Head torches, night walking and a review of Petzl Tikkina 2
The first proper head torch I bought was the Petzl MYO XP (I am excluding the cheap chain store head torches I went through that have poor performance and terrible battery life). My (former) neighbour, @documentally, had got himself a Petzl MYO RXP (his first look video is quite amusing) and, whilst the programming element seemed largely pointless, it seemed a good torch.
The MYO XP offers up to 150 lumens (in boost mode – shining up to 97 meters), has three lighting levels, a flashing mode, a diffuser and I found battery life to be good. It does however have some drawbacks – it weights in at 170g (including batteries), it is quite expensive (mine cost £58.50), the buttons are very fiddly (I really struggle to switch it on in a dark tent) and light gets reflected straight into your eyes when the diffuser is up (I never noticed this until @groovy_nut pointed it out – now it is like having the sun burning directly into my eyes. She has a fix involving matt black enamel paint).
The Petzl TIKKINA on the other hand is £19.99, offers a maximum of 23 lumens (shining up to 23 meters), weighs 80g (including 3 AAA batteries) and has two lighting levels (maximum and economic). The torch has a big push button switch – you press it once for maximum beam, a second time for economic beam, and a third time to switch it off. It comes in a variety of garish colours – french rose, electric blue, lime green and orange. I was initially not very fond of lime green (the colour of mine) – but having a bright colour certainly makes it easier to find in my pack than my dark ‘ninja black’ MYO XP.
But with 6.5 times less brightness, is the TIKKINA going to be any use? There is only one way to find out!
[Disclosure – the TIKKINA head torch was provided by Webtogs for me to keep and to give my own personal opinions on it and they have no influence on these views and no editorial control]
I am an occasional night walker – after coming back from the pub I might have a sudden urge to take the dog for a quick wander to see the stars (winter is my favourite time to do this) but otherwise I usually leave my hiking for the daytime. Obviously this is no good when you have a head torch to review, so I headed out on some longer night time wanders…. and made a surprising discovery…..
Firstly walking at night is awesome. Your senses seemed to become heightened – I could feel the change in temperature as I dropped in and out of pockets of warm and colder air, and the smell of the countryside seemed enhanced (sort of like the smell just after it rains but different!). The fields, hedges and trees around me came alive with different sights and sounds – the hooting of owls and the rustling of night time animals going about their business.
Secondly I hardly used either of my torches (unhelpfully for this review). I was surprised how quickly my eyes adjusted – I could see better without light than with it. Tim (@ukjeeper), a regular night time countryside hiker, has written a great guest blog post on his experience of night walking – http://bit.ly/v8cXxs, and his experiences back this up.
There were a few times where I missed the stronger beam of the MYO XP – especially when scanning a field looking for livestock, especially cows. The TIKKINA’s light is only really good enough to light the path in front, although with the ability to angle the beam I could easily cover the ground ahead as well as the dog on full lead. Lowland countryside has quite a lot of easy to follow markers, like field boundaries and tree lines, so the low strength beam was not a hindrance at walking pace, although I needed to use ViewRanger on my phone to cross featureless fields accurately. The beam is unlikely to be sufficient however for faster modes of transport or for use on higher ground, where you need to see further to pick out your route. I did miss the safety of having the facility of a flashing light when walking along a (fortunately quiet) road.
The elasticated strap was comfortable, even over several hours of wear, and without the lighter weight I soon forgot I was wearing it. The beam of the two leds did create an odd effect of areas of slight shadow amongst the lighted areas – nothing major but I did find it mildly distracting as my head was bobbing along (this is probably just me!). In camp, or during cook stops, the TIKKINA was perfectly sufficient and I did not really miss the diffuser on the MYO XP. I found the maximum beam was too bright though and usually just used the economy mode. The lack of a battery pack at the back meant it was comfortable lazing around the tent – in fact I even fell asleep in it after reading!
The TIKKINA is ADAPT compatible. These means that, with gentle (?!) persuasion, the light can be detached from the headband and then fitted to a range of optional mounts for use on a helmet, the strap of a backpack or a belt.
The official battery life figures are 55 hours on maximum and 190 hours on economic, although other reviews suggest this is optimistic (a reviewer on Webtogs claims only 150 minutes on maximum using Duracell batteries). I have used mine for a week camping and five or so night walks, and the batteries are still going strong. I wonder (and I have no evidence for this) whether reduced performance as the batteries drain is more obvious in already low output head torches compared to higher output ones?
Overall the Petzl TIKKINA has surprised me – despite being a budget no frills head torch with relatively low price tag and brightness, it proved to be sufficient for lowland countryside night hikes and camp site use and, whilst battery life still has a question mark, it has certainly usurped the MYO XP as the head torch that goes in my pack by default. However the lack of a flashing option, useful on roads at night, would put me off buying it.
Other Head Torch Options
I did a quick little poll on Twitter to see what other head torches people use and why. Petzl seemed to be a popular choice, and they certainly have a good range of options:
|TIKKINA 2||TIKKA 2||TIKKA+ 2||TIKKA XP 2||MYO XP|
|Battery (at Min)||190 h||120 h||140 h||160 h||180 h|
Prices from Webtogs on 27 October 2011 (with the exception of MYO XP)
The Alpkit Gamma was also a popular option, and at first glance you can see why – the large central LED (upto 88 lumens) has a high, low and strobe settings, but there are also three 5mm LEDs (white, green(map reading so contours do not disappear) and red (which strobes)), and a red backlight led (on or flashing). Battery life is less impressive (about 20 hours max) and it is heavier at 110g, but at only £12.50 it is something I would certainly think about (see below on what owners think about it).
Hendrik mentioned a few other options (none of which I had heard of before), worth looking at if you want to keep your pack light and have more extreme uses: the Princeton TEC Remix (spring / autumn), the Petzl Elite (summer), the Fenix HP 10 (winter) and Spark ST6-320CW (winter)
Here is what people said on Twitter:
Petzl Tikka XP. Small but long-lasting power and for short distances good light.
I prefer a small LED handheld torch.
winter – Myo xp. Older version. Takes AA batteries. Powerful high beam with boost function. Reliable
cheap £4.99 from Maplins because for over 12 months of use it always works (led lights)
petzel tikka2 had it for years hasn’t let me down…
Myo XP: very bright, long lasting, comfortable. Doubles as caving light.
Tikka XP slightly heavier than the Tikka and Tikkina but massively brighter, flexible with difuser, strong beam and red LED
Alpkit Gamma – cheap & does what’s needed (after a mod)
Princeton Tec Remix in spring/ autumn. Petzl elite in summer. Fenix HP10 or Spark ST6-320CW in winter.
petzl tikka or whatever you call it. 100% reliable and nice and light. Looking at getting @Alpkit Gamma though for mtbing
I have 2. Petzyl Myo 3 which is waterproof & Alpkit Gamma, good illum & light. Also red led at rear.
@Alpkit Gamma’s rock – awesome light, awesome price. Mine replaced my tikka
Go for the Gamma. Top performance and at fraction of the price. Makes Petzl look way over priced
Petzl Tikka Plus^2 – does the job fine. I’d probably look at a Core model as even the low output mode is quite bright!