Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Petzl Tikka Plus 2

A lightweight (83g), 50-lumen, 35m, 140h, water-resistant, multi-mode headtorch with a 4* listing in the 2010 Trail Gear Guide. I've not yet tested it in the field, but I've made several trips to the pub! (The manufacturer's spec is here.)

General Use
The lower continuous-white-light setting is totally sufficient for walking at a good pace. The higher setting is great for a look-around, but I felt no need to use it all the time (on a reasonable path).

Red Light
The red light is a very useful feature if, like me, you like to keep your night vision sometimes. It's bright enough to walk by on a good path with care. It's absolutely fine for proximity lighting.

In rain/snow/dust
The lower continuous-white-light setting gives a mini strobe effect, caused by the power cycling on and off to achieve the lower output (this is the same for any single-LED). In rain/dust/snow, you get an effect of glitter in front of your face. It's pretty, but distracting, and a bit irritating after a while. It doesn't occur on the max-white or red-light settings.

The general distribution means I can see the inside rim of my hood, and the end of my nose. Coupled with the glitter effect this made for a lot of unwanted local-illumination under these conditions.

Water Resistance
I couldn't quite get to the bottom of its water resistance: its specified rating of IP X4 (thanks to Nick for some clarification here - see comments) might or might not equate to IP65 - which means you're fine as long as you don't drop it in a loch and leave it there. I understand that, although the battery compartment can theoretically be flooded, the PCB is protected by rubber seals. Basically, I've used it in heavy rain and no water got in.

Tilt Angle
The unit can be tilted to five different angles, but I found the whole unit set just a bit too low: on the highest tilt I still had to tip my head back, or lean backwards, to lift the light up enough to use its full 35m beam - not what I want to do while wearing a full pack! The lowest angle illuminated my boots (with my head vertical), which I don't need. Personally, I'd prefer the whole unit to be set one notch more upright, so I can use the top notch for distance and the next one/two for walking.

I wrote to Petzl about this, but was not impressed with their response: they seemed more concerned with lights not shining in other people's eyes, rather than practicalities for the user...

I can't see myself using all five tilt settings, and would rather the whole thing were angled up a notch.

Battery Life
I've used the torch for two hours so far, and have not noticed any drop in performance. It has Duracells in it at the moment, but I'll replace them with Uniross rechargeables. I'll update this post when I know more about battery life and performance.

Conclusion
If you can live with the niggles, it's a good useable torch, at a great weight, and for a great price.

Good Features
5 modes (white: max, min, strobe; red: steady, flashing)
Lightweight: only 83g including batteries
Useful (35m) range & distribution of light
Battery-life of 140h (on economy)
Battery indicator
Waterproof seals (water resistant)
Easy access to batteries (see photo)
Good price (I paid £37.50 from Cotswolds)

Poor Features
Glitter effect in rain/snow/dust
Low angle of illumination

Any questions/comments? Please post via the comments link below.

6 comments:

womagwriter said...

I had a little head torch as a Christmas pressie. Haven't used it yet, though I took it to the Lakes as part of my emergency kit. Mine will more likely be used for reading while camping. Mine is much smaller than yours and only has white light. BUT there's no great big battery pack as it uses those little round batteries. Very bright. Made by Silverpoint and bought in the local Cotswolds shop I think.

Troy said...

A very illuminating posting.

I remember that I once set out in the darkness with only a very poor torch. The path was rocky with sharp gorse at either side. Then as the dawn came up I stopped for a hearty breakfast in a village cafe. Climbing over a dry stone wall the path meandered up a steep hill and past a small quiet, forboding lake. Hardly a ripple moved the surface of the water. I stopped to throw a stone in it. After a refreshing drink and a Mars bar I set off over a crooked style using my OS map and compass to locate the way. The path was hardly visible as the mist came down......sorry, I'm rambling, aren't I?

Shamus said...

I had the good fortune to visit Petzl in France a few years ago. The research and development lab for headtorches was superb with lots of headtoches illuminating their own little darkened boxes all day long.

The only draw back now is the choice, it was great when the only choice was a petzl zoom or nothing! Nowadays the shop wall is covered in so many tempting goodies.

Looks like a nice headtorch though, and some nice features.

Nick Bramhall said...

Matin Rye over at Summit & Valley recommended your blog in a recent post and it looks to be right up my street (or mountain, as the case may be!). I too am a frequent visitor to the Cairngorms (and a lover of not getting wet) and look forward to reading your updates.

I currently have a very small Petzl Tikka headtorch but with Wild Camping season here I'm looking at getting a more versatile option so thank you for this detailed review.

Nick Bramhall said...

Sorry, the X4 rating is correct. 4X would indicate that it was designed/tested for preventing ingress by "solid foreign objects".

X4 indicates it is protected against the effects of continuous splashing water (i.e. heavy Scottish rain). As you rightly say this means it is not designed to withstand prolonged immersion in a loch (but then again, neither are we!).

Leigh said...

Womag - Mine will also be used for reading while camping, without doubt!

Troy - I'm sure you've used that joke before!!

Shamus - You lucky chap. Must have been a great day out. And you're right about all the choice...

Nick - Glad you like the blog, and the review - thanks also for the clarification!