The Tikka Plus and Zipka Plus from Petzl are amazing little headlamps that offer a ton of light in a tiny little package. Slightly larger than a golf ball, each light will easily fit in the palm of your hand (though the Tikka Plus is just a little bigger because of its bigger headband). And, they’re both water resistant, so you can use them in the rain or fog – just about anywhere you can think of (except underwater).
With three different levels of light, and a strobe mode, the four LED bulbs can illuminate up to 32 meters (104 feet) and last up to 150 hours on 3 AAA batteries (included). LED bulbs are great since they are much smaller than traditional bulbs – they are also extremely impact resistant, and since they have no filament, they last practically forever.
Note: Petzl recommends against using lithium batteries since their higher output during discharge can cause the lamp to overheat and possibly damage the LEDs.
These two lights each have a single push button on the top of the unit, which accesses all light modes. By simply pushing the button more than once it’s easy to cycle through the various settings (once for brightest, twice for moderately bright, three for economy setting and four times for strobe mode).
The battery compartment is easily accessible with the use of a coin (to pry it open), though some care must be taken when changing the batteries to make sure that the bottom of the compartment is properly seated when closing it back up.
While the light output and functions are the same for the Tikka Plus and Zipka Plus, the difference between the two lights is the strap used to attach the lamp to your head (or arm, or wherever you need light).
The Tikka Plus has a one-inch wide, adjustable elastic strap and is the most comfortable on your head. The strap is attached to a plastic holder, which lets you adjust the direction of the light.
The Zipka Plus has a built in, retractable cord which makes the Zipka Plus much more compact and lightweight (65 grams w/batteries (2.29 ounces) vs. 78 grams (2.75 ounces) for the Tikka Plus). The cord is made of a high-strength synthetic called Dyneema. This fiber is extremely abrasion resistant and has a yield strength comparable to high strength steel. Depending on the level of use and/or abuse, the Dyneema cord should last for years (and if it doesn’t the manufacturer offers a 3 year warranty).
After over two years of use the elastic on my Tikka Plus is starting to stretch out a little, so the Zipka Plus might prove to have a longer life span as a headlamp (I can’t report on the longevity as I’m more prone to losing them then to wearing them out). The cord on the Zipka Plus also offers the advantage of being easy to attach to bike handlebars, a water spigot or backpack straps.
Whether lounging around a campground with a book, scrounging for firewood or going for an evening stroll, the comfort and adjustability of the Tikka Plus made it my headlamp of choice. It’s also extremely useful at home. I use it when I’m checking the chicken on the grill, taking out the garbage and it’s great for lighting up those dark little corners behind the TV and stereo, when I need to fiddle with the cords.
With that said, I find the Zipka Plus has its place as well. Without the elastic headband it’s much more compact and perfectly suited to travel as an all-around light or as a book light. It came in very handy in dimly lit Thai guesthouses. I also use the Zipka Plus for backpacking and keep one stowed in the top pocket of my daypack because I never know when I might need a good light.