The Petzl Actik is a very good light with above average performance, and offers a simple, easy-to-use, design. If it sold for under $20, it would be our favorite headlamp. But, at $50 list (street price is typically around $38), the Actik's better than average performance doesn't stack up well against competing lights like the Black Diamond Storm, which sells for about the same street price, and blows the doors off the Actik in most performance categories.
Petzl Actik Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Better than average performance across the board, easy to use
Cons: Expensive for what it offers
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Actik delivers on most of the things we truly value in a quality headlamp: good performance, easy-to-use, quality design, and durability. It is a high-quality light that will offer solid, reliable, performance for years. The drawback isn't so much about the light itself, which we very much like, but about the price. At $50 list, the Actik just doesn't stack up well against competing lights selling in the same price range.
The Actik is one of the easiest to use headlamps. It uses a single button control that has nice tactile feedback, and remains easy to operate even with gloves on. One click gets you low-level lighting that is just right for use in the tent, for reading, or around camp. Two clicks provides medium brightness, that is nice for walking down a trail, and three clicks for high mode, which offers a compelling and bright beam. Press and hold is used to switch to the red LED and back to white lighting.
The high-mode spot beam has good optics and shines an impressive 88 meters down the trail, which is similar in distance to other top performing lights in its price point.
But, beam distance is only part of the game, to offer top trail finding performance the quality of the beam, in terms of width, and even lighting, is key. Below you can see the Actik (left) versus the Black Diamond Storm (right). Both shine about the same distance, but the Storm is much superior for trail finding with its wider and more evenly lit beam.
That Actik is also bested by the BD Spot (below, right) which sells for a lower price, and yet shines a better distance beam that rated much higher for trail finding.
Our biggest issue with the Actik, besides price, is the battery life performance in high mode. In our tests, battery life was only 1.9 hours in high mode, which was disappointing and well below average.
That is somewhat offset by pretty good battery life in low-mode, where we found it lasted an impressive 129 hours.
The Actik impressed us. It offers simplicity, quality, and the reliability of a durable design. If it sold for around $20, we'd be raving about it. But, at the current a street price of $38 we think it doesn't stack up in terms of price vs. performance.
— RJ Spurrier