Petzl Nao Head Torch


With us now well into 2014, it’s about time I put up some thoughts about my newest head torch purchase, before the dark commutes to and from work are lost to the welcoming Springtime sunshine!

I’ve had the joy and privilege of becoming the owner of Petzl’s latest evolutionary development in head torch technology, or otherwise known as ‘Reactive Lighting’ technology. Having seen a few of my other trail blazing buddies, getting this head torch and hearing how they’ve been ripping up the night-time trails, with the power of ‘daylight’ beaming from their foreheads. I hit the internet to do some research and see what all the fuss was about…


I was fortunate enough to have stumbled on a sale price with this beauty, which was really the clincher for me, as the £135 tag was a fair ask but when I saw Decathlon selling it for £99 +free p&p, I had to jump on the bandwagon and join in with the nighttime fun runs!



Previously I have been running with a Petzl Tikka Plus 2, a fantastic, compact and lightweight head torch with an output of 50 lumens. This has been a reliable head torch and I’ve loved running with it but with my entry to the UTMB, I have to have a spare torch as part of the ‘mandatory kit list’, so what better excuse is there to run with one of the best head torches on the market! ;o)

There’s so much that you can say about this beauty of a head torch and I personally enjoy bringing top, ground breaking technology into my past-times and this certainly did not disappoint. Many of my friends said that it was like running in daylight and they’re right. Depending on the length and technical aspect to your intended trail route, you can enjoy running in a bubble of light that provides the confidence you require for night running, as well as allowing you to maintain a pace you’re used to running during the day. With my style of running being barefoot and minimal, I have enjoyed keeping up my pace and having the confidence to maintain my light, fast foot placement. The maximum lumen you get from the NAO is 355 lumens! Though be aware that this will significantly lower the battery life. Do not fear, there are many different lighting options for the NAO, and by using their software, you can create your very own bespoke lighting needs, as you see fit, depending on your choice of activity. From ‘one mode – static lighting’ to the ever impressive ‘reactive lighting technology’ you can run as you see fit.


The inbuilt light sensor automatically adjusts the beam and light output to suit the environment that the user finds themselves in.

As Mick Ryan reported from Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Nao was launched:

“If you are reading a map it switches to proximity lighting – beam is wide and less powerful – if you are descending a ridge it will automatically switch from proximity lighting to distance lighting – beam is more focussed and powerful; depending on where you turn your head. So rather than you switching to different light modes the Petzl Nao does it for you allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand and at the same time conserving power.”

Below is the mode I have chosen form the online software:

Trail Running Mode:

Profile developed for trail runners with Team Petzl athletes. It features three levels in REACTIVE LIGHTING mode:

Level 1 (universal) is the one to use most of the time.

Level 2 is super bright for fast sections

Level 3 to conserve battery life.

In constant mode, level 1 for maximum power for distance vision or rapid movement, level 2 for better battery life with the same brightness as in level 3 in REACTIVE LIGHTING mode, but with constant lighting.

One point I’d like to make about the weight – it is exceptionally light. I have never noticed the weight/presence of it on my head, when running. Through all of the various ups and downs of the trails I have run, I haven’t noticed one bounce yet. In my excitement of buying this torch and saving a few pennies, I did also invest in the waist belt clip, to help ‘lighten the load’ as I ran but I have to admit to not even taking the belt accessory out of it’s box yet. I have no issue with the weight and feel as is. Perhaps other runners may be more picky but I have ran with a few other head torches in my time, that have significant battery packs on your head and have felt the need or welcomed the option of a waist belt clip but this is NOT the case for the NAO. It’s even been small and compact enough to go unnoticed during wetter runs, where my jacket hood covers all with no issue at all.

I would also like to make a small point that some may find as a ‘negative’ with the NAO’s reactive technology, as I hadn’t come across this comment myself, when doing my initial research…

I obviously am looking at using this head torch during longer runs, that will see me running through the night but I also will be using this during the Scottish winter months – winter brings the cold weather to Scotland and this means cold breath!

I have noticed on a few cold night runs, that my breath did effect the ‘reactive eye’ of the head torch, resulting in the light dimming. This can be easily rectified by switching from the ‘reactive’ mode to another. I have come across reviews that have mentioned that the light will dim when passing cars fly by but in my commuting experience, this is not a problem, as the car are then lighting your way.  I have placed a shot YouTube link below, to show you my example of how heavy winter breathing can effect the light.


To hear what the pros say about the NAO, visit the link below:


^ above: a caffeine and NAO fuelled night run! *;o)

One response to “Petzl Nao Head Torch

  1. Love the video – in other circumstances, it could pass for a clip from a creepy horror movie! I’ve started running with a head-torch this winter and have really enjoyed it, as I could keep running outside in the evenings despite the darkness. I love the “bubble effect” that you mention in general. I just have a little basic headtorch which has gotten me nicely through the winter so far, but what you describe here is something else – awesome! Perhaps it’ll be something to get for next winter, to bribe myself to keep running outside yet another year. 😉

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