Review: Petzl Actik Core headtorch

RRP: £50
Weight: 82g (including supplied rechargable battery – slightly more with standard AAAs)

Petzl – which began life as a caving gear company – made its first headtorch in 1981 and has been refining and expanding its range ever since. The last Petzl torch I used, bought in a hurry to replace a lost one, broke after fairly light use and the experience put me off the brand. Testing this new lightweight model over the last few months for winter walks and regular night runs has changed my opinion – this is an excellent, reliable torch with many useful features.

It has an easily adjustable single headband with adequate reflective lettering, and a useful emergency whistle. It’s compact, sits comfortably for long wears and fits easily into a pocket. Ppower comes either from 3 AAA batteries or Petzl’s own rechargable lithium-ion CORE battery (which is supplied with the torch). This battery is very easy to charge as you just use a micro USB cable directly into the battery while it stays inside the torch; it charges from empty in approximately 3 hours. Using the rechargable battery has consistently provided light at the brightest setting for well over 2 hours for night running and much, much longer for walking off the hill using less power. It’s very useful to be able to quickly change to using normal batteries if there’s no power source for charging and to be able to have the back up of some batteries in your pack just in case – there’s no indicator to tell you how much charge is left and it discharges its last juice fairly quickly so keeping spare batteries is recommended for longer outings.

The maximum output is 350 lumens giving a very long range, certainly much further and with a wider beam, than other torches I’ve been using in recent years. Great for fast movers and runners this will also be very useful to walkers seeking landscape features or ground up ahead in total darkness.

The white light comes in three modes from 2 LEDs, proximity with a beam of about 10m, movement (45m) and distance (90m) and also a wide beam and a focused beam. These all worked well with a big on/off button used to toggle between settings which can be used with thin gloves or cold, imobile hands, however I found it confusing to remember the sequences needed to turn the torch to the desired setting. There is also a red light setting useful for night vision map reading and this can be set as an emergency strobe.

The international body which tests items ability to withstand water ingress has given it a rating of IPX4 meaning it’s water resistant rather than waterproof and won’t cope with total immersion.

Pros: low weight, whistle, rechargable battery, compact

Cons: not fully waterproof

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You should always carry a backup means of navigation and not rely on a single phone, app or map. Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is every walker's responsibility to check it and to navigate safely.