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Hands-on Gear Review

Petzl Tikka R Plus Review

Petzl R+
Price:   $80 List | $82.39 at REI
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Compact, rechargeable, reactive
Cons:  Not as bright as some, expensive, reactive technology isnít perfect
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Petzl

Our Verdict

This headlamp comes with great promise. It is the most compact and inexpensive headlamp in Petzl's fleet that offers all of their technological advancement. It has a rechargeable battery, a red light, a battery indicator light, and Petzl's innovative reactive technology. We argue, however, that the reactive technology isn't all that worthwhile. In which case, our Editors' Choice Black Diamond ReVolt edges out the R Plus overall. With a smaller price tag, longer battery life, and the option to use standard AAA batteries without an adapter, the ReVolt was an easy choice for the award. Of course, we do know that many people appreciate the reactive technology in the Tikka form. For those, we recommend upgrading to the Petzl Tikka RXP. The RXP is much brighter, the same weight, and only costs $15 more. A close look at the stats will reveal that our light-coffin high-mode battery life test indicates that the RXP lasts half as long as the R Plus. This is more a function of the testing methodology than anything else. We test in the lamps highest mode. These two lights use the same battery. The highest mode in the RXP drains more battery than the dimmer R Plus. The user can easily force the RXP into lower light output for most purposes, and turn on the brighter beam when needed, thereby essentially matching the battery performance in these two products.

New Version - January 2017
Petzl has informed us that the Tikka R Plus headlamp has been replaced by the new REACTIK+. Since the Tikka R Plus has all-but disappeared from the market, the Price Check at the top right of this page has been updated to the new Petzl REACTIK+. Keep reading to find out the differences between the two models.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
January 28, 2017

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New Version - January 2017


The Petzl Tikka R Plus headlamp has been replaced by another rechargeable headlamp, the REACTIK+. The price tag of the REACTIK+ is higher than the Tikka R Plus at $109.95. While we haven't tested the REACTIK+, check out the side-by-side comparison below (REACTIK+ on the left, Tikka R Plus on the right) as well as a summary of the updates based on the information Petzl provided to us!
Petzl R+
 

Here's a summary of the key differences between the Tikka R Plus and the REACTIK+:
  • Bluetooth Capable — The REACTIK+ is equipped with bluetooth technology, allowing you to pair it with your smartphone or tablet with the MyPetzl Light app.
  • Increased Lumens — The REACTIK+ boasts 300 lumens, compared to the 170 lumen Tikka R Plus.
  • Longer Beam Distance — Petzl now claims a 110m max beam distance for the REACTIK+, compared to the claimed 65m max bean distance of the Tikka R Plus.
  • Price — This model costs $30 more than its predecessor, listed at $109.95.

Since we haven't yet tested this new model, the rest of this review still reflects the Tikka R Plus model.

Hands-on Review


The Petzl Tikka R Plus is a solid product with the French company's long lighting pedigree behind it. It is expensive, and the price is a function of the debatably useful reactive lighting technology. However, this is the least expensive headlamp from Petzl with this technology.

Performance Comparison


The Tikka R Plus is the least expensive headlamp in Petzl's line that comes with a rechargeable battery and reactive lighting technology.
The Tikka R Plus is the least expensive headlamp in Petzl's line that comes with a rechargeable battery and reactive lighting technology.

Trail Finding


The R Plus headlamp is bright enough for most trail finding tasks. Whether you use the reactive mode or opt for manual beam adjustment, the max brightness is the same and sends usable light a respectable 52 meters. This is basically the same as our Editors' Choice winning Black Diamond ReVolt but nothing like the 157 meters of our Top Pick winning Fenix HP25R. As you can see in the beam comparison below the brightness difference with the Fenix is considerable.


Beam Distance Photos


Petzl Tikka R PlusFenix HP25R

When compared to the slightly more expensive Petzl Tikka RXP, which also uses reactive technology, you can see that the RXP is brighter than the R Plus.


Beam Distance Photos


Petzl Tikka R PlusPetzl Tikka RXP

Close Proximity


At close proximity, Petzl's long pedigree with LED's and associated lenses is clear. The R Plus casts a smooth beam that is just broad enough to fill the user's periphery. If you use the optional, and expense-adding reactive feature, the close proximity lighting of the R Plus becomes quite annoying. Any other light source or reflection confuses the reactive sensor and results in flickering and flashing that completely negates any aimed-for advantages. We recommend becoming familiar with the quite complicated button options on this Tikka and opting for standard mode in close proximity situations. In this context, the similarly rechargeable and well designed ReVolt is a much better deal, at considerably less cost.

