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Need Advice on Which Headlamp?
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John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Tikka Plus on 03/01/2009 17:18:54 MST Print View

I've been using the Petzl Tikka plus (plus = 4 Led) for about 2 years. It is barely bright enough to find blazes for night hiking, but plenty bright enough to see your footing and about 10-15 feet forward along the ground at night and the wide beam is perfect around camp. It's also been waterproof enough to stand up to 4-5 hour rainstorms without damage. And the battery life is excellent. Even after several months it's still a useable amount of light (although hi is now like medium). It works fine with alkalines around freezing or 5-10 degrees less (minimum temps reached in Maryland).

However, the tilt bracket does not let the light go upward though, so when the trail is climbing a hill, you need to slide the light higher up on your forehead to get the light to shine on the trail. Petzl fixed this bracket problem on the XP, and also gave the XP a spot beam. That's what I'll probably buy next.

Edited by JohnG10 on 03/01/2009 17:19:56 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/01/2009 17:21:50 MST Print View

A couple of thoughts:

The Zipka is nice, compact package and works fine for trail hiking. You can deal with the lack of swivel by carrying it in your hand or mounting it on your wrist. Why do this? Because light coming from an angle which isn't the same as your eyes makes it much easily assess the terrain.

That said, I found it's throw completely inadequate when I was not on well traveled trails... I just couldn't see far enough to find my way. For way finding I would recommend the EOS II which using the new Rebel bulb (also as efficent as the cree). The downside of the EOS is that it's beam is a bit concentrated (Jim Wood has a project to make that better) and the "low" setting isn't low enough for my taste.

In the last year or two I switched back to a hand light. I have been very happy using one of the Fenix L1D-CE flashlights. They make an equiv one that using AAA rather than AA.


Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/01/2009 18:01:17 MST Print View

e+LITE if you're just looking for a lightweight and completely functional headlamp with decent battery life around camp. It is fine for me on the AT but likely wouldn't have enough power for those in more difficult conditions if they choose to use it to hike at night.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Headlamps on 03/01/2009 21:15:01 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/27/2015 15:12:16 MDT.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
I vote for the spot on 03/01/2009 22:44:24 MST Print View

The spot is great. You have many setting options and also have a choice of the bright spot light, which can shine a bright beam about 75 ft easily, or if you don't need that much light and you want to save batteries you can switch to the other three lower leds and conserve. Not sure how it compares with other lights but I do know it can really put out a good beam when you need it and is versatile enough to read with also.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 17:39:28 MST Print View

I use the Petzel Tactikka. It comes in at 2.75oz w/3 AAA batteries on my non-digital postal scale, which is dead on the manufacturer's specs. Battery life hasn't been an issue yet. I'm using Duracell non-rechargeables, and I have to be pushing 10 hours of useage. It has the 4 setting, high, med, low, and blink. And it also has a red flip down filter. This is really hand for preserving night-vision. It really does work. Also, if you are camping with others, the red filter prevents you from blinding them as your approach or talk to them if you've forgotten to point your beam down. I wouldn't hike an unknown or rough trail using the filter, but for around camp/in your tent, it's great.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: EOS on 03/02/2009 18:05:53 MST Print View

I've been happily using the EOS since it came out. It is the best all around head lamp I've found, so far. Plenty bright for night time hiking, on and off trail, rugged, takes lithium batteries, low beam fine around camp, highly water resistant. My only gripe is that the rubber gasket that seals the housing has a tendency to pop out and can be a bit of PITA to re-seat. I've tried the Petzl Tikka XP(not as rugged, doesn't take lithium), and other less memorable lights and always go back to my trusty EOS.

Lawton Grinter

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 18:53:07 MST Print View

Thanks again for all the great feedback thus far. I've seen a lot of props given to the PT EOS and the BD Spot. Both these lamps are over 3 oz. which is more weight than I want to carry in a headlamp.

So to quantify this a bit . . . it's gotta be less than 3 ozs and run off AAA's or AA's as I plan to use rechargeable batteries. It's gotta have a long burn time/battery life and it's gotta be bright enough for night hiking.

