Headtorch Review

Written by kjhughes

headtorchIt’s that time of year where a headtorch is almost mandatory if you’re stepping out the door for a run.

I’ve had a headtorch for years, first off was a big Petzl mountaineering affair with a large protruding lamp at the front an a box at the back for one of those rectangular 9V batteries – the kind you could never get hold of in anywhere but a specialist mountaineering shop. I remember the little fiddly bulbs and taping a spare battery to the back compartment because it only lasted about 8-10 hours…

tikkaplusThen with the advent of LED bulbs the battery life increased by an order of magnitude, so I bought a Petzl Tikka Plus, this is a much smaller device and the three AAA batteries fit in the front ‘light’ section along with the 4 LEDs. It was great at the time.

This was the headtorch I used on my first ever ‘night run’ – actually it was a morning run, 5am start, running East along the Kennet and Avon canal towards Reading. Running for 2 hours, the first hour in the dark, then watching the sun rise before my eyes – awesome, just the reason I run…

tikkaxp2For Christmas, my lovely wife bought me newer model of this – a Tikka XP2. It is basically the same weight and layout. In terms of brightness, it is way more powerful and as well as the beam style it has a ‘diffused’ mode which is activated by sliding a little shutter up, over the lens. It can also be switched to a red LED mode, still giving beam and ‘diffused’ modes.

The other neat thing is that the buckle thing at the back has a built in whistle – so two birds with one stone on the compulsory kit lists of many races.

I use, the difference is really noticable. My canal runs with the Tikka Plus are okay, but a little slow because the light is not bright enough to give any decent sense of depth (so I spend a fair bit of time tripping over tree roots – joy). You also get a kind of tunnel vision thing, where you can see the tunnel of light and complete darkness surrounding the tunnel – in fact, because of the shape of the lens, you get an effect like looking out through goggles.

nightrunnersRuns with the new model are quite different – in ‘beam’ mode you do get the same tunnel (goggle) vision, but the light is much more powerful, so you get a decent depth perception. Switching to the diffused mode stops the tunnel vision stuff and gives a much wider beam / light, but obviously a bit weaker (it’s about the same level as the Tikka Plus).

All in all, I am really happy with the Tikka XP2 – lightweight, comfortable and gives off a good powerful light. The diffuse mode is good for roads and even surfaces. Not sure what I’d use the red mode for, but the built in whistle is a neat idea. It came in at around £39 (although for a while Decathlon were doing it for £29), and given that you expect many years of use, this seems good value for money.

What headtorch are you using ? post in the comments…

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