Sunday, 5 January 2014

petzl zipka

From left to right, zipka (with aftermarket gaffa tape), zipka2, zipka+2
I've owned this little light- or at least a version of this light for about 7 years now. For that length of time, there has generally been one floating around my pack as a small, lightweight, emergency light source that I can wrap around pretty much anything.

The great thing about the Zipka is the sprung kevlar cord which, while not necessarily being comfortable for long periods of time, can be used in a variety of ways to attach the light to limbs or things around you to provide a decent light source.

Relative sizes- zipka +2 on top, and zipka below
Originally I used it as a light around my wrist as an adjunct to a head torch, mainly as a small, lower powered light to read a map by when the head torch was so bright that you got dazzled by shine-back from the map. To be honest, the original Zipka didn't have a massive amount of light, so reading and map-checking was about as far as it went. Using it to try and see where you were going was a little bit like using a mobile phone screen for a torch. Yes it produces light, and it serves quite well to ruin your night vision, but not actually any good for seeing where you are going.

The next version of the Zipka (the zipka 2) had 4 LEDs, which was a marked improvement. I didn't really
have a whole lot of experience of it myself, apart from looking at Lynnes with envious eyes as she actually used it as a torch for seeing where she was going, not JUST for map reading. Brilliant! Still the same AAA battery pack, still the same kevlar cord, but now a viable light source for wandering around in the dark, and certainly useful if you're on a hill, and everything else fails- much better than a slightly upgraded mobile phone screen. For a couple of years I was annoyed that I had given that to Lynne for Christmas... should have bought one for myself as well!

The more recent upgrade to the Zipka, I got mine last year, is the Zipka plus 2. (The green one in the photos). It has the same triple AAA battery pack, the weight hasn't gone up appreciably, the sprung kevlar strap is there, and the numerous LEDs on the front have been swapped for a single, larger, more powerful White LED and a smaller Red LED, which doubles as either a red light source and a battery power indicator.
Attached to something with a larks foot. Handy, Hands free.
THIS version of the Zipka is excellent as a single light source for walking, even running along trails and is my main go to light for dawn running. Slips on the wrist, I forget about it until I need it, and then it has enough
oomph to give light to the trail that I'm running along.
(for the geeks, thats 70 lumens- or 40m of lighting, apparently)
OK, so I wouldn't use it as a sole light for night fell running, its not that order of brightness, but for morning
patrols, it is excellent.

This, the most recent model has an option of bright, not so bright and flash, and then red, and red flash, all easily usable from the single push switch on the top.

Battery life, as ever with torches, is reported to be something incredible, 185 hours of "usable" light when on the lower lighting mode.
Which is insane.
I tend to find that I've used it for about 2 weeks worth of dawn running before needing to recharge the batteries. Yes, it still emits light, and yes it would be fine for walking, certainly more than enough for reading, but that's not what I want it for. Still. That's a decent enough amount of light.

The only minor issue with it is that occasionally when I'm out, the casing seems to have come ever-so-slightly loose - not so you'd notice - until you try and turn it on. Then there is no response from the light at all. It isn't the battery, and all it takes is a quick squeeze of the unit to make sure it is all fastened together properly, and off we go, the light goes on.
Also, yes you CAN use it as a head torch, and it stays there if you walk, but for running, you're far better off using it wrapped around your wrist, as it doesn't bounce around much there.
The way I tend to use one for pretty much everything. Hands free. 

A final point, the battery pack is now easy to get into- using a clip system as opposed to using a coin to get into it, and the light can be used with the petzl Core system- their own rechargable battery pack, but which has to be purchased separetly. No comment on that, never seen one, let alone used it.

Want a small, light, hands free torch to stick in a bag and forget about until you need to get off a hill? Need a small light to use for walks and runs on the trail? Need a small light to keep somewhere in the house in case of emergency? Need a small light to keep in the car for map reading?
THIS is the light.

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