REVIEW: Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Whether you’re going for a late afternoon trail run or setting out on a globe-spanning adventure, a good headlamp is a must-have piece of gear. Having a proper light source that you can use hands-free is incredibly useful in so many situations. So much so, that I never leave home without one in my pack, even if I don’t think I will need it.
For years, Petzl has made some of the best headlamps on the market, offering travelers and outdoor enthusiasts performance that they can count on. That legacy continues with the Actik Core, a sleek, lightweight model that offers plenty of features, a bright lamp, and good battery life at a reasonable price.
Brightness (5) ★★★★★
While the fact that the Petzl Actik Core can crank out 450 lumens of light is impressive, what truly makes this headlamp special is that it can achieve that brightness while still weighing just 2.6 ounces (75 grams). That puts it amongst the brightest and lightest head torches on the market, offering outstanding performance with little bulk. The headlamp includes multiple illumination levels and offers both a flood pattern for illuminating a wider area and a “mixed” option for a narrower–but still dispersed–beam. The unit comes with a red-light (both continuous and strobe) for night vision as well, which comes in handy when using the headlamp around others.
I would have liked to have seen a setting for an even narrower, more focused, beam, but as is it is hard to fault the Actik Core too much. The bottom line is that it is incredibly bright, even on the lower settings, delivering plenty of light when and where you need it most.
Battery Life (4) ★★★★
On its brightest setting, Petzl claims that the Actik Core can get two hours of battery life, but in my testing it ran out of juice sooner than that. On its medium setting—of 100 lumens—it is rated of eight hours of use, which was much more achievable in real world use. On its lowest setting, which burns at just six lumens, the headlamp can get up to 130 hours of burn time on a single charge, but brightness is obviously significantly reduced. Still, it is a good option for use around the campsite or in the tent, where an ultra-bright beam isn’t necessary.
The Actik Core is a “hybrid” headlamp when it comes to battery usage. That means it comes with a rechargeable battery pack that can be inserted into the unit, but it also accepts three standards AAA batteries as well. That versatility is much appreciated, as keeping rechargeable batteries functioning in the field can sometimes be tricky. Knowing that you can bring standard batteries along as a back-up is a handy option to have.
Comfort (5) ★★★★★
Thanks to it being so lightweight, the Actik Core is very comfortable to wear, even over extended periods. Its soft, fully-adjustable headband plays a big role in that, allowing users to strap the light on and practically forget that they’re wearing it. The headband does an excellent job of holding the torch in place, even when being very active. Moisture wicking, reflective fabrics round out the package, making this a great option for a wide variety of uses.
Overall (5) ★★★★★
Durable, comfortable, and versatile, the Petzl Actik Core is a fantastic headlamp for use in just about any activity. We appreciate its bright lamp and rechargeable batteries, which should be standard on just about every high-end headlamp these days. This model features Petzl’s trademark reliability and great build-quality too, making it easy to recommend to anyone shopping for a new light source for use in the outdoors.
Priced at $69.95, this is a headlamp that isn’t for just anyone, however. If you’re a casual outdoors enthusiasts or just need an occasional emergency light when traveling, there are less expensive options available. On the other hand, if you take safety in the outdoors seriously or find yourself frequently outside after dark, this headlamp is worth every penny. Backpackers, hikers, trail runners, and climbers should recognize this model as the value that it is. If you depend on your gear to perform at a high level at all times, this is indeed the headlamp you want in your pack.
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