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(Lamp) 3 x 2.2 x 1.5 / (battery) 4.5 x 3 x 1.5 inches
Red light mode
Max light output (lumens)
Max beam distance (m)
Average run time
Weight with batteries
Petzl NAO Headlamp
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Petzl NAO Headlampis rated4.5833out of5by12.
Rated5out of5byNight RunnerfromGreat Headlamp for Night Time RunningI picked this headlamp up at the flagship Seattle store on a whim about 6-8 months ago, fully expecting to return it-- even though I had read lots of rave reviews about it from other runners online. No way could a bright headlamp with a battery on the back and thin side cords be comfortable and not bounce, right? Wrong. I've now used this headlamp with great success over the last six months, while also trying lots of other headlamps. Now I can unquestionably say that this is a great headlamp for night time running. This is high praise coming from a guy who has never found one that even remotely worked.
First, it is comfortable. I wouldn't want to wear it during an all-out 5K, of course, but for long runs, it works great. There's something about the way that the side straps cradle the head that makes the headlamp disappear on the head. The side cords aren't elastic, so you don't feel like your brain is being squeezed, At the same time, it's not binding in the slightest. The weight just disappears and I really don't notice it. It's hard to describe and just has to be experienced. I hope Petzl continues this design in their other models. The ONLY downside to the cords is that it makes my headlamp an attractive chew toy for my cat.
Second, it doesn't bounce. It stays right on target. I suppose that this goes along with the great, unobtrusive fit, but it's worth pointing out because it's such a rarity among headlamps.
All in all, this is a great headlamp for night time running but it does take some time to get used to using it. First, it helps to play with the software and create a lamp setting that works for you. For instance, I found that brighter isn't necessarily better for my shorter runs-- tweak each of the two lamps (broad beam and targeted beam) separately. Second, what everyone says about shining at street signs is correct-- just learn to live with it. I just point my headlamp down when I'm approaching a reflective sign. Third, buy a second battery. The gauge on the battery leaves something to be desired-- I've had batteries die right after starting when they were at 2 out of 4 bars.
I now carry my NAO on all of my long run in the back of my hydra quiver hydration pack (another amazing product for runners that REI should carry) if there is even the slightest chance of hitting darkness. These two products have completely changed the way I run.
Date published: 2014-01-09
Rated4out of5bySixgunfromApproaching PerfectionWhen I needed to get a new headlight I wanted to get something with bright light and decent battery life. Having used the Myo XP for years I was going to get the updated version of that but then ran across the NAO. It was twice the price, but promised twice the light. So I decided to go for it and see how it did.
Construction – Pretty good, I've used Petzl's for years, the plastic on the battery compartment has always been a bit flimsy. On this one it is thicker and more robust. BUT the design of the way you rotate out the charging port out puts stress on part of the frame. If the plastic gets brittle you might have issues. So I'd say it's on par with other Petzl products.
Headstrap Design- Often not something we think much of when buying a headlight but it matters. I found the design to be superior to others I have used. Rather than a complete around the head elastic band most of the straps are non-elastic nylon. This combined with a pinch clip allows you to quickly change the size of the headband. The flex comes from the elastic in the front. This means that the whole strap isn't pinching your head, just the front part. It more comfortably sits on your head rather than grabbing it. The grip is secure enough for normal hiking, but if you're going to be climbing or hanging upside down or get smacked in the head a lot you might have issues. Personally I love it, the other straps would give me headaches after a while and this can be adjusted so quickly and easily without frustration.
Controls- While I loved the Myo XP trying to control output without looking could sometimes be a challenge. With gloves, forget it. This is a vast improvement. You have a rotary switch that controls everything. You just flick it and it snaps back activating the light. Flick it again and it goes into the "program" mode (which you can define). Flick it again and it turns off. You can twist hard to take it into lock mode which locks it in whatever mode you're in. Handy to either lock it off when you toss it in your bag.
Output – In the end this is one of the things that really matters, how bright is it? Plenty bright. Peak output is rated at 350 Lumens. Normal high output by default is around 300. Compared to my other lights this rating seems pretty accurate. You'll have all the light you need at short to medium distances.
Reactive Lighting- The key feature of this unit is that it automatically adjusts for how much light you need. There is a photosensor in the unit that detects the amount of reflected light and varies the output. Overall it works pretty well to give you just the amount of light you need. When you're walking along the trail it uses the wide angle LED to illuminate the trail around you. If you pull up a map to look at it the output drops so you are not blinded. If you look up to check out the noise in the woods it switches to the high beam and ups the power for distance. It's an elegant solution to a problem I never knew I had but now appreciate.
I've put it on to read to the kids with the lights off and it chose a pretty good setting.
The one issue with this is that if you have a highly reflective object in the beam (like a street sign) it may cut your output. Also if you're trying to look through a fence or some brush you may get dimmed if your get real close to them. But you can always override to maximum output with a flick and hold of the switch.
Charging and battery – You have to hook the wires of the battery up to the unit when you first buy it. All the cool features only work if you're using the Li-Ion battery, which does have a finite number of charge cycles. It charges using a USB slot. This is charging mechanism is one thing I'll knock it for that kind of limits its use. It's a full size male USB plug, not a mini or Micro USB port more common. It's intended to plug directly into the computer/charger with no cables. But if your ports are in a hard to reach location this could be an issue. They include an extension cable but that's another different cable you have to keep track of. A USB regulated power supply, while common is not as universal as other charging methods. If you need to recharge on the road or trail you'll need to bring extra charging equipment. There is a backup provision to use 3 AAA batteries but you lose the advanced features (reactive lighting and programming).
