Review: Petzl ACTIK Core head torch
If you are keen to run at night, or early morning, you will need a good head torch. Petzl has been making a name for itself with small, lightweight and high beam head lamps. This is a review of the Petzl ACTIK Core head torch.
Features of Petzl ACTIK Core head torch
- Up to 350 lumens beam (Update 2020: Now 450 lumens)
- Two beam patterns (wide or mixed) and several lighting modes
- Red lighting preserves night vision and stops you blinding other members of the group
- CORE battery that is rechargeable via USB port (also compatible with three AAA/LR03 batteries)
- Reflective headband helps you to be seen when a light is shone on it
- Emergency whistle
- Reflective elasticated headband
- Weight: 82g
- Cost: £50.
- See Petzl and also buy from Amazon.
On test: Petzl ACTIK Core head torch
This is a small, compact and lightweight head torch. There is a single band to keep it on your head and it needs to be fairly tight to stay in place. I like that the wide strap stays on top of my ponytail at the back!
The power comes from a small rechargeable battery that sits in a case on the back of the headband. You can carry AAA batteries as back ups if the charge runs out. To recharge the battery you need to open up the casing of the headtorch. This is a bit of a fiddle and a few times the battery has fallen out of the case but it’s not the end of the world.
The 350 lumens beam is fairly bright. I have a Silva head torch that gives out a beam of around 600 lumens (there is a new version that offers up to 800 lumens, the Silva Trail Speed 3XT) so I had doubted that 350 lumens would be enough for running in the dark but it is actually good. (This has now been updated to 450 lumens.)
I ran on the darkest of nights with no moon and could see my way ahead. There are three settings to choose from and even the 100 lumens beam is just about adequate for running. It is better to be able to use the 350 lumens but you could get by with 100 lumens.
The 5 lumen beam is no good for running. However, if you needed to locate a small item in your pack at night, for example while camping, you could use the 5l beam.
If you hold down the “on” switch the beam changes to red. You can choose between a full-time red beam or a flashing beam. I have never used the red beam and I think it would only be useful in an emergency.
It took me a while to work out how to easily switch between beam brightness. If you are flicking through the beam brightness at the start of the run, you can easily switch to the one that you want in a series of three variations of bright.
But if you choose, for example, the middle beam and then, five minutes later, want to go back to the brighter beam, you can’t do so. You have to start the whole sequence again from off. The torch simply can’t cope with you suddenly changing you mind so it does lack a bit of smart technology.
It also took me a while to work out how to go from the white beam to the red beam. This needs to be done at the outset of turning on the torch. You simply hold down the on switch for longer than you might, and the white switches to red.
I found it difficult to switch between beams with my gloves on. I am not sure why because the switch is quite big, but it just didn’t want to work with my gloved fingers.
I found that the brightest beam lasts around two hours, as stated in the technical details.
The two-hour limit on the 350 lumens beam is not very long. If you are out for longer, and many ultra runners will be, you can swap to AAA batteries but I am not sure how long they will last. Many other head torches last far longer.
On the standard brightness of 100 lumens you get up to seven hours of burn time but I didn’t find this beam to be quite bright enough for my Scottish night runs on trails.
The casing of the battery and bulb are fairly robust looking but not as solid as other torches, such as Silva. I think you can see that you get what you pay for. If you take care of the Petzl headtorch it should last a long time but if you accidentally drop it I think the casing might be vulnerable to cracking.
The price is very good for a torch with such a bright beam. While the bright beam only lasts for about two hours you can swap the rechargeable battery for ordinary AAAs. The headtorch is lightweight and very wearable.
There are better torches on the market but they cost a lot more (in some cases six times as much) and there are other headtorches for the same price that really do not match up in terms of weight and beam brightness.
It’s a useful small and lightweight headtorch to take in a winter walking rucksack in case you get caught out after dark on the hills.