Headlamps are one of those pieces of gear that often gets overlooked among more sexy products like tents or breathable, waterproof jackets. But being able to see at night is not only convenient, but sometimes vital for survival. Therefore, choosing the right headlamp for the outdoor activity you’ll be having fun with is important. Petzl sent out a couple of very different headlamps to try, the Tikka Plus 2 and the e+LITE. I took them both out on backpacking and car camping trips, and gave them a thorough testing. Is one headlamp better than the other? I found that it depends on what you’re doing.
Petzl Tikka Plus 2
The Petzl Tikka Plus 2 is a more typical style of headlamp. It’s lightweight for its size (2.9 ounces with batteries), features five lighting modes, and has a cool battery charge indicator light that comes on when the beam distance diminishes to five meters and when there is only 50% battery life remaining for proximity lighting.
The five light modes include three white LED levels (high, low and flashing) as well as two red LED levels (continuous and flashing.) The white LEDs are really bright and the light the Tikka Plus 2 threw out was nice and even, perfect for being able to see tripping hazards on the ground when stumbling around for a midnight bathroom break.
The red LED bulbs are good for maintaining night-vision, and are surprisingly bright when your eyes get adjusted. It’s also a good choice when talking to friends in the dark so you don’t blind them with your headlamp. Aside from camping, I also found the blinking modes perfect for being more visible when riding the bike around the city at night.
During the entire testing period (over 2 months) the Tikka Plus 2 never dimmed. Petzl says the battery life is 140 hours on the white light/low level setting, and 55 hours on high. The headlamps requires three AAA batteries which are easily replaced thanks to a hinged back-panel. Turning the headlamp on and switching between modes is easy with the rubberized top button.
Overall, the Tikka Plus 2 is a workhorse. If you’re looking for a headlamp for spelunking, backpacking, car camping, night riding, or walking the dog after hours, you can’t go wrong with the Petzl Tikka Plus 2.
The Petzl e+LITE is an awesome looking bugger and a headlamp unlike any I have ever used. The thing is tiny, super lightweight (0.98 ounces) and has features that make it stand above all the usual suspects of the headlamp world.
Some of those features include 3 white LED bulbs that shoot light evenly up to 19 meters, though it’s not as nearly as bright as the beam on the Tikka Plus 2. But just like the Tikka, the e+LITE also has a red LED for maintaining night vision or to use when you don’t want to wake up your tent mates during that late-night emergency rest-stop. It also has both white and red flashing modes for cycling at night or to signal rescuers if you find yourself trapped on a cliff at night with a broken femur or something.
A number of things sets the Petzl e+LITE apart from it’s Tikka sibling. One is the way you switch lights modes. A clever little lever, located at the front of the unit, controls the light levels. Considering that each level is marked, there’s no thinking involved like when you’re clicking and double clicking a standard headlamp rubber button.
Another difference is how the headlamp can rotate 360-degrees on a ball joint. It’s a nice feature when you want to adjust the light direction without moving your head.
Yet another difference is that the headband is adjustable so you can loop it not just on your head, but also on your wrist or to secure it to a tree branch or tent pole. The strap even has a small rescue whistle attached to it with a Morse Code illustration on the side.
But the most awesome feature of all has to be the fact that you can remove the headstrap and instead use the integrated clip. I love this because I always wear a cap when playing outside, and the clip fits the bill of my cap perfectly. You can also use the clip to attach the light to packstraps, a belt, tent loops, or any number of things around camp. This reason alone compelled me to grab the e+LITE over the Tikka when heading out the door for a trip.
The e+LITE uses two CR2032 lithium batteries that are included with the headlamp. These batteries have a shelf life of up to 10 years… of course this claim could not be tested over one summer, but I can say the light levels never dimmed.
This whole, versatile package fits inside a tiny, plastic container that makes it easy to toss in your pack, glove box, or anywhere else you may need a headlamp during an emergency situation.
So which headlamp should you buy? I’d say it’s nice to have both. The e+LITE is great for having on-hand in a survival kit, whereas the Tikka Plus 2 is a workhorse that will light your way through any nighttime adventure.
Purchase the Petzl Tikka Plus 2.
Purchase the Petzl e+LITE.
For more information, visit Petzl online.