Nothing seems to beat the Zipka Plus at the moment. Zipka Plus has 80-140 hours of battery life on 3 AAA's which blows a lot of the other headlamps out of the water. And at 35 Lumens it is definitely bright enough for night hiking. And at 2.3 ozs it is about as light as I have seen in a headlamp that is bright and good battery life.

I'm going to pull the trigger on a Zipka Plus unless anybody out there has something that can top it. Anybody?

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 19:35:26 MST Print View

I have a BD headlamp that is 52 grams (~1.8 oz) with lithium batteries included in the weight.

It had excellent battery life, and it worked fine for me for all uses; but it fritzed on me after about two years of use. I replaced it with the EOS and I was disappointed with how much heavier the EOS was, but the light output is superior.

I will see if I can find some type of model name on it somewhere and update you to what it is called -- I'm pretty certain it is not sold anymore.


Couldn't find the product name on the headlamp, but it appears to be the BD Cosmo. It's a cheapo headlamp, but it worked for me even for night hiking. You can get better light output; but if weight is the primary concern, you can definitely get by on this.

Edited by MissingUtah on 03/02/2009 19:42:39 MST.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 20:36:34 MST Print View


The Zipka+ is basically the same as the Tikka+ with a different headband. Having used both, I prefer the traditional style band on the Tikka+. I found it more comfortable and was not concerned about the band breaking (not that I know of the Zipka's retractable band to fail).

Bottom line on the Zipka/Tikka+:
Plenty bright for night hiking
Battery life very good
Not supposed to use Lithium batt's, but I do, and haven't had problems
I do wish it had a red LED for milder in camp light, minimizing impact to night vision, and not attracting as many bugs. The Taktikka has that feature.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 20:52:58 MST Print View

The original Princeton Tec EOS is using what is now a pretty dated LED.

Recently they released the EOS II with a newer LED (Luxeon's Cree equivalent I believe), I expect this would totally trounce the older Zipka for runtime and brightness (unless thats been updated too). And even the old EOS is regulated and allows lithium batteries, the Petzls don't do either.

If you want lighter, try Zebralight. 21g + batteries + strap (so like 60g all up). Cree Q5 LED, so runtime/brightness is as good as it gets right now. But no AAA option, only AA/CR123/18650 (the last would give you a rechargable solution though).

I'm suprised the Petzl e+ gets so many mentions (I have one):
- it's not regulated, so brightness drops off very sharply
- it runs on button batteries, so runtime is really quite short

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 20:56:15 MST Print View

I'm going to pull the trigger on a Zipka Plus unless anybody out there has something that can top it.

Well anything with the newer generation LEDs (Luxeon Rebel, Cree) is definitely going to make the Zipka look dim and battery hungry.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/02/2009 23:31:23 MST Print View

Somewhere I got the impression that the EOS itself has been updated with Rebel LED by now. Perhaps I have a mis-impression -- does anyone know for sure?

My problem with the EOS II is that its figures on the PT website are no better than the EOS, and it only has two modes (high, low). The EOS II low does not seem to be as low as the EOS' low. According to the PT website, the EOS burns 50 hrs regulated on low, while the EOS II only burns 11 hours regulated on its low setting.

-- MV

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/03/2009 05:35:21 MST Print View

Hey Lawton,
I have used a varirty of standard LED headlamps as well as plenty of cree and rebel models and I always seem to go back to my Tikka + (same output as Zipka+). It is just easy to use and alwasy seems to be all I need. That said if I know I am going to be doing some serious night hiking I will use a Fenix L1D Rebal which is like a spotlight in comparison.

Lawton Grinter

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/04/2009 00:15:06 MST Print View

Thanks everybody for the great posts.

I'm amazed at how many folks are recommending the Fenix lights considering the relatively poor battery time:

As an example, here is the batter life under different brightness settings for the Fenix L1D
General Mode:
9 lumens (25hrs) ->
40 lumens (5hrs) ->
80 lumens (2hrs) ->
SOS Turbo Mode:
90 lumens (1.5hrs) -> Strobe

40 Lumens would be a good brightness level for night hiking and all I'd get at this level is 5 hours of burn time. No thanks.

