Last Updated on 06/03/2023
In this Petzl Swift RL headlamp review, we share our direct experience using this headtorch for jogging, cycling, hiking, fishing, and camping. You will learn why this new headlamp from Petzl has become one of the most popular with joggers and if it is worth the money.
This Petzl Swift RL review is not sponsored. I bought this headlamp a few months ago. I have been testing it for various weekly activities, including early morning dog walks, nighttime jogs, cycling with no bike lights (just the Swift RL headlamp), winter camping, and a few nights of fishing.
I dropped the torch more than you should – find out what happened further down. I hope my testing and results help you decide if this is the right headlamp.
Petzl Swift RL Review
The Petzl Swift RL is one of my favorite running headlamps that Petzl has released in recent years, and here’s why. The headband is comfier than any other single-band headband out there, and it stays where it is supposed to. The reactive beam provides extra lighting when you need it and reserves battery when you don’t. There is a battery display, so you know BEFORE you run out of juice. Before we go into more detail about the features, here are the specifications:
Here are the specifications of the Petzl Swift RL headlamp:
- Bulb Type: 2 White LED
- Light Output: High: 900; low: 10 lumens
- Beam Distance: High: 150 meters / low: 12 meters
- Brightness Levels: 3 in standard, 3 in reactive lighting
- Average Run Time: High: 2 hours; Low: 100 hours
- Batteries: 2,350 mAh Rechargeable Lithium-Ion
- Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
- Weight With Batteries: 3.53 oz / 100 g
Here are the features of the Petzl Swift RL headlamp:
- Lock Switch
- Battery Indicator
- Constant Light Technology
- Reactive Lighting
- Dual Wide and Focussed Beam
- Recharges in 6 Hours from 0% to 100%
- Easily Adjustable Headband with Forehead Padding
- 2-Year Guarantee from Petzl
The Petzl Swift RL headlamp has two lighting modes: Standard lighting and reactive lighting. The standard setting has three light modes and a maximum power of 550 lumens that reach over 110 meters for a total burn time of 2 hours. The maximum burn time using the lowest light setting in standard mode is around 100 hours.
According to the packaging, you get the full 900 lumens only when using reactive lighting. I have not been able to experience this even when I hold my thumb over the reactive light sensor. For me, the brightest setting was on maximum brightness in the standard mode, which uses both LEDs.
Either way, the brightness is more than enough when using the reactive lighting on the lowest setting. I only ever use the brightest twin bulb setting if I am looking for the dog at the end of the garden at night or if I am running/cycling on a road without streetlights.
The maximum beam distance is about 150 meters in the highest power mode, and on the lowest beam, you get around 12 meters of visibility. In reality, you rarely need to use the high power setting on this headlamp unless you need to see far into the distance for some reason (like looking for your dog). The medium setting or reactive lighting is more than enough for things like jogging and cycling.
Battery Type and Burn Time
The battery for the Swift RL is unique to this model, and it is not a hybrid, so it cannot be used with AA or AAA batteries. The battery pack has a 2350 mAh capacity which provides a maximum of 100 hours on the lowest setting. You can recharge it from 0% to 100% in six hours or get around an hour from a short 30-minute charge.
The maximum burn time setting is good for fishing or camping when you need a few nights’ worth of power close up, but the reactive lighting is much better for any kind of activity. And if not, it is the dual LED on medium setting that gets used the most for me as it provides consistent light up to 55 meters and lasts for around 5 hours (1 night) on a full charge.
If you use reactive lighting, you can expect a burn time of 10 – 50 hours in the lowest setting (100 lumens), 5 – 4 hours in the medium setting (300 lumens), or 2 – 30 hours in the highest setting (900 lumens). The total burn time depends on how much time you spend in total darkness on full beam or how much light there is where you are. On a well-lit night under a full moon, you should get a much longer battery life.
If you have a spare battery, you can keep the other charged using a power bank if you need multiple nights of use between plug socket opportunities.
Weight With Batteries
The benefit of the Petzl Swift RL battery pack, other than the burn time, is that it is so lightweight. Compared with three or even two AAA batteries, the Petzl Swift RL battery pack feels much lighter. The total weight, including the battery pack, is just 100 grams (3.53 oz) which is good when compared to similar headlamps.
