Monday, May 2, 2011

Headlamp Review: Petzl MYO RXP "Backpackers Magazine"

In my February review of the little-known Icon IXP107A Irix I headlamp, I made references to the Petzl MYO RXP.  The MYO RXP is a programmable and fully regulated high-end headlamp running on 3 AA batteries with nearly all the bells and whistles.  Coming from a company very well known for headlamps, and being one of their flagship products, the Petzl MYO RXP is anything but cheap, but read on to find out if this is the headlamp for you:

©Michael Cline
The Good:
  • Excellent fully regulated light output.  This is a powerful headlamp (160 lumens claimed) that makes many others look like toys.  It weighs 95 grams without batteries.
  • With 3 AA batteries, the lamp can produce relatively high output for a relatively long period. This is useful if you are engaged in a sport where it is inconvenient to change batteries half-way through the night.  NiMH, alkaline, and ultralight lithium batteries are all supported.
  • This lamp produces no perceptible flicker at any power level.  For fast moving sports this is very important.
  • The beam is softer than others, but this is a good thing taking into account the large amount of light this lamp can produce.
  • Colored battery indicator gives you an idea of remaining power.  When nearly depleted, the lamp continues to operate but at low power.
  • Nicely fitted, balanced, and extra comfortable on the head.  The battery pack has a rubberized backing which should survive even the harshest treatment and is like a very firm tiny pillow if while laying on your back you rest your head on sharp rocks.    The low-profile battery pack does not make the lamp uncomfortable to wear in bed.
  • Headlamp functions can be programmed without need of a computer or other extra parts.
  • Diffuser works well and is easily engaged/disengaged.  The light through the diffuser is about as soft as you could desire.
  • Power wire is coiled to keep it out of the way.
  • A bracket covers the controls and prevents accidental power-on when stowed.
  • SOS flash function could be very helpful in an emergency.  The flash function is programmable and supports fast, slow, and SOS.  The SOS function will operate for many days on a single charge.
  • IPX4 water-resistance claimed, and 3-year warranty to back it up.  Other than the power wire which is fully adequate, this lamp appears indestructible to me.
  • Includes an optional over-the-head band, but this is not generally needed.
  • Petzl has one of the most informative websites regarding headlight technology, which is full of useful and accurate information.
  • Very descriptive, informative, and clear external packaging regarding lamp functions and specs.
The Bad:
  • Difficult to press and especially hold the Boost button, nearly impossible wearing gloves.
  • Lamp does not have red night-vision mode, but the white brightness can be dialed down.
  • Some might find it inconvenient that the lamp uses an odd number of cells.  Many older or lower-cost battery chargers can only charge even sets of cells.  The best solution in this case would be to replace the outdated charger.
  • The beam color is slightly warmer than some other lamps which is good, but there is an odd green perimeter just outside of the main beam, which might bother scrutinous  users.
  • The main programming instructions avoid words, and are impossibly confusing. However, there is also fine print hidden on the flipside that explains programming in various languages and is easy to follow.
All things considered, the MYO RXP lives up to its reputation.  There are some annoyances with this lamp such as the very stiff boost button and it certainly is not cheap, but if you have $100 and need a lot of dependable light over a long period, and need pro features such as the power meter, fully regulated output, and the ability to program the headlamp functions, this is likely the headlamp for you.  If you’re still not sure, I’ll review the Petzl Tikka XP2 Core next month.  Oh and by the way, if something comes tearing through the brush at you in the dark, you’ll probably find a way to push that overly stiff boost button even with gloved fingers.

A Seattle native, Michael was introduced to the outdoors at an early age. With his entire family involved in backpacking and both of his parents having summited Mt. Rainier before he was even born, it was natural to glean knowledge of the outdoors. With a grandfather who made fully functional obsidian arrow heads in his spare time and a father involved in search and rescue who thought it necessary for kids to know how to make a fire in snow or rain, Michael learned to be self-sufficient. Michael began leading small groups scrambling or camping, and with winter being a big part of the Pacific Northwest, he got AIARE avalanche training to help keep everyone safe.
Michael currently resides in Seattle with his wife. He is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Escapia, a company recently purchased by HomeAway in the vacation rental industry. In his spare time when not in the outdoors or kayaking or working on another startup, Michael might be photographing a wedding, or in an exotic location photographing vacation rental homes. Here is a selection of his pictures.
Michael Cline

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