Along with winter’s weather comes also the shortening of days, which poses some difficulties for us runners, who hate to run indoors. Winter weather means bad road and trail conditions that in conjunction with still present leaves from fall and dark conditions pose non-negligible risks for ankle sprains.
Up until this winter I managed these hazards by running on shoveled pavements. But due to various reasons some changes were made for this season’s winter running. On most weeks I got running company in the form of my brother, especially for early morning long(er) runs. Throughout the winter we managed to run 2 – 3 times per week in the early morning, often starting between 4 and 5, so that we finished our 2+ hour runs well before breakfast time. And this early morning runs (or better, night runs) often in city suburbs on trails without lighting required investment into a decent running head lamp.
I had and older version of Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp, which was unsuitable to run with on everything but straight asphalt. And in the process of choosing a new headlamp, I also tested my girlfriends Led Lenser SEO 5 headlamp, with which I could run on nicer and wider trails, but pure off-road was still a no-go with it. So my brother and I opted for Petzl Tikka RXP, a powerful headlamp with rechargeable battery, as we didn’t want to go through millions of batteries.
The higher price of Tikka RXP was justified on the first test run! Although being slightly heavier with its 113 grams than Tikka plus (78 grams) and Led Lenser (106 grams), it sits really well on the forehead, far better that the other two. The headband fastens around the back of the head with two straps, so the headlight stays firm even when jumping or quickly changing directions. But the beast feature is of course the light itself with its reactive lighting technology. It has two LED lights that provide one wide and one focused beam pattern thus eliminating the “tunnel light effect” that Led Lenser has with its sole LED. This way the path itself is illuminated to the greatest degree, while the surrounding area is still lighted enough to provide some orientation guidance.
Before mentioned “reactive lighting technology” works well in practice too, as the sensor analyzes the ambient light and adjusts the beam pattern and brightness instantly and automatically to user requirements, thus optimizing burn time and reducing the need for manual operation. Or in short, the headlamp dims as you run on lighted street and then instantaneously lights back up when turning to non-lit path, effectively prolonging the battery life. This feature can also be turned off, but I haven’t experienced situation that would require me to do so, this technology really works well.
Otherwise, the maximum brightness is rated as 215 lumens for Tikka RXP, 180 lumens for Led Lenser and 80 lumens for Tikka plus. Depending on brightness, the rechargeable battery on Tikka RXP is rated from approx. 3 hours on maximum setting to 12 hours on maximum autonomy. In practice I needed to recharge it via USB port once every two weeks, after estimated 10 hours of running. It also has a battery charge indicator so that the possibility of running out of light in the middle of the workout is greatly reduced.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the value of this lamp and the enjoyment it brought to my runs in the dark. Being more on the “hard to convince” and “late adopter” camps I needed some persuasion for this investment. And now seeing how it expanded my running options and broadened the trail choice I am totally booked on running in the dark as well. It has become one of my favorite running accessories.
Just a minor disclosure at the end, I don’t see very well in the dark. Actually, my eyesight in the dark is lousy at best, so please keep that in mind when reading through this test.