Battery Life


The life of a fully charged R Plus battery is nothing spectacular. Many products lasted longer in our ANSI test, while many were less effective. We test all headlamps' battery life in their respective highest mode. Brighter lights, in normal usage, will be used more often in their lower settings. Therefore, brighter lights have a battery life that is actually longer than our coffin test results indicated. Augmenting the battery life is above average brightness and a locking switch. This locking switch keeps the light from coming on in your pack and running down the batteries. Finally, while we noticed no appreciable difference in our testing, it is conceivable that the reactive technology would reduce overall battery drain as compared to non reactive products.

Petzl Tikka R+ charging with the included  short Micro USB cable.
Petzl Tikka R+ charging with the included, short Micro USB cable.

Brightness


As compared to its more expensive cousin, the Petzl Tikka RXP, the R Plus's primary difference is in brightness. Essentially, it shines half the distance for $15 less. This alone puts the overall performance back in favor of the RXP. However, as compared to the other expensive lights in our test (all those greater than $70, like the Nitecore HC50, Black Diamond Icon, and Petzl NAO) the R Plus is by far the least bright. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Black Diamond ReVolt is rechargeable, costs $15 less, and shines basically the same distance.

Both of Petzl's Reactive Tikka lights. The RXP  on the left  is brighter and accomplishes this with dual white bulbs and clearer lensing. The R+ is a bit less expensive and less bright.
Both of Petzl's Reactive Tikka lights. The RXP, on the left, is brighter and accomplishes this with dual white bulbs and clearer lensing. The R+ is a bit less expensive and less bright.

Weight


The R Plus is heavier than 18 of the 27 other products in our test. The rechargeable battery and reactive technology both add bulk and weight, and whether they are worth it is your choice.

Ease of Use


With two buttons and a deep repertoire of customizable options, the R Plus is certainly not the simplest product in our test. Like any complicated piece of electronics, once the user is familiar with it, the R Plus and its features are appreciated. However, especially as compared to something ultra simple like the Black Diamond Gizmo, the R Plus is complicated and cumbersome.

Best Applications


This product is best for those that will truly appreciate the rechargeable battery and the reactive technology. Understand the limitations of the reactive lighting, and realize that is not a sure-fire fix for varying lighting demands, but it does have its place. If reactive lighting is not for you, and we have decided that it is not the best for most users, there are far better performing products at much lower prices.

The Petzl R+ in action in an early season  Utah snowstorm. In Reactive mode  in snowy or foggy weather  not to mention forest  campfire  or with other lights around  the light flickers annoyingly. The light can be configured to override the Reactive mode.
The Petzl R+ in action in an early season, Utah snowstorm. In Reactive mode, in snowy or foggy weather, not to mention forest, campfire, or with other lights around, the light flickers annoyingly. The light can be configured to override the Reactive mode.

Value


Again, if you need and want reactive technology, this is a great value. It is the least expensive product on the market that will adjust the light for you. However, very few people actually need this feature. Therefore, a whole host of less expensive products will also serve very well.

Conclusion


For most consumers, the primary question here will be if you wish to have reactive lighting technology or not. If you want your headlamp to automatically adjust the light output, consider one of Petzl's Reactive lamps. The Petzl NAO is a full-function, big-and-beefy light with reactive tech. The RXP is bright, but more compact. The R Plus, reviewed here, is the smallest and least expensive, with reasonable battery life and has the option to add an adapter for standard AAA batteries.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Petzl Tikka line is fully mystifying. All of these lights share a simple construction, joining bulb and battery pack into one piece that is attached to a simple headband. The Best Buy winning Petzl Tikkina is a small, reliable, simple headlamp for a bargain-basement price. The Tikka Plus adds a couple of adjustment features, a red light, and a brighter primary bulb to the Tikkina. The Petzl Tikka XP has even further adjustment and even brighter bulb, with similar battery life to the Tikka Plus. The Tikka lights with the R designation have both rechargeable batteries and reactive lighting technology, with the RXP being brighter than the R Plus. Finally, for these R-series lights Petzl sells a battery adapter for use with regular AAA batteries.
Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier

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Most recent review: January 28, 2017
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