Petzl Tikkina, Tikka and Actik CORE headtorches review




More durable and more powerful than the previous generation of torches

Pros and Cons

  • More robust than previous generation
  • Plenty of power from all models
  • CORE battery and HYBRID Concept works well
  • Choice of CORE and non CORE versions (Tikka and Actik)
  • Attachment plate a bit fiddly
  • Choice of beams only available on Actik

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Accessories, Gear reviews, Headtorches

We take a look at the next-generation Tikka 5 range of headlamps from Petzl

While innovations like the NAO adaptive lighting headtorch and the futuristic-looking IKO have grabbed the headlines in recent years, it’s at the more affordable end of the Petzl headtorch range that the French brand reaches its biggest audience. The Tikka, Tikkina and Actik models provide no-nonsense lighting for your average hiker, climber runner and mountaineer – and they do it very well – and for autumn 2022 this collection of models has been redesigned and updated.

On the face of it, the three models look virtually the same, with the lamp housing only marginally different, and the attachment plate and strap identical. The case looks/feels more streamlined, simplified and to these eyes – more durable – than the outgoing models, with a single push button on the top, and the battery housing on the back. The strap buckle is a major departure from the old models, with the lamp able to tilt through a wider range of movement, and the ability to remove the lamp from the strap and buckle completely, allowing it to be used with Petzl’s ADAPT system, which gives a more direct and secure attachment to a helmet.

CORE battery can be swapped out for 3 x AAA batteries

While the new models share a very similar external appearance, there are real differences in performance and functionality, and we’ll take a look at those in just a moment, but first let’s take a moment to clarify what CORE is, and which models come with it.

CORE is Petzl’s rechargeable battery for its range of headlamps, and this can be charged via its mini-USB socket, either by removing it completely from the torch or just opening up the torch casing to gain access. Alongside the CORE battery is Petzl’s HYBRID concept, which basically means you can use either the CORE battery or 3 x AAA batteries in the same torch, giving you the best of both worlds. Two of the torches we tested (the Tikka and Actik) come in both CORE and non-CORE versions, but to be clear the CORE versions are named as they are merely because they come with a CORE battery included (rather than AAAs), not because the non-CORE versions can’t use the CORE battery – they can! The Tikkina doesn’t come in a CORE version, but it can use a CORE battery. Confused yet?! Bearing in mind a CORE battery costs £30 on its own, it makes a lot of sense to buy the CORE versions if you opt for either the Tikka or Actik, as it’s cheaper than buying the torch and CORE separately.

Actik CORE (and Actik) are the most powerful torches in the range, and offer a choice of beam patterns

The most powerful model in the range is the ACTIK CORE, giving you a maximum output of 600 lumens, and on this Max Power setting the burn time is two hours. The two other settings are Standard, which gives you 100 lumens for seven hours, and Max Burn Time which gives you 7 lumens for 100 hours. You get two beam patterns with the Actik – Flood or Mixed, with the latter being a combination of spot and flood patterns. You also get a red light that can be used on continuous or strobe modes – useful in an emergency situation, or to preserve night vision – plus you get a Lock function and a battery level indicator.

Tikkina gives you one white bulb, but not the red light found on the Tikka and Actik

The Tikka and Tikkina models both offer just the one wide beam pattern, and this is good for general use rather than, say, route-finding when climbing in the dark, where having both a flood and a spot beam is preferable. With CORE batteries, the Tikka gives a max output of 450 lumens (350 with AAAs) and the Tikkina offers a max power output of 300 lumens (same with both CORE and AAAs) – so while they’re not quite as blindingly bright as the Actik, they are still pretty handy. The Tikka gets the red light and Lock function (as well as the really useful storage pouch that doubles as a tent lantern), but these are both absent on the Tikkina – so these may well affect your buying decision, depending whether you’re buying the torch as your main lamp or as a back-up. You get the three levels of white light on both torches, so the main consideration if choosing between these two is if the extra max power and red light on the Tikka is worth paying the extra over the Tikkina.

All three torches operate in more or less the same way, as you would expect, and everything is straightforward – as it should be. The main (only!) switch is pressed to cycle between the three brightness levels and to get the red light on the Actik and Tikka you just press and hold. We found the cradle/clip slightly fiddly to use, certainly compared to the outgoing models’ hinge-style adjustor, however the advantages of the new system definitely outweigh the downsides. Firstly, the torch can be angled through a much wider range, especially upwards; secondly there’s less likelihood of it breaking; and lastly the ease with which you can unclip the torch and use with an ADAPT helmet or bike holder is a real bonus. Petzl have told us that on the final production versions the cradle/plate operation is a lot smoother than on the pre-production models we tested, so if that’s the case this becomes a mute point!

In terms of brightness, all three torches actually offer quite similar performance on Max Burn and Standard settings, so don’t get too caught up in the attention-grabbing Max Power figures. Do you really need 600 lumens? If not then the Tikka may be a more sensible option for you than the Actik. Having said that, the choice of beam patterns, combined with the extra power, still makes the Actik CORE our first choice if buying a main lamp. It’s worth noting that as well as giving better performance to Tikka and Actik models, the CORE battery is also lighter than 3 x AAAs and performs better in the cold.

Tikka offers a red light and lock function, but not a choice of beams as on the Actik

The new versions of the Tikka, Tikkina and Actik are more powerful, sturdier and offer more functionality than the outdoing models. If you want a choice of beams (spot and flood) then the Actik is the model to go for, and for us the obvious choice of model if you’re purchasing a headtorch as your main light is the Actik CORE, while if purchasing as a back-up lamp then either the Tikka or Tikkina should perform this role admirably.

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