Apr 22 2014

Review: Petzl Tikka R+ headlamp


Petzl's Tikka R+ with reactive light.

Petzl’s Tikka R+ with reactive light.

Petzl’s new incarnation of the Tikka headlamp, the R+, keeps the same low profile and light weight, with a powerful 170 lumen high beam and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s great for use around the house, walking the dog, camping, or dawn patrols.

Gone is the ability to flip a fresnel lens over the beam to diffuse it optically. Instead, a default lens provides a high beam center with a wide spillover. You can select a reactive setting where the intensity of light reflected back is sensed and the output adjusted on the fly to approximate a constant level of illumination. Thus, if you’re in tight quarters aimed at a white wall, the light will dim, down to 7 lumens if you’re close and the white wall is actually a mirror. When you point away, where the closest surface is yards away, or a darker surface, the light intensity will increase, depending on the mode it is in, up to 120 lumens. It’s cool bit of technology but frankly my brain makes those adaptions faster and if I need more or less light I’d rather make the switch manually. YMMV.

Actually, you can dim it manually, but then you need to sit down and read the instructions because more control of the of the Tikka R+ is done via menu logic. It’s more complicated, but also offers more choices, and works based on whether you press the top button once, or twice. The double-tap turns the lamp on or off. A single tap, after it is on, sequences through two or three power levels, depending on whether you’re in the Reactive, Constant, or Red light mode. For Reactive, it cycles from a max output of 170 lumens, to 130, or 70. In Constant mode, you can select 120, 80, or 40 lumens, and the Red light toggles from constant to blinking, all from a single tap on the top.

Rechargeable battery can be easily replace with the R+.

Rechargeable battery can be easily replace with the R+.

Like the Tikka XP, you can still regulate how the battery current is discharged, but the program to modify power regulation is now a download from the Petzl website. It’s worth having, but the ability to adjust power output from the menu choices may be a more practical way to control how the battery stores and discharges current.

Ordinarily I’d complain about the Tikka battery because I’ve already seen that the battery for the Tikka XP (the predecessor to the R+) doesn’t work with this newer incarnation and like any battery, it will eventually need replacing. However, Petzl must have heard this complaint before. They also offer a battery casing that holds three AAA batteries for when you can’t recharge the battery pack, or you simply prefer to use AAA batteries, rechargeable or otherwise.

Battery case that uses 3x AAA batteries.

Battery case that uses 3x AAA batteries.

Ideally it would be nice to have bigger buttons that work with gloves, but if it was that big, or easy to operate, it would probably turn on in your pack when you don’t want it too. For the moment, the external buttons work okay with thin gloves, but not thick ones. Which is why winter campers will appreciate the reactive lighting perhaps more than others. Once it’s on you won’t feel as much need to take your gloves off to turn it up or down since it does so on its own. Besides, the reactive beam is a well thought out intensity, good for camp cooking or reading, and if you want a low beam, you’ll just have to fiddle with your fingers and toggle through the menu options to make that happen.

Tikka R+
MSRP: $80
Weight: 4 oz. (115 g)
Uses proprietary, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Rechargeable via USB-to-micro-D cable.

© 2014