Petzl Tikka RXP

One of the leading exponents of reactive lighting, the Petzl RXP combines a powerful 215 lumens headtorch with an intelligent multi-beam system that automatically adjust the brightness and beam pattern according to the users needs. It’s probably the most popular headtorch available for trail runners with software reducing manual operation to an absolute minimum.

Petzl Tikka RXP

What the manufacturers say:

Compact, powerful, rechargeable and intelligent multi-beam headlamp with REACTIVE LIGHTING technology that automatically adjusts brightness and beam pattern. 215 lumens

The TIKKA RXP multi-beam headlamp offers 215 lumen brightness. Compact and USB rechargeable, it is ideal for dynamic, energetic activities. With its REACTIVE LIGHTING technology, lighting becomes powerful and intelligent: a 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.


  • Greater burn time, visual comfort and minimal handling thanks to REACTIVE LIGHTING technology:
    – the light sensor automatically adjusts brightness and optimizes burn time
    – depending on the chosen burn time (3h30, 6 h, 12 h), brightness automatically self-regulates in three modes : MAX POWER, STANDARD, MAX AUTONOMY,
    – Reduced manual operation
  • Two beam patterns (wide and focused) and several lighting modes meet the need for high-performance lighting in dynamic outdoor activities: proximity or distance vision and rapid movement
  • Maximum brightness: 215 lumens
  • Lamp can be used with CONSTANT LIGHTING technology, to ensure constant lighting over time.
  • Lock function to avoid accidentally turning it on during transit or storage
  • Red lighting mode preserves night vision (red LED and strobe mode)
  • Rechargeable 1800 mAh Lithium-Ion battery:
    – universal charging with micro USB port
    – battery charge indicator
    – performs well at low temperatures
    – can be replaced with standard battery pack (not included) for use in remote areas
  • Washable headband, designed for dynamic activities (secure and absorbent)
  • Profiles and customized burn times with OS by Petzl software, free for download at
  • Weight: 115 g
  • Beam pattern: wide, mixed, focused
  • Energy: 1800 mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (included)
  • Recharge time: 4,5 h
  • Battery compatibility: alkaline, lithium and Ni-MH, with the standard battery pack (not included)
  • Watertightness: IP X4 (water resistant)

Petzl Tikka RXP on test:

Head torches. A fair portion of avoid using them throughout the year, timing runs around the dark hours, using treadmills or lit streets to prevent the necessity of piercing the enveloping blackness ahead with a beam of precision lighting.

In the past if you wanted something compact, light and powerful, one of the three elements had to give. 40 – 50 lumens was something to be held in high esteem, given you could not justify a device you would use a handful of times a year.

Well, times have changed. High power in small forms are now readily available and Petzl are breaking ground with their REACTIVE LIGHTING technology. First witnessed in the original NAO this clever tech has trickled down into sister products such as the Tikka RXP. The NAO 2 has gone on to gain more power and battery life and a once questionable feature has now become accepted in more circles.Petzl Tikka RXPBut what is REACTIVE LIGHTING?

REACTIVE LIGHTING is quite straight forward. In the chosen mode your head torch fires out a beam of light which is picked up by a sensor on the front of the torch.  This sensor automatically regulates the light to optimize the burn time ie: when you look into the distance it turns on the after burners to aid breaking through the nights sky. Yet, when you stare at the trail or a map, it reduces the light output, saving battery life and your eyesight from being blinded.Petzl Tikk RXPNow here comes the clever part. You can program it. No seriously, you plug it into the side of your laptop and can manipulate the lumen output against burn time. Say you are doing a mountain marathon or 24 hour event and need battery life over brightness, not a problem. Work out the length of the night and you can tweak it to give you the maximum performance.Petzl Tikka RXP connected to computerFancy a quick blast through your local woodland trail in the height of winter? Reduce the burn time, fire up the lumens and experience 215 lumens lighting the trails ahead.

In short, it’s annoyingly addictive (this could be the gear geek in me) playing with the settings and looking for the optimum. What’s more, you can create profiles, and within each profile you have 3 REACTIVE LIGHTING settings, along with 3 constant. Allowing you to give yourself settings for different scenarios, so you don’t have to plug it in for every run.Tikka RXP programmingHowever, if you don’t want REACTIVE LIGHTING, there are constant modes you can use instead. Having the same output regardless of where you look still has it place, and just light its reactive sibling you can manipulate the brightness vs time to get the most from your Tikka RXP.

