Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, compact, good battery life.
Cons: Not the best value considering the competition, low brightness score.
Best Uses: Day climbs with limited risk of epic, backpacking, camping.
The Petzl Tikka Plus was a solid but not exceptional performer in most of our headlamp tests. Like every Tikka headlamp, it comes in a compact and durable package with good battery life. While it is a solid lamp, it falls a little awkwardly between the Petzl Tikka XP 2, which scored much higher, and the Petzl Tikkina 2, which scored the same for half the price. For the same price or less, we recommend looking at the two Editors' Choice winners: The Coast HL7, which scored much higher on everything except battery life and weight, or the Black Diamond Spot, which scored higher in every category except ease-of-use.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Designed to meet the many proximity lighting needs encountered when trekking over many days and bivouacking, the Tikka Plus 2 has three lighting modes to adapt the power and burn time of the light to the activity: to locate a cairn (maximum mode), to follow a tricky path (optimum mode) or to read a map (economic mode). The flashing mode can be used to signal the user's location, if necessary. The lighting mode is selected using an easy-to-use button, adjusting quickly and easily to the situation by favoring either brightness or burn time.
The trail finding score was only slightly above average: 6 of 10. As you can see below, it does not show many of the fence posts clearly on the right, especially compared to the Black Diamond Spot (8 of 10).
And as you can see below, the beam is a little spotty; it concentrates light in the middle making it less ideal for scanning in the 20-50 foot range.
Again, the score is above average but not exceptional. In the photo below, the beam is much more focused than the Spot, which is not ideal. For close proximity, you want broad even light.
The battery life was above average but less than most other Tikka models and the Spot. In our ANSI measured high mode runtime test, it lasted 7.2 hours, best the Spots 5.2 hours and the Coast's 3.3 hours (learn more about ANSI in the Headlamp Review ). But when compared to the $12 Energizer 3 LED, it comes up way short as shown in this battery life versus beam distance graph.
Also, even though the Plus 2's ANSI time is longer than the Spot's, both lights end up in the same place: shining 8 meters after 7.5 hours. During the first 5 of those hours, the Spot usually shines a beam 20 meters (50%) further as shown here.
This is where the Tikka Plus 2 really comes up short. For its price, it scored very low with a measured max beam distance of only 39 meters. The Spot shined 70 meters and the Coast went 128 meters.
On our light meters, it measured only 24 lux to the Spot's 76 lux.
This is a relatively compact headlamp at 84 grams but not a featherweight champ like the Petzl E+lite at 26 grams.
Ease of Use
Both ease of use and gloved use scores were high. Like all the Tikka models, it uses a simple and intuitive one button click system.
This is the ideal all-around light. It doesn't excel in any one category but give above average lighting in a small package.
There are a lot of other great headlamps that scored higher for less money and the Tikinna 2 scored better for about half the cost. There are just so many great headlamps now for under $45 that it is hard to call the Tikka Plus 2 a great value.
Perhaps the biggest competition for the Tikka Plus is its sibling, the Petzl Tikkina 2. While the Tikkina scored slightly lower in most tests related to beam power and light quality, it outperformed the Tikka Plus (and nearly every other headlamp) in battery life. But more importantly, at $20 the Tikkina is half the price. An even better value is the Energizer 3 LED which is a third the cost of the Plus 2 and has a much longer battery life.
As an aside, we tested this side-by-side with the first generation Tikka Plus. We found the new Tikka Plus did perform better, but not so dramatically that you need to toss the old one.
Compared to the Petzl Tikka XP 2, we would rather spend the extra money to get the diffuser on the Tikka XP. The XP 2 was much better for even lighting at close distances. But the real competition comes from the Black Diamond Spot which is about the same price and scored higher in just about every category. We would get the Spot if battery life and a compact package are important and the Coast HL7 if you don't mind burning through batteries and want the best lighting power and quality for the money.
The Petzl Tikkina 2, $20, is nearly the best value in small headlamps we have seen.
The Petzl e+LITE, $30, is a micro headlamp, the size of a small stack of quarters, and is the lightest headlamp we know and by a large margin. It wins our Top Pick award as the best lightweight headlamp.
The Petzl Tikka XP 2, $55, delivers a great close proximity beam quality in a compact package.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 14, 2014
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