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Petzl Tikka headlamp



Petzl Tikka White LED Headlamp, retail $33.00 (http://www.petzl.com)
Manufactured by Petzl (France) (http://www.petzl.com)
Last updated February 8, 2001


Petzl Tikka


The Petzl Tikka is a very nice looking and working white LED flashlight that fits on your head!
This diminutive instrument (weight 2.4 ounces fully loaded) straps onto your head with a wide, comfortable elastic band, and allows you to forage out in the woods at night while leaving both hands free at all times. It is powered by three small and easily-available "AAA" cells and features three super bright white Nichia LEDs.

SIZE:


The Tikka comes in an attractive retail package complete with three "AAA" alkaline batteries, so there is nothing else to buy.
Once you tear open the pack (careful you don't rip the instructions sheet in two!) and load the Tikka up with its batteries (see below), it is ready to use.

Since this is my first experience with a strap-on headlamp, I will try to figure out the correct terminology for the straps and whatnot - but please bear with me if I make some eggregious error in explaining a strap or buckle.

That said, I found it easy to fit and adjust to my head size. The strap and buckle system is so thoughtfully and intuitivally designed, even a klutz like me had no problems figuring out how to use it. One strap will have a free end, capped with a small plastic protector. Pull an inch or two of this strap through its buckle, and fit the loose end through the second (larger) buckle that has the Petzl logo on it. Try it on, and tighten or loosen it to suit your needs. The strap is elastic, so it can be adjusted in such a manner that it grips your head gently but securely - this arrangement also allows you to aim the Tikka up or down a little to suit your preferences or the particular task at hand. To aim the Tikka up or down, just push the light itself a little higher or lower on your forehead - done with that.

A slide switch on top of the Tikka is used to turn it on and off. If you are wearing the light, slide the switch to your right to turn it on, and to the left to extinguish it. The switch has some stiffness to it, but you can work it with one hand because the light is small enough that you can brace it with a finger or two while moving the switch. Because of this stiffness, the chances of the Tikka accidentally turning itself on in your camping or climbing gear are minimal.



When you first receive your Tikka, you will have to install the batteries.
A pictoral guide in the instruction leaflet shows you the steps:
  1. Use a key or a screwdriver to gently press the release button on the back. This button is located just behind the switch, and is designed to not open by finger pressure alone.
  2. Insert the batteries. Each battery slot is marked (+) and (-). As always, the (+) is the button-end of the "AAA" cell.
  3. Be sure the three tits on the hinge side of the Tikka's case go into their slots, and swing the case shut until the release button snaps back into its opening.
  4. Enjoy.
You do not need to remove or screw with the headband while changing batteries, so you will not lose your desired fit.

A printed warning in the leaflet advises against installing the batteries incorrectly (in some cases, this can kill the LEDs), so you should pay attention to polarity when changing batteries.

Battery life is stated at 150 hours total.
The first 12 hours will be the brightest, and when the Tikka will be most useful for illuminating trails & caves.
An additional 12 hours of light is still bright enough to illuminate the interior of a tent or a small room, and the last 130 or so hours the Tikka will still be bright enough to use as a hands-free reading light.
A graphical battery life chart is included in the instructional leaflet.



The Petzl Tikka is a thoughtfully designed and durable instrument that should give you years of trouble-free use.
Although it is not waterproof, you need not be afraid to use it if it begins to rain. One way to protect it from rain is simply to wear a hat. Any hat with a brim should do the trick - even a baseball cap.
Put the Tikka on first, then put a hat on.

If water gets inside, just take it apart (as if changing batteries) and allow it to air-dry. Should you dunk it in sea water, the instructions advise you to douche it out thoroughly with fresh water and then air-dry it.

