Peter Kirk, November 2022
The New Petzl NAO RL might be light in weight, but packs a punch in the performance stakes. Weighing in at a featherweight 145g and a run time of 2 hours at a maximum of 1500 lumens, this feature-rich headlamp has been completely redesigned with a streamlined and ergonomic profile.
Light output from the 9 LED lamp head unit is selectable between 250, 550 and an excellent 1500 lumens. The run time varies between 10 and 2 hours. Light is cast both to the front and sides. Peripheral vision is important at night for better depth perception, and casting light to the sides helps in this regard. Most headlamps throw light directly ahead, giving you a ‘tunnel vision’ experience. Light temperature is the typical LED white light.
The reactive lighting feature adjusts the output according to the proximity of the terrain/object being lit. This is useful for adventure racing where the headlamp automatically lowers output when map reading and readjusts once done. In the case of the NAO RL, these adjustments are smooth unlike its predecessors where there is a noticeable jump in output.
The headlamp is extremely comfortable thanks to the lightweight design and perfect weight distribution. As a result, you don’t have to overly tension the headband adding to the comfort. After a few minutes of running with the headlamp I forgot it was there. Light throw is around 160 meters which is excellent.
With the Li-ion battery being positioned at the back, there is no bounce from the 9 LED head unit when running the trails. An additional top strap is included that can be fitted. This is particularly useful if you want to fit the headlamp onto a helmet for cycling or caving. A nifty storage pouch is included which doubles as a lantern when used with the headlamp.
The battery is a rechargeable Li-ion unit that has a quick release clip. It is rechargeable via a supplied USB-C cable. A rearward facing red light is integrated with solid or blinking mode. The battery has a state of
charge LED indicator. This is useful both out on the trails as well as when storing the headlamp, as this kind of battery chemistry does not like to be stored fully charged or discharged. An added advantage is that you can charge your phone or other devices via this battery. Note that you will need a USB-C cable for this.
Capacity is 3700 mha at 3,7v and charge time is 6 hours using a 1amp USB port and half that at 2 amps.
The head unit is exceptionally lightweight and thin, a welcome departure from the bulky head units of the past. It dissipates heat from the LEDs away from your head
You can switch between standard lighting and reactive lighting, plus you can lock the unit, preventing it from unintentionally switching on in your luggage. It is weather resistant with a waterproof rating of IPX4
In conclusion, this headlamp represents a big leap forward in both design and performance and I can highly recommend it for nocturnal adventurers partaking in technical trail running, mountain biking, adventure racing and caving where cutting edge performance is what is required.
The Petzl NAO RL is available in South Africa from Camp & Climb.