Contact Us   Site Map
Airline Mismanagement

A simple but ingenious device that can be strapped to your head, arm, or elsewhere, to conveniently focus light where you need it.

Although $43 might seem expensive, you get very long life from the batteries, almost infinite life from the LED bulbs, and a very effective unit.


Travel Planning and Assistance
Road Warrior resources
Noise Reducing Headphones
International Cell Phone Service
GSM cell phone unlocking FAQs
Portable MP3 Players
GPS series of articles
Should you choose an iPhone or Android series
Apple iPhone review series
iPhone 3G/3GS Battery replacement
Third Rail iPhone 4/4S External Battery
Apple iPad review series
iPad/Tablet Buying Guide
Google Nexus 7 review
Netflix Streaming Video
Sharing Internet Access series
Microsoft OneNote review
T-mobile/Google G1 phone review series
Blackberry review and user tips
Palm Tungsten T3
Motorola V3 Razr cell phone review
Motorola V600 cell phone review
Nokia 3650 cell phone review
SIM Saver GSM Phone Backup and Copy Device
Clipper Gear Micro Light
Amazon's Wand review
Amazon's new (Sep '11) Kindles and Fire review
Review of the Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle eBook reader review
Amazon Kindle 2 preview
Sony PRS-500 eBook reader review
Audible Digital Talking Books review
Home Security Video Monitoring
Quik Pod review
Joby Gorillapod review
Satellite Radio Service
Satellite Phone Service
All About Speech Recognition Software
2005 Best Travel Technology Awards
How to connect to the Internet when away from home/office
Bluetooth wireless networking
How to Choose a Bluetooth Headset
Logitech Squeezebox Duet
Packet 8 VoIP phone service
Sugarsynch software review
iTwin remote access device
Barracuda Spam Firewall review
Cell Phone Emergency Power Recharger series
First Class Sleeper
Roboform Password Manager review
Securikey USB Computer Protection Key review
Steripen UV Water Purifiers
ScanGaugeII OBDII review
SafeDriver review
Expandable Bags for Traveling Convenience
USB Flash Drive
Vonage VoIP phone service
Laptop Screen Privacy Filter
AViiQ Laptop Stands
Aviator Laptop Computer Stand
No Luggage Worries
Pack-a-Cone roadside safety flashing cone
Emergency Self charging Radio
Evac-U8 Emergency Escape Smoke Hood
MyTag Luggage Tags
Beware of Checked Baggage Xray Machines
SearchAlert TSA approved lock
Boostaroo Portable Amplifier and splitter
Dry Pak protective pouch
Boom Noise Canceling Headset
Ety-Com Noise Canceling Headset
Nectar Blueclip BT headset holders
Skullcandy Link Headset Mixer
Lingo Pacifica 10 language talking translator
Nexcell NiMH rechargeable battery kit
Jet Lag Causes and Cures
SuddenStop License Frame
CoolIT USB Beverage cooler
Travel ID and Document Pouches
Protect Yourself Against Document Loss
Personal Radio Service
PicoPad Wallet Notes
Times Electronic Crossword Puzzles
Slim Cam 300 micro digital camera review
Stopping Spam
BottleWise Bottle Carrier review
The End of the Internet as We Know it?
How to Book and Buy Travel
Scary, Silly and Stupid Security Stories
Airline Reviews
Airline (Mis)!Management
Miscellaneous Features
Reference Materials
About the Travel Insider
Looking for something else? Search over two million words of free information on our site.
Custom Search
Free Newsletter

In addition to our feature articles, we offer you a free weekly newsletter with a mix of news and opinions on travel related topics.


 View Sample
Privacy Policy

Help this Site
Thank you for your interest in helping this site to continue to develop. Some of the information we give you here can save you thousands of dollars the next time you're arranging travel, or will substantially help the quality of your travel experiences in other, non-cash ways. Click for more information
Reader's Replies

If you'd like to add your own commentary, send me a note.


