The Petzl Zipka is a unique headlamp that is well suited for backpacking. It packs small due to its innovative retractable cord headband, and is relatively light in weight at 2.3 oz or 64 grams. It is very easy to use, and offers considerably more lighting power than the ultralight 1 oz (27g) Petzl e+LITE; better battery life, and a much better spotlight beam, for only a little more weight and size. It also stacks up well against the Black Diamond Ion 1.9 oz (53g), with similar size, weight and battery life, but offering superior lighting in both spot and flood modes.Ultralight fans will find the tiny Petzl e+LITE a better choice for backpacking, but for a lot of people, the extra punch of the Zipka is worth the extra weight.
Petzl Zipka Review
Cons: Expensive for its performance level, below average flood lighting
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|Price||$30 List||Check Price at REI|
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|Pros||Compact, lightweight, offers good performance, easy to use||Excellent spot light capability, wide evenly lit flood beam, above average in most ways||Good performance for the price, 94 meter beam throw, easy to use||Super easy to use, inexpensive, solid performance, compact, and reliable||Lightweight, small size, excellent flood beam, great price|
|Cons||Expensive for its performance level, below average flood lighting||Below average battery life, claimed battery life is wildly misleading, single button hard to use, lame waterproofing||Average in most ways||Good but not great spot beam for trail finding, slightly below average flood beam optics||Too weak a beam for trail finding or distance viewing|
|Bottom Line||A good solution for backpacking, balancing small size and weight, with good-enough performance||A quality, durable, and bright light that hits the sweet spot for most people's needs, despite dubious marketing claims||The Yalumi is a good light, at a good price, that provides basic functionality||For $20, the Tikkina offers impressive performance at a great price, that will meet most people's needs||Offers great close proximity lighting at a budget price|
|Rating Categories||Petzl Zipka||Black Diamond Spot||Yalumi LED 140-Lumen||Petzl Tikkina||Black Diamond Astro|
|Trail Finding (35%)|
|Close Proximity (20%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Petzl Zipka||Black Diamond Spot||Yalumi LED 140-Lumen||Petzl Tikkina||Black Diamond Astro|
|Measured Beam Distance||62 m||94 m||94 m||62 m||38 m|
|Claimed Distance||60 m||80 m||90 m||55 m||35 m|
|Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI)||5 hrs||2.9 hrs||4.3 hrs||3.5 hrs||4.8 hrs|
|Claimed High Mode Run-time||60 hrs||30 hrs||Not specified||60 hrs||20 hrs|
|Measured Low Mode Run-time||141 hrs||9.7 hrs||47 hrs||223 hrs||95 hrs|
|Claimed Low Mode Run-time||240 hrs||175 hrs||100 hrs||220 hrs||80 hrs|
|Measured Weight||2.3 oz, 64 g||3.1 oz, 89 g||2.7 oz, 77 g||2.9 oz, 83 g||3 oz, 86 g|
|Battery Type||3 AAA||3 AAA||3 AAA||3 AAA||3 AAA|
|Water Resistance||IPX4 splash proof||Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim)||IPX4 splash proof||IPX4 splash proof||IPX4 splash proof|
|Manuf Claimed Lumens||200 lumens||300 lumens||140 lumens||150 lumens||150 lumens|
|Beam Type||flood/spot||flood/spot||flood/spot||flood||flood, dimmable|
|On Switch Lock||no||yes||no||no||yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Zipka uses the most innovative headband system of any headlamp we tested: a string that retracts into the back of the light. Otherwise, the Zipka is essentially the same light as the Petzl Tikka. The innovative headband gives it lower weight and a smaller packed size, which can be an advantage for something like backpacking were size and weight are key.
The trail finding score was OK in general but pretty poor compared to top-performing lights that also list for $30, such as the Black Diamond Spot. But, the Spot is 0.8 ounces heavier (25g) and doesn't pack as small.
A more fair comparison is probably looking at the Zipka versus the Black Diamond Ion, which is similarly small and slightly 0.4 oz lighter than the Zipka. As you can in the beam comparison images below Zipka offers a much brighter and wider spotlight beam than the BD Ion.
Another alternative worth comparing to, is the Black Diamond Spot, which sells for the same price, only weighs 0.8 oz more (25g), and delivers much stronger lighting performance, for both close proximity and as a spotlight, as can be seen below:
The Zipka is below average in its flood mode lighting, with a score 4 of 10. While it is perfectly functional, it lacks the wide even lighting of the BD Spot or the ultralight e+LITE.
You are likely to rely on a light like the Zipka primarily for close-proximity flood lighting, and it offers impressive battery life for that application, much better than the e+LITE, and about the same as the BD Ion,
By design, the Zipka is one of the lighter headlamps, although certainly not the lightest.
Ease of Use
The Zipka is quite easy to use and has the same intuitive one button activation as the rest of the Tikka line. However, the string headband makes it hard to use when wearing gloves. In addition, you should be careful if you plan to use this with a climbing helmet. Without a wide elastic headband, the Zipka does not attach as well to helmets. Also, if you're running and bouncing, it's not as easy to get the Zipka really cinched down hard around your head.
The Zipka is at its best for an application like a 3-5 day backpacking trip, where weight and size matter, but so much as to mandate the most ultralight solutions like the Petzl e+LITE. For a weekend backcountry trip, the Petzl Tikkina or BD Spot might be a better choice, since they weigh only a little bit more, and offer much superior performance as a general purpose light in the long-run.
In the current headlamp market, $30 is a price that needs to deliver a lot of performance. The Zipka is kind of a special purpose solution, in that it is not the light we'd choose for general-purpose use, which means buying it involves a compromise on performance in the long-run, to gain its lighter weight and smaller size. The beam power and other lighting metrics are just not that impressive for the price of this light.
It the size and weight of the Zipka meet your needs, then it might be a good solution. But, we see it as straddling two worlds — not light or small enough for the ultralight backpacker, but not offering enough performance to be a good option for general purpose use (and the occasional backpacker, who does shorter trips, might not be so obsessed with weight and size to want to make the Zipka their primary headlamp).
— RJ Spurrier
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