Head torches: BD or Petzl?

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Kike Kikon 03 Oct 2022

Hi, I am in search of a headtorch for climbing, cycling and alpine adventures. It needs to be bright (think early alpine starts or being benighted on a European multipitch), durable battery and compact (not a fan of bulky Fenix, for now).

The Petzl Actik Core and BD Storm 500R seem to have similar specs and both are rechargeable (a plus for me!), But BD seems a bit more attractive due to battery life. However Petzls are known for being very reliable, and I have had 1 (out of 3) bad experiences with BD. 
Does anyone have any experience or insight on these headtorches? Both newer models have been released quite recently.


In reply to Kike Kikon:

I've just sent UKC/UKH Gear Editor, Dan Bailey, a quick message about this as I know he's got both of the latest versions - hence might be in a fairly unique position to help.

In reply to Kike Kikon:

Just had the same choice and opted for the BD Storm 500r. Based mainly on battery life. Reports I read pointed to the Petzl being slightly inferior in that regard. 

I bought it to replace a BD revolt which was a decent all rounder but died on me last week after getting it in sea water after the dry bag it was in failed (despite it claiming to be waterproof - it had been fine in countless previous downpours and a fastnet race with a night getting drenched by wave after wave). 

I have a couple of other lights (Petzl Nao + for running and a Manker E02 for reading in bed) but would pick up the revolt for 90% of the time I need a light (walking to the pub, climbing, camping, sailing, going out to the wood store) because it’s quite versatile, easy to use and holds a charge decently enough.

The new storm has a feature I hate from the revolt though; “power tap”. Utterly pointless IMO. It’ll toggle on or off full power when you don’t want it to and when you do need it, it’s a coin flip whether it’s going to register your tap.

My experience with BD has been really positive. My original revolt stopped charging after 3yrs and they replaced it no questions asked. 

Post edited at 14:26
In reply to Kike Kikon:

I have had the Actik Core for a couple of years and am very happy with it.  Battery life seems fine and I like you can carry spare AAA batteries as well as using the rechargeable one.   Can't comment on the BD.

In reply to Kike Kikon:

As Rob says, I've got both.

However I've only recently been using the BD Storm 500R, and have not had the Actik Core out of the house yet, so I am not going to be as helpful here as you might've hoped. To give you a really meaningful insight into how each performs relative to the other won't be possible until each has had a lot of use, so ask me again well into 2023...

However I can say a couple of things up front: 

They're a pretty similar weight and size: Storm 100g, Actik Core 88g

Out of the box the Storm feels more robust whereas the mounting of the Actik Core seems quite plasticy (ok they're both made of plastic). We may only find out which is actually tougher after a lot of use, and assuming we manage to break one of them. I've broken both Petzl and BD torches in the past, but neither in recent years.

Actik Core is IPX4 water resistant - good for splashing water, while the Storm is IP67, which means it's rated for temporary immersion. Assuming both work as advertised then each should be fine in rain, but in a proper deluge I might be happier with the Storm. 

Storm 500R has an inbuilt 2400 mAh Li-ion USB-rechargeable battery. If you want a torch with the option of using AAAs then in the Black Diamond lineup it's the slightly less bright Storm 450, compatible with standard AAA alkaline batteries or BD's li-ion BD1500 rechargeable battery pack. Actik Core works with Petzl's (removable) 1250 mAh Li-ion Core battery pack, or 3x AAA batteries of your choice. The Core battery comes included in the price of the torch.

Output claims are a bit all over the shop, so it's hard to be definitive. Storm 500R is said to give you 120m distance at its 500lm max, whereas the Actik Core offers a 110m beam at 550lm. I tend to suspect the plain lumen figure is a bit like megapixels in cameras, a nice headline but not in itself definitive: surely the beam pattern and lens quality also has a part to play in how far and how usefully a torch illuminates. I will get them both out in a field to test a measured distance at some point.

Burn times on paper are similarly hard to compare. The Storm 500's figures are a lot more impressive (max power 7h vs max power 2h), which may be because of its beefier battery. Then again, I'll only have an opinion on relative burn times when i've used both in various settings (cold weather for instance) 

Hope that's marginally helpful?

