Petzl Swift RL head torch | Tested and reviewed

The Petzl Swift RL is one of the very best head torches you can buy, winning a suite of awards from us over the years. We take a look at what makes the Swift RL such a brilliant head torch.

from Petzl
RRP  £115.00
Hiker wearing Petzl Swift RL with Gear of the Year award logo

by Ben Weeks |
Updated on

This isn’t the first time we’ve heaped praise upon the Petzl Swift RL head torch. Back in 2022, it was awarded ‘Best in Test’ in our big headtorch review and picked up the Gear of the Year accolade in the head torch category.

Since then, the Swift RL has remained among the best hiking head torches money can buy – and that all-conquering 2022 model would certainly still be in the running two years later. But there’s a new Swift RL on the scene.

Front 3/4 view of Petzl Swift RL

And very good though the previous model was, this one is better still. Like its predecessor, the all-new version features reactive lighting (hence ‘RL’) that automatically adjusts brightness according to the proximity of the subject being illuminated.

It still weighs just 100g, is still IPX4-rated for weather resistance, is still super comfortable to wear, and is still powered by a USB-rechargeable 2350mAh Lithium-ion battery (spares sold separately).

Petzl Swift RL in storage bag
©LFTO

However, this 2024 version now has a maximum output of a whopping 1100 lumens – up from 900. It also has a far more effective lock that prevents accidental activation in a rucksack, meaning all that power is saved for shining where it’s needed. And, like its predecessor two years ago, it’s a deserving winner of its Gear of the Year award.

Gear of the Year 2024 winnner

Hiker wearing Petzl Swift RL with Gear of the Year award logo
Price: £84.99 (RRP £115)

www.decathlon.co.uk

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Smart, ergonomic features
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Rechargeable battery included
  • USB-C charging
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Perhaps overkill for some

Why the Petzl Swift RL won Gear of the Year 2024

Powerful and intelligent

Petzl Swift RL light
©LFTO

In Reactive Lighting mode (there’s also a Standard Lighting mode for consistent and manually adjustable lighting), the Swift RL has a maximum brightness of 1100 lumens and will illuminate up to 155m away. But it’s not all about total power.

In Reactive mode the headtorch only pumps out the illumination when it’s needed, dialling down the power automatically when looking at closer subjects, such as reading a map. This helps to preserve battery power and extend burn times, a clever and practical feature.

Petzl Swift RL and accessories
©LFTO

Compact and lightweight

The combination of the ergonomic adjustable headband and the fact that the Swift RL weighs just a smidge above 100g (102g according to our digital scales) means the head torch is comfortable to wear even during long periods of night walking.

Petzl Swift RL headband
©LFTO

The headband is reflective at the rear for added night-time safety. And if you need to take it off but still want the light, the Shell LT ultra-light storage pouch supplied with the Swift can be combined with the lamp to turn it into a mini lantern – great for hanging in a tent.

Simple to use

Petzl Swift RL button
©LFTO

There’s just a single button to control all functions: on/off, switching between lighting modes, and manually adjusting power levels. Holding this button also activates and deactivates the lamp lock – a marked improvement on the previous model that used a sliding switch to lock the lamp (a switch that, in our experience, could all too easily be knocked in a rucksack, totally negating its purpose).

A five-level battery charge indicator also clearly shows when the torch needs charging or if it’s time to put in a new battery.

Petzl Swift RL USB input
©LFTO

How we tested

Our Gear of the Year award winners are, what we consider, the best products in their category that we've tested in the previous 12 months.

The products have all been used in tough real world conditions by members of our rigorous and experienced team.

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