First test: Petzl Tikka RXP (2013)

Petzl has dominated the headtorch market for decades and each new launch is usually a game-changer. In 2012 they launched Reactive Lighting technology with their NAO model, and for winter 2013 that same technology has been added to the Tikka.

The Tikka has always been a neat and compact general-purpose headtorch pumping out 40 lumens, with the Tikka Plus producing 70 lumens and Tikka XP 80 lumens. The new model in the range is the Tikka RXP, which can produce 215 lumens. However, the interesting part is that the RXP also features Reactive Lighting technology, allowing the torch to automatically adjust the amount of light it produces from 30 lumens to 215 lumens by first measuring the available ambient light, then adjusting its beam output.

When Reactive Lighting first appeared with the NAO, that headtorch was priced at £135 and weighed 187g, while the Tikka RXP costs £90 and weighs 111g, making it more hillwalker-friendly.

The built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery can be charged via USB from a laptop or from a wall socket, but, perhaps most importantly, it can also be replaced with a conventional AAA battery pack in emergencies.

There are just two buttons for operation: an on/off power button and a Reactive Lighting/Constant Beam/Red selection output button. The key benefit is being able to set the torch ‘On’, then select Reactive Lighting, so you don’t need to keep changing the light setting. According to Petzl, choosing Reactive Lighting provides longer battery life as the headtorch only uses the power it needs.

In use, the torch performs really well. I tried to trick the light into changing settings by rapidly looking far ahead, triggering maximum power, then looking down at my map, which only needs minimum power – but the Reactive Lighting technology couldn’t be fooled. The ability to switch from low to high power allows you to look ahead at your route, then down at a map, or your feet, without tripping over. With other headtorches you need to change power levels manually, involving lots of fumbling around.

There are three power settings, so you can limit how much light is pumped out by Reactive Lighting, while allowing the unit to produce constant light at 120, 100 or 30 lumens. So you can use it as a normal headtorch, or make full use of the Reactive Lighting.

At £90 the Petzl Tikka RXP is competitively priced. There are lower-priced, lighter torches – but most won’t have the performance on offer here. So the real question is whether you need or want Reactive Lighting? If you don’t, and want to save cash and weight, this might not be the torch for you. But if you do, you’re in for a treat.

Price £90
Bulbs 2 x high power LEDs, 1x red LED
Brightness 215 lumens
Maximum beam 70 metres
Burn time 2 hr 45 minutes on Max Power Reactive Lighting mode, or 10 hrs on Max Autonomy Reactive Lighting Mode.
Batteries rechargeable lithium-ion or 3 x AAA
Weight with batteries 111g
Website www.petzl.com

 

Verdict

The Petzl Tikka RXP takes headtorch performance to a level ideal for most hillwalkers. The only reason not to choose it will probably be down to cost or weight.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December