Petzl Zipka Plus Night Light Review

A 30" circumference retractable band allows this unit to be worn as a headband or mounted many other places.

Measuring only 2" wide and 1" high, and weighing a mere 2.2 oz, this unit can be taken and used anywhere and everywhere.



Don't you sometimes feel a bit self-conscious when you're the only person in the darkened plane cabin during the overnight flight with your light on, while passengers around you are trying to sleep and resenting the light you're shining at them as well as at you.

Or maybe your light isn't properly aligned, or simply doesn't work.  Or maybe you like to read in bed while your partner prefers to sleep.  In all these cases, this miniature light is tremendously helpful.

There are lots more situations where you also need a light that can be pointed where you're looking/working and where you can't spare a hand to hold it.

Using very efficient LEDs you get up to 120 hours of light from three AAA batteries.  The unit sells for $42.95 from Travel Essentials (see below for details on our Travel Insider discount).

What You Get

The Petzl Zipka Plus light comes packed on a display card, and is complete with three long life alkaline batteries and instructions in five languages (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish).

The unit carries a generous three year guarantee.

Zipka Plus Description

The Zipka Plus light is in two parts.  The main unit has four white LED lights, an orange on/off button, and a battery compartment on the back.  This measures 2" wide and 1" high and is 1" thick (dimensions are at the widest points).  It weighs a mere 2.2 ounces - and that is the weight including the three AAA batteries.

Connected to the main unit is a small disk inside which there is a spring-retractable cord.  The idea is to pull the cord and disk away from the main unit and then to put your head or arm or anything else in the 'hole' created and allow the cord to then retract so as to hold the unit firmly in place.  When the cord is fully extended, you have a hole 30" in circumference that allows you plenty of flexibility for where and how you attach the unit.

There is also a non-slip rubber patch on the back of the main unit to ensure that it stays securely where you place it.

The on/off switch turns the light on, and repeated pushings of the button enable you to select from high, medium, or low power, with a fourth setting for high power flashing.

The unit is described as being water resistant.  I turned it on and placed it in a glass of water for 30 minutes (it sinks rather than floats).  Some bubbles came out of the retractable cord assembly, but other than that, it seemed just fine and the light continued working perfectly while in the water and after removing it again.  However, when I took it out, I did notice what appeared to be condensation inside the unit.  This evaporated away over time.  So plainly, while water resistant, it isn't fully water proof.

Using the Petzl Zipka Plus light

Using the unit is incredibly easy, as you'd expect and hope.  Put it around your forehead or whatever else you're using to mount it, turn it on, and decide which power setting you want to have it set at.

High power is claimed to give a maximum effective range of 56 ft (the distance at which the brightness is similar to that of a full moon on a cloudless night, 0.25 lux.  Medium gives a 43' range and low power gives a 30' range.  The manufacturer says to expect 80 hours of battery life on high power, 100 hrs on medium, and 120 hours on low power.

When using the unit to read a book, low or medium power is more than sufficient, and getting 100+ hours out of three cheap small AAA batteries is incredible.  You're paying only a couple of cents per hour of use, and you also won't be hassled by the need to carry lots of spare batteries with you.

This type of battery life is probably ten times (and possibly more) than you'd get from a regular type book light unit using incandescent bulbs.

The LED lights are very efficient and give more light for less power than regular bulbs.  They are also incredibly long lived.  No-one is quite sure how long a LED bulb will last, but Petzl are saying to expect more than 100,000 hours.  A regular light bulb in your house lasts perhaps 2,000 hours.  Or, to look at it another way, 100,000 hours is the same as leaving the light on, continuously, for 11 years 5 months.

Or, if you use the unit 5 hours a month, a set of batteries will last you almost two years and the LED lights will last 1667 years!  Amazing.

The unit is very light and so it is acceptably comfortable to wear on your head for reasonable lengths of time.  The tension of the cord isn't too great, although I did notice when I removed the cord after 30 minutes of wearing it there was a line where the cord had been.  This line on my skin quickly disappeared, of course.

