Which Petzl headlamps are best?
Whether exploring a cave or tackling the trail, light is essential. French manufacturer Petzl has been making some of the most innovative and high-quality headlamps on the market for years. It is a globally recognized brand that a lot of hikers have come to trust.
Petzl has headlamp options for every budget range and use, but the Petzl Actik Core is its all-around best headlamp. Unlike many other headlamps, it doesn’t dim while in use, and 450 lumens are bright enough for most people’s needs.
What to know before you buy a Petzl headlamp
Budget range differences
Budget headlamps sacrifice some features, and they’re typically less bright. These are good options for camping, car/house use and casual hikes. Pricier headlamps will be packed with more features. They are usually brighter, offer more beam/light options and are designed for comfort. Pricier headlamps are great options for more serious explorers who are more active in the dark.
What are your needs?
What are you buying a headlamp for? If you only need a headlamp for the occasional camping trip, it might not be worth dropping a lot of money on a fancy one. On the flip side, if you are doing a lot of night hiking, it is worth getting something nicer that will keep you safe on your outdoor adventures. Nowadays, there are high-quality headlamps at every price point, so there is no need to overspend.
Does weight matter?
Headlamps aren’t the heaviest item in the pack, but for serious hikers, shedding even an ounce of weight counts.
There are now headlamps on the market that weigh less than an ounce, but some of the lighter headlamps may eliminate certain features or have less comfortable head straps. Most headlamps meet somewhere in the middle, but you may have to sacrifice something to gain something — such as comfort to dropping weight.
What to look for in a quality Petzl headlamp
Battery vs. rechargeable
Modern headlamps run on either traditional alkaline batteries or a rechargeable battery inside the headlamp — some even offer dual-power sources and utilize both. With some Petzl headlamps, you can buy an additional battery core for those who want dual-power options. One example is the Petzl Tikkina headlamp, which can be paired with a CORE rechargeable battery.
Brightness in headlamps is measured in lumens. Headlamps have somewhere between 1-1400 lumens, though most headlamps don’t exceed 500 lumens. One to 100 lumens are suitable for casual use like moving around at camp or searching inside your car. For casual hikes, 100-300 lumens are ample. For those doing more rigorous outdoor activities at night, it is worth it to get a headlamp that has over 300 lumens.
Higher lumens cause the batteries to die faster, and many headlamps can only run max settings for minutes at a time. A higher lumen count is important, but the max lumen count is only made for emergency or short-term use.
Petzl is one of the more innovative headlamp manufacturers. Most headlamps come with a head strap that wraps around your head with a light and battery pack on the front. Petzl doesn’t always stick to this traditional design. A headlamp such as the Petzl IKO Core Headlamp places the battery compartment in the back of the headlamp in order to try to cut weight.
All headlamps come with a standard white light option. White light is excellent for finding the trail and exploring at night. However, many headlamps also come with red lights. This is a fantastic feature to consider because red light is optimal for camp use. Insects like mosquitoes cannot detect red light, and when you’re around other people, red light is less blinding.
Occasionally, headlamps will come with green or blue light, but this is very rare. Blue light is great for reading maps, while the armed forces are most famous for green-light technology.
Petzl headlamp FAQ
Does Petzl offer any kind of warranty?
A. Petzl offers a three-year warranty against defects in the materials or manufacture of all its products. This does not include regular use or problems due to not properly taking care of the headlamp.
How much does a CORE rechargeable battery cost?
A. For those who want to buy an extra CORE rechargeable battery for a headlamp that doesn’t come with one already, it costs $30. Headlamps advertised with a rechargeable battery will already have a CORE rechargeable battery inside.
What’s the best Petzl headlamp to buy?
Top Petzl headlamp
What you need to know: The Petzl Actik Core weighs less than 3 ounces with 450 lumens of brightness that won’t dim while in use.
What you’ll love: It boasts 130/2 hours of run time (low/high) with 450 lumens that can reach 295 feet (90 meters). You can charge it with AAA batteries or the CORE rechargeable battery.
What you should consider: Though it is water-resistant, it is not fully waterproof, which might affect performance in the rain.
Top Petzl headlamp for the money
What you need to know: The Petzl Tikkina is affordable and easy to use, with a long burn time that maxes out at 200 lumens.
What you’ll love: This is lower priced than most headlamps on the market. It weighs just slightly over 3 ounces. It is straightforward to use, and the 200-lumen max makes it usable for casual hiking.
What you should consider: There is no red-light mode despite this headlamp being made primarily for camp/casual hiking use.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The Petzl Actik is the more affordable sibling of the Actik Core, with 350 lumens and a longer burn time that doesn’t dim while in use.
What you’ll love: It’s more affordable than the Actik Core with almost the same performance. It uses AAA batteries, but a CORE rechargeable battery (not included) is compatible. It weighs just a little over 3 ounces, and the battery lasts a long time.
What you should consider: Like the Actik Core, this headlamp is not fully waterproof, meaning hikers may have to be a little more careful in the rain.
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Stephen Morin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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