Torches – Let there be light!


At the start of this year, I bought a Petzl headlamp in Shinjuku. It was certainly billed as the bees-knees, with a price to match. But during the first night-hike I was disappointed by the weakness of the light, so went to the local J-mart hardware store and bought a torch for a third of the price that does a better job.


Here’s the comparison:


              Gentos Rigel      Petzl


Model            GTR-031T       TikkaPlus

Cost (Amazon)    1710                   4488

Self-weight            64g                      43g

Batteries                 24g (Tan3 x 1)     39g (Tan4 x 3)

Lumens                  26.6                     35

Beam distance        48m                    32m

(= full moon brightness)


Why do I like the cheap one? If you’ve ever hiked in mist or drizzle in the dark, you’ll know why. The Petzl headlamp casts a strong reflective glare against the water particles in front of your eyes, making it difficult to see. Furthermore, the Petzl beam is more diffuse, and in mist, is useless for picking out rocks onto which to place your feet.



The Rigel fits neatly into the palm of the hand, weighs almost the same with batteries, and with its genuine Nichia white single LED, casts a long beam. It also has a handy wrist-strap, which stops you dropping the thing. I love it and now use the Petzl only as a backup. And to escape dog-haters in the upcoming Northern Alps, it’s going to get a lot of use!


You can buy it on


Disclaimer – you do not want a handtorch if you’re going up a frozen waterfall at night with two iceaxes in your hands…


2 thoughts on “Torches – Let there be light!

  1. My wife had a Petzl, and was quite disappointed with it for the same reasons you mention. I think they recess the LEDs too far.

    I’ve been using a Primus headlamp, and the thing cuts like a knife. It also has a removable battery pack, so you can tuck it into your jacket on cold mornings. However after just over a year, one of the plastic tabs broke off the battery pack lid, and of course it was outside both the shop and manufacturer warrantee by that time. So I sent it back to Sweden with a nice letter, and a week later they sent me a new one, no charge!

  2. What great service from Primus, willing to ship a replacement overseas for free!

    I used the Petzl last night on Fuji for which it was perfectly adequate, but a more directional beam is handy when needing to spot paint markings on rocks.

    If you really want to startle other hikers at night, you could always carry a separate lead-acid battery pack. Some long-distance brevet cyclists in the UK fit them in the bottle cage and get a kick out of dazzling car drivers!

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