The unit was firmly mounted on my head, and no reasonable amount of moving or shaking caused it to fall off.

When reading a book, I found the light moderately evenly diffused over the book surface, with a bit of extra bright light in the middle.  It was at first a bit disconcerting to see the light move every time I moved my head, but I soon got used to that.

All in all, I'd rate the unit very easy to use and a great idea.

Comparing the Zipka Plus to a $10 Rayovac Unit

The Zipka Plus costs $43.  But is it really worth $43?  My first guess was no, and so I bought a $10 Rayovac brand unit from Walmart to see which unit was the better value and better choice.

The first small difference was the Zipka Plus comes complete with the batteries, the Rayovac does not.  Okay, so it is only a couple of dollars to buy batteries for the Rayovac unit, but it is also a hassle if you forget about the need for batteries, and already the price gap is starting to close.

And the next problem came when I went to put the batteries into the Rayovac unit.  The battery cover is secured by a miniature head Philips screw - if you don't have a special miniature Philips screwdriver, there's no way you'll be able to open the battery cover and put your batteries in.

The Rayovac unit was more than twice the size of the Zipka Plus, but even so was not offensively or inconveniently large.  It was also almost twice the weight (3.8 oz instead of 2.2 oz) but this is still sufficiently light for most people.

And, talking about light, the Rayovac unit had only two LEDs compared to the Zipka Plus which has four.  And it only has a single on/off switch; you can't vary its power setting.

This is a bit more of an important issue.  The Rayovac's light intensity was similar to the Zipka Plus at medium power.  There are times when you might want full power (eg to illuminate a path while walking out at night) and there are other times when you might only want low power, so as to cause least disturbance to others, and so as to get longest battery life.

The Rayovac's light was also less focused than the Zipka Plus, meaning more light would potentially spill over to people around you, and less was actually focused on whatever you were looking at.  This is another disadvantage.

The Rayovac unit is designed to be hung around your neck, or it has a spring clip to allow it to clip to various thin things.  But it doesn't swivel or tilt, so there's limited flexibility in directing the light from when you clip it to something.

The crippling weakness of the Rayovac unit, however, is when you're using it to try and read a book.  When the unit was hung around my neck, the light from the LEDs not only shone down onto the book (this is good) but also shone directly up into my eyes, which is unacceptable.

Bottom line - the Rayovac looks acceptable on paper, and in theoretical measurements.  But in real world testing, it shows itself to be poorly designed and impractical to use.  At $10, it is not a bargain, but instead a $10 waste of money.

This testing conclusively showed that there are important and valuable design features in the Zipka Plus which justify its extra cost.

Comparing the Zipka Plus to Other Petzl products

Petzl make a number of different types of lights.  This quick feature explanation might help you better understand the four different models available :

Tikka :  This unit has only three rather than four LEDs and has a thick headband rather than a thin retractable cord.  It is heavier, and doesn't have different power settings.  $29

Tikka Plus :  This has all the features of the Zipka Plus, except with a heavier headband rather than a thin retractable cord.  This unit has a pivoting head for more flexibility on where the beam is directed.  $36.  Our second choice after the Zipka Plus.

Zipka :  Similar to the Zipka Plus, but with only three LEDs and doesn't have different power settings.  $35

Zipka Plus :  The unit reviewed here.  Generally the best unit for most uses.  $43.


Petzl make four different micro-lights.  All are small and lightweight, high quality and convenient.

If you are searching for a convenient portable light source that gives a powerful light and offers very long battery life and low maintenance, and in particular, if you're wanting a portable reading light, then the Zipka Plus is your very best choice.

The unit sells for $42.95 from Travel Essentials, and if you type in the discount code 'travelinsider' (without the quotes) when completing your order, they'll give you a 5% discount.

A recommended product.

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.


Originally published 1 Dec 2005, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.


Your Feedback

How Would You Rate this Article


Was the Article Length and Coverage

Too short/simplistic
About right 
Too long/complex

Would You Like More Articles on this Subject


Back to Top