150 hours in economy, or 80h in full beam. A third flashing mode will be useful when you need to make yourself seen, typically for a rescue. I am glad to report I haven't needed to use it yet!
Another feature of which I was initially suspicious is the red LED, supposed to preserve night vision. It turns out to work surprisingly well, and is ideal for night reading or for a quick look at the map. It is much easier on the eyes than a white beam, which simply leads to more comfort.
Is It Perfect?
Does all this mean that the Tikka XP˛ is perfect? Well, almost: the only black point for me is that it isn't regulated, meaning that light output will decline as the batteries age, instead of calculating power consumption to even things out. A front LED low battery indicator will start flashing whenever the light is less than half of its initial strength, but it will be worth switching or recharging batteries even before that happens.
At £45 RRP, the Petzl Tikka XP˛ is an almost perfect headlamp for most outdoor activities, including lead climbing on hard terrain, and only if expecting very difficult route finding by night will I ever consider bringing a heavier torch.
With a name like XP˛ for the latest TIKKA makes it sound like a quadratic equation or that it has had a service pack upgrade. Fear not this is a serious bit of kit with a simple design that is effective and contains zero bugs.
The overall design is in two parts with a strap and an head unit. The strap is colourful with a modern European style, elasticated and is easy to adjust with a two buckle system that neatly hides away excess, preventing any flap factor. One buckle makes it easy to undo and to be removed from the head unit and it also has a moulded whistle for use in emergencies.
The head unit is made of plastic with a backplate that threads the strap and also holds in place the main lighting unit. The lighting unit is where it is at. The colour complements that of the strap. The unit has two pivotal points allowing the unit to be clicked into four tilted positions. The fourth tilted position allows access to a clip for the battery compartment where three AAA batteries reside. The main face is half filled by a crescent clear plastic screen with three LEDs behind and a diffuser that can be flipped up or down in front and only used with the large white LED. The LEDs comprise of a large white, small red and a small flashing battery indicator. On top of the unit there is a large rubber button that, when pressed, makes a clear click.
There are five lighting modes and combining them with the main LED diffuser makes a staggering eight possible modes. This may sound rather overly complicated but do not worry understanding a little of the modes things do become a lot clearer. Changing between modes is done through the button on top of the lighting unit. Pressing the button and holding for a second switches the light source from white light to red light and visa-versa. In the white light mode one click gives a bright white light (constant light always), two clicks gives an economic light (light goes on 1.28ms and off 8.96ms to save battery power) and three clicks gives a flashing bright light. In the red light mode one click gives a constant red light and two clicks gives a flashing red light. The third small LED flashes and only comes on as an indicator when the battery power is below 50%.
The diffuser is a clever and quick way of changing the main LEDs light focus. When the diffuser is down the LEDs beam is narrow and focused reaching up to 60 meters. In the up position the LEDs light source is diffused giving a wide spread area of light.
I have been using the Tikka XP˛ now for a couple of weeks for a number of activities. I found the unit to be well balanced when running staying put in one place without any bounce.
The diffuser is easy to use even when wearing gloves. When in the down position the focused light source is great for distance, like finding the best place to cross a river. When the diffuser is in the up position, I found close up work like climbing better as it felt like being in a light bubble and was easy to see where to place ones next axe or crampon.
The economic lighting mode gives off a strobe effect and is great when there is no sudden movements, say when map reading. But when running in a snow storm there is lots of movement one feels about to enter hyperspace. I can surely say that I did not use the torch in anger with the flashing mode but I did use this mode while biking and it seemed that motorists noticed me.
I feel that ever since the revolution of the ZOOM headtorch in 1981 Petzl have kept with the times evolving each component but still managing to keep the main simple concepts. Gone are the days of the large heavy battery pack, bright halogen bulbs that drank batteries to their death and the iconic eighties clunky retro style. The Tikka XP˛ is a supreme product and a welcome upgrade for ergonomic, lightweight and modern style. But it does make one wonder how Petzl will shape their iconic headtorches say in the next ten years?
The winner will be chosen by a combination of votes from you and the final decision being made by Frank Bennett, Paul Cornthwaite and Rin Colombi at Lyon Equipment who distribute Petzl in the UK. Voting is open until next Wednesday with the winner announced on Thursday.