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Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Rechargeable, solid battery life, super bright, great settings, reliable in bad weather---this thing is really, really good.

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MSRP: $69.96

BEST FOR: Alpine climbing, winter climbing, multipitching

Have you ever accidentally left your headlamp in the car—or outside the tent, or wherever—on a frigid night before you’re supposed to go climbing, only to find the batteries dead in the morning? When I woke up at 3:00 am one morning for a big day on the wall, only to realize I had done this yet again, I assumed I would be doing the approach by starlight alone.

But not so fast! This time the headlamp I had left in the car was the Petzl Actik Core. I pressed the button and—lo and behold!—there was light.

The Actik Core is one of Petzl’s rechargeable headlamps. Despite the cold of that sub-zero night, the 1250 mAh CORE rechargeable battery had plenty of juice to last throughout the two-hour approach and then the two-hour hike out after dark.

You charge the battery via a micro-USB port. Unlike other rechargeable batteries I’ve dealt with, it’s micro-USB port is accessible even while the battery is still in the headlamp, so you don’t have to take it out and risk misplacing either one. (In case you do lose the battery though, triple-As work too.) The micro-USB charging cord that the Actik Core comes with could stand to be a bit longer—it’s only a few inches long—but so far it has held up well against kinks and twists.   

As for the headlamp’s actual performance, I’ve still thrilled with its brightness after using it dozens and dozens of times. I was the envy of my three other friends on that early morning approach: the 350-lumen high-beam of the Actik Core illuminated the scraggly trail far better than their decidedly less powerful head torches. Petzl claims the high setting illuminates up to 95 meters in front of you; I didn’t measure it, but I know it’s the strongest headlamp I’ve ever used. (If you keep it on this high setting, you’ll only get about two hours of power, mind you).

Other than the high setting, there are also low- and middle-power white-light beams, that illuminate up to 10 meters and 50 meters at 5 lumens and 100 lumens, respectively. On low, you’ll get 160 hours of continuous power, and on medium a very reasonable seven hours.

If you’re using it in a camp setting as opposed to a night climb or approach, the red-light setting is the way to go. While it is by no means a novel feature in a headlamp, red light is not appreciated until you don’t have it and you find yourself constantly blinding your companions when you’re in close quarters. There is also a red-light strobe setting that can be seen up to 700 meters away and flash continuously for 350 hours on a single battery charge—something that could be incredibly valuable in a rescue situation, particularly when combined with the reflective headband and it’s built-in emergency whistle.

At 82 grams, the Petzl Actik Core is plenty light to strap onto your helmet for a night mission or stow away in your pack for a multipitch. With an IPX4 water resistance rating, unless you full-on submerge it in water, it should keep shining through even the worst weather, so it’s a great option for alpine and winter climbing.

This Actik Core’s superior brightness, multiple settings and rechargeability easily elevate it above other headlamps out there.

Michael Levy

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