The Petzl Zipka is a unique headlamp that is well suited for backpacking. It packs small due to its innovative retractable cord headband, and is relatively light in weight at 2.3 oz or 64 grams. It is very easy to use, and offers considerably more lighting power than the ultralight 1 oz (27g) Petzl e+LITE; better battery life, and a much better spotlight beam, for only a little more weight and size. It also stacks up well against the Black Diamond Ion 1.9 oz (53g), with similar size, weight and battery life, but offering superior lighting in both spot and flood modes.Ultralight fans will find the tiny Petzl e+LITE a better choice for backpacking, but for a lot of people, the extra punch of the Zipka is worth the extra weight.
Petzl Zipka Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Compact, lightweight, offers good performance, easy to use
Cons: Expensive for its performance level, below average flood lighting
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$29.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$89.00 at Amazon||$50 List||$33.95 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$28.74 at Amazon|
|Pros||Compact, lightweight, offers good performance, easy to use||Bright wide beam, good battery life, durable design, rechargeable||Excellent trail finding and close proximity beam, waterproof, above average battery life||Excellent spot light capability, wide evenly lit flood beam, above average in most ways||Excellent brightness and beam control, often available online at discount|
|Cons||Expensive for its performance level, below average flood lighting||Expensive, 18650 Li-ion battery is not included, heavier than average||More expensive, heavier than average, claimed battery life is very misleading||Below average battery life, claimed battery life is wildly misleading, single button hard to use, lame waterproofing||Average battery life, heavier and bulkier than most|
|Bottom Line||The Zipka is a good option for backpacking where small weight and size are crucial||A stunningly bright light that offers impressive battery life. If you can afford it, it won't disappoint||You can't go wrong with the Storm, high performance, quality optics, and durable design||Offering excellent optics, a bright wide beam, and strong performance for the price, the Spot is one of our favorites||We used to love the Coast, but competing lights have stepped up, while the HL7 is unchanged|
|Rating Categories||Petzl Zipka||Zebralight H600w Mk IV||Black Diamond Storm||Black Diamond Spot||Coast HL7|
|Trail Finding (35%)|
|Close Proximity (20%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Petzl Zipka||Zebralight H600w...||Black Diamond Storm||Black Diamond Spot||Coast HL7|
|Measured Beam Distance||62 m||121 m||91 m||94 m||112 m|
|Claimed Distance||60 m||Not specified||85 m||80 m||119 m|
|Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI)||5 hrs||3.1 hrs||5 hrs||2.9 hrs||3.1 hrs|
|Claimed High Mode Run-time||60 hrs||2.9 hrs||40 hrs||30 hrs||1.5 hrs|
|Measured Low Mode Run-time||141 hrs||232 hrs||42 hrs||9.7 hrs||25 hrs|
|Claimed Low Mode Run-time||240 hrs||203 hrs||120 hrs||175 hrs||70 hrs|
|Measured Weight||2.3 oz, 64 g||4.5 oz, 127 g||4 oz, 112 g||3.1 oz, 89 g||4.5 oz, 127 g|
|Battery Type||3 AAA||18650 rechargeable Li-ion||4 AAA||3 AAA||3 AAA|
|Water Resistance||IPX4 splash proof||IPX8 waterproof to 2 meters, 30 minutes||IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof||Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim)||water resistant|
|Manuf Claimed Lumens||200 lumens||1400 lumens||350 lumens||300 lumens||285 lumens|
|Red Light||yes||no||yes, red/green/blue night-vision modes||yes||no|
|On Switch Lock||no||yes (tailcap lockout)||yes||yes||no|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Zipka uses the most innovative headband system of any headlamp we tested: a string that retracts into the back of the light. Otherwise, the Zipka is essentially the same light as the Petzl Tikka. The innovative headband gives it lower weight and a smaller packed size, which can be an advantage for something like backpacking were size and weight are key.
The trail finding score was OK in general but pretty poor compared to top-performing lights that also list for $30, such as the Black Diamond Spot. But, the Spot is 0.8 ounces heavier (25g) and doesn't pack as small.
A more fair comparison is probably looking at the Zipka versus the Black Diamond Ion, which is similarly small and slightly 0.4 oz lighter than the Zipka. As you can in the beam comparison images below Zipka offers a much brighter and wider spotlight beam than the BD Ion.
Another alternative worth comparing to, is the Black Diamond Spot, which sells for the same price, only weighs 0.8 oz more (25g), and delivers much stronger lighting performance, for both close proximity and as a spotlight, as can be seen below:
The Zipka is below average in its flood mode lighting, with a score 4 of 10. While it is perfectly functional, it lacks the wide even lighting of the BD Spot or the ultralight e+LITE.
You are likely to rely on a light like the Zipka primarily for close-proximity flood lighting, and it offers impressive battery life for that application, much better than the e+LITE, and about the same as the BD Ion,
By design, the Zipka is one of the lighter headlamps, although certainly not the lightest.
Ease of Use
The Zipka is quite easy to use and has the same intuitive one button activation as the rest of the Tikka line. However, the string headband makes it hard to use when wearing gloves. In addition, you should be careful if you plan to use this with a climbing helmet. Without a wide elastic headband, 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.
The Zipka is at its best for an application like a 3-5 day backpacking trip, where weight and size matter, but so much as to mandate the most ultralight solutions like the Petzl e+LITE. For a weekend backcountry trip, the Petzl Tikkina or BD Spot might be a better choice, since they weigh only a little bit more, and offer much superior performance as a general purpose light in the long-run.
In the current headlamp market, $30 is a price that needs to deliver a lot of performance. The Zipka is kind of a special purpose solution, in that it is not the light we'd choose for general-purpose use, which means buying it involves a compromise on performance in the long-run, to gain its lighter weight and smaller size. The beam power and other lighting metrics are just not that impressive for the price of this light.
It the size and weight of the Zipka meet your needs, then it might be a good solution. But, we see it as straddling two worlds — not light or small enough for the ultralight backpacker, but not offering enough performance to be a good option for general purpose use (and the occasional backpacker, who does shorter trips, might not be so obsessed with weight and size to want to make the Zipka their primary headlamp).
— RJ Spurrier