Which Petzl headlamp for running or cycling to work

Petzl has a long history of quality and reliable products for recreation, sports and professionals. Petzl produces a range of headlamps suited to runners and cyclists, whether on their work commute or out on the trail. Petzl’s journey, which ultimately led them to become one of the leading headlamp manufacturers began in 1936. Within the current lineup, it is a tough choice to determine the best PETZL headlamp for running or cycling to work.

Avid caver and innovator Fernand Petzl began producing climbing equipment in 1968.

1973 brought the first Fernand Petzl mountaineering headlamp to market. Fernand renamed the company Petzl in 1975 and continued to create climbing and lighting products.

Petzl introduced their first LED, the Petzl Tikka, headlamp in 2000. The Tikka is still part of Petzl’s range of products. However, there are other Petzl headlamps more suited to the runner or cyclist, making their way to work in the City.

Petzl remains an entirely family-owned business, with over 750 staff and has three manufacturing facilities in France and a single facility in Malaysia.

Most Petzl products are backed by a 5-year guarantee, which is exceptional backing from the manufacturer in the quality of their products.

Why Petzl Headlamps?

Following our post How to Choose the right headlamp for running to work, we’ve had a number of Petzl specific questions. Petzl, in our opinion, are one of the big three trusted headlamp brands (Petzl, Black Diamond and Fenix) for running and cycling. These brands produce quality lighting that lasts.

What models of Petzl headlamps are available

Before we look at the best Petzl headlamps for commuting to work, we need to understand how Petzl groups their headlamps product range.

Many Petzl products are compatible with Petzl’s Hybrid Concept. Hybrid Concept is the ability to use none-rechargeable, rechargeable or Petzls custom battery system inter-changeable. We’ll get into the details of Hybrid Concept later.

Petzl categorizes its headlamp as

  • Petzl Classic, including the Petzl Tikka, Petzl Tikkina, Petzl TIKKID and Petzl e+Lite
  • Petzl Performance, including the Petzl NAO and Petzl REACTIK
  • Petzl Active, including the Petzl MYO, Petzl ACTIC Core, Petzl ACTIK and Petzl BINDI

Petzl Headlamp range summary

Our preferred headlamps for running or cycling in the City below. Read on for details of these and the more comprehensive Petzl range of headlamps. Unless you want the Hybrid Concept rechargeable pack as standard, the Petzl Actik is an excellent commuter choice. If buying the Petzl Actik Core, be sure to get the new release 450-lumen model rather than the previous 350-lumen model

ModelOutputBatteryTypical Price
Petzl Actik Core450 lumenHybrid Concept, supplied with Hybrid rechargeable battery.
450-lumen – 2 hours
100-lumen – 12 hours
6-lumen – 130 hours
$60
Petzl Actik350 lumenHybrid Concept compatible, supplied with standard AAA batteries, Hybrid Concept rechargeable battery available separately
350 lumen 2 hours
100 lumen 12 hours
6 lumen 120 hours
$40
Petzl Reactik220 lumen220 lumen – 2 hours 30 minutes
130 lumen – 6 hours
$90

Petzl Classic range

The Classic range is Petzl’s lower-end product range. Petzl Classic products are lightweight and have no-nonsense features. Simplicity is the key to the Petzl Classic range. Petzl Classic headlamps are designed to provide proximity lighting rather than a more focussed light beam.

Petzl Classic headlamps are ideal for general night use, camping and walking. Petzl Classic headlamps are suitable for running but less useful for cycling. We also prefer a headlamp with a more focussed beam when running or cycling to ‘tag’ our presence to drivers who might not have seen us at intersections or driveways.

Petzl Tikka

The Tikka is the top end of the Classic range and offers a maximum of 300-lumens. 300-lumens is more than sufficient for walking or City running. The flood beam pattern of the light makes the Tikka less desirable as a cycling commute headlamp. The Tikka has optional mounting accessories for helmet or bike fitting.

At just 82grams the Tikka doesn’t become an irritation when worn for running. The Petzl Classic Tikka is IPX4 rated, which equates to weather-resistant. Be sure to find the newer model Tikka that supports Hybrid Concept, earlier models are lower lumen output.

