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Reader Reviews

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Petzl Zipka

in Lights - Flashlights & Headlamps

Average Rating
4.43 / 5 (7 reviews)

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Laurie Ann March
( Laurie_Ann )

Ontario, Canada
Petzl Zipka on 12/07/2006 17:58:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The Zipka is compact, powerful and energy conscious. With a retractable string system this little headlamp eliminates uncomfortable, hot headbands. The Zipka is held in place by tensioning springs and when removed from your head the cord automatically retracts back into its own compartment. The string system offers true versatility by allowing you to wear the light on your wrist or ankle. You can also attach it to the limb of a small tree.

Three AAA batteries are held firmly in place by stainless steel contacts that ensure a good connection and eliminate the chance of corrosion. The lighting system is made up of three small, but extremely powerful, light emitting diodes. LEDs have significant advantages over regular light bulbs. They give off an even white light and consume less energy. The light intensity versus battery life is divided into 3 stages; 12 hours at roughly 9 meters, 24 hours at 6 meters and 150 hours at 2 meters. The diodes have a life span of several years under continuous use and Petzl backs this little gem with a three year warranty.

The determining factor for many of us is the compact size. One of the smallest headlamps on the market, the Zipka weighs only 64 grams (2.2 oz). This weight includes the batteries. Although it won't win awards for long distance searchlight capabilities it does have a decent glow and can be best described as a personal floodlight. Using about one set of batteries a season is definitely a plus.

As a photographer I often venture out at night. I keep a Zipka in my camera bag with a red filter on it. The filters are available from Petzl and they reduce night blindness. The Zipka is also great for reading in bed. I recommend the Petzl Zipka to anyone is looking for a lightweight, cost effective and reliable headlamp.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Petzl String priced at: $1.20
Scott Peterson
( scottalanp )

Northern California
Petzl Zipka Tikka on 02/01/2007 23:28:29 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I am not totally certain of the model I have but believe it to be 05 or 06. Could be a "plus"?

Whatever the case (headlamp manufacturers seem to create a myriad of minor cuircitry changes and name mutations to go with them):

The unit weighs in at 1.8 ounces with lithium batteries.
The string and pulley system is extremely functional and versatile if not totally comfortable on bare skin...which is easily overcome with hats, beanies or bandana's.
It is bright enough for emergency hiking.
It offers optional settings for reading/saving batteries.
It accepts a green tinted lense which is far more soothing to use in camp with others.
It seems to be very durable.
It is very compact.
I have seen nothing better I would need for standard, daytime, 3 season backpacking.

paul johnson
( pj )

LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
One of my favorites on 02/02/2007 08:37:20 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Small. Light. Bright. Adjustability. Batt-life. Ease of use. Sexy Form Factor.

'Bout says it all. A standout in all of the above ways. I've had Zipka's since the original 3LED ON-OFF version, to the 4LED 'Plus' version, to both of the new 80% brighter '06 3LED Zipka & '06 4LED ZipkaPlus interations. All are winners.

The retractable cord is very nice. The retractable headband enables me to carry one in my left front pant pocket, literally, ALL of the time. Just used it two day's ago to change a flat tire on the way to work. Everyone 'oohs' when i show them the retractable band; never had an exception to the 'Oooh'-Factor/-Response.

The tension on the cord is perfect - neither too tight (so NO PRESSURE when wearing it a long time), nor too lose (such that it would flop about when walking - which it doesn't). Adding a small piece of cotton cloth under the front pad is all that is needed to soak up sweat in hot weather or when exerting oneself.

It doesn't swivel, but, unless one has a head shaped like a "block", it's very easy to shift it up and down on the forehead to the front of the top of the head to direct the light where you want it.

The lack of regulating circuitry, which i do wish it had, is, in actuality, NOT too big a deal. Why? Two reasons: First, headlamps like the PT Quad offer VERY LITTLE regulated output time in HI OUTPUT mode, so speaking of regulation in HI output is almost meaningless. Second, in all modes, but particularly in MED and LO output modes, the light dims at such a slow rate, that the dimming isn't really noticeable at all during extended use - especially, if one is moving about and NOT staring at the same "picture" for hours on end.

The new '06 w/the 80% brighter LEDs, even on low, is a tad too bright for reading & some other close at hand task, esp. when the batts are fresher (since it's unregulated) - use a 1LED microlight for reading is my suggestion.

Lack of a battery indicator is NO BIG DEAL, IMHO. Why? Two reasons:

First, when using the headlamp for a long period of time, one is NOT going to be able to notice that the battery indicator has changed color. Second, people tout the batt. indicator AND Li batt use AT THE SAME TIME. This makes no sense as the characteristic discharge curve of both non-rechrg Li batts and rechargable NiMH batts (and rechargable Li batts which don't exist yet as a consumer product in an AAA form factor) is such that when they will go from GREEN to RED (skipping ORANGE) VERY SUDDENLY near the end of life of the Li & NiMH batts, leaving one with VERY LITTLE REMAINING CONSTANT "BURN" TIME (cycling the light off & allowing the batteries to cool, thus reducing their internal resistance somewhat, will allow a few more minutes of "burn" time - this procedure may be repeated several-to-many times, depending upon the batteries, with reduced "burn" time each cycle).

Now, use of Li batts, which shouldn't be done, according to the Mfr's website, would be nice for cold weather operation, as well as to produce a semi-pseudo-quasi simulated regulation or more constant (really slower dimming) light output. Again, though, this last observation is more theoretical than practical as the light dims so slowly anyways that it's NOT possible to notice that it is dimming.

