Saying that I camp a lot is an understatement — for me, camping is something I do year-round, which is why it's really important to have a good headlamp. This is especially true during the Winter months. The last thing I want is to be stuck out somewhere without being able to see where I am going.
In the past, I've only really used my headlamp on the actual campsite, but on a recent climbing trip I found myself descending a trail right around dusk. It was pretty rocky and steep, making it dangerous in low-light conditions. Fortunately, I had my Petzl Tikka Plus 2 LED headlamp ($40) with me and strapped it on just as the last ray of sunlight dropped below the horizon.
To see how it performed,
The Petzl Tikka Plus 2 is pretty typical looking and has all the features you'd expect from a good headlamp — 1" adjustable elastic headband, AAA battery power source, a rubber-coated function button, and an adjustable lamp. What sets it apart from other headlamps is its unusual LED configuration — there's one large white LED light and one small red light. There are five different lighting settings — three white lighting modes (high, low, and flashing) and two red lighting modes (continuous and blinking) — and the push-button switch changes easily between them.
The large white LED light is blindingly bright and was powerful enough to illuminate the small boulders dozens of feet down the hillside. The red LED was less impressive, although it did illuminate the immediate area with a bright red glow. This feature would be useful in situations where you need brief illumination but don't want to ruin your nighttime vision.
The other highlight of the lamp is the battery-level warning light, a feature that I have never seen before on an LED headlamp. My experience with most headlamps is that once the battery level drops, it slowly gets dimmer, often so slowly that it becomes hard to tell that it's not as bright as it used to be. The battery charge indicator light comes on when the beam distance diminishes to 5m or when there's only 50 percent battery life remaining for proximity lighting. In terms of battery life, you can get about 140 hours when it's on the low white setting or 55 hours when it's on the highest beam setting.
The Tikka Plus 2 is slightly higher priced than similar LED headlamps, but with all the extra features, I think it's totally worth it. I've used this headlamp when I wasn't camping and could see it being a great accessory for a biker or runner too.