Petzl Swift RL 2 review: a (head) beacon of light

Lightweight, comfortable, and brilliant: the Petzl Swift RL 2 is the ultimate head torch for high-octane outdoor adventures

T3 Platinum Award
Petzl Swift RL 2 review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

The Petzl Swift RL 2 excels as a top-tier headlamp, offering exceptional illumination and advanced features. With a maximum output of 1,100 lumens and Reactive Lighting technology, it ensures optimal performance for outdoor activities. Comfortable to wear and easy to adjust, it's a versatile choice for trail running, hiking, and more.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Amazing light output

  • +

    Updated Reactive Lighting works well while conserving battery life

  • +

    Lightweight and comfortable to wear

  • +

    USB-C charging plus removable batteries

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Exposed charging port feels like a liability

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Petzl is a household name in head torch circles, although you probably can’t tell by looking at their social media accounts. These often focus on climbing equipment tutorials, which the brand is equally known for.

Nevertheless, Petzl is considered one of the best head torch companies, and of the many head torches they offer, the Swift RL is one of the most popular models. The successor of the Petzl Swift RL, the Petzl Swift RL 2 is brighter and more refined than the original model, making it extremely well-suited for high-octane outdoor pursuits such as trail running.

What’s new about the second-gen Swift RL 2, and is it good enough to convince people to upgrade? I’ve been using the head torch for a month, and it’s safe to say I have been very pleased with its performance. Want to learn more? Read my full Petzl Swift RL 2 below for all the details.

Petzl Swift RL 2 review

Price and availability

The Petzl Swift RL 2 is new for 2023 and is available now from a variety of third-party retailers, including in the UK and Dick's Sporting Goods in the US. Petzl's product listing provides a link to find the nearest retailer to your address.

Please note that Petzl calls the head torch the same as its predecessor, which makes it trickier to search for it online. My best advice is to look for the burnt orange colour of the new version and to check the stats. The maximum light output of the Swift RL 2 is 1,100 lumens, compared to the original Swift RL's 900 lumens.


Petzl Swift RL 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
  • Max brightness: 1,100 lumens
  • Weight: 100 g
  • Technology: Reactive Lighting or Standard Lighting
  • Beam pattern: Mixed (wide and focused)
  • Energy: Lithium-ion 2350 mAh battery (included), rechargeable with USB-C port
  • Burn time: up to 100 hours (Standard Lighting)
  • Charging time: 5 hours
  • Watertightness: IPX4 (weather-resistant)

Design and build quality

Understandably, the Petzl Swift RL 2 looks very similar to its predecessor, but a few key changes make it far superior to the original.

First and foremost, the maximum light output went from 900 to a whopping 1,100 lumens – the Swift RL 2 is bright enough to temporarily blind you if you look too closely. Due to the insanely bright LEDs at the front, the head torch has an industrial LED risk rating of 2 out of 4; this really isn’t a plaything if it wasn’t obvious up until this point.

Thankfully, Petzl increased the pivot range of the Swift RL 2 to ensure the LEDs illuminate your path instead of burning out other people’s retinas. Indeed, you can point the beam directly down (-90°) to avoid accidental eye damage. The pivoting mechanism is easy enough to use with one hand and tends to stay in place once set.

Also new are the red light modes (continuous and strobe), in addition to the standard white light option. You still get the Reactive and Standard lighting modes when the Swift RL 2 is set to white light, so there are plenty of options to choose from.

Petzl Swift RL 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Speaking of Reactive Lighting, it has been improved, so it dims less during fast-paced (e.g. trail running) than slower activities to avoid a steep drop in lighting if you're moving on a dark trail.

The switch has also been changed from the sliding version to a more standard variety. You can still lock the head torch to avoid accidental activation in the bag, but instead of sliding it, you have to long press the button. Easy-peasy.

The charging port has been changed from Micro-USB to USB-C, which is just keeping up with the times, really, but a nice touch nonetheless.

The soft headband has the same split construction as its predecessor, and the battery indicator light stayed the same, too, positioned above the Reactive Light sensor.

I also appreciated the little carry bag included in the box; it’s not only much nicer to carry around your head torch in a pouch, but it’s also easier to locate in your bag.

