A good head torch is essential for ultras. If, like me, you’re a middle/back of the pack runner then the the Likelihood is that, on the longer runs, you will be out in the dark and need light. There’s a whole world of tech out there when it comes to head torches and a maze of jargon to navigate. Lumens. Yeah, those things. Simply put, the higher the number the brighter the light (and quicker the battery drains).
So what do we look for in a running head torch. Power and brightness of the light. Lightweight and comfort. Durability and battery life. That for me is key anyway. I want something I trust and is comfortable to wear for hours on end.
In the run up to the CCC I was using a cheap head torch from Decathalon. I borrowed the Reactik + from Jon and a Slva torch from Yvette as the mandatory equipment requires 2 x head torches and spare batteries for each. After trying Jon’s on I was sold and went and bought one immediately.
It meets that criteria for me perfectly it’s fairly light for a high spec torch. Has a Max power of 300 Lumens and on a lesser setting can provide light for 7 hours. This is good. Petzl have classed the Reactik + as one of their “performance” range of torches and it is easy to see why. Let’s check that spec:
- Power – up to 300 Lumens and 110m of lighting!
- Settings – there’s a standard ‘on’ with wide, mixed and focused settings and then reactive light settings of Max Autonomy, standard and max power as well as standard and strobe ‘Red Lighting’
- Weight – 115g
- Battery – 1800 mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (included)
- Battery life – 10 hours on max autonomy (80 Lumens) and 2 hours on Max Power (standard setting)
- Bluetooth – can connect to the MyPetzl App
OK so besides the basics, I want to talk about the battery and this smart sensor and Bluetooth app.
The light comes with a rechargeable battery. Charging is fairly quick with a full charge in just a 4.5 hours. The battery is light and easy to remove/insert. It can be charged whilst in or out of the torch. Perfect. I bought a spare battery at the same time for ensuring I won’t be without light when needed. What’s more, Petzl offer an alternative battery case in which you can use rechargeable AAA batteries. Ideal for when you can’t charge via a usb. I was tempted to get one until I realised this battery option only provides 40% of the power spec of he rechargeable-battery. OK for an emergency or camping. Not ideal for dark mountain trails!
So what’s this smart sensor then? It’s a light reactive sensor that automatically adjusts the torches power depending on the light in the surrounding area. Say what? In easy speak, the torch will recognise how dark it is and ‘up the power’ of the light or recognise there isn’t such a need for a full beam so will reduce the lights power output. This results in greater efficiency and thus better battery management. Now that’s a clever idea.
I wasn’t sure what or how this would work, but I think it does. On the dark alpine trails I was entertained for hours watching the light react as the head torches of other runners around me lit up the paths. I felt smug knowing my battery was being conserved at their expense! It has a number of settings for both standard and reactive beams. For the reactive setting it has Max autonomy (I understand this to be the most efficient reactive setting based on an 80 Lumens output), standard (170 lumens) and max power (I understand this to be full power- 300 Lumens) as the standard reactive beam). Whilst there is a clear difference – max power of 300 Lumens really does light up everything – the max autonomy is more than sufficient for lighting up the darkest of trails and has an expected battery life of 10 hours on this setting. I’ve run for over 7 hours on this setting with no issues.
And this MyPetzl App? This is a neat little feature whereby you can connect the head torch to your smartphone and manage the battery more efficiently. Options include seeing how much of the battery is left and also configuring custom settings. These can be set up to manage a run such as ensuring sufficient light for so many hours. Neat. But I’ve not wasted time doing this. I’m not running with my phone out or connected. I’ll use it for pictures but not head torch management.
What I like?
- The rechargeable rechargeable battery. Easy to use, lightweight and quick to charge
- Lightweight and comfortable – On the head it sits comfortably and doesn’t bounce around.
- The various modes and settings. It has something for everyone including an efficient red light setting
- lockable – easy to kick and unlock and prevent accidental use when packed away
What I don’t like so much.
- Probably the same with the majority of head torches, they aren’t easy to pack away. A little bag or clever strap of some sort would be a welcome addition to keep it all tidy when not in use.
- The app. It’s a clever feature but unnecessary in my eyes. I’m not going to spend time connecting and fiddling with my phone.
- Many torches in the price bracket come with a red rear light. This is mandatory in many events. The Reactik+ isn’t designed in a way to accommodate this. I needed to buy a separate rear light – see the Unilite CL-PS1 review I did.
In summary the Petzl Reactik+ is A lightweight, powerful and smart sensored head torch that sits on the higher end of the performance bracket. It’s expensive as a product but inexpensive compared to the competition and the value it delivers. I liked it so much I bought a second with another spare batteries. I now have 4 batteries. I’m not getting caught out in the dark and will exceed every mandatory kit check necessary!