The small Tikka easily survived an "accidental" fall without damage. Helped along by its size, this flashlight should easily survive any common mishap, but will probably break if it is run over, stepped on with full force, or thrown against a hard surface in anger. For the former, I suggest eyeglasses. For the latter, anger management classes. ;)

Petzl TikkaThe Tikka's light is provided by three powerful white Nichia LEDs as you can see in the photo.
The LEDs are permanently mounted in place and should stay aligned throughout the lifetime of this product.
For special applications, you may order colored lenses: red, green, and transparent. It comes with only the transparent lens.
The elastic band is replaceable, but as I just received the light, I have yet to figure out how one would remove it from the lamp's body.
Being replaceable probably also means you can hand launder the strap should it become truly filthy - although replacement is probably the better option.



High output from its 3 white LEDs



TEST NOTES:
Flashlight was just received today (Halloween 2000) and will get its first outdoor test tonight. Forecast is light rain and mid 40s.
Additional test results & eventual product rating will be posted shortly.

NOTE: Because of extremely high demand for the Tikka, Petzl will not have new Tikkas available to resale outlets until at least January 2001. So get them now, before they're all gone.


UPDATE 12-19-00:
The batteries in the test unit are starting to peter out just a little.
I have used the Petzl as a "headlight" on my wheelchair for the last month; using it at night and in very foul weather. It isn't that useful for actually illuminating things from a great distance anymore, but it is still plenty bright enough to be seen, and to read maps, bar menus, and other articles in poorly-lit areas with.

The Petzl seems to take the foul weather with impunity. Despite the product's apparent lack of water resistance, this has yet to give me any problems. The light functions fine in the rain and I have not yet had to take it apart to dry even after a good douching that left everything else moderately soaked.
Wearing it under a hat or helmet may add even greater protection to an already acceptable level of weather resistance.

I don't know what happened to my last update - for some reason it just isn't there anymore. But in early November, I removed the headband and mounted the Tikka directly to the steering column of my electric wheelchair (yeah, like I'm really going to go caving or rock climing!) ;)
I even posted pictures, which have also mysteriously vanished. Let's see if I can dig that stuff up and at least get the picture back... (found it!)
Tikka on wheels
An unconventional use for the Petzl Tikka: as a wheelchair 'headlamp'!



UPDATE 02-08-01:
So far, the unit has survived several good douchings without having to take it apart. Battery life appears to be as claimed - several hours near peak, then falling off slowly for dozens of hours afterwards. I've been using the light regularly as a secondary headlamp on my wheelchair, and I'm only on the 3rd set of batteries. When it does dim below levels that actually illuminate the road surface, it still serves me well as a very bright "marker" light to allow my chair to be seen in traffic in foul weather and at dusk.

After the first difficult battery change, that difficulty was quickly overcome and is no longer a problem. Chalk this up to "learning curve" and nothing more sinister.


After multiple activations (maybe 100 or so) the contacts on the switch tend to cause the LEDs to flicker a bit when the switch is moved. The light will not extinguish unexpectedly though, so this seems to be a mainly cosmetic annoyance.


PROS:
Extremely bright for the first couple of hours, continues to remain useable long after that.
Tiny size.
Light weight.
The headband is comfortable to wear.
Lens is replaceable if scratched or broken; or if you just want to change the color of the light.

CONS:
I had some rather minor problems getting the last battery in right. Not a big deal, really.
Lens became lightly scratched somehow after a few days' usage. Does not affect appearance or light output though.
The switch has a somewhat 'flimsy' feel to it; however, it doesn't seem to be malfunctioning at all despite this (see most recent update).


          MANUFACTURER: Petzl
          PRODUCT TYPE: Head mounted illuminator/task light
          LAMP TYPE: LED, White, 5mm
          No. OF LAMPS: 3
          BEAM TYPE: Central hotspot with soft fall-off
          SWITCH TYPE: Slide type on/off
          BEZEL: Removeable lens, integral reflector
          BATTERY: 3 AAA cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
          WATER RESISTANT: Weather resistant
          SUBMERSIBLE: No
          ACCESSORIES: Alkaline batteries
          WARRANTY: Yes, terms unknown

          RATING






Petzl Tikka White LED Headlamp * WWW.PETZL.COM



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