Petzl Tactikka XP Review

If you've spent anytime outdoors at night, you've probably had the pleasure of fumbling with a flashlight while trying to accomplish a task (like gathering firewood or preparing a meal). It only takes a few seconds to realize that having both hands available is better than having just the one.

I used to rely on flashlights for overnight outings and camping, but after seeing a few people using headlamps, and the freedom and versatility that they enjoyed, I knew I had to have one. After doing a bit of research, I found the Petzl Taktikka XP. One of the things that drew me in was that it was powered by AAA batteries. They are easily purchased at most stores and are very cheap, especially if you use rechargeable batteries.

There are 3 different beam intensities, with an option of a "boost" mode that increases the light output by 40 lumens. That being said, the only modes I ever seem to use are the lowest and highest. Low beam for times I'm in a tight space or a tent, and don't want to blind my buddies. High beam for pretty much everything else. There is also a strobe setting that can be used in emergency situations or if you are a cyclist. The buttons for these two features are side-by-side on the top, but someone did some troubleshooting when designing this; the power button, which you use to cycle through the various light settings, has a convenient raised nub to easily identify it.

One of the features that I really liked is that you can use coloured filters so that you don't ruin your night vision should you need to need to use your headlamp. There are blue, green and clear filters, but the only one I use is the red. They call the filters "wide-angle", and I'll agree that it disperses the light to a wider angle, but I'd also have to note that it cuts the light's intensity by half - even the clear lens. You can quickly and easily change from white light to filter by sliding it over using your fingernail. Also, you can store one extra filter in a compartment that is attached to the headband. However, I've never used or needed anything other than red.

The battery life on this little headlamp is surprisingly good. There was one stretch where I used it for a few hours every day for about a month before I had to make a battery change. So if you have a few extra batteries in your pack, you will be good to go for quite a while. Also, there is the added bonus of a battery life indicator on the side of the unit. When you turn on the headlamp, it will flash green when you have close to a full charge. As well, when it's time to change the battery, the main light will flash a few times as indication. Even then, I find that you'll be able to squeeze quite a number of hours out of the light after it starts to flash, albeit at a significantly reduced light output.

Over the years, I've tried and owned a number of headlamps, and think that honestly, they are all relatively the same. When you are paying more, it's for more lumens and a few extra features. If you just need a simple headlamp, I'm sure one of the cheaper $20 Petzls will be more than enough. But if you're like me, and you need everything to be in desert tan, the Tactikka XP is a fantastic choice. With enough digging, these can be found on the web for about $50.

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