Personally, i feel that the objections of other in these area, while valid ONLY in the sense that these imperfections exist, are really, from a practical standpoint, moot. That is, they really don't affect practical use at all.

The new '06 models (Zipka/ZipkaPlus) with the 80% brighter LEDs really must be seen. They are, oh, so bright. The '06 3LED Zipka is NOTICEABLY brighter than the earlier 4LED ZipkaPlus. The new '06 4LED ZipkaPlus really appears to my eye twice as bright as the earlier generations of ZipkaPlus.

They say that you don't get something for nothing. Well, in this case that old saying doesn't hold true. Brighter light, you say, 'What's the catch?' Absolutely, nothing. Usually brighter means shorter batt. life. However, in this case the batt. life is increased about 2x over the previous generation. How'd day do dat??? Increased light producing output/efficiency of either the LED technology itself or the phosphor (which coats the inside of the plastic covering over ALL white LEDs) is my guess, but i really don't know. But, in this case, we really do get something (increased duration) for nothing!!!

Young'uns, with good low light vision, will probably have no trouble hiking on a moonless night with this headlamp - maybe even with it set on the MED. setting.

Much better batt. life than any Li coin cell operated microlight or headlamp - the main downfall of the e+LITE which is really in a totally diff. category from this headlamp since the e+LITE is Li coin cell powered.

I'd give it a 4.8 or 4.9, but decimal values aren't allowed - almost nuttin' is perfect, plus the next generation of Zipka is bound to be even better!

At this time, amongst 4x5mm LED, 3xAAA powered headlamps, this is my favorite. However, if the PT Quad had a retractable headband, it would take top honors in my mind due to its almost/nearly equal brightness (to the eye, or i should say to my eye - at least with the particular units that i own) and it's current regulation capability which also permits the use of Li batts; not so with the Zipka/ZipkaPlus - at least it's not recommended by Petzl, the Mfr.

Edited by pj on 02/03/2007 05:03:36 MST.

Mark Verber
( verber )

San Francisco Bay Area
Compact form factor... but not for back country on 02/03/2007 01:30:05 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I own both the original Zipka and the '06 Zipka Plus with the upgraded (brighter) LEDs. It's a very cute product. Each of our cars have one in the glove box because they are very useful.

I agree with others that the Zipka provides a lot of light in a compact and light-weight package. The strap enables use as a headlamp or strap it into your wrist while leaving your hands free. It is also reasonably comfortable to hold in the hand, and can can be hung from small branches.

I find the brightness and battery life similar to other modern lights using 4 5mm LEDs. The power button is easy to use, even with gloves.


1) Can't use lithium batteries without running the risk of destroying the LEDs.

2) Unregulated, so the bright drops off more quickly than with a light with modern circuitry.

3) Not rain-proof. My first zipka failed after it was used in the rain several times. I understand that the Zipka+ is more water resistant, but haven't tempted fate to test that.

4) When used as a headlamp, the angle is fixed. I have found that I would really like it angled up a few more degrees. At the present angle, I get a bit too much light spill into my eyes.

5) Headband system placed most of the pressure in two locations. I find this isn't as comfortable as many headlamps and my forhead gets sweaty from the foam.

6) Minor, but it would be nice if it had a battery life indicator

I prefer the heavier Princeton Tech Quad or a dimmer Photon Freedom as a general task light, and the Princeton Tech EOS for navigation.

Edited by verber on 02/03/2007 01:33:21 MST.

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Douglas Frick
( Otter )

nice light camp lamp on 02/07/2007 13:54:36 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I have the original 3-LED Zipka (1.9 oz with Lithium batteries). It is my regular headlamp (when there's little likelihood of hiking at night) and I always carry it with me on day hikes. It isn't the brightest but it is bright enough to hike trails at night and I haven't considered replacing it with a newer edition. (My brother has the 4-LED Zipka Plus 2005 and it is even brighter.) I find it comfortable to wear and I like that I can stick it on other items (including girth hitching it onto a pole) without fussing with headband adjustment. I've used Li batteries in it from the start; no problems so far. They last a long time in this lamp.

I gave it a 4 because it isn't waterproof and because of Petzl's Li battery warning.

Margaret Snyder
( jetcash )

Southern Arizona
Bright & Light on 07/29/2007 23:24:42 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

For the weight it's mad bright. Batteries last a long time if you use the "economy setting," which is almost too bright. For us with long hair be careful on removal, it tends to snag in the back of your hair if you don't take off the back piece first. I wore it on a 4 hour night hike on Kiluaea and didn't even feel it on my head. This light is always in my pack. Can double as a bike headlight as well. I also like the strobe for safety and annoying others.

Brett .
( Brett1234 )

go-to light on 07/30/2007 08:55:40 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

If I only kept one light out of my selection; I would keep this one. Additionally, if someone requested my advice on one light to buy, this would be it. It is my default flashlight for any situation. The retractable band allows it to attach almost anywhere. For example, on my pack shoulder strap facing forward, or inside my tent on the tent pole, or on my wrist.

On the low setting Petzl claims 120 hours, but I've never come close to using that much juice; I recharge my LiIons after each trip. It is not as bright as say, a Fenix L0D, but its lumen-hours for 3 a total of AAAs are greater (using manufacturer provided specs of Fenix on medium and Zipka on high).

I give it a 4 for not being at least JIS7 water resistant.(Actually Petzl uses the EN IPX rating system but makes no resistance claims for the Zipka as far as I can see on the product page.)

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