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Petzl Zipka Headlamp Review


by the Product Review Staff | 2003-12-10 03:00:00-07

Petzl Zipka Headlamp Review

Petzl Zipka Specifications

The Petzl Zipka weighs 2.07 oz (59 g) with 3xAAA batteries. It is a 3-LED headlamp with batteries in the lamp housing (front). The headband is a spring-loaded retractable cord.


The Petzl Zipka consists of only one lighting mode, activated by a slider switch on top of the housing, operated with your index finger while your thumb and index finger 'pinch' the lamp housing. The switch is easily operable with while wearing even thicker gloves, but it's top-of-the-housing switch location makes mittened use very difficult.

Changing the battery is performed by depressing a molded male fitting in the lamp housing, no easy chore with cold fingers.

The Petzl Zipka does not have a pivoting head but we found the natural angle of the lamp to be correct for most task lighting, and some adjustment is possible by changing the location of the headlamp housing on the forehead.


With fresh batteries at room temperature, the Petzl Zipka (with electronics equal to the Petzl Tikka, which includes a wrap style elastic webbing headband) has an initial center-of-beam brightness on its high setting of 165 lux at a distance of 2 feet, falling off to 18 lux at 1 foot off the beam's center. The Zipka's flood quality (defined as the fraction of beam intensity at 1 foot off center divided by the intensity in the center of the beam) was the best of the all of the headlamps evaluated in our review.

In our cold conditions test (center-of-beam brightness at 38 °F), the Petzl Zipka's lighting power was 152 lux at 0 hours (fresh batteries), 60 lux at 8 hours, and 25 lux at 24 hours. The Zipka was the best performing LED headlamp in our review with respect to maintaining its original beam intensity (15%) over a 24 hour period in cold conditions.

Applications for the Petzl Zipka

The Zipka-Tikka headlamp line has always been assumed to be a short range task light. However, the performance of this headlamp, even under cold conditions, indicate that it is appropriate for short range trail navigation as well. With fresh batteries, the Petzl Zipka is bright enough to illuminate a large area over a short distance and would even be appropriate for off-trail navigation or moutaineering.


The Petzl Zipka's primary weakness is the difficulty in changing batteries in cold conditions. Its single mode of brightness may be perceived by some to be a disadvantge, but Petzl offers the Zipka Plus for those who want the advanced circuitry of a multi-mode headlamp.


The Petzl Zipka is an outstanding performer. We were impressed with its beam quality, brightness, and compact form factor. Further, we were surprised by its cold-conditions performance, considering that it uses alkaline AAA batteries (which currently have no Lithium option). For its weight, it's hard to find a headlamp that is as simple to operate, or is a better all-around performer.


"Petzl Zipka Headlamp Review," by the Product Review Staff. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2003-12-10 03:00:00-07.