Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $45
Pros: Innovative retractable headband, compact package.
Cons: Not much beam power for the price, hard to use with gloves and helmets.
Best Uses: For the space-conscious outdoor person who loves the Tikka line.
The Zipka uses the most innovative headband system of any headlamp we tested: a string that retracts into the back of the light. Otherwise it is very similar to the Petzl Tikka Plus 2 and comes with the same pros and cons. Namely that the performance is only OK for a $45 headlamp when there are higher scoring headlamps like the Petzl Tikkina 2 for $20. Unless you really love the cool retractable string headband, $45 is much better put toward the Black Diamond Spot or Coast HL7.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Like the Petzl Tikka Plus 2, the Zipka was a solid but not exceptional performer in most of our tests. Like most Tikka headlamps, it's compact, durable and has an above average battery life. It comes with a red LED mode that is useful for saving battery life and not blinding your friends around the camp kitchen.
The trail finding score was OK in general but pretty poor for a headlamp that costs $45. Usually, the point of a more expensive headlamp is you get more brightness and beam intensity. As you can see below in the beam comparison photos with the nearly identical Tikka Plus 2, it does not show many of the fence posts clearly on the right, especially compared to the Black Diamond Spot.
Again, comparing the Zipka/Tikka Plus 2 to the Spot, the beam is a little spotty; it concentrates light in the middle, making it less ideal for scanning in the 20-50 foot range.
An above average score 6 of 10. As you can see below, the light emitted is less evenly spread out than the Spot, which is not ideal. For the close proximity test, you want even light across your entire field of vision.
A good performance, but most other Tikka models had a slightly better battery life. In our ANSI measured high beam test, it lasted 7.5 hours compared to the Tikkina 2 that lasted 20.6 hours (learn more about ANSI in our Headlamp Review ).
The battery life comparison is even more stark when compared against the Energizer 3 LED which does not start out as strong but lasts three times as longs shown in this battery life versus being distance graph.
A brightness score of 3 for a $45 headlamp is pretty low. We measured a max beam distance of 40 meters. The lower priced Spot measured 70 meters and the much lower priced Coast measured 128 meters.
So other than looking cool, what is the point of the retractable string headband? You would think it is to reduce weight and make the light more compact. The Zipka achieves both over the Tikka Plus 2 but not by much. The Zipka is 70 grams to the Tikka Plus is 84, a nice weight reduction but not even close to putting the Zipka in the ultralight headlamp category like the Petzl E+lite which weighs 26 grams. The lack of spandex headband does make the Zipka fit much more easily in your pocket than the rest of the Tikka series.
Ease of Use
The light is easy to use and has the same intuitive one button activation as the rest of the Tikka line. However, the string headband gives the light a very low gloved use score. In addition you should be careful if you plan to use this with a climbing or bike helmet. Without a wide spandex headband and the same adjustment controls, the Zipka does not attach as well to helmets. Also, if you're running and bouncing, it's not as easy to get the Zipka really cinched down hard around your head.
Get this if you want the power and features of the Tikka line in the most compact package possible. If you're short on space while traveling or day hiking, you will enjoy how compact this light is. That said, it's not ultralight like the Petzl e+LITE and is $15 more expensive.
In the current headlamp market, $45 is the price that needs to deliver a lot of performance. The ZIP Code does give a very innovative feature not seen on any other headlamp we tested: the retractable headband. But unless you fall in love with that feature. The beam power and other lighting metrics are just not that impressive for the price of this light.
There are a lot of other great headlamps that scored a little higher for less money and the Tikinna 2 scored the same for 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.
Either fall in love with the retractable headband or spend $45 (or less) on a light with much higher performance. Compared to the Petzl Tikka XP 2, we would rather spend the same money to get the diffuser on the Tikka XP and better power. Or we would save $5 and get the Editors' Choice Black Diamond Spot. The Spot scored higher in almost every category and only weighs 20 grams more. If you're really looking for a compact light, we would look at the Black Diamond Gizmo ($20) or the featherweight champion, the Petzel e+LITE ($25).
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 11, 2014
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