It feels very light on your head, which is definitely helped by the comfortable headband. It doesn’t travel down your forehead even when you are running, so you don’t constantly have to readjust it.
When you press the switch once, it starts on the lowest setting with a dual beam. You can then progress through to a medium and a high setting. If you press and hold the button, you then enter the reactive lighting setting and again can progress through 3 levels of brightness.
These settings make it foolproof to use and very easy to switch between modes when you need to. There is no blue, green, or red beam on the Swift RL.
Headband and Comfort
I don’t know why Petzl don’t use this headband on all of their headlamps because it is awesome. From the easy adjusters at the back to the cushioned and widened forehead pad, this has to be the comfiest headlamps out there.
The adjusters at the back add extra grip by splitting into two bands which is partially why it never slips down your forehead. It also has reflective patterns all the way around for visibility to vehicles at night.
Waterproofing and Durability
I didn’t realize until writing this Petzl Swift RL review that it is only rated as IPX4, which isn’t very high. It will protect the light from splashes from any direction, which is enough for heavy rain but not for submersion. If you want a highly waterproof headlamp, there are much better options. I have used mine in extremely wet conditions without issue.
All Petzl headlamps are rated to IPX4, but if you want something more waterproof, check out the e+ LITE (IPX7), and the DUO S (IP67).
Petzl head torches are notoriously tough and can withstand small drops and knocks without flinching. IPX4 isn’t dustproof, but I wouldn’t worry about it unless you were working in a dusty mine.
The Petzl Swift RL headlamp is not my go-to choice for wearing with a helmet, as you need to buy a special adapter called the PIXADAPT. I haven’t got one of these, but I am unsure how much trust I would put into the adhesive backing. If you want a helmet-compatible light, then check out some of these caving headlamps.
Ease of Use
This is one of the easiest headlamps straps to adjust, and it only has a single button, so it is very easy to use even with gloves on. The only element you maybe wouldn’t be able to use with gloves on would be the locking switch. That is because it kind of requires your fingernail to move it across.
Instead of trying to dead the strap through a buckle and then remove the slack, with the Swift RL headlamp, you simply pull each of the dividers at the back apart, and it adjusts in seconds.
I have a friend who has a Swift RL, too, and I asked him which settings he uses, to which he replied, “I only use reactive lighting”. He doesn’t do any camping or fishing, just cycling, running, and walking the dog, so that makes sense.
Petzl’s Reactive Lighting is fantastic. I was a bit apprehensive initially, but after using it since 2022, it’s hard to go back to manual lighting.
The first way reactive lighting works for me is when I look down at the ground, the beam gets brighter and broader, and then when I look straight ahead, it changes to a more focused beam. The second way it works is by dimming itself when you look down at your phone or watch in high light mode as it senses the screen’s reflections.
Another way it pays for itself is when other people are around using their head torches, or a car comes towards you, it automatically dims the light not to blind anyone with 750-lumen LEDs. The full beam setting would look like a bright headlight to an oncoming vehicle, so dimming it until the car passes is much safer.
9 Pros of the Petzl Swift RL Headlamp
Here are the advantages of the Petzl Swift RL vs other headlamps:
- Reactive Lighting
- Easy to Control With Gloves On
- Easy to Adjust
- Lock to Prevent Turning on In Your Bag
- Battery Power Indicator
- Multiple Settings
9 Cons of the Petzl Swift RL Headlamp
Here are the disadvantages of the Petzl Swift RL vs other headlamps:
- Low IPX Rating
- Unique Battery to This Headlamp
- No Red Light
The Petzl Swift RL is a fantastic headlamp to use for things like trail running, hiking, climbing, cycling, and fishing. It isn’t totally waterproof and so not ideal for things like caving and gorge climbing. The main benefits are its lightweight, superior comfort, and reactive lighting, but other reasons to buy are the battery life, brightness, and ease of use.
I hope you enjoyed this Petzl Swift RL Review. I have been trying to improve my writing skills, so please let me know if you have any tips or want to see any extra pictures.