In reply to Kike Kikon:

Oh, and I'd agree with the poster who's not keen on BD's Power Tap feature. It's a pointless gimmick that only works some of the time, and usually when you don't want it to (when adjusting torch angle). I do wish brands would keep torches genuinely simple. One big button, three output modes, no faff

 wbo2 03 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon: I think I prefer ny Silva trail runner bold style to either

 Dave the Rave 03 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

I used an Actik Core last year for walking. It’s good but not that bright.

After loads and loads of research I bougnt aFenix HM65R.

Rechargeable, good battery life and very bright. Used it in the woods with the dog about an hour ago on the 400 lumen spot setting and the dog didn’t need its luminous ball! 

It’s quite heavy though. Don’t be tempted by models without the top head strap.

In reply to Kike Kikon:

I’ve had both petzl and BD lights and not found them that great TBH. My latest head torch for trail running predominantly is a Biolite and it’s excellent, super bright and battery for days along with a battery pack on the back (nice and balanced) and the ability to charge on the go it’s a great feature set for sub £100. 

May be a bit overkill or heavy for climbing though but just thought I’d throw it in to the mix!

Message Removed 03 Oct 2022
Reason: commercial content
 Philip 03 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

I just picked up an Alpkit Qark in their sale for £30. Rechargable or disposable battery, 580 Lm.

In reply to Kike Kikon:


 crayefish 04 Oct 2022
In reply to Slarti B:

> I have had the Actik Core for a couple of years and am very happy with it.  Battery life seems fine and I like you can carry spare AAA batteries as well as using the rechargeable one.   Can't comment on the BD.

Another vote for the Actik core.  Super impressive and versatile torch.  I agree with others that the waterproof rating could be better, but to be honest I've had it out in sole horrible weather and it never faltered.

I much prefer it to the BD models I've tried/owned.

 yorkshire_lad2 04 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

Latest edition of Trail (Nov 2022) has a review of head torches. Best in Test is Black Diamond Storm 500-R £65.
(I have no connection with Trail or Black Diamond, other than as a subscriber of the former).

 SouthernSteve 04 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

Not sure if this adds to the topic, but we had had Petzl for over 20 years and although the elastic may fail none have ever broken. I now use a Nao+, but you do need a couple of batteries for that for an all nighter.

 deepsoup 04 Oct 2022
In reply to SouthernSteve:

The Myo XP had issues with a dodgy connection, lots of those failed.  Apparently Petzl were really good about replacing them under warranty for a while (I read about that here), but they'd obviously got bored of it by the time I got in touch because they weren't at all interested in mine.

While we're making random recommendations, I have an LED Lenser SEO7R that I bought second-hand from someone on here.  I accidentally put it through the wash once with my running kit (was lucky to get away with that), and I've had to replace the elastic, but it's still going strong.

In reply to Kike Kikon:

Thanks for this thread, I was about to start a "which headtorch" thread myself, you've saved me the trouble.

 Kai 13 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

I've had multiple failures with BD headlamps.

After 4 or 5 of them stopped working, I no longer buy BD headlamps.  

Petzl seem to have better quality control, as I've never had any of my Petzl headlamps fail.  

These days, however, my go-to headlamps are made by Fenix.

Quality is great, and they use 18650 rechargeable batteries, which are current state of the art.

 abcdef 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

Also, can anyone confirm if reactive lighting is the best option to get?? It would limit me to Petzl (no bad thing) but is it all that? And do people with reactive HTs always use that mode which implies it's better for everything?

In reply to abcdef:

> Also, can anyone confirm if reactive lighting is the best option to get?? It would limit me to Petzl (no bad thing) but is it all that? And do people with reactive HTs always use that mode which implies it's better for everything?

For what it's worth I really like the Reactive lighting. It's not necessarily something you actually notice whilst using it, as it's quite subtle, but when you go to using a headtorch without it - then look down to use a map - you realise how much it makes a difference, as you're almost inevitably blinded without it!! It's obvioulsy a bit of a luxury, but one that definitely has its uses.

