“And that may be a … that may be a HEADLAMP. She’s blinding our cameras with it.”
Whereas the 2023 Western States 100 livestream commentators and digicam operators could not have appreciated my Petzl Nao RL ($170) beaming into their drained eyes at 4:30 a.m. as I crossed the end line, I can’t consider a greater public endorsement for this headlamp. You’re welcome, Petzl. It’s no surprise this mild was our high choose for ultrarunning in our greatest working headlamps information.
With an precise weight of 5.2 ounces (146 grams) and producing as much as 1,500 lumens of cool, white mild, this headlamp packs a variety of energy and brightness into a comparatively small, light-weight bundle. That’s why it’s our first selection when our long term takes us by way of the night time. Though it’s a hefty funding, particularly in case you go for a further battery pack, this headlamp is price it in case you run 100 milers or embark on adventures that take you thru a number of nights.
Petzl Nao RL Options and Specs
The Petzl Nao RL is constructed with a chargeable 3,200-milliampere-hour lithium-ion battery. It was just a little difficult to arrange the primary time, however the packaging consists of clear directions, and as soon as it’s set, it’s simple to recharge and swap the battery pack.
Petzl calls this battery R1 and sells particular person R1 battery packs individually for $70, if you wish to preserve a back-up available or make a straightforward swap between costs. In accordance with Petzl, this battery takes about 3.5 hours to cost and can final by way of 300 charging cycles.
This headlamp has a number of completely different lighting modes, together with normal and Petzl’s Reactive Lighting. Reactive Lighting signifies that the headlamp’s brightness and beam mechanically regulate in response to surrounding ambient mild — rising dimmer when there’s extra ambient mild and brighter when there’s much less. This expertise permits the headlamp to self-optimize for each lighting and energy use, permitting the person to deal with the path forward and never fidgeting with headlamp changes.
The battery pack, which is positioned on the again of the top, has a purple mild that may be set to steady, strobe, or off.
Inside every of those lighting choices, the Nao RL might be adjusted between three brightness ranges: max burn time, normal, and max energy. Whereas max burn time is adequate round camp or on a short daybreak patrol mission, it’s not shiny sufficient for many ultrarunners’ drained eyes through the wee morning hours mid-100 miler. However, its max energy degree delivers as much as 1,500 lumens however gained’t final by way of the night time. The usual degree is the center vary of each burn time and energy, and the Reactive Lighting setting gives the longest burn time, though it’s a variety — 5 to 40 hours.
Though the Nao RL is just a little heavier than our favourite on a regular basis working headlamps, its 5.2-ounce (146 grams) precise weight is correct in the course of the highest headlamps for ultrarunning. The important thing distinction between a each day headlamp and one which’s ideally suited for ultrarunning is the battery life. As a result of the perfect ultrarunning lights have sufficient battery energy to final by way of the night time, they’ve larger battery packs and are due to this fact barely heavier.
When you can actually use one mild for each your on a regular basis pre-dawn or sundown runs and your subsequent 100 miler, some runners will go for a light-weight headlamp once they solely want mild for a number of hours, after which preserve a longer-lasting mild available for in a single day missions and 100 milers. Among the many headlamps that may shine by way of the night time, the Nao RL is loads light-weight.
Petzl Nao RL Efficiency
I wore the Petzl Nao RL for lots of of early