If all this technical stuff is all a bit too much and the last thing you want to do is plug your head torch into a computer to play with charts, fear not. Both reactive and constant have 3 preloaded settings, so you can happily use these for all situations.

Now does it work?

In short, yes. From walking through the campsite to running around my local woodland trails, the Tikka RXP changes beams in the blink of an eye. So much so that at first you ma not be sure if it is working. Put it on constant mode and you know straight away that it work.
Perhaps it is the seemingly natural way this happens which is the master stroke. Your brain doesn’t cognitively process it, it occurs and all you are aware of is the subject you are looking at is not too bright or dark.
Am I converted? – Yes.

So the headtorch itself. For compact unit with a whopping 215 lumen max output for its size, it is relatively light at 115g. This might appear heavy, however the head strap is a beauty.  The rear adjustment strap works on both sides, rather than the standard one, which allows for a much greater tuning of fit and ultimately comfort. Even though all the weight is over the front, when running, the unit stays in place and has very little bounce.  In the past I would be looking at it voicing my concerns over no top strap, I have no such opinion with the RXP and this also allows the head to breath more under hard efforts.Tikka back of strapA wide and narrow beam provide lighting for all situations, whether you need to focus on the a trig point or illuminate the ground beneath you when searching for a marked trail.

With a rating of IPX4, you wont want to submerge it or leave it at the mercy of a Scottish downpour, but it will put up with your sweaty forehead and in climate weather.

A ratchet on the bottom allows for 7 different angles, whether you want to look straight forward or at your feet. This allows you to do it on the move, with one hand and the head strap wont ride up when doing so.

Along with the white light, there is a red beam to preserve night vision or pretend you are an SAS trooper looking for an RV with your 8 figure grid reference and OS map.Petzl Tikka RXP 1Now the headband. It is washable and the torch simply clips out the bands retaining clip to do so. A wicking back pulls sweat away from the head and reduces the possibilities of irritation. With a good level of elasticity in the rear, slipping it over a beanie or handing it to a team mate, doesn’t mean fumbling with gloves to perfect the fit.  As stated earlier, it is adjustable from two rear points, allowing for a for a more precise fit, rather than a plastic clip impregnating the side of your head.Tikka RXP strap rearPreviously I would always wear a headband to aid the fit and protect my head. With the Tikka RXP there is no need.

Now the elephant in the room. The battery.

The pain of everyone’s life, batteries run out and cause mischief. So how does the Tikka RXP hold up? Now as we have highlighted, you can manipulate the time the battery can last for 24 hours off a single charge. Of course, this is at the compromise of power,  reducing it to 17 lumen or 32 meters. On average, you can easily get 10 hours out of a charge with a respectable 80 lumen or 70 meters. On the trail you need a good power, so finding the balance is key.Tikka RXP battery unitAs for recharging, 4.5 hours is quick given the length and power it can provide, plus it is mirco USB rechargeable. Take a spare on the move, and you can instantly switch them over or use a powerbank to top the expired battery up. For those looking for alternative methods, you are also able to utilise alkaline, lithium and Ni-MH, with the standard battery pack (an optional extra). To aid the operator, there is a battery indicator, along with optimising its operation for cold temperatures.

Lighting technology Lighting modes Brightness Distance Burn time Reserve mode
REACTIVE LIGHTING Max autonomy 7 to 80 lm 2 to 70 m 10 h * 1 h at 25 lm
Standard 7 to 160 lm 2 to 90 m 5 h *
Max power 7 to 215 lm 2 to 110 m 2 h 30 *
CONSTANT LIGHTING proximity 45 lm for 10 h 25 m for 10 h 10 h
movement 100 lm for 5 h 75 m for 5 h 5 h
rapid movement 150 lm for 2 h 30 100 m for 2 h 30 2 h 30
* Minimum guaranteed burn time

So all in all a powerful, compact, well balanced, comfortable torch capable of lasting the longest night of the year or turning night to day on a 1 hour trail blast.

If it could be made fully submersible for those crazy winter conditions we have (if only we could have snow rather than rain) I would be fearless with it. At £89.99 it is more affordable than ever, it punches through darkness like a flare and adapts quicker than your brain can register it.

When darkness falls you need something you can rely on every time, and the Tikka RXP fits that statement.  It may even encourage you to get out more and work on your night nav.