The differences between my budget headlamps and one made by Petzl were striking. The weight and balance were the first things I noticed. Whereas the budget headlamp was heavy and tended to pull my head forwards, the Tikka XP 2 was much lighter and, due to it’s a smaller size, wasn’t as off balance as the budget brand. The angle adjustment was easier to make as well, with the rotation easily tuned with a few clicks.
The quality of light was significantly higher as well. The budget headlamp’s beam was diffuse and dropped off over distance quickly. The Tikka’s focused beam was bright and shone much farther. When I popped up the diffuser, the Petzl really lit up my near surroundings. The XP2 has a strobe setting as well as red LED constant on and flashing modes if you require night vision.
The power / mode button is the only quibble I have with the Tikka XP2. To turn it on, click the button; another brief click turns it off again.To change modes however, one must turn it on then hold the button down a bit longer; one press for each mode. This can be frustrating if you need to change modes often, but typically I find it a minor annoyance.
The Tikka XP 2 is compatible with Petzl’s Adapt System, which is a USB rechargeable battery. It also can connect to your PC, allowing you to define multiple power modes so you can tell it when to use its juice. I didn’t get to test this feature, but I spoke with a friend, and she loves the ability to design a “boost” mode, which she uses when she needs extra light at the cost of extra battery life.
If you decide to eschew the Adapt system, I recommend using Lithium AAA batteries. (The headlamp requires 3.) They function better in cold climates and are well worth the few extra dollars they cost. Make sure to buy more than you think you need and put them in a waterproof container.
When it’s dark and you need to see, there are few things worse than not having a lighting system you can trust. The Tikka XP2 was well worth the $55 retail price, and it’s paid for itself more than once since I bought it. I even find myself grabbing it for use around the house when I need supplemental lighting. I highly recommend it.