Because of this I think this unit is best suited for weekend trips where you're not likely to burn off the whole charge or might have access to electricity. It would not do so well on extended expeditions. While I don't consider the unit to be very heavy for the amount of light it puts out but if you're trying to shave grams this probably isn't the #1 choice.
I think this a great light, best I've ever owned. Bright and comfortable. At this time there are not a whole lot of other 300+ Lumen headlights on the market, let alone ones with such a rich feature set. In a few years this will likely change but the reactive lighting without having to think about or adjust your light will still set this one apart.
Date published: 2013-11-14
Rated5out of5byredfish2996fromAwesome! at twice the price fabulousAWESOME!
Date published: 2013-09-11
Rated5out of5bybig-birdfromI'm a believerI was skeptical at first but love this headlamp. I like having mega brightness if needed. I find I use it mostly in the low auto mode. I use the headlamp nearly every day. I bought a spare Petzl rechargeable battery even though the backup alkaline AAA option worked fine. This is a very good product and my umpteenth Petzl headlamp :)
Date published: 2013-07-31
Rated5out of5byTrail Ultrarunnerfromstate of the artReactive lighting can be very useful (sometimes I prefer the standard mode). Only mild drawback is during (ultrarunning) races at night, some relective course markings will cause the light to momentarily dim, but this is only a minor and very brief inconvenience. Really like the USB charging-- no messing with batteries! (switching out the energy source isn't too complicated, though one should of course read the manual). Was giften this, but well worth the price. Head to REI and check it out!
Date published: 2013-04-26
Rated5out of5byTinCanFlatfromOutstanding ProductThis product is as good as others have indicated. Two additional comments that may prove helpful:
1. When set to adjust the beam it is a really bad idea to use this light for road biking. If light from a vehicle or any other source strikes the sensor the lamp goes dim; not a good situation when wearing the lamp to be seen.
2. The lamp generates lots of heat. I would recommend disconnecting the battery if the lamp is placed in a pocket. I had the lamp in a coat pocket when my movement turned it on. I opened my pocket to discover that the lens of the lamp had melted.
Date published: 2013-03-07
Rated5out of5bythewarder500fromAmazingWow, that's all I can say, I literally had a nerd freak out when I first used this headlamp. I love to buy the latest and greatest and my motto is you pay for what you get so I like to buy the expensive stuff. So after watching the product video on the company's website and reading a couple reviews I thought I would give this product a try and I'm glad I did.
When I first got the head lamp it had enough charge to try it out real fast. It was night and I took it out to my back yard and WOW!!! I mean this thing was just amazing I literally felt as if I had a helicopter search light on my head! When I looked out into the distance where my back fence was (roughly 40 yards away) the light easily adjusted to spotlight mode and lit it up. I then looked up to a nearby tree and it lit all the way to the top of the tree no problem. I literally had to bring my family out into the cold rain to see the headlamp I was so impressed. I don't think I have ever seen any light shine that bright except on some huge flash light that you would never carry out backpacking anyways. I mean for how small it is and only having the two bulbs the light was just so intense and bright! I just was blown away by how bright it was. I even compared it to like a normal LED flash light I had that I thought was bright and after comparing its light to the head lamp there was no comparison, the flash light seemed a candle in comparison.
Also the reactive lighting feature is just phenomenal!!! It worked just as well as they made it sound and I was very happy. The only thing I can see that might be an issue however is that the other day I was out around my house when it was super cold and my breath was super foggy, like much more than normal and as it rose in front of the head lamp while I was standing still it caused the light to adjust and become dimmer since it was catching the reflection of the light off the steam from my breath. Granted you can turn the light on to a constant mode where it won't adjust causing this not to be an issue I still felt I should include the observation and could see it be an annoyance to someone if they were going to use it somewhere you're constantly going to be having foggy breath.
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated5out of5byHero Snowfromgreat headlampThe Petzl NAO appears to have the very latest in LED and Li-ion technology. It's expensive, possibly in part because of the software features, but certainly because of the quality LED and battery it uses. I bought it for the LEDs, brightness rating, and battery, and don't care much about the software. The default settings work great for me.
So far, I've used it primarily for cycling, which oddly enough is not why I bought it. (I bought it to replace my former headlamp that always needed new batteries and was not bright).
The light is quite bright, I would say that the rated Lumens are accurate, it's easy to figure out (if you're even the most mildly patient), the ON/OFF switch is large and can easily be used with gloves/mittens, the USB charging is actually really nice since there's almost always a USB port around someplace. My wife actually has junked her own head lamp for walking the dogs and now will only use my NAO (I just bought her her own for Xmas). I haven't yet been able to use the headlamp while camping, but I assume that it's dynamic lighting capability wil be helpful in extending battery life. It's a really nice product.
Downsides? These are small and nit-picky issues, just wish-list kind of things: I wish the sizing cord were a lot longer, so I could fit it over a helmet or thick hats (it just barely fits as it is). I wish it had a more standard female mini-USB plug-in instead of a big male USB plug, because I usually have a mini-USB cable around for something else but rarely have a USB extension cord (though the NAO comes with one). The dynamic brightness can take some time to get used to, especially when biking (sometimes you'll get a weird strobing effect if you're moving under a tree when there's a street lamp nearby, or some similar situation). Now here's a really stupid downside; the headlamp is so bright that I've started using it for biking, and now I wish it were even brighter.
All in all, great lamp. Like I said, I own two now.
Date published: 2012-12-17
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