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Head torches.

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Hi everyone. 
I would really appreciate some advice on this..

I’m looking to buy a new head torch and, having read various reviews, it looks as if the Petzl Actik Core could be a good bet for budget and features. 
...however...two things worry me. 
Firstly, I’m not sure how efficient or reliable the IPX4 level would be out on a mountain in a total downpour. 
All well and good having a good torch, but pretty useless if, given the general weather on UK mountains is wet...or very wet..

Secondly, as the ‘general’ medium setting is only a 100 lumens, how efficient is that when night hiking?

Seeing the photo comparisons with other torches on the brilliant review on UKH, it looks as if, despite the lower lumens, the Petzl is a lot brighter than others on the general use setting. Is that so??

...and how bright is it really..?

Looking to use it for both hiking and cycling. 
If anyone can help on this (or personality recommend alternatives) I’d really appreciate it. (Budget £40-70ish)

Thank you!

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In reply to Peter Valli:

I bought a zebralight last year and I think it's amazing. IP67, beautiful high-CRI light, and extremely bright. Plus it uses Lithium ion 18650 batteries, of which high quality high capacity ones can be had cheap so you can carry charged spares on the hill. There's a bewildering array of models but the one I have is the H600Fd mark IV, which is a very floody model.

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 crayefish 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I love it... for the price, its a great torch.  I dont use it as my main torch for expeditions (for that I use a BD Polar Icon due to the remote battery and great beam power), but its my main headtorch for all my hiking and wild camping, as well as for night XC mountian biking (in addition to bike lights).  Plenty of light for night hiking and cycling for me.

You are correct that its not really waterproof at all, and so I don't even try use it in heavy rain unless its covered by a hood, but light drizzle is ok.  But then who hikes in the pouring rain without a hood up?  However, the fact that I can charge it from my battery pack (which I take for my gps/phone/garmin) while also having the option of popping in some AAAs makes it super versatile.

It also does fine the in cold as I used it for a 3am start on Aconcagua at -20 C, when the battery pack of my Polar Icon broke (which BD replaced no quibble, despite the age).

Post edited at 16:28
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 Guy Hurst 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

A friend and I did an overnight trip near Killin a couple of weeks ago, him with an Alpkit Qark and me with the Aktic Core. The Core on max was appreciably brighter despite "only" having an output of 450lm against the 580lm claimed for the Qark. There were a couple of very heavy rain showers and both torches worked fine despite a good drenching. Other IPX4 rated Petzl torches I've used in the past also coped fine with heay rain. I also like the simplicity of the Core; there's no need to programme it or memorise a complex series of button presses, which is a plus point for me.

The lack of a setting between the 100 and 450lm ones is a bit of a pain. The 100lm is ok for tracks and decent paths, but definitely slows you down on rougher ground. A 150 or 200lm setting would be very useful.

The build quality also feels a bit questionable. It just seems a little bit flimsy when compared with other torches at a similar price point. I'll probably be proved wrong on this and it will last for decades, but the Qark, for instance, feels a bit more solid.

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In reply to pancakeandchips:

Thank you very much for your reply and tip on the Zebralight. 
I’ll definitely look into that! 👍

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In reply to crayefish:

Thank you very much for your reply!

I was unfortunately very sceptical about the IPX4. Hood or not I wouldn’t like to end up in the pitch black in the middle of a storm!

The other thing of course is the 100 lumens on standard setting and the more than adequate MAX Setting lasting only 2 hours.

So far, with all my searching, it frustratingly seems impossible to find a truly ‘waterproof‘ torch with a reasonable ‘standard‘ setting of 200 lumens, with dual battery type capability and switch lock. (At an affordable price..)

The search goes on... )

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 Frank R. 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

Get a Fenix ;)

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 Frank R. 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

Comparing brightness from beam photos is meaningless.

BTW, the 450lm is Turbo only, for a few minutes at most, before it gets lower. The 100lm mode likewise, the 8hrs runtime means they measure from 100lm to 10% and can state "8 hours at 100lm", which is obviously a lie. You can thank the new NEMA runtime industry standard ("industry" is the key word). Still better than the shamelessly overinflated Petzl runtimes just a few years back

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In reply to Guy Hurst:

Hi Guy,

Thank you very much for your reply!

...very interesting!

So a good drench didn’t stop it working!

Definitely a plus )

Such a shame about the 100 lumen standard setting. I’m beginning to think the answer is to have it racked up to max and just carry battery spares!

Many thanks for the tip on the Qark though...I’ll definitely look into that!

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In reply to Frank R.:

Hi Frank. Thank you so much for your reply!

Well...that’s an insight and a half!!

No point at all having it on Max if it only lasts for a few minutes!

...which then leaves me with the poor 100lm decreasing rapidly...
Jeez...so glad I posted on the forum!

All extremely valuable info!

Beginning to think that a great big suitcase of a hand torch might be the better option..!!

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 Jmacquarrie 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

Hi Peter, I'm a big fan of my alpkit quark and it's ridiculously good value for money.

A couple of points though - the battery pack isn't great in the cold (personal experience here) and I don't get anywhere near the suggested run time on maximum beam (again personal experience, others may have better luck).

It does take AAA batteries as well though so you can always carry some with you as a backup.

Edit: also I don't think you can buy spare recharge battery packs for them which would have been a good option.

Post edited at 17:21
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 steveshaking 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Jmacquarrie:

BD storm is ixp7, 400lumen on max and 180 on medium. 4 AAA and regulated. Currently available for £35. 

I think they are an ideal compromise of weight, beam, longevity and very tough. 

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 Run_Ross_Run 01 Nov 2020
In reply to crayefish:

Slight tangent but still relevant to the thread I suppose...

Can I ask what power Bank you are using? I've got a 13000 anker but it won't charge the core battery. It will connect and start charging but a few seconds later it stops charging. The power Bank works fine charging every thing else.

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 Jmacquarrie 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Run_Ross_Run:

I have similar problems trying to charge my Bluetooth headphones, they don't draw enough current (I think) from the power bank so it switches itself off after a while (tried across a few power banks, same result).

I have a larger power bank that has 2 outputs and if I charge my phone at the same time it will then also do the headphones, might be worth a try with the core...

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 Frank R. 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

> No point at all having it on Max if it only lasts for a few minutes!

No, it's not exactly like that! You might have misunderstood me...

Petz's 450lm mode is more like the usual Turbo mode, maximum output for few minutes (or tens of seconds) that would overheat the torch if any longer. Automatically steps down to High to protect the LED from overheating. They just "forgot" to put the actual High mode in (marketing purposes or simplicity). Others usually separate Turbo and High modes, e.g. long press for Turbo from any mode and separately selectable High mode with runtimes stated for both. Such Turbo is pretty useful if you need to look for a distant trail or something (since it's usually too bright for normal use).

> ...which then leaves me with the poor 100lm decreasing rapidly...

With the new NEMA standard, that's the normal behaviour for "unregulated" torches, others with constant output are constant lumens until the end (they usually step down to medium or low when nearing the end to have some reserve and warn the user).

NEMA measures "runtime" as total time it takes from selected mode to drop to 10% output with unregulated torches.

Have a look at the Actik curve graph in the UKC review (even if it's from 2017 and not "your" model) for illustration: 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/camping/lighting/compact_headtorches-12111#&gid=1&pid=35

Here is an example of another output curve graph (HM50R): https://bit.ly/37ZYHvz

TURBO: (if only Petzl used "Turbo" instead of "Max" nomenclature) maximum output for few minutes (or tens of seconds) that would overheat the torch if any longer. Automatically steps down to High to protect the LED from overheating.

Let's say 1m at 450lm Turbo, then it drops down to High 300lm and either stays there for some time and steps down rapidly (above link) or diminishes gradually until it's 10% output at 2hrs.

HIGH: that ~300lm mode Actik steps down into automatically from Turbo. Usually manually selectable on other torches, here only accessible from Turbo and not separately.

MEDIUM:  starts at 100lm, then it drops gradually until it's 10% output at 8hrs.

A constant output torch would have 1m of 450lm Turbo as well, then e.g. constant 300lm High for 1hr and nearly dead batteries (or just reserve Low mode).

It's hard to tell how much it drops after what time, since Petzl doesn't publish the exact graphs, but it's pretty normal behaviour with the new ANSI/FL-1/NEMA standard and nearly everybody does it. It's not bad - if only all reviews and websites actually explained it (UKC did I think), since people still misunderstand it

Post edited at 18:14
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 Exile 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Frank R.:

I've got to say in practice I use my Actik Core for 1.5rs at a time on 450 lumin setting for off road running and don't notice any step down in output.  

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 crayefish 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Run_Ross_Run:

I use various.  Previously it was a 16,000 mAh energiser coupled with 2x 20,000 mAh Poweradd (about 30 euros on amazon).  That gave me plenty of power for a 3 week trip.  I had a similar issue as you with the Poweradd battery pack, but with my old Garmin watch.  Easy fix was to plug in your phone at the same time.  However, otherwise they were good... they even charge my little Bluetooth headphones solo.

The energiser was particular about charging though, and once left me without backup juice during a multiday trip in Bucegi (Romania) when my Samsung charger refused to charge it. 

Now I've just bought a couple of Charmast 23800mAh packs from amazon (about 30 each I think) for my next expedition as they come with a USB-C input, which is the same as my phone.  Havent tested them in the field yet though.

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In reply to Jmacquarrie:

Thanks J for your reply. 
...so another thumbs up for the Alpkit Qark I think...

Get your point about the cold although I don’t do too many winter mountain hikes ...living in Surrey  

The run time never seems to be what manufacturers claim anyway but I do like the idea of a higher output on standard setting than the Petzl. 
 

Was trying to avoid AAA batteries only as not really good for the environment but it should take rechargeables right?

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 Jmacquarrie 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I'm not sure to be honest, the instructions say the battery pack or 3 X AAA alkaline batteries, you'd be best emailing alpkit for clarity I think.

I own a Quark and a couple of Petzl models (nothing too fancy) but I'm thinking of getting myself a fennix HL60R this winter, it's at the top end of your budget but is very waterproof and takes rechargeable 18650 batteries, probably worth a look.

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In reply to steveshaking:

Hi Steve. 
Thank you for your reply. 
I did look at the BD Storm and it was perfect in every way bar the batteries. 
Ideally I would prefer a rechargeable battery pack (as well as the option of normal AAA battery use) 

My concern being a more eco friendly model, there again if it takes rechargeable batteries all well and good! 

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 Frank R. 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Exile:

> I've got to say in practice I use my Actik Core for 1.5rs at a time on 450 lumin setting for off road running and don't notice any step down in output.  

Nice and good that it works for you, but it must step down, even if that's academic

1) 450lm turbo drops to ~300lm (I guess, from the earlier 2017 graph) in a matter of minutes, then probably a flatter curve. 450lm full time would likely overheat the plastic torch without any heatsink at all, and LEDs are designed to operate efficiently only at specific internal temperature (the hotter it gets, the less efficient it is). My fairly new 450lm torch gets pretty warm to hot at 450lm and it's a full metal heatsink. Perceived difference would still be small.

2) It has 5Wh battery and full power is 5W (measured for the 2019 model). No way you can get 5W for 2 hours from a 5Wh battery, that's impossible

3) Human perception is notoriously bad at quantifying brightness changes, double the brightness doesn't mean double the perceived brightness at all (and the eyes adapt over the time). Perceived difference between 300lm and 450lm is pretty small, it's not perceived as 50% brighter.

4) This is actually good for us since we can still run off road for 1.5 hrs comfortably even if the light is actually less bright by the end 

Post edited at 20:35
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In reply to Frank R.:

Hi Frank. 
Thank you again for the very in depth update...really really appreciate it and it all makes more sense now...you know your stuff!!

What you describe now makes perfect sense and thank you also for the great links. 
I would so go for the Petzl if it wasn’t for the low IPX but even that doesn’t seem too much of a problem...

Maybe the answer is TWO torches (should always have a back up anyway right?)

Petzl and Qark or BD Storm...

Thanks again, much appreciated 

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In reply to Jmacquarrie:

Thanks J.

I’ll look into the use of rechargeables...hope it takes them. 

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 crayefish 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I always carry a smaller backup torch, no matter the type of trip.  Why not go for a Petzl e-lite, incase you flood the other?  They're super small, fully waterproof (even Ex rated) and last for many hours on a coin battery.  OK, it's not at all bright, but it will get you home in an emergency.

Saves carrying two bigger torches, and you can still go rechargeable with the Actic core without getting too worried you'll be stranded if it does flood.

If you can find the old version of the e-lite, then even better.  It's so small you can carry it in your butt crack if you have to :D

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In reply to Jmacquarrie:

Hi J. 
Just to let you know...I’ve checked it out and the Qark can take rechargeable batteries. 
Save the planet!!

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In reply to crayefish:

Hey Crayefish. 
Very sensible tip re the cheaper back up!

I seem to be heading towards the BD Storm for my main...

I laughed out loud at the butt crack tip ))

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 waitout 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I find Princeton Tec a nicer overlap of price, output, energy use and functionality. Petzl and BD have gone too far down the gimmick hole for my liking, yet never really addressed basics like being usable with gloves. I use a 300L Remix RGB because I like the green function. IPX4 but never had problems from hours in rain and a few dunkings overboard. 

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 crayefish 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

Haha.

I'm not sure its cheaper... just much smaller, indestructible and lasts for ages.  Exactly the qualities a backup should have I think.

Hope the BD storm works out for you!  Looks like a slimmed down version of my Polar Icon, without the remote battery pack.  Should have decent light, but I must admit that I prefer the operating button on my Actic ;)

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 lone 01 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I use the Petzl Actik Core, it's a good head torch, I used it on my ML Assessment, absolutely fine, and has three brightness modes, I used it on the middle mode for most of the night to preserve the battery and used the brighter mode just now and then. It comes with a chargeable cell which can be charged with USB connection but you can use AAA too.

I'm really happy with it, I used it the other night in a down pour towards the end of my walk over moorland, I'd always try to keep any light as dry as possible, so my coats hood covered the torch keeping it dry.

I like how the light is bright but not blindingly so, and how it casts shadows over features making them more obvious like reentrants and ring contours, I've used a lot of torches over the years and I use the Petzl Actik Core now as my main light.

You don't need a lot of light, just enough to nicely illuminate the 50m ahead.

I experimented with cheap Chinese 2500lm torches and found them just to bright and the features less noticeable as there was just too much light. 

L

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In reply to waitout:

Thank you very much Waitout for your tip on Priceton Tec. 
So...more to check out which of course I will!

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In reply to lone:

Thank you Ione. Really appreciate all your good advice and ‘user’ review. 
The best advice is always from people who actually use it in the field. 
Great!

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 waitout 02 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I should have added, the green light is great for regular walking where only ambient light is required. Less glare and dazzle than white so night vision less affected, but more spread than red light, but not as eye friendly.

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In reply to Peter Valli:

Actik Core is fine. Lots of chatter about nothing in this thread if you ask me! The head torches have gone much better in the last decade, but it hasn’t stopped people to go out and enjoy outdoors in the dark. They didn’t have 500 lumen torches. 
 

I have run Ring of Steall at night on a medium setting. I don’t know anything more technical/fast many people would be reasonably doing in the dark. 
 

IPX4 does worry me too, but it’s been fine over last two years and I’ve not treated it kindly. I don’t doubt it will last longer, but the tech has been improving greatly so that a new shiny torch becomes very appealing every 5 years or less. I have no doubt that reactive lighting will become more common very soon. 

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 Exile 02 Nov 2020
In reply to Frank R.:

I get all that - I'm sure the power / output does decrease. What I'm saying is that in real terms use I haven't noticed it / it hasn't made a noticeable difference to what I can do with it. 

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 Sans-Plan 02 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I would think if Petzl had an issue with headtorches packing up in the rain we would have heard about it before now

IPX4 is protected from water spray and splashes i.e. rain, so a downpour shouldn't be a problem.

I have the Reactik+ and it survived 4 hours of pouring rain in ultra and plenty more since

Post edited at 14:52
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 Johnhi 02 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I've personally had the battery suffer water damage and fail in very rough weather - skiddaw with 80 mph gusts and persistent heavy rain.  It's held up to heavy rain and more normal windy conditions though otherwise.  So probably ok for most weather but would not rely on it in more extreme conditions.

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 steveshaking 02 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

I always use rechargeable AAA with my storm. Plus there is the choice of lithium for really cold stuff. But I find ordinary rechargeables fine for Scottish Winter.

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In reply to Peter Valli:

Hi all...

Sorry if this comes a bit late, to close the thread I think... I “haven’t been well”...enough said...

Can I say a great big thank you to all of you who posted your advice, information, recommendations, arguments and counter arguments!

It has all been extremely interesting and massively useful so I really really appreciate all your help!

In the end I went with the Fenix HM65R as my prime and the BD Storm400 as my back up...it looks as if they are both great torches and time should tell how well they hold up to a mountain gale... 
The Fenix edges it over the Storm as it’s metal and soooo well made!

Very happy with my choices and again a big thank you to all of you!

Stay safe and all the very best!

Peter 😀

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 top cat 17 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

Spot on with the fenix.   Very popular with cavers and they really, really hammer their lights, and really really need them to work all the time.....

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 Darron 18 Nov 2020
In reply to Peter Valli:

Thank you for all contributions here - I've just ordered a Qark.

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