The lights have three brightness settings plus a red LED setting. The red light is useful when walking in a group or when you want to maintain night vision. Keeping it simple is a vital feature of the Tikka.

The Tikka requires three AAA batteries or Petzls Hybrid Core battery pack. With the headlamp on maximum brightness (300-lumen) expect around 2 hours runtime. At Standard setting (100-lumen) will provide around 9 hours and at its lowest setting (6-lumen), the Petzl Tikka will keep you going for approximately 120 hours.

At both Maximum and Standard light output settings, the Tikka will still have enough life in the batteries to provide the lowest setting (6-lumen) illumination for a number of hours.

Petzl TIKKINA

Next step in the Classic range is the Tikkina. The Tikkina drops the maximum rated output to 250-lumens. 250-lumens is ample for walking and running to work. In common with the Tikka, the light beam is flood type, combined with the lower output it wouldn’t be our first choice to cycling in the City.

The Tikkina retains the same features as the Tikka, IPX4 weather-resistant rating, Hybrid Core compatibility, three white light settings and compatibility with mounting accessories for helmet and bike. The Tikkina drops the red LED light feature, however. Though for City commuting the red-light is of little value – and illegal to display a front-facing red light in most States and Countries in any case.

Petzl TIKKID

Petzl TIKKID is a product designed for children. With only 20-lumen output we don’t need to look much further into the features of this headlamp.

Petzl e+ Lite

A useful emergency headlamp, or a cheap headlamp to keep as a spare. The e+Lite has 50-lumen output and uses CR2032 batteries instead of AAA or the Petzl Hybrid Core system. Confusingly the e+Lite steps up the water-tightness rating to IPX7 (waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes). This is primarily due to the battery compartment differences between the e+Lite and the other headlamps in the Classic range.

Petzl Performance Headlamp range

The Performance range is the top dollar end of Petzl’s headlamp range. The performance range incorporates high lumen output with some smart technology to adjust light strength.

The Performance range has light sensors that measure reflected light to then instantly adjust the output of the headlamp. We find this more useful for activities such as working on the car or in environments where the reflected light can dazzle you. The reactive system is helpful for trail running or cycling, with less usefulness in the City. For our commute running or cycling, we prefer to set the light output setting to our preference rather than have the output constantly adjust. Reactive is a great feature. However, it can be a little disorientating as the light adjusts.

Petzl NAO

The NAO is a beast of a headlamp. Featuring Reactive Lighting and a maximum output of 700-lumen for 6-7 hours when in Reactive Lighting mode. On constant setting, the NAO offers 500-lumen output for 1-2 hours or 120-lumen output for 8 hours.

In Reactive mode the NAO will provide maximum output of 700-lumen for 6-7 hours, this will depend on the terrain and how often the headlamp is able to lower its output while providing adequate illumination.

The NAO comes with IPX4 weather-resistance rating, and unlike the Classic range, we have the option of flood, mixed or focussed beam. Mixed beam setting is excellent for running and cycling in the City, providing a spot lamp effect, whilst allowing for wider illumination to the sides.

The NAO comes with a custom Lithium-Ion battery pack, so no option to replace with standard AAA if you forget to recharge your headlamp. Work recharging options are easy due to the micro-usb charging port thankfully!

The NAO also lacks compatibility to use mounts for helmet or bike, helmet mounting isn’t impossible, but requires a little ingenuity and perseverance. The 185g weight is suitable for running, though spending a short time to get the straps at the sweet spot of tightness and comfort is essential. Once adjusted, the straps require little if any fiddling with during use.

Petzl REACTIK

The Reactik is a sweet spot for a commuting headlamp. The smaller brother (or sister) of the NAO, in many ways the Reactik is more useful and flexible headlamp option.

The Reactik has ample maximum output of 220-lumen. Again we have the option of reactive or constant light output. We prefer constant light output, however many users love the reactive/adjustable mode.

The Petzl Reactik has a mixed beam, unlike the NAO the beam is not adjustable. The mixed focus and wide beam is an excellent balance for commuting. The Reactik adds a red LED option, though this is of minimal (or legal) use for running or cycling in the City.

At the maximum 220-lumen output the Reactik provides 3-4 hours of illumination. Dropping to what we’d consider the lower-end of light needed for commuting the Reactik delivers around 6 hours of illumination at 130-lumen.

