Petzl Zipka Plus Head Torch
A torch is just a torch. Isn’t it? Well, kinda. There are naturally horses for courses when it comes to finding your way in the dark, but there are a few brilliant designs out there (pun intended) that have proven themselves to be versatile, rugged and reliable.
The Petzl Zipka Plus Head Torch is one of them. So much so that most of my friends and relatives have received one from me at some time or other as a Christmas or Birthday gift! So what makes them shine? (ok, I’ll stop it now). First, the LED system is very energy efficient, so 3 quality AAA batteries give you a sensible amount of use in the field (up to 140 hours in energy efficient mode). With 2 brilliance settings (the brightest is ideal for walking, the dimmest for reading), plus flash, you can choose how much juice you use. You can also switch it to a red LED, ideal for looking at maps in the dark without ruining your night vision or any other application where you want o remain discreet. Its physical size (about that of a plum) makes it super easy to pop in a pocket. But - and here’s the winning bit - the way the Zipka is designed to go onto your head is nothing short of genius. A fine nylon cord is stored around a sprung wheel in a very light housing that sits at the back of your bonce. Pull the housing, and out comes the cord to fit easily over your head (or anything else), and to stay there. The delight of this system is that it can be used anywhere. When I’m in the bush, I use mine in the shower (strapped around a tent pole, not my head… too soapy!), around the bed-head, my wrist or a tree branch; just about anywhere in fact. I use it on my bike wrapped around the handle bars too. And if you have two, you can use one facing back on your head when walking or cycling at night on a road in the dark with the red LED glowing. There simply is nothing else like it for versatility. A word of warning: if you have long hair, be sure to hold both the torch and the cord retractor as you remove the torch from your head otherwise there’s a chance your hair will be wound into the mechanism. not a problem I have!
I have found that the little foam cushion that sits against your forehead for comfort, parts company with the rest of the torch after a lot of use (perhaps I have a particularly solvent perspiration!) but this is a tiny downside to an otherwise first class piece of kit.