Battery life

Petzl Swift RL 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Thanks to the million different lighting modes, the Petzl Swift RL 2 has a million different battery lives. Realistically speaking, it’s unlikely you’ll use the head torch at either end of the scale (max burn time vs. max power), so it’s best to discuss the standard light modes in Reactive and Standard modes.

Standard mode in Reactive Lighting gives you a lighting level of 25-275 lumens and a maximum distance of 75 metres. The minimum burn time in this mode is 7 hours and 45 minutes. Switch to max power in this mode, and the lumen range changes to 30-1,100! The maximum 1,100 lumens is bright enough to light up the path 155 metres ahead of you.

Switch over to Standard Lighting mode, and you get a constant output of 160 lumens with a minimum burn time of seven hours. It's not much shorter, but you miss out on those higher lumens. Of course, you can manually switch to max power mode to access 700 lumens, strong enough to illuminate 115 metres ahead of you.


Petzl Swift RL 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The Petzl Swift RL 2 looks a bit bulkier than some compact head torches, but thanks to the lightweight design and the comfortable head strap, you won’t feel it when it’s on your head.

The construction is solid and has an ingress protection rating of four (IPX4). The USB-C charger is located at the bottom and is slightly exposed; I wonder if adding a cover here would make the head torch even more watertight.

Not like this will be an issue unless you go swimming! Of course, if the charger port gets muddy, it might be tricky to charge your Swift RL 2, although I’m yet to get it so dirty that it won’t charge or work.

Finding the perfect fit is easy, and better still, you can adjust the headband on the fly with just one hand. The same goes for tilting the Swift RL 2: the head unit clicks into the grooves quickly and stays there until you move it next.

Petzl Swift RL 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Our review of the predecessor of the Petzl Swift RL 2 criticised the Reactive Lighting for not being able to keep up with fast-paced activities. Thanks to the movement sensor and the increased light output, the new model seems to do a mighty fine job in illuminating your path, no matter how fast you’re travelling.

The movement sensor is new for SWIFT RL 2 and NAO RL. Petzl implemented several different profiles based on movement patterns seen in slow—and fast-moving activities so the headlights can apply the right amount of lighting output.

I mainly used the headlight in dusk and dawn and in Reactive Lighting mode, and it was perfect. I haven’t done a pitch-black run session wearing the Petzl Swift RL 2 yet, but even if I did and found the light output suboptimal, I could just switch to Standard Lighting mode for a more even glow.

As for the red light mode, I was slightly confused at the beginning about how to activate it because the manual suggests it comes on if you press and hold the button for two seconds when the white light is on, but that didn't work for me.

Instead, you have to keep holding the button while the white light is on, and it will cycle through the different light modes. If you start with Reactive Lighting, it'll go to Standard Lighting first (with both white LEDs on), and if you keep pressing the button still, you'll arrive in Red Light mode.

Once you've figured it out, it's easy-peasy to switch between the different modes.

The Swift RL 2 is designed in such a way that overheating is almost impossible. I certainly haven’t experienced any issues in this department.

Finally, the battery is easy to remove and replace by rotating the head unit all the way out upwards. The burn time is pretty good, so unless you’re running an ultramarathon or out on a multi-day hike in the middle of the winter, the Swift RL 2 should be able to see through any adventures.


Petzl Swift RL 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The original Swift RL was one of the most competent head torches on the market, but that didn’t stop Petzl from going back to the drawing board and updating one of its most popular headlamps.

The new Swift RL 2 is a superb headlight that provides just the right amount of illumination thanks to the Reactive Lighting technology and the increased maximum light output. It’s also comfortable to wear and easy to adjust, making it the ultimate head torch for trail running, hiking and more.

Also consider

If you're looking for a simpler but decent head torch, the Lifesystems Intensity 300 LED Head Torch is your best bet. Sturdy, lightweight, and user-friendly, the Intensity 300 LED headlamp by Lifesystems stands out as one of the most affordable options available. Ideal for camping, night hikes, and short backpacking or bikepacking trips, it offers versatility and reliability. Read Pat's full Lifesystems Intensity 300 LED HEad Torch review.

Another alternative is Petzl's Iko Core, offering a potent blend of versatility and power. Weighing just 79 grams, the Iko Core provides impressive burn time for everyday tasks and intense illumination when needed. While its semi-rigid arm system is excellent for running and hiking, it may not suit all adventurers due to bulkiness and helmet compatibility concerns. Read Mark's full Petzl Iko Core review.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.