Review: The Petzl STRIX IR headlamp

A solid, well-engineered tactical light and battle tool

Review: The Petzl STRIX IR headlamp

The Petzl STRIX IR headlamp (Photo courtesy of vimeo)

The Petzl STRIX IR headlamp, a tactical headlamp designed with multi-carry options, proves to be a low maintenance, cost effective battle tool with advanced features.

Probably the most notable feature of the STRIX series of lamps is its ability to run longer than most headlamps on an AA cell, Ni-MH rechargeable cells and Lithium cells, making it operation capable by procurement no further than the corner store.

A tactical headlamp has several uses, foremost is hands-free usage while doing things other than shooting. Although I can easily clean most small arms blindfolded, I prefer to do my inspections with a good working beam. The STRIX IR headlamp follows the rule of tactical lighting: only use the amount of light needed for the task.

The Petzl STRIX has a rotation system that allows the user to mount the lamp on an ARC (Accessory Rail Connector), the helmet mounting system designed for multiple accessories on a tactical helmet. When items are not mounted, i.e. suspended from a harness or on a static line, the mount is snag free due to its contour. What’s more, the Petzl STRIX has a positive lock that can be worked with a gloved hand.

When mounted on the front of a helmet, the body of the Petzl STRIX rotates vertically 120 degrees. The emitter portion, which resembles a turret, rotates 180 degrees. Both rotations allow the user to put light where they need it. There’s enough friction in the device to keep it in place, a feature which I tested by running with it strapped to my head.

Other mounting options include an integrated MOLLE clip, which is built in to the light and accessed when it is completely dismounted, and the supplied helmet/headstrap, which is comfortable to wear on a bare head and secure enough for quickly mounting a “head bump” plastic helmet. I know that Petzl says it can be used “around the neck” with the supplied band, but I just couldn’t make this work for me.

Yes, off-duty users can run with this lamp to see their path while running trails as well. It weighs 100g without a battery and a single AA cell doesn’t add much on. The emitters are all recessed and focused. Using some simple lighting tests, I found that the recessed areas improved the stealth of the design. Foremost, the switch system was designed to access the most discreet emission first, and more deliberate beams take more deliberate actions.

In sequence, the visible light switch, a knob that requires a pull to access, switches the Red LED followed by a white LED stealth mode, a close range beam, then a 40 lumen beam. Any rotation of the switch to the rear turns it off. Even at the mid white light setting, an alkaline cell will deliver 20 hours. It will show an indicator flash when the cell is on its way out. However, it produces a steady beam with a sharp drop-off until then. 

I noticed a slight bleed of white light through the top of the case and some bleed from the bright white emitter, but this was only in the least stealth mode anyway.

The IR emitter has a separate switch, next to the turret, with a low, high and a steady/flash. It takes a deliberate turn to activate it. Any IR use disables the white light mode. The steady/flash can be used as a field expedient IFF emitter, which is the advantage to the full rotation of the turret.

The STRIX IR exceeded their shock resistance specs and I did not note any water ingress when tested. It was designed for hard use, and it will prevail during hard use.

Bottom line: The STRIX-IR is a solid, well-engineered tactical light, worthy of the warriors that will use it.