Back to the Zipka & Tikka. My better half told me tonight that the Zipka's retractable headband can't be locked and she had problems with it slipping down her forehead. Is that still the case on current models of the Zipka +?

The other thing I realized tonight is that I normally where a ball cap or visor when hiking and unless the Zipka or Tikka can attach to a hat brim, they might not work for me at all. Any info on how to work around this or if they can attach to hat brims would be great.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/04/2009 01:02:12 MST Print View

40 Lumens? Thats awful bright. I find about 10 lumens fine for a trail, occasionally stepping up. The Petzl lights you mention aren't even this bright on their highest setting.

Fenix run time on 03/04/2009 01:13:54 MST Print View

The LDO1 Q5 has a run time of 4 hours at 27 lumens.
This is with 1 AAA battery (Li). Most small headlamps use 3 AAA batts per load. Three AAA's with the Fenix would give 12 hours of regulated light (constant brightness)at an acceptable level of 27 lumens or 4.5 hrs at 80 lumens. The weight of this is about 1.295 ozs.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/04/2009 01:20:51 MST Print View

Another consideration is that the Petzl lights aren't regulated, wheres the Fenix lights are. So those quoted Fenix runtimes would have a much 'flatter' light curve, whereas the unregulated Petzls continually and sharply drop off in brightness. By the end of the huge quoted Petzl runtimes I imagine there would be very little coming out. I found this with my eLite, the quoted runtime is 35 hours on max (!). Practically this is rubbish (not suprisingly, given that it runs on two button batteries), the useful runtime is far shorter.

Basically runtime is going to be roughly a function of the LED + the battery power, and the Cree LED in the Fenix is as currently as good as it gets (Luxeon Rebel in EOS II is similar). So I don't think you'll find better runtimes for the battery weight and brightness.

The Petzl headlamps are still great lights, sure, but they're using an older generation of LEDs, which makes a big difference. Later this year they're being updated apparently:

Edited by adrianb on 03/04/2009 01:21:37 MST.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/04/2009 09:01:59 MST Print View

Bottom line, it depends on the trails you travel and the skies above. I've done considerable night-hiking without any artificial light on open trails in familiar territory. In my experience, the Zipka/Tikka (and Pluses) aren't bright enough for route-finding in many conditions. You can follow an obvious trail, but if you want any kind of clarity at any kind of distance you need a brighter light. The Zipka plus I've typically carried is plenty bright for camp tasks and a little walking at night with its 35 lumen output. But if I'm really looking to do some hiking, I take a much more powerful lamp. (Myo XP, or for cold-weather ski trips I still take a remote-pack halogen bulb.)

You voice two concerns: Long run-time and Rechargeable batteries. To take things out of the theoretical and into the realm of practical, my first Zipka ran about 5 years on its first set of batteries. I don't need anything approaching that kind of burn time on a typical trip--and since you're using rechargeables, less runtime isn't a huge deal because you won't be throwing out batteries. How much burn time do you really need on an average trip? I usually don't run my light more than an hour a day. Say you run your light three times longer than me, and you're out for a week. You need 21 hours of burn time. The Fenix lights put out plenty of light for night route-finding, many with longer runtimes than the one you chose to highlight. As a poster before me noted, you showed a 1-cell light instead of a 3-cell light like the Zipka. 2 or 3-cell Fenix lights still weigh only 1.5-2.5 ounces but put out up to 215 lumens. Easy to clip these little lights to a hat brim.

Lawton Grinter

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Need Advice on Which Headlamp? on 03/04/2009 11:00:56 MST Print View

Brad, you bring up some very good points/questions. I didn´t realize there were multiple cell Fenix lights and that they could be clipped to a hat brim. And with a strong brightness level (215 lumens is a streetlamp!) this just might be the ticket. Can you recommend a model or 2 in the Fenix line that would fit the bill.

The hiking trips I have lined up for the rest of 2009 range from overnight trips, 3-day weekend trips, 5-day trip and a possible 6 week thru-hike of the Arizona Trail. I´d love to have one light that would work on all these different length trips. As far as night hiking goes, I can foresee scenarios where I´m putting in 1-4 hours of night hiking on a given night here and there but not likely every night.

Thanks again for the insight.