Nick Baron, Exeter Manager, has used headtorches for camping, night running and climbing for 15 years and his Petzl torches remain the favourite.
I have tried Blackdiamond, Ledlenser and Primus head torches and always just go back to Petzl. In my opinion they are the most efficient, reliable and most often strike the right balance between performance and price.
The 4 torches pictured have a timeline of about 10 years so it's a nice view of how the torches have evolved. They are also all still working fine and in use which is a testament to their quality and durability.
The red Tikka XP was the first single LED head torch from Petzl and had “serious” performance in its time, with 85 lumen output and a fancy slide across light spreader. I really like this model as without the lens slid across it has a pretty focused beam which works well at distance.
It was not quite a match for the best halogen bulb head torches at the time but it had the major advantage of not running the batteries down in about an hour which was a common trait of the halogen bulbed versions back in the day.
About 3 years later a new version of the Tikka XP came out (grey and orange in the pic left)
With an upgrade in performance to 130 lumens and the inclusion of a red and red flashing LED. Again, I like this head torch, it ticked all the boxes and the extra light became seriously useful for night running.
Step on another three years and the next model appeared, the Tikka +.
With the improvement in LED technology there was an upgrade in performance to 200 lumens. The option of focused and spread beam was taken away by not having the sliding lens any more. However, with the extra light output and a fixed lens focused somewhere in between the two it wasn't a problem for me.
They also improved the headband considerably which when you do a lot of night running like myself, is a big bonus.
Finally we get to the head torch which this review is really all about; the ACTIK CORE.
Petzl's latest upgrade to their Tikka range is definitely an evolution not revolution when it comes to the changes they have made.
They have kept the main body or shell of the new model much the same as the Tikka+ , and I have no issue with that, as it is small, light and comfy whether you wear it with or without a hat.
Functionality is also much the same with three light levels on white light and a red flashing function.
The white light levels are:
- Low - 5 lumens (think reading a book)
- Medium -100 lumens which is enough for most walking, road running and climbing situations
- High - 350 lumens which is really good for trail running and more light is definitely an advantage. In my experience the battery will only last about 90 minutes on high before it defaults to medium for an hour or so before turning off altogether.
Basically it is super simple, no complicated multi button pressing, swiping or rocker switch twisting. Simply press the button once twice or three times for the different light levels and then hold down to scroll between red and white. LOVELY!
The button works well with gloves on and works seamlessly when it is wet too. This is something other manufacturers have definitely got wrong in the past and still do.
Actik Core Rechargeable Battery
Due to the number of head torches I own I had invested in normal rechargeable batteries a few years ago which are fine although a bit of a faff at times.
With the new CORE battery it makes life a bit easier as the battery itself just plugs in via USB cable with out even removing it from the torch so no need to find the charger any more, just grab my phone lead and boom, battery charged. The indicator light on the battery is useful also and charge time is a couple of hours from flat.
It also takes standard AAA batteries so if the Core battery won't last long enough for the activity you are doing simply remove and replace with AAA, or you could just buy multiple CORE batteries!
Overall the lighting performance is excellent in all the modes. I bought it 8 months ago and have rarely felt like I needed more light than when it is on high. When I'm on lanes, paths or easy trails I generally use it on the medium setting.
The beam spread is good, giving you about 6-7 metres of good usable detail although the manufacturer listing for a distance of 95m on full power is hopeful to say the least. If you want that kind of distance look else where (Petzl Nao) as it is more like 30m of proper usable light which is more than enough for walking and running in most situations.
It's small and light enough to put in a pocket, it doesn't move around when running and is pretty comfy on your head. I really liked the headband on the Tikka + and thought it was shame that they went back to the older version but that is personal preference.
Other than that, I would give it 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who wants a high quality, easy to use, reliable head torch that always seems to have some battery charge when I pick it up.
For full details on performance/specifications please follow the link below.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next review.
Nick is the Exeter Store Manager and Climbing buyer. He spends most of his spare time climbing in the UK and Europe and his favourite day out would involve abseiling into a sea cliff followed by camping and an evening around the camp fire with his climbing partners.