The Petzl Reactik is powered by a custom 1800Ah Lithium-Ion battery pack which has a work-friendly mini-usb charging port. For greatest flexibility, Petzl also sells a battery pack accessory for the Reactik to allow the use of three AAA Alkaline, Lithium or our preference Ni-MH batteries.

The Rectik is pleasantly lightweight at 115g and has a weather-resistant IPX4 rating.

Petzl Active Range

The Active Petzl range has the best options for commuting needs. The price to performance ratio within this range is reasonable too. The products in this range are in the most competitive sector, and you will often find good deals on Amazon on the Petzl headlamps in the Active range.

The Active range discards the Reactive lighting technology of the Petzl Performance range.

Our pick of this range are the newer Actik and Actik Core models rather than the Myo. Both the Actik and Acktik core are excellent headlamps, the significant differentiator between them is the power source.

Petzl MYO

The Myo has a maximum working output of 280-lumens, with a time-limited ‘burst mode’ of 370-lumens. Burst mode is of little use for commuting, so we have a more than ample 280-lumens to play with.

The Myo has a focused and a flood beam mode. There is no mixed-beam setting on the Myo.

A battery pack on the rear of the strap holds 3 AA batteries, and we get 13 hours of illumination on Economic setting at 60-lumen, 5 hours at a useful 110-lumen.

The Petzl Myo is IPX4 weather-resistant rated.

Petzl Actik Core

The Actik Core is Petzl’s rechargeable option within this product line. With a maximum output of 450-lumen and a mixed or flood beam pattern, our preferred mixed mode is available for our commute.

The Actik Core comes complete with Petzl’s Hybrid Concept battery option – coming complete with the rechargeable battery. We love this feature as the Actik Core is able to run off the custom battery pack or standard (3 x AAA) Alkaline, Lithium or our preferred NI-MH batteries.

The headband has an added bonus of reflective material, making you more visible to other vehicles from the side and rear. We get the helmet and bike mounts as optional extras with the Actik Core, making helmet fixing simple.

The rechargeable Core system has micro-usb port charging, handy for the office! At the maximum 450-lumen output we get 2 hours burn time. 100-lumen gives us a massive 12 hours burn time. On the lowest 6-lumen setting the Atkik battery pack gives us 130 hours of illumination.

Weighing in at 75g the Actik Core is comfortable for both running and cycling. The IPX4 weather-resistant rating gives peace of mind for our wet-weather commuting.

The Actik Core also includes a red LED mode, which again is of limited use for commuting, but does make the headlamp more flexible to other uses.

Petzl Actik

The Petzl Actik has a maximum 350-lumen output, more than sufficient for our running or cycling commute. The Actik comes with a slightly reduced maximum output compared to the Actik Core (350-lumen v 450-lumen). This isn’t a significant factor for a commuting headlamp.

The Actik comes with the Hybrid Concept battery compartment, but comes with standard AAA batteries, you can purchase the Hybrid Concept rechargeable pack if that aspect is important to you.

As with the Actik Core, the Actik has a flood and mixed beam mode. Our favourite mixed mode is an excellent mix of a focussed beam and some wider illumination.

The Actik retains the reflective headband found on the Actik Core and is compatible with the optional helmet and bike mounts. The Actik also gets the red LED feature.

We get a 2-hour burn time at 350-lumen, 12 hours at 100-lumen and 120 hours at 6-lumen.

What is Petzl Hybrid Concept

Hybrid Concept is a feature found on several of Petzl’s newer headlamps. Hybrid Concept allows the use of a custom Lithium-Ion battery pack from Petzl, which Petzl call Hybrid Core. The Core battery has a 1250mAh capacity and is rechargeable. Core weights 28g and has a recharge time of 3 hours.

The critical feature of Hybrid Concept is that the headlamp and battery pack are also compatible with standard AAA alkaline, Lithium or NI-MH batteries. The Hybrid Concept battery compartment takes 3 x AAA batteries. Hybrid Concept gives flexible battery options. While both the Actik and Actik Core headlamps utilise Hybrid Concept the Actik is supplied with standard AAA batteries and the Activ Core is provided with the Core Battery pack.

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