The brightest head torch out there? We check out Petzl's £260 sun substitute...
Petzl Ultra - First Look
grammes (including battery)
Six LED headtorch producing a claimed 350 lumens of
light with three regulated brightness levels, stabilising
head mount plate with foam pad, light level selection dial,
rechargeable battery pack with power level indicator, quick connect
ACCU 2 ULTRA battery pack system, optional carrying harness for remote
ACCU 4 ULTRA battery pack. Stormproof construction, comes complete with transportation bag and battery charger, ULTRA BELT comes with larger battery and
extension lead for remote use.
The brand new ULTRA - and its remotely powered brother the ULTRA BELT -
are the brightest headtorches Petzl has ever produced and they're aimed
at anyone who wants easily portable light and lots of it. That could
mean adventure racers, orienteers, mountain bikers or just people who
are very scared of the dark.
not going to go into excruciating technical detail about LEDs, but what
matters is that they're becoming the most efficient lighting medium out
there and are tough, durable and effective. The technology's also
developing fast, so every year new, brighter and more efficient LEDs
The ULTRA has six of them, no less, in a single head unit to give a
claimed 350 lumens-worth of light. That's a lot for a head-torch, to
put it in perspective, the respectably bright Myo XP produces just 85
lumens at max level, or 150 lumens on its 20-second boost setting, so
the Ultra is around four times brighter...
There are three light levels, selected with an easy-to-use cog on the
side of the light and they're regulated, which means you get the same
level of light right the way through the lamp's burn time.
A propos of which burn times for the head-mounted ULTRA are 2 hours on
max, 5 hours 5 mins on medium and 16 hours 55 mins on economic setting.
The larger battery on the ULTRA BELT gives double those burn times.
Finally, it's all modular, so the rechargeable battery snaps off and
can be extended for remote use with an extension lead or upgraded with
the larger battery and carrying vest.
It's hard to compare light outputs, but what we can tell you is that
the Petzl ULTRA is by far the brightest headlamp we've ever tested.
We've seen mountain biking lights that are brighter, but not
On maximum setting there's not only a lot of light, and we do mean a
lot - we drove a car down a private unlit road using the ULTRA and we
might as well have had headlights - but there's an incredible, even
spread that turns night into something approaching day.
Petzl says the beam reaches around 120 metres, but that's only half the story - you really are in the centre of a large, even lake of light rather than
desperately peering down a directional beam in the way you are with
most headtorches. That makes it great for walking and running as your
peripheral vision works in the same way as it would during the day.
For a big, heavy-ish unit, it's comfortable to wear too, with a
well-shaped headband and mount, though our pre-production version could
have done with a little more adjustment for smaller heads. It's fine
for walking, but for running use, we think you'd be better off with a
remote lead to remove the weight of the battery - 148 grammes - from
your head. You can run with the battery as it stands, but it's on the
borders of what's comfortable in our opinion.
On the medium setting, there's still an awful lot of light, certainly
more than enough for fast walking and the easy to use dial control - no
fiddly buttons here - makes switching between the three settings dead
The battery pack has a neat charge indicator and once you do need a top
up, it's as simple as simply unclipping the 7.4v Lithium Ion battery
and plugging it into the supplied fast charger. End of. No need to mess
around with loads of rechargeable AAs or buy replacement batteries.
The ULTRA BELT comes with a larger 4000mAh battery - the standard ULTRA
has a 2000mAh one - and while it's no brighter, burn times are twice as
Masses of light in a typically well thought out, high
quality feeling package, but what really marks the ULTRA out is the
huge, even spread from its six LEDs that give better peripheral
coverage than notionally brighter lights we've used.
running, orienteering and adventure race use and, if Petz ever get
their act together and produce a decent bike mount, it'll work there as
well. For walking use, it's brilliant, but arguably overkill unless
you're on a mountain rescue search mission. It would also be great for glacier travel were it not for the relatively high weight.
The downside is the
colossal price tag, which means only the truly committed are going to
be buying an ULTRA any time soon, but if what you need is the
brightest headlight around with the widest spread of light, here it is.
of light, comfortable, easy controls, rechargeable battery, modular.
Cost and weight,
though both are relative.
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