If you read our recent 2014 Petzl gear preview you'll know that the entire Tikka range gets an overhaul for spring, but Petzl also has two new Tikka models out in very near future including the Tikka RXP, which is rechargeable, regulated and reactive for improved all-round performance.

All three are arguably a big upgrade on the current all-round workhorse Tikka XP, which it also outshines on the brightness front.

Reactive Lighting

Petzl launched its reactive lighting system on the excellent Nao torch last year, but now it's available in a smaller, lighter and more affordable package. It works like this: a light sensor, it's the larger, lower one on the lefthand side on its own, detects how much light is bouncing back at the torch and raises and lowers output accordingly.

If, for example, you look at a map close up, lots of light floods back and the torch reduces the light output accordingly. If you look into the far, deep, dark, blackness of the moors, no light bounces back, so the torch gives it full beans...

The big advantage is that it ekes out battery life, by only ever using as much light as you need. Up to around 10 hours reckons Petzl compared to 2hrs 45 if you simply switched the torch onto max. Our experience with the Nao is that it works brilliantly most of the time, though it can be confused by snow, mist and oncoming lights. If that happens you can simply over-ride the reactive setting and use it like a normal torch with three levels of brightness switched using the button on the side of the torch.

Regulated Lighting

Regulated torches like the RXP put out a constant level of light for longer, so you don't get a rapidly fading output as the battery runs down as you do with, say, the current Tikka range. So that's a good thing.

Rechargeable Battery

The final 'R' is for rechargeable. The RXP has a rechargeable battery - lithium polymer we think - which can be charged using a mini-USB socket while still in place. There's also an option emergency unit avalailable which can be plugged in if needed and holds conventional batteries.

Finally, the battery and torch levels are programmable using the Petzl OS software, which is free to use and means you'll be able to customise output levels to suit your preferences and activities as with the Petzl Nao and the Core battery for the existing Petzl models.

And The Rest

So that's all good we think. Other stuff you might want to know is that the torch has both a spot and flood LED (on the right) which you can select between manually or let the torch do it for you. There's also a single red LED for night vision-friendly map reading which also has a flashing mode.

Control is via two switches, one up top which is an on/off and a side one which cycles through reactive/manual/red modes. Initially we're finding these a little confusing, but we suspect you'd get used to it with regular use. We're also not sure how positive the buttons will be with winter gloves.

And in another nod to the Nao, the headband has been modified with a double-strap section at the rear of the rear of the head to add stability when moving fast or simply nodding vigorously. It seems to work just fine, though the actual lamp unit might benefit from some additional foam padding against the forehead.

Much Too Bright Enough?

Light output tops out at a claimed 215 lumens max with various lower stages. That should be enough for most use, though anyone planning on running downhill off-road at full pelt should maybe look at the Nao as a brighter option.

Weight is a claimed 115g, which matches up with our measured 111g quite nicely, and the whole shebang is weather resistant to IPX4 levels. And unusually for a headtorch, there's a heatsink behind the LEDs suggesting that at these levels temperature management is getting more important.

initial Verdict

First impressions are that it's an impressive bit of kit with a lot of the advantages of the Petzl Nao at a more affordable, though still not cheap, £90 price. We reckon the mixed flood and spot beams will make it a good off-road running option and the regulated output should make for consistent lighting. Rechargeability is a real boon too and the USB input means you can use anything from a solar charger through to mains one.

Finally, the reactive lighting system is a quiet slice of genius pie. It's barely noticable in use, but really does extend battery life without compromising lighting performance. Overall we're initally rather impressed. More when we've used it in anger.

More Petzl information at www.petzl.com.