Petzl Tactika XP Headlamp (new model)

Article first appeared in March 2016Petzl Tactika XP New

I can’t tell you how much I really love my Petzl Tactika XP headlamp. No, not this Petzl Tactika XP…the old Petzl Tactika XP.


Yeah, there is an old model and a new model of the Petzl Tactika XP headlamp. But, the name is the only similarity…and that is it…period! But, before I go down that road too far let’s go over the basics of the review first.

As always…the mission –

“To provide personal lighting capability for night operations in a tactical or camping environment.”

Requirements & Restrictions –

  1. Must be water resistant.
  2. Must be rugged.
  3. Must provide foolproof for “red lens” operations.
  4. Must operate on AAA batteries.
  5. Should be camouflage or flat earth color.
  6. Must have headband operation capability.
  7. Should have helmet mount capability.
  8. Should contain the lamp and batteries in the same housing.

So, why am I even looking for a headlamp to begin with when I already have, and like, the old model Petzl Tactika XP headlamp? Well, because I believe in “two is one, one is none, three is a good start.” Roughly translated that means, have a back-up option to your primary piece of gear or equipment. Then, have another option as a back-up to all of that. Why? Because your gear and equipment will fail when you least expect it, and least want it to. You better have a couple of options and alternatives.Petzel Tactikka XP headlamp

As I mentioned earlier I live my original Petzl, it is everything I want in a headlamp. Solid, water resistant, perfect light pattern, and a failsafe red lens. The band or head strap is a quality piece of expandable material. The headlamp has lasted me two years of usage on a single set of three AAA Duracell copper top batteries. You simply can’t beat that headlamp. The problem is that Petzl decided to take a fantastic product, a true top quality, excellent product…and discontinue making it.

But, in true corporate mental midgetry they come out with a product that they name the same, claim even better performance, lower the price, and think that the consumer won’t notice the change. Well, maybe a bunch of uninformed consumers will never know the swap of products from a great product to a piece of junk. Yup…you read that right! I called the new Petxl Tactika XP a piece of junk!

Now, maybe you didn’t ever know about the original Tactika XP and hence have no basis of comparison. You might take a look at the new model and you might be perfectly happy with it. I am not! No, not one bit. No how, no way do I like this new model. And I am a little ticked off that they tried some sleazy sleight of hand trying to capitalize on the original model’s great reputation out in the marketplace. I am sorry, that just pisses me off.

Head to head, the two models aren’t even close to comparable. Well, no, that is a misstatement. The two models are comparable…it’s just the new model sucks!

Petzl Tactika XP reviewThe headband material doesn’t have the elasticity, the housing plastic is cheaper and thinner, there is no gasket to keep out moisture. The light pattern is much more diffused, far less focused than he original model. And while the brightest setting is 100% brighter (supposedly), it is not needed.

Original Model Petzl Tactica XP

Original Model Petzl Tactica XP

New Petzl Tactika XP

New Petzl Tactika XP

And, having to cycle through to get the red light to come on is a pain in the butt. The operation requires an idiotic combination of number of presses and length of press to get different light intensities and the red light to come on. It is one of the most cumbersome and absolutely asinine set-ups that I have ever seen.

And…another really annoying feature…the intensity of the red light. Remember, the red light is to preserve your night vision. But, the brightness, the intensity, of the light when red is being used is far, far too bright to maintain night vision. I don’t have the ability to measure it scientifically, but the new model appears to be 4 – 6 times brighter than the old model. And that is a serious flaw. When used tactically you want enough red light to see what you are doing but not enough to let everyone see where you are. It is obvious that Petzl had no clue in what they were doing with this red lens feature.

Petzl Tactika XP red lens comparisonFeatures

•  CONSTANT LIGHTING: brightness does not decrease gradually as the batteries are drained
•  Several lighting modes suitable for different situations, from proximity lighting to rapid movement
•  Boost mode for temporary access to maximum brightness
•  Red light combining visual comfort and discretion, red strobe light
•  Automatically switches to reserve mode when batteries are running low and then to red lighting when the batteries are nearly empty

Technical Information

•  Bulb: LED
•  Light Output: Ambient: 5 Lumens; Proximity: 40 Lumens; Rapid Movement: 110 Lumens; Boost: 160 Lumens
•  Run Time: Ambient: 100 Hours; Proximity: 8 Hours; Rapid Movement: 2 Hours; Boost: 10 Seconds
•  Lighting Modes: Ambient, Proximity, Rapid Movement and Boost
•  Switch Type: Push-button
•  Battery: 3AAA/LR03 batteries (included)
•  Headband Type: Adjustable
•  Material: Polymer body/elastic headband
•  Weight: 3 oz

Look, I could go on and on stating a feature or option that I don’t like. I could even make some more rude, maybe even crude, comments on how badly this headlamp sucks. It would be easy to keep saying this headlamp is junk and not even worth $4.99. Just trust me on this one…Do Not Buy!


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