When I cycled across Europe, my headtorch seemed to have a strong – and greatly frustrating – tendency to spontaneously turn on in my bags, until it had entirely run out of life. After that, it could only be recharged whenever I managed to find a plug socket. The result was many, many nights fumbling my way through darkness to set my tent up. Therefore, when looking to buy a new headtorch, my criteria were nonnegotiable and two-fold:
- It must work.
- It must be rechargeable by USB from my solar panel.
This led me to the Petzl Tikka RXP.
What makes it special?
After 6 hours of USB-charging, it switched on and let out a very faint light. I walked with it into a dark corner of my house, and the torchlight strengthened slightly. This is the headtorch’s unique selling point, the completely innovative ‘responsive lighting’ where the torch constantly tweaks and adjusts the brightness to guess how much light you need. And it usually guesses about right. But why do you need responsive lighting? Well, the main advantage of this is that it prolongs battery life. When walking somewhere with sporadic lighting, the headtorch adjusts, and saves battery life. If you’re walking late in the day, the brightness will increase gradually as the sun sets, and you won’t need to repeatedly fiddle with the buttons. I even noticed my headtorch adjusting depending on whether I was focusing on something close, or something distant, therefore conserving battery life as much as possible.
I had read some reviews which found this feature to be frustrating, suggesting the torch could be confused by certain conditions such as when it is snowing, or when you are looking at a camp fire. I did not experience any difficulties with the responsive lighting and besides, if I had, it is very easy to disable the responsive lighting setting, and return to a constant beam.
Even without the responsive lighting technology, the Petzl Tikka RXP seems to be a brilliant headtorch for some of the following reasons:
The Petzl Tikka RXP has a powerful light beam (215 lumen), and can be set to a strong focussed beam – sufficiently powerful to light up to an unbelievable 110 metres ahead – or a wide and even spread to flood a relatively wide field of view, or both. I found it perfect for a multitude of sports, including walking, running and cycling even on the darkest of nights.
Ease of Use
There are just two buttons, which although small are raised slightly to make the headtorch easier to use when wearing gloves, or when fingers may be cold. Each button spins through it’s own cycle of 3 settings; while the top button changes through the different lighting modes, from responsive technology to constant lighting to red light and back to responsive, the side button changes between max power, standard mode and max autonomy (battery life prioritized) for each mode. It may feel a bit confusing at first, but it is very simple once you get to grips with it. It is a nice feature, if probably largely unnecessary for most users, that you can download computer software to allow you to alter and create your own profiles with your own brightness and battery life preferences.
Weight and Comfort
The Petzl Tikka RXP weighs in at a lightweight 115 grams. Combined with a soft, elasticised strap – big enough to also fit over a hat or helmet – the Petzl Tikka RXP is comfortable; after a few minutes you will probably forget it’s even there!
Below is the data Petzl provides with regards to approximate battery life, which seems largely accurate.
|Lighting technology||Lighting modes||Distance||Burn time|
|REACTIVE LIGHTING||Max autonomy||2 to 70 m||10 h|
|Standard||2 to 90 m||5 h|
|Max power||2 to 110 m||2 h 30|
|CONSTANT LIGHTING||proximity||25 m for 10 h||10 h|
|movement||75 m for 5 h||5 h|
|rapid movement||100 m for 2 h 30||2 h 30|
As the table shows, the battery life seems fine, lasting around 5 hours on standard reactive lighting mode, and increasing to 10 hours or dropping to 2.5 hours when changing to max autonomy or max power mode (still on reactive lighting) respectively.
Recharge time is a fairly respectable 4.5 hours.
The Petzl Tikka RXP is very functional, with a decent battery life, and it is rechargeable. All this makes it a great headtorch. But, it is the responsive lighting features that makes it a truly brilliant and innovative headtorch. Having said that, that feature comes at a premium, and at $130 (£90) there are many other lower-priced headlamps on the market. But if you think the responsive lighting technology would be useful for you, and you are willing to spend a little extra money to buy a good headtorch, you can’t go far wrong with the Petzl Tikka RXP! I certainly can’t wait to take mine on the next section of my cycling adventures around the world!
Please note that this article was written in partnership with Petzl but despite this, all opinions are ours and remain completely unbiased.