When Petzl said they have a brand new headlamp and would I like to review it for SA Mountain, I thought to myself, another headlamp? How different can this one be from the previous ones? I mean, how much more can a headlamp be improved upon?
Well, to be honest, I was not at all prepared for what I saw when I opened the box. Far from your conventional headlamp, Petzl’s new offering looks and feels quite space age and at first glance I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. But after playing around with the IKO CORE and discovering all its nuances and secrets, I realised what an incredible addition this invention makes to the world of headlamps and lighting. I can just imagine the brief the headlamps guys got at Petzl HQ: “We want something better than anything on the market, but must be visually and practically different. And it must be light and very bright. Oh, and also look at the conventional strap thingy around the head. We need something different to that, and while you’re at it add in a few little extras that really makes it a smiffdy little puppy. Okay, off you go!” And I must admit, their guys pulled an amazing rabbit out the hat.
Firstly, let’s look at the most important thing – the light and batteries
The lamp has three levels of brightness: 6 lumens, which is great for close-up stuff, like cooking and reading in your tent, etc. Then, 100 lumens, which covers almost everything else out on the hill – it gives a nice strong, fairly broad beam, throwing to about 45 metres, which is quite ample for night walking and similar activities. Finally, you get the mama 500-lumen strength, which casts a dazzling shaft of light 100 metres deep, which lights up the world in front of you – great for rock climbing and technical route finding on mountains. Okay, granted, at this supersonic power, your battery does get depleted quite quickly, but what I really like is that once your battery is too flat to keep up with the 500 or the 100 lumen beam, rather than just die on you, it gives you a few hours of ‘reserve’ light, which throws a 4-metre low beam, so you are not just dumped into darkness. I would’ve liked to have seen a red beam on this unit, which is quite nice for reading maps and not blinding your tent mate, but I think the 6 lumen beam works quite well in that regard. The 7 LED light in front is operated by one switch – 1 click for each setting – nice and simple!
The IKO CORE comes with a rechargeable battery, but 3 x AAAs can also be used. It must be noted that with the AAAs, your high beam is restricted to 350 lumens, which is still BRIGHT! The battery case is a soft rubber housing which sort of sucks open and closed quite easily and although it is not totally waterproof, it is impressively resistant to water during stormy weather and such like, so should easily handle extended time out in the rain.
Next most important is the fit, comfort and compatibility
The head band is totally unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is a streamlined, semi-rigid ultra-thin plastic/rubber design, which is of really durable construction and interlaced with a thin elastic cord near the back. It is difficult to explain, but when placed on your head and the elastic cord is synched in, the whole unit pulls in evenly around your head to give you the most amazing fit, distributing the weight of the headlamp over your entire head, making it almost imperceptible. Once fitted properly, this baby ain’t going anywhere, no matter how rocky or upside down your world gets. The IKO CORE is also compatible with all Petzl helmets, and also some other brands, depending on where the clips are situated.
This is where Petzl have really pulled out the stops. Pull the battery housing out 45 degrees, and the whole unit can be stood upright on the table to act as a lamp, and the pouch that the headlamp is stored in is made of a translucent nylon that can be synched around the light to transform it into a lantern.
The headlamp can be worn on the head (obviously), but also very effectively around the neck, and can also be affixed to poles and trees, etc. by wrapping the headband around and clipping it together by slotting a little nipple on the battery case into a groove on the light. Very clever, I thought.
The battery pack at the back of the head has reflective strips to make you visible at night, there is a battery charge indicator to check the life of the battery, and a lock function to avoid the lamp being switched on accidentally.
A light, compact, super-ergonomically designed and futuristic headlamp, suitable for all outdoor activities, from caving, climbing and running, to mountaineering, camping and cycling. And at a very attractive price. The IKO CORE is certainly a headlamp for all seasons and all reasons!
Weight: 79 g
Battery: 1250 mAh CORE rechargeable battery (included) or 3 x AAA
Charging time: 3 h
Water tightness: IPX4 (weather-resistant)