Rating: 5 / 5
Tikka Plus is a big improvement over the prev. generation Tikka (which, BTW, was and still is a very fine headlamp). The variable intensity is a very welcome feature, as is the fourth LED. While the PT Aurora (a very fine headlamp, but NOT the subject of this review - mentioned here only for the purposes of comparison) was superior to the original Tikka in both features and brightness (with the Aurora light intensity on high output), the new Tikka Plus surpasses the Aurora in that category - this is as it should be since it has one more LED than the Aurora. Having tried them both side-by-side, so to speak (actually, one-after-the-other), on a dark, relatively indistinct trail (an oxymoron? what i mean is that the trail made sudden turns and in places was easy to walk off the trail if one was not careful) with no star or moonlight apparent, the diff b/t the Aurora and Tikka Plus light output is quite noticeable. The Tikka Plus clearly has a higher maximum light output, probably due to it having four LEDs vs. the Aurora's three LEDs.
On high output the Tikka Plus can be used to slowly navigate somewhat indistinct trails. While the batteries are fresh (<30min use), blazes can be, in some cases, recognized 20' to 30' away (rarely this far) - depending upon the color/contrast of the blaze with the tree bark & the paint's reflectivity (typically related to color and how recently the blaze has been repainted). Switching to medium output allows slow walking of the trails and permits relatively easy visual recognition of objects up to 15' away. Low output is good for task/proximity lighting, but also permits the adventurous at heart to walk very slowly on uneven, though distinct, trails without stumbling too much. Navigation, IMHO, is NOT possible on low output.
The strap and profile of the headlamp unit "team up" to provide a headlamp that is stable when one is moving, i.e. the light doesn't bounce around like some other small headlamps also lacking an over-the-head strap.
This headlamp can be highly recommended for its flexibility due to its adjustable brightness, its light weight, easy to operate control, and maximum brightness on fresh batteries.
If one expects Luxeon/incandescent type output of the type req'd for fast nighttime orienteering, then one will be disappointed. However, it makes a fine backup light for slower nighttime navigation, as well as for task/proximity lighting. It also serves well as a primary light if rapid nightime orienteering is not req'd.
It lacks a regulated light output. Some might feel that this is a drawback. Others might like the fact that it is not regulated so that longer duration light output is achieved.
If one likes this headlamp, then the TacTikka Plus version might be appreciated even more. It is identical to the Tikka Plus, but adds a "flip-up" red lens, intended for preserving one's dark adaptation (i.e. night vision). Personally, since leaving military service, I haven't encountered situations in the field where this is important. Under tree cover it is usually too dark to see by ambient light anyways, so the issue of preserving one's dark adaptation is generally a moot point.
In its "class" (headlamps only employing a small, 2-to-7, array of 5mm LEDs), it is a standout and on that basis probably deserves a very high 4 rating, but given the current rating system, a 5 rating might be more appropriate. However, if it must be compared to other Hybrid-Headlamps (employing either Incandescent+5mm LEDs, or Luxeon+5mm LEDs, or multi-level Luxeon brightness - one example of each being: BD Vectra IQ, PT Yukon HL, Petzl Myo XP, respectively), it would only rate a 3 or 3.5 at best. If distance lighting is of primary importance, then give this baby only a 2 when cp. to Incandescent or Luxeon headlamps. Its chief advantages over these Hybrid/Luxeon types being its lighter weight and compactness. It certainly cannot measure up to any of them in distance lighting. To put it another way, in most cases, I don't think that we should compare a compact, economy car to a high performance sports car. Each has its uses. Pick the right tool for the job.
suggestion for improvement: A combo regulated/unregulated system similar to the PT Corona would be a welcome improvement. While the state of batt charge would permit regulation, the light output should be regulated. Then, as the voltage drops on the batts and current regulation is no longer possible, the light should "auto-magically" switch to unregulated output. This would provide the best of both worlds, i.e. constant light output with relatively fresh batts, and longer batt life/light output as the batts near a more discharged state.
Notes (to aid in interpreting the above Review):
0. For testing, fresh, alkaline Kodak brand batteries were used in all headlamps. I use Kodak, Duracell, or Energizer - depending on what I have on hand and can purchase in bulk at discount prices. Haven't done any controlled testing of any of these batts, so can't comment on how one cp. to another.
1. Testing was actually done with the Zipka Plus (headstrap differs; lighting unit identical) and TacTikka Plus versions of the Tikka Plus which has, once again, an identical light generating unit to that found in the TikkaPlus. The addition of a red "flip-up" lens is the only functional difference b/t the two headlamps.
2. Tester is gettin' on in years ("downhill" to 100), so low light vision perception has already begun to degrade.
3. For comparision purposes (helpful, perhaps, to those familiar with these other headlamps), the aforementioned PT Aurora would get a 4 rating due to its lower maximum light output from its three LEDs and somewhat overly difficult to operate button/control; and, the original Tikka/Zipka would get a 3 due to its lack of features, viz. variable intensity light output, and lower maximal light output cp. to the Aurora (both the original Tikka and the Aurora have 3 LEDs).
4. Visual perception in low light is a highly individual matter, involving both physiology and psychology. What one individual considers adequate light for perception in low light conditions, another individual may feel is totally inadequate light. Therefore, your "mileage may vary".
5. This rating is useful for comparison to other similar types of headlamps, and should not be used to compare this headlamp to dissimilar headlamps employing newer 1W and 3W Luxeon/Luxeon-type LEDs. These higher power LED technologies are far superior for distance lighting.
Note: some of my edits were made after reading the 3rd reviewer's comments. these edits were intended to clarify my thoughts, not to discredit the 3rd reviewer's observations - most of which i would concur with wholeheartedly. since our ratings differed somewhat, i wanted to clarify the reasons for my very high rating of this headlamp. i should also add that, depending upon how much nighttime navigation i will be doing, and over what terrain i will be traversing, i may use a higher power Luxeon type of headlamp, of the type mentioned by the third reviewer, weighing 4 to 6 oz more than the Tikka Plus. Also, since, as the third reviewer states, the Tikka Plus has a "light" switch action, i carry it in a thigh pocket of my trail cargo pants. This, thus far, has prevented it from accidentally turning on. Hopefully, if it ever does turn on, I will more readily notice it when it is in a pocket of my pants than if it were in my pack.