Camping ToysReviews

The Petzl Zipka Plus vs. the Princeton Tec EOS Headlamps

Zipka Plus vs. EOS headlamps

When I first got into adventure sports, my headlamp was a flashlight combined with a Velcro strap, and the Petzl Zoom headlamp was the headlamp that I lusted over. When I could afford a headlamp, I went out and bought a Zoom and it served me well until Princeton Tec started to introduce lighter and smaller headlights. I was working retail at the time and got a box of samples to try out. That trial box turned me into the corporation’s headlamp geek. I was hooked until a few years later when Petzl introduced its first LED headlamp, which got something like 40 hours of battery life. I got one at the OR show and have been using LED lights since then.

One thing that I didn’t like about LED lights was how dim they were. I never found the older styles bright enough to navigate by, and I didn’t think that they’d get much attention when shinned at an approaching boat. That changed a couple years after the introduction of the first LED headlights with the introduction of new headlamps, and this year I final got around to trying two.

For the first, I bought a Princeton Tec EOS. The EOS features a Maxbright LED that puts out 80 lumens and burns for 121 hours on 3AAA batteries. You can use alkaline or lithium batteries. The lamp is waterproof to 1 meter, has bright, medium, low and blinking settings. It weighs 3.6 ounces with the batteries. The headlamp uses plastic detents to tilt instead of screw tension. The LED itself gives off a warmer color temperature than the typical blue light of an LED.

While the headlamp is heavier than others on the market, I’ve found that the combination of the waterproof seal, the tilt control and the brightness to be ideal for kayaking and canoeing. The light is plenty bright to navigate by, it can be seen from far away and it feels okay on the head. I haven’t made many purchases this year of camping accessories, but this one was worth the purchase. It’s definitely better than the old Aurora that I had.

The second headlamp that I tried this year wasPetzl’s Zipka Plus 2 with a CORE rechargeable battery pack. It puts out 70 lumens of light and burns for 185 hours on 3AAA or the rechargeable battery pack. The housing is water resistant and features three modes: high, low, strobe. It also has a red light which can be set on strobe or continuous lighting. The lamp’s cord retracts to make a compact package, but you can’t change the tilt. It weighs 2.3 ounces with the CORE battery pack. The light’s color is the typical cool blue of a LED.

The Zipka Plus 2 is plenty bright to navigate by and shine at approaching crafts, but I miss the tilting control that the EOS has. The rechargeable battery recharges via USB, so I haven’t had to buy a battery for it yet, and on a longer trip that I’d bring solar power along, I can see the advantage of carrying the Zipka Plus 2 over the EOS. I think I’d prefer the strap of the Tikka Plus 2 vs. the retractable strap of the Zipka Plus 2.

I’d like to try a few of Princeton Tec’s other headlamps, such as the Remix. If you have had any experience with newer headlamps, I’d like to hear it.

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  • I have a couple Remix and really like them. I got them pretty cheap of SAC to replace an original Tikka that got busted. I had a PT flashlight that I really liked so I gave them a shot.

    Switching between the single big and three small LEDS requires holding the button for a couple seconds is strange at first, but you get used to it. Also you can “scroll” through high/low/off by clicking the button, but if you stop for two seconds clicking will turn it off. Clicking again will turn it on to the previous setting.

    I often use it on my bike to supplement the bike lights that are basically so other people see you, not so you can see. The only thing I would like is for it to be waterproof.

    • The waterproof thing is the one turnoff on that lamp for me. Still, it sounds like a nice light.

  • I have the Petzl Tikka Plus 2 and am pretty happy with it. It’s the same as the one you reviewed, but has a different strap and the way it connects to the strap allows for tilt. I like having a red lamp on board – it lets me read in the tent while not disturbing my wife, is less annoying when you accidentally shine it in a camp mates eyes, and doesn’t ruin you night vision.

    This is the first LED headlamp I’d owned, since deciding to stop buying the flat batteries for the Petzl Zoom (which always seemed to turn itself on in a pack). I won it in a contest from Badger Paddles and Algonquin Outfitters (Headlamps Joining the Modern Era) and I’ve since bought another. I only wish it was fully waterproof, which would make it a great paddling headlamp. I might consider the EOS to keep in the kayak.

    Cheers & thanks for the review,
    Bryan S.

    • I may have to look at getting a Tikka Plus 2 for the tilt. I do like the rechargeable battery pack. It just makes sense.

  • […] headlamp. But, I’ve been settled into using two high-end headlamps that I really like (see The Petzl Zipka Plus vs. the Princeton Tec EOS Headlamp shootout). High-end headlamps aren’t for everyone and not everyone wants to dish out $40 for […]

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