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Petzl ACTIK CORE Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Our favorite headlamp in the Petzl Active family
  • 450 lumens on Max Power setting, 100 lumens on Standard (12 hours of burn)
  • With the HYBRID CONCEPT, the rechargeable battery can be switched out for 3 AAA batteries in a pinch
  • Lightweight and comfortable for long runs through the night/early morning

Robbe: The dark days of autumn and winter are coming; luckily, Petzl’s full line of Active headlamps offers pretty much anything to suit any runner, from the ultra-lightweight BINDI to the ultra-bright NAO+. I mean, there’s a reason 45% of all 2019 Western State participants used Petzl as their light source.

We’ve reviewed the NAO+ and REACTIK+ before, and have also used the Petzl TIKKA, so we’re quite familiar with the line. In my opinion, the ACTIK CORE is the best option of all of these, for reasons we’ll go into below.

Taylor: I have been a faithful user of the previous ACTIK CORE (which was dependable and performed wonderfully) for awhile, and while this newest version employs many of the same qualities, it has sharpened them up to be a noticeably better headlamp.

I have used the ACTIK CORE for countless hours of adventure. Though I have had a fraction of trail time with the newest model, I feel confident speaking to the quality of this headlamp.

The real allure to the ACTIK CORE is that it has more than enough lighting capabilities for a range of activities (running trails or roads, hiking, mountaineering, climbing, etc) in one of the lightest packages available.

 

PETZL ACTIK CORE RED

 

BATTERY

Taylor: If you’re at all like me with a full-time job and a family, most of my available running times are the dark hours of the morning. I get more hours with my ACTIK CORE headlamp than I do with my closest friends.

One of the biggest perks of the ACTIK CORE is that it comes with the CORE rechargeable battery (high capacity 1250 mAh Lithium Ion). And while the rechargeable battery isn’t new to Petzl’s line, the concept of Petzl’s HYBRID BATTERY is.

What this means is that if your rechargeable battery dies and you’re in a pinch (e.g. middle of an ultra), you can replace it with 3 AAA batteries. One headlamp, two battery options. Genius.

With this combination, the rechargeable component saves me from spending quite literally hundreds of dollars on batteries.

Robbe: As Taylor said, Petzl’s HYBRID CONCEPT battery is quite literally the perfect battery situation for a headlamp. This is one of my favorite things about the Petzl ACTIK CORE, and really what separates it the most from its siblings.

CONTROLS

Taylor: As already mentioned, all aspects of the ACTIK CORE’s game has been improved while utilizing the same rechargeable battery. Both white and red lighting options are available and are switched by holding the single button on top of the headlamp until the transfer occurs.

Even though I was plenty pleased with the older model, each brightness level has been bumped up. And the light itself seems a whole lot cleaner. There are three different levels of brightness with the white light. These are toggled by simply pressing the button on top of the headlamp. Any successive push will change the lighting level as it rotates through the settings.

New to this model is a locking option for traveling. With a four-second hold of the top button, the light will lock itself until you do the same to unlock it.

Robbe: In reviewing the Reactive lighting headlamps, one thing I found slightly difficult to master was remembering the button functions. There were a lot of options, and sometimes it was difficult to know which light setting I was even on.

I absolutely appreciate the ACTIK CORE keeping it simple, with three brightness settings and a red light. Cause really, that’s all a runner should need. 

Shop Petzl ACTIK CORE

 

BURN TIME

Taylor: ACTIK CORE headlamps have three settings of white lighting and a red light with strobing capabilities. For 2019, Petzl is changing the way they measure burn time, in an effort to give a more “true” number than the way most companies measure.

Normally, burn time is measured from switch-on to when the lamp dies. Now, they are measuring from switch-on to when the lumens at a particular setting fades to 10% of its power. After this occurs, the reserve light kicks in to get you back to the trailhead.

Keep this in mind as we swing through the capabilities of each setting.

The MAX BURN setting (lowest) burns at 6 lumens for 130 hours! Even though this setting is not the best for running trails, I found that it is bright enough for running roads and non-technical paths that I am familiar with. This setting has also been great for hiking speeds on predictable trails.

