Last updated: 24-Oct-18
By Steve Diederich
In advance of a roundup of all the best head torches on the market that we will be publishing in November, we thought we would whet your appetite with news of the release of the latest offering from Petzl.
Now, you would think that Petzl would know a thing or two about head torches. With a heritage in putting together safety equipment for cavers and climbers, they have had to produce some tough, reliable kit to meet some extremely demanding situations. Roll forward exactly 35 years since Mr Petzl created his first torches and you have to be impressed at how far they have come. The REACTIK+ series has gone all digital on us with the advent of the REACTIK+ and before you run for the hills shouting something about bandwagon… hold up! This lamp has its roots buried in solid technology and seemingly bulletproof construction.
Let’s call out the elephant in the room straight away – this is not a minimalist head torch. Rather than have a remote battery pack, Petzl have kept the rechargeable battery in the lighting unit. The unit comes in at 115gms but frankly when it is on your head, because of the good band design and padding you struggle to notice any weight or bulk. I wore the head torch for a couple of hours whilst bouncing around on the trails and after a few minutes was unaware of any bulk. This is also due to the clever “REACTIK+” bit of tech, which means that you do not have to constantly touch the unit to regulate light intensity or spread, this is taken care for you. In practice this means that that running through my local trails, the beam altered its beam distance and spread as I passed trees and entered open space. In urban environments the light “dims” with oncoming lights and headlights, thus not dazzling oncoming traffic. Pretty clever, eh?
Then there is the Bluetooth bit. Whilst I have never thought I needed to control a head torch remotely, in reality there are some useful elements to this. The most important one for me is the battery life indicator which gives you a real time readout as to how much light time you have available when out at night. I did use this several times when I had gone out further than I had originally anticipated and when I was using the torch at maximum output.
You can also set up profiles as to how you want it to perform. For instance, in Bivouac mode you get a choice of three power settings that can give you a lower, but broader beam of light that preserves battery life. You can also set the torch to be ‘reactive’ or constant or set on red light (which is a more considerate type of lighting when there are other people around). In addition, you can add in your own bespoke profiles to optimise your requirements from the three separate lighting modules on the torch.
I can’t be scientific about the light output. It has a claimed 300 Lumens (110mtre range), and I don’t doubt it, as once all the lighting modules are fired up, it provided more than adequate lighting. Battery life was good enough for me. The claimed maximum battery life using the 110 lumens output is 10-23hrs runtime, whilst blasting out the full 300 lumens would bring that figure right down to 2.5 hrs use. We will be doing a full technical comparison of the top lights in the autumn – watch out for the battle of the brightest!
PROS: What is good about the Petzl REACTIK+
The tech bit really works – it is a “real world” light that sorts itself out to meet conditions.
It allows you to optimise the lighting according to performance and battery life.
It is robust, I took it out in torrential rain and it performed well and whilst I haven’t mistreated it the construction looks and feels solid.
Buttons are easy to reach and you only really need to use the main button once the unit is set up.
It is really comfortable when fitted properly and adjusted.
CONS: What is not so good about the Petzl REACTIK+
Its size. If it were smaller that would be nice, but in reality its size was not a big issue.
The Petzl REACTIK+ is undoubtedly a capable, robust torch that I feel I could trust to take with me on a multi-day event (subject to charging being available). If you don’t have access to power, you can get a 3 AAA battery pack to extend your lighting time. It is eminently practical with adaptive lighting function. It is neither the cheapest nor the smallest piece of kit, however as compromises go, this sits well amongst the competition. Whilst not the right size and weight for the competitive ultra runner, as an all round light that you can use for pretty much everything, this is an excellent choice. Price RRP – £85 Online price £72
Other similar head torches to consider:
Mammut x-shot headtorch
LED Lenser H7R.2
Have you used the Petzl REACTIK+ Smarth Bluetooth head torch? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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All images: Steve Diederich.
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