Petzl’s lighter weight headlamp 

Petzl introduced reactive lighting last year with their large and expensive NAO headlamp; now they’ve made it available in a smaller, lighter product at a lower price – although it’s still quite high compared with some of the alternatives.

Reactive lighting means that the beam responds to how dark it is via a sensor that detects the amount of light. Point the torch into distant darkness and it becomes brighter; point it down at a map and it dims. This happens automatically with no need to press any switches. Switch rapidly between a dark object and a pale one and you can see the light pulse, but most of the time it’s not really noticeable.

The key advantage is that you should always have the ideal amount of light and that no more power than necessary is used. However the Tikka R+ doesn’t have the battery life of many other headlamps. Depending on the mode and beam strength, it ranges from around three to around 12 hours. There is also a one-hour reserve low light that comes on when the battery is almost dead.

The headlamp uses a rechargeable Lithium-Ion 1800mAh battery, which can be charged from a portable charger using a standard USB cable. The battery is also removable and can be replaced by a battery holder and three AAA batteries. On overnight trips or longer I’d certainly carry a spare charged battery, a charger or AAA batteries.

The Tikka R+ has three lighting levels: Max Power for the brightest beam, Standard for a balance of power and battery life, and Max Autonomy for best battery life. The first is good for hiking on rough terrain on dark nights; the last is all that’s needed for camp use. There’s also a red light to preserve night vision. This can be set to flash mode for signalling. The lighting is constant throughout the life of the battery without the slow fading found with many headlamps.

The Tikka R is easy to use. There are two switches: one for switching it on and off and for changing between reactive and constant lighting, and one for the different lighting levels. The switches are quite tiny so care is needed when using them with gloves. The shaped stretchy headband is comfortable.

I like the Tikka R+ and it works well. The reactive lighting is useful and fun to play with. However it is expensive and the battery life is relatively short. Petzl’s Tikka XP2, my favourite headlamp, is around half the price, weighs less at 88 grams, and has a usable battery life at least six times as long. It doesn’t have reactive lighting but the simple piece of dimpled plastic that can be flipped over the light has much the same effect.


  • Overall: 1 out of 5

Pros: Ease of use, reactive lighting, weight

Cons: Price, battery life

  • Price: £70
  • Weight: 112 g (battery: 50 grams)
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