Monday, August 17, 2009

Petzl Tikka XP

For years I've used and recommended the Princeton Tec EOS as a bike or helmet light and while I still think it's a darn good light, my two EOS lights both conked out a few months ago, after giving years of faithful service on many a dark road and trail. Interestingly, both lights failed in the same manner, they refused to shut off. I tried swapping batteries, I tried whacking them, nothing. As a failure mode, it's a good one, much better than being stuck in the dark. I think the switches finally just wore out.

While I strongly considered just getting another EOS, I took the opportunity to see what else was out there in terms of a similar light. I've been using Planet Bike lights on my bikes for the past few years, but I really like having something on my helmet. The helmet light is handy while riding since it shines on what I'm looking at. Please, if you use a helmet light don't look straight at others and blind your riding companions, convenience store clerks, other road and trail users! But the helmet light really shines, so to speak, when hunting out places to camp after dark.

Like many folks these days, I Googled around looking at options. This favorable review of the Petzl Tikka XP together with many favorable reviews on Amazon prompted me to buy the Tikka XP. I've had the light for over a month now and here is what I've found.

The Tikka XP is almost the exact same size and weight as the EOS and shares the one annoying feature of the EOS, it uses 3 AAA batteries. Batteries are sold in even numbered packs and most chargers charge an even number of batteries, so devices that use an odd number of batteries bug me. But I haven't found a good helmet light that uses an even number of batteries, so I've learned to deal with this. I have a small Planet Bike Tail Light that uses just one AAA cell, so when I charge up cells, I charge the three cells from the Tikka XP together with the single cell from the tail light.

Like the EOS, the Tikka XP puts out a good bit of light and has multiple brightness settings plus a flash setting. The flash is a bit higher frequency than that of the EOS and, in my opinion, a bit more useful. The Tikka XP has a few added features that I've found handy.

On the side of the light is a little recessed LED battery indicator that blinks green, orange or red depending on the state of your batteries. Batteries last a really long time (see this review for discharge curves) and the brightness of the light is good enough that I mostly run it on one of the lower power settings.

The controls are easy to work by touch. In addition to the primary button which cycles the light through it's various modes, the Tikka XP has a boost switch, which makes the light kick out a brief, ultrahigh-powered beam, just the thing for the "what the hell was that?" moments when you here the rustle in the bushes just outside of camp.

The final useful feature of the Tikka XP is a beam diffuser. This is a textured plastic bezel that slides in place to morph the beam from a sharp, narrow spot light to a softer, broad area light. I use Tikka XP as a spot light while riding but when walking around, setting up camp or reading, I use the light with the diffuser slid into place.

I was able to thread the straps of the Tikka XP through the vents of my helmet without modification to either the light or the helmet and the pivoting mount has proven to be solid and nicely adjustable.

After a month of use, I have to say I'm very happy with the Tikka XP and I'd recomend it to my pals.

Note: I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. Whenever you go to Amazon via some link on my blog and buy ANYTHING within 24 hours, a percentage of your purchase price goes to me. It doesn't cost you anything extra, but some of that money does go to me and I use it to do things like buy helmet lights or Peanut M&Ms and next summer I'm planning on racing the length of the Great Divide on my bike. And that costs money. So thanks. And, obviously, it's not in my best interest to give bum advice and talk you into buying something that is of no use to you. So I try to be fair when I talk about stuff and up front about the fact that I make a bit from my online ramblings.

Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp

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