The ongoing improvement in LED technology has had the effect of slingshotting the performance of compact, portable lighting into the stratosphere compared to the old days of filament bulbs. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the headtorch, with its compact and energy dense requirements demanding more performance and more burn time in smaller and smaller packages. The Petzl Actik Core is pretty much at the cutting edge of this drive, and we have been massively impressed with not only the power, but its flexible approach to battery needs.
Those of a certain age will remember the old Petzl Tikka XP2 headtorch - you might even have one in a drawer somewhere - and if you can, the Actik is almost identical in size and weight. Complete with battery that is 82g and about the size of an ovalised golf ball. But that is where the similarity to the old Tikka ends.
Where the old - likely they would call it 'legacy' - Tikka dribbles a soft beam only suitable for slow progress or tent-reading, the Actik positively cannons out the lumens. 450 to be exact which, in our opinion, is enough to trail run at full bore, chip along non-technical mountain biking or road bike at speed. Quite an upgrade and, when you realise this power can be pushed out for 2 hours, you end up turning it over in your hand wondering where they have stored all that energy.
This is another big tick in the Actik Core box - for £50 it comes with a small lithium-ion battery that fills the battery compartment and is fully self-sufficient with its own micro-usb charge point. Simply plug it into your phone charger (if it is micro-usb) and fill up in 3 hours. If you are on a mission and 2 hours full-beam isn't enough, simply pop out the lithium battery and replace it with 3 AAA cells and you are off again. Now that flexibility really is a clever feature for those that might need more reach, or are on a mission without the facility to charge up regularly.
With 3 outputs ranging from a map reading 6 lumens (130 hours run time) through a perfectly respectable 100 lumen mid-ground (8 hours) right up to the eye-watering 450 lumen (2 hours) there is a power for most uses, along with very handy solid or flashing red LED option for maintaining night vision or simply warning vehicles you are there.
Our only slight criticism was the power button that sometimes needed a bit of searching for, and we found ourselves pressing round the sides more than once in a search for it. We always got it of course, so it wasn't a deal breaker by any means.
So for downright size and weight the Actik Core punches well above its weight in every sense, and coming in at £50 it should be lurking in the pocket of every rucksack or bikepacking bag across the country. A well deserved full marks overall.