The STANDARD setting (medium) is where my headlamp lives. It is the real performer for this headlamp. It burns at 100 lumens (around 45 meters worth of light). In my most recent 100-mile race, I used this setting throughout the whole night on highly-technical mountainous trails, whether I was hiking or running.

What is “clutch” in the new version is that this setting has a burn time of 12 hours, compared to 7 hours in the older model. It’s reassuring to know it’ll last the whole night and then some without having to fumble with batteries.

Even if that burn time doesn’t make you feel warm inside, remember the reserve light will kick in once it drops to 10 percent battery, providing 2 more hours of light. Unless you live above the Arctic circle, you won’t need that much light as dawn arrives.

The MAX POWER (high) setting boasts 450 lumens of power (compared to 350 lumens in the previous model). That kind of power is almost unheard of for a headlamp this size! If needed, this will burn for a full two hours and still have three hours of reserve light left.

Even though I rarely find it necessary to use this setting, it has come in handy for finding trail markers, dawn-patrol backcountry skiing, spotting wildlife on the trail, and finding something in the abyss under the driver’s seat of my car. But seriously, it lights up to 90 meters on this setting. I mean, it’s legit.

Red light is another nice option for hiking/walking on less-technical terrain (or reading a book while your wife is trying to sleep). There is only one flood option for this setting at 2 lumens (about 5 meters of light) and can last up to 60 hours. The strobe light function also utilizes the red light, is highly visible, and lasts up to 400 hours.

Refer to the chart below for full specs:

Petzl ACTIK CORE specs

Robbe: I mean, Taylor covered everything here. I absolutely love the power settings on this headlamp. They are in those sweet spots of brightness for running pretty much anything. I definitely don’t mind throwing mine on the MAX POWER and heading out on a night run in the city. When your headlamp is shooting out 450 lumens, cars see you.

Shop Petzl ACTIK CORE

 

COMFORT

Taylor: Let’s continue with praise in this department. The ACTIK CORE headlamp weighs in at 2.6 oz (75 g) which is about .5 oz.(15 g) less than its predecessor (an already light headlamp).

The reflective singular band is pretty standard in terms of shape and material but offers some really nice comfort. I have never had issues with the band or lamp itself causing irritation or feeling too tight. If I am going to use it for hours on end, I will sometimes put a Buff under the headlamp, but it’s definitely not necessary.

The headlamp has zero bounce while running or hiking. The only time I have had to adjust my headlamp from bouncing was after coming down from steeper drop-offs that resulted in some heavier body jolting.

Robbe: Once again, I’m going to agree with Taylor. I loved the comfort of the ACTIK CORE, and out of the four lamps I’ve reviewed, this is the best in terms of both comfort and weight. No bounce, snug and secure. There are actually times I’ve come home from a run and worn it around for about a half-hour before I realized it was still on.

 

petzl actik core reflective

Cost and Conclusion

Taylor: In terms of what you could pay for a great headlamp, the price of the Petal ACTIK CORE is rather modest at $69.95. That price also includes the CORE rechargeable battery, micro USB for charging, and a 5-year guarantee on the lamp (2 years, or 300 charges, for the battery). Is it worth it? Does a bear poop in the woods?! Absolutely!

Unless I ran a race that included hours of spelunking, I can’t think of what more I would want from a headlamp. Lightweight, various lighting options (with that perfect 12 hours from the standard setting), and a rechargeable battery— it’s the complete package.

Robbe: This is one of the best values out there for a headlamp. While the Reactive and Bluetooth technology in the higher-priced lamps is cool (and can be very useful when monitoring battery life), the ACTIK CORE is hands-down the best all-around headlamp that we’ve experienced. And for $69.96, the price really can’t be beaten.

You can pick up the Petzl ACTIK CORE at Running Warehouse using the shop link below.

Shop Petzl ACTIK CORE

 

Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultrarunner living in Estes Park, CO, with his wife and daughter. He and his wife both love running the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. When not running, Taylor is a Kindergarten/1st grade teacher, running coach, and youth leader for his church.

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