Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Bright, great close proximity score, highest scoring compact rechargeable
Cons: Low battery life, expensive, reactive technology can be frustrating
Best Uses: For those that hate changing batteries and enjoy the tech of the reactive lighting
The RXP is the latest addition to the Tikka line and uses similar reactive technology as the Petzl NAO. It guesses whether you want a high beam or low beam, often correctly. In theory, this saves battery life and saves you the hassle of adjusting brightness. That said, the convenience has its drawbacks, especially around camp. You also pay a premium for it, at $90 it is one of the more expensive headlamps we tested. Additionally, the R designation means that Petzl equips it with a proprietary rechargeable battery. This battery works ok in our testing, and can be charged by simply plugging in with a standard micro usb cord.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
In our review we tested five rechargeable headlamps. The RXP is second best after our Editors' Choice winner, the Black Diamond ReVolt.
This score of 7 of 10 is well above average and ties its main competitor for best compact rechargeable, the Black Diamond Revolt.
For a less expensive light, the RXP shines comparably to the heavier NAO.
The RXP kind of excels in close range and casts an even light with minimal hot spot in the middle and could be rewarded with a score as high as 9 of 10. However, in usage, the reactive lighting technology flickers and changes unexpectedly in many close-up conditions. With other lights nearby, or any reflective surface, not to mention a campfire, the reactive technology does not know what to do. Under these conditions the light flickers in a manner that is, at best, annoying. Because of the annoying manifestation of the reactive feature, we had to reduce the close proximity score of the RXP to a 5. The Revolt, which scores 8 of 10, also casts a nearly perfectly even beam without the interference of the well-intentioned reactive technology. It is worth noting that the Reactive function, while useful in trail finding and distance viewing, can be turned off for close proximity use. The Reactive feature adds initial cost, and requires extra steps to disable. However, if you deem it worthy in general, you can work around its shortcomings for up close use.
Headlamp Review ). It uses is a nicely designed sealed lithium ion battery that is removable. We say that the RXP's battery life "would have" been considered decent only because a new bar has been set by the ReVolt. With an included set of rechargeable batteries that lasted 9 hours in our light coffin test, the ReVolt destroys the competition in this category. Just like the RXP, the ReVolt can be recharged with a standard micro USB cable. On top of that though, the ReVolt batteries are of a standard AAA size. You can use the rechargeable ones for most of your usage, but carry a spare pair of batteries as a back-up. These back-ups can work in other devices as well. This versatility and ease of use puts the performance of the ReVolt above the RXP.
This link shows the comparison of battery life performance in the two discussed products.
The RXP casts a very high power beam that we measured at 102 meters compared to only 56 meters for the Revolt. However, that is a little misleading since the only way to get a 102 meter beam is to hold down a button with one hand. Take your hand off this button, which is how most poeople will operate the light most of the time, and the ReVolt and RXP are roughly equal maximum beam distance.
At 112 grams (4 ounces), the RXP is about 25% heavier than the most of the Tikka line and 13% heavier than the ReVolt. It is not heavy, but its not quite the size you throw in your pants pocket and forget about. It is much lighter than the NAO and makes you wonder why you would pay more for the heavier NAO which has much shorter battery life.
Ease of Use
The Tikka RXP and the NAO are two of the only headlamps that we felt we needed a manual to operate. At first, operation is downright frustrating. Once you are familiar with which of the three buttons to push, when, and for how long, the light gets easier to use. However, the reactive technology can be frustrating. It works well in certain situations, such as for trail finding, but much less well around the camp or in a dense forest.
Some people may find the innovative headband design uncomfortable. Our testers were split on if the thin straps in the back are an improvement or not. It is easy to adjust the headband tension while wearing it.
The RXP does offer a quality red light for night star gazing or hunting. Battery life is also extended with the red light.The buttons are small so gloved use is not easy.
Lets start by saying this is not the best headlamp for around camp. The reactive lighting turns on and off more than you want at close range. Imagine being trailed by a car that keeps flipping the high beams on and off
This is one of the most expensive headlamps tested and $30 more expensive than the ReVolt. You do save money on batteries, but it will take a long time to realize any savings.
Like the NAO, this is an innovative headlamp with a lot of cool technology. So why did the ReVolt get the award for best rechargeable? The ReVolt is lighter, $45 less expensive, has a longer battery life and is just easier to use. We feel the trade off for slightly lower beam performance is worth it. That said, if you love the reactive technology, we would buy this long before the Petzl NAO which is double the price and has a much shorter battery life. If you don't care about recharging your headlamp see our other Editors' Choice winner, the Coast HL7. At less than half the cost with similar or better beam performance, the Coast is an excellent choice for many people.
Given the big price difference, about $45 street for the ReVolt versus $90 for the RXP, most people will likely find the ReVolt to offer a more pragmatic and compelling price/performance combination. If performance is the goal, and you don't use your headlamp every week, than the Coast seems a better choice at less than half the price of the RXP but with similar beam distance. If you need a light to last all night, the Black Diamond Icon is a better choice. If you want long battery life and rechargeability, then the ReVolt seems the clear winner.
But, there is the X-factor of the RXP's reactive mode to consider. We found reactive to perform quite well on the trail, and in theory this mode should substantially extend battery life as compared to a constant full-brightness setting as we used in our high-mode run-time tests. However, Petzl's own estimates for reactive mode battery life versus constant lighting mode suggest the 5 hour time we measured is probably about the same in reactive.
Bottom line: the RXP is a very interesting, high-performance headlamp, with a quality innovative design and Lithium Ion USB-rechargeable batteries. The sweet spot for the Tikka RXP is when a recurring need for a very bright light is desired, such as someone who frequently uses a headlamp, perhaps weekly or more often. For this use, the RXP is really quite unmatched by anything else on the market we've looked at, and a smart choice that will pay for itself in replacement battery savings within a year or two of use.
The Petzl Tikkina, $20, is the best value in small headlamps we have seen. The Petzl Tikka Plus, $40, comes in a compact and durable package with good battery life, while the Petzl Tikka XP, $55, delivers a great close proximity beam quality in a compact package without the rechargeable battery of the RXP or the reactive technology. The Petzl Tikka R Plus, $80, is the least expensive headlamp from Petzl that offers reactive lighting technology.
— Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier
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Most recent review: May 10, 2015
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