Princeton Tec Fuel 4 Headlamp vs The Tikka2 4 LED by Petzl – A Consumer Review

by on December 4, 2011

in consumer, consumer reviews

Consumer news, Consumer alerts and a Consumer's opinionThis is a consumer product review/comparison of two headlamps that many runners are bound to end up having used or will use.  For me, they seem to be the more prevalent headlamps out there that I’ve seen in runner’s stores.  So come on in and see what this consumer found out when comparing the two!  And if you’re Christmas shopping for a friend or loved one, here’s some perspectives to think about if you’re pondering a gift for that runner in your life!

I’m a runner and I tend to run at night.  My run club runs at night right now also, what with the wonderfully wasted deed of changing our clocks twice a year.  And as some may know, I tend to hit the streets for midnight runs. (Basically, you can see and hear the cars coming long before they get near you!)

So I’ve needed some light power to get me through the night, literally, and keep me from rolling my ankle over dropped pine cones and what not.

Below, are my consumer product reviews of two headlamps…  the Princeton Tec Fuel 4 Headlamp and the Tikka2 4 LED by Petzl.  Each one has its strengths and differences and they are subtle.  It all really depends on preferences and past consumer experience as to which one you prefer!

The following product reviews are not presented in any particular order.

Princeton Tec Fuel 4 Headlamp

Princeton Tec FUEL headlamps for runners

I’ve been using the Princeton Tec Fuel 4 Headlamp, and I have to say, it’s a bright beast.  I never had any issue with the amount of light it blasted out of my head.

It had three modes:  BRIGHT, Medium bright, low, and full-blast blink.

The 4 LEDs put out 43 lumens and weighed  78 grams.

Despite the light being pretty awesome, I still had a few issues with the runner’s headlamp.

The power switch to turn it on is hard to press.  I had to consistently use a knuckle to apply pressure to the on-switch to crank the power up rather than my fingertip.  It’s not real tough, but tough enough to not be feather-lite easy to operate.

The hinged battery lid is tough to open without a small tool to pry it open.  I was always worried about breaking it every time I replaced batteries.

The other issue I had was that it wasn’t that easy to rotate the unit body with one hand when wearing it.  If it was off my head, sure, one-handed adjustments were easy, but when it was on my head, it took two hands.  One to hold the base, the other to rotate the light.

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Though I wasn’t fond of the minor flaws I was running into, they weren’t great excuses for charging out and dropping $20 more bucks on a new lamp.

Then fate took this game to the next phase.  The other night, well, it was 4:30 in the morning if you can call it night, I had taken off my hat, in which my Princeton Tec Fuel 4 Headlamp was attached to and I dropped it.  The non-hinged end-cap popped off and I lost it in the dark as I heard it skittle off into the engulfing darkness.  And I could not find it…  I mean, cripes, the light I would have used to look for it just lost its end-cap.  The end-cap had the contacts for the batteries, so I was SOL.  (So Out Of Luck.)

Later that day I found the cap in the parking lot where it had fallen.  It had been run over a few times but even though it was fractured and taken a beating, I put it back on the light and the light still worked.  (Crap, can’t get a new light yet!)  But it was finicky at best after that.

Finally, after a few weeks of use, it became too much of a bear to use, so I retired it and bought myself a new light.  But that was a pretty tough consumer test!

Now, I must admit, that I was a bit hasty in purchasing a new runner’s headlamp.  I had contacted Princeton Tec to inquire about my damaged end-cap, asking if they cover idiot moves by consumers.  They said they would mail me a replacement cap.  That’s pretty cool customer service if you ask me!  Especially since it was my dunce-cap move that got the cap damaged.  (But I had gone right out and bought another headlamp that next day.)

The Tikka 2 by Petzl

PETZL Tikka 2 headlamp for runnersThe Tikka 2 feels pretty cool on the head. It feels lighter, but is it really?  Turns out that with batteries, the Tikka 2 weighs 81 grams, just a tad more than the Fuel 4.  But the light itself has a slightly larger footprint on the head, spreading out the weight management, so I’m guessing that’s why it feels lighter.

Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed is how super easy it is to rotate the light while I’m wearing it.  I’m hoping over time, it isn’t so easy that it loses its ratcheting ability.

I also noticed how super easy it is to use the power switch.

I’m already in love with those two facets, which for me, are fairly important.

On the tech sheet, it’s noted to put out 40 lumens.  Again, a touch shy of the 43 lumens that the Fuel 4 cranks out.  But to be honest, 4% heavier of almost nothing could amount to nothing for most runners.  And 7% less light in the pitch of night may not really make a huge difference.

The lit range of the Tikka 2 is noted at 29m when fully charged.

The Fuel had 4 modes while the Tikka 2 has 3, bright, reduced and rapid blink.  It blinks a lot faster than the Fuel.  I could run with the Fuel on blink mode.  But if I use the Tikka 2 on blink mode, I feared mental spasms from the rapid fire flickering.  But on the bright side (no pun intended), if you are leery of daytime traffic, the Tikka 2 flicker mode made be best for daytime running.

The Low-Down on the Tikka 2 Light At Night

The Tikka 2’s light is a slightly more diffused light pattern at night versus the FUEL 4.  Meaning, it seems to light up a bit more territory to the left and right than the FUEL light, but it doesn’t seem to lose the illumination factor dead ahead of you, in your running path, or where you’re looking.  It’s not a lot, but it’s nice to have a tiny bit more illumination off in your peripheral vision at night.

One feature I find fascinating about the Tikka 2 is that Petzl sells a Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable battery pack to take the place of the three batteries inside.  Economincally speaking, $30 for a rechargeable pack might not be the best move for the casual runner.   But if you run full-time in the dark or use this every day for your job, then snagging the rechargeable pack might pay for itself pretty quickly.

Is There A Winner Here?

To be honest, I don’t see a clear cut winner.

The FUEL 4 is slightly brighter and lighter.  The Tikka 2 is easier to use and easier to rotate while wearing it.   Being lighter, the FUEL 4 might appeal to the long-distance runner.  Being easy to turn on and off may only appeal to a minority of the runners out there.  I tend to turn mine on and off while running, depending on when I’m in well lit areas or hitting up dark streets.   Plus I don’t see that many people tinkering with the beam angle once they get going.

So these points might be moot.

For the standard runner who sets up the light and just goes, I’m thinking that the FUEL 4 wins out here, but by a mere marginal or emotional call.  It may be more about how the appearance appeals to the shopper, and that’s that!

The bottom line is what light you see in your local running store when you go to buy one.  I’ve not always seen both lights at the same location, so that may be your deciding factor.

Now, you have a slight bit of insight if you do encounter one or the other, you’ll know that you’re not losing out, no matter which one you pick!

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Tall ya what though.  If you have a runner in your life, you can’t go wrong with the idea of getting them one of these, if they run at night.  Ask first… see if they do run at night.  See if they have a light.  If not, I bet they’ll love one of these!

Petzl Headlamps on Amazon   |   Princeton Tec headlamps on Amazon

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jose g March 31, 2015 at 11:36 pm

la priceton tec trae la herramienta para abrir el compartimiento de las baterias en su propia correa. Debes azalizar bien tu linterna y encontraras la respuesta.
princeton tec para usar en movimientos de cabeza es mas rigida, montañas cuevas es ideal. el angulo una vez fijado no requiere moverlo por lo tanto tampoco es otro punto a considerar. y la mia vino muy facil de encender apagar, nada de forzado ni de nudillos para hacerlo. es decir. princeton tec. es perfecta.

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