I have been running in the woods, among thick trees and with a map in my hand to test this headlamp. I have been standing still, pointing the light at a thick tree trunk and then into the woods and repeated the exercise. I have been staring at the map without being blinded, then into the woods, and back on the map. Each time, the lamp regulates the brightness, so I have no trouble reading the map; see the details of the cortex, or the trail.
This is exactly what the Petzl NAO does, it adjusts the brightness of the light depending on what you are looking at, and it does it well!
Reactive Lighting is the name of the concept behind Petzl NAO. This means that there is an integrated light sensor in the headlamp, which is oriented in the same direction you point your light. It analyzes the reflected light and immediately regulates the focus, width and brightness of the light beam.
Henrik Leth Jørgensen, one of Denmarks best trail runners and an active member of the Adventurerace team, Team Daredevils has also tested the Petzl NAO and wrote “There is a bit of disco light feel over it, as the shifts in brightness are in levels. But it would probably have been too power consuming if it had a continuous adjustment of brightness.” I must emphasize that I did not have the same experience as Henrik, but this is probably because I had access to the relevant computer program, and could therefore set the headlamp up correctly for the desired activity.
The maximum lumen of the Petzl NAO is 355, and the batteries last about 2 hours on a constant brightness, thereafter it decreases to approximately 50 lumens, and can burn for an additional 4 hours.
The weight is 187 grams, and is all carried on your head. However, it is possible to buy a longer cord, so that the battery can be carried in a pocket, which would keep the batteries warmer during the winter season. The Petzl NAO is IPX4 waterproof.
The headlamp comes with a software that can be downloaded from Petzls website. The program lets you pre-select what Petzl Nao will be used for, whether it is orienteering, approach, bivak or something else, the selected program is tailored to your use.
Ease of use
It should be no secret that I’m no genius when it comes to technical gadgets and sophisticated computer programs. Therefore, I appreciate the fact that the software that can be downloaded for Petzl NAO is simple, well illustrated and straightforward. You don’t have to read a manual before you start using it, and the program guides you through the steps from connecting the headlamp to your computer and selecting the program you would like to use.
The battery included, is a lithium ion battery, and is charged via the integrated USB connection, but if you find yourself far away from home, with an empty battery you can always put a couple of AAA batteries in and continue running.
Petzl NAO is not attached to a wide elastic band as many other headlamps. Only about half of the band is elastic, the last half is two cords that can be fitted on each side. This system works beyond all expectations, and the headlamp sits well on the head without any problems. The only drawback is the fact that it cannot be fitted on a helmet, as most other headlamps can. The off/on button and light regulation is placed on the side, where there is a rotatable button. A simple and easy solution, even with gloves on.
I am quite excited about this headlamp, and it is undoubtedly worth the steep price. Innovative technology, which works. Hooray for innovation!
Originally tested and written by Julie Jacobi Jonstrup for GrejGuide.dk