In reference to all the various other comments, I think the standard of the BD headtorches has significantly increased with its latest range. It's interesting those who're commenting saying that they've broken, because I always thought that BD's 'USP' was that they were absolutely bombproof. This this was indeed a benefit, I also thought they historically felt quite clunky + heavy compared to the likes of Petzl, although that too seems to have changed within this latest generation. Silva are obviously worth a mention too, as they're continuing to up the ante.

I still need to try out Fenix, as they tend to get a regular mention within each and every thread discussing the various options available.

 nniff 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

I've had a Myo XP that broke, but DBV keep on going.  My newer Petzl is grand, with reactive lighting.  Silva have been a complete waste of money, particularly switching off at random and draining all power in under an hour (another fault).  Never again

In reply to Kike Kikon:

I like the core battery.

But I am worried about the hinge in particular and the general "cheapness" of the plastic which I think is the same stuff as a yoghurt pot. I got a Tactikka last week (which is give or take a bit the Actik with a red light mode) as I needed a red head torch and I was horrified, I thought I was being conned with a £5 Chinese rip off but it seems to be a genuine Petzl. I think things have changed. I will be very careful buying another Petzl after that and I've been using them for head torches of varying types since I bought a zoom in '92 or something. If it is anything like the Tactikka I bought then I recommend against it, as mentioned... that hinge doesn't look solid like it's suitable for chucking about outdoors, maybe if you only use it in a cotton wool factory?

Post edited at 16:54
 Petzl UK 20 Oct 2022
In reply to CantClimbTom:

It might be worth taking a look at the new range of TIKKINA/TIKKA/ACTIK

In reply to Petzl UK:

Yeah I'm a fan of Actik core, great light, mine got lost on a hillside but I recommend them

In the last month, because I wanted a headtorch with a red light mode I bought a TACTIKKA+  My mistake was buying it online not having seem it because it has every appearance of a <£10 Chinese amazon special and I suspect you get them for £4 and rebrand them. Please take a look at one and in particular the hinges and the battery cover it is not durable design and in my opinion only fit for the outdoors if treated very gently, also the plastic is very thin and flimsy. Petzl was associated with robust design. I've had Petzl torches from the original Zooms, Duos and ATEX needs like Pixas as well as all sorts of climbing/access/cave equipment from carabiners and hooks to hammers and bags over the last 30+ years.

I would really like you to examine a Tacktikka+ and respond here if you think that is a robust quality product that should be associated with Petzl brand.

Edit: generally I am a fan and supporter of Petzl, so this is a genuine concern being voiced not an anti Petzl troll post

Post edited at 16:21
 Petzl UK 20 Oct 2022
In reply to CantClimbTom:

Always tricky to chat about these over forum posts but TACTIKKA and the rest of the TIKKA range have proven to be reliable. TACTIKKA being used widely by military types.
Initially it's always best to work with your retailer, if you need us you can also contact our customer service team.

 nastyned 20 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

I'm looking for a new head torch so a mate sent me reviews from Trail magazine. They preferred the BD Storm.

 FreeloaderJoe 21 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

The black diamond lights have too many buttons and modes! Go Petzl!

 gethin_allen 21 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

After a few Petzl and a single BD headtorch my current and longest lasting one is a cheap Alpkit one.

LED technology is so good and cheap now that if my current one broke I'd go cheap again. You don't really need billions of lumens for normal use and if reliability is absolutely essential you should probably be carrying some sort of spare.

I find with cheap torches if they are going to fail they do so fairly quickly, so if you get one and use it heavily for a bit in a non-critical environment then it will probably work fine for a good while.

 artif 21 Oct 2022
In reply to Kike Kikon:

My default response to headtorch questions is Lupine. After too many petzl bd etc etc failures.

Mine is still going strong after 6 + years of industrial and leisure use (mtb, hiking, dog walking, paddle boarding). Elastic headband is getting a bit tired. but easily replaced.

Piko, with 3.5ah battery that can be head or remote mounted. One button operation, just set your preferences initially, and your ready to go.

Also has optional bluetooth remote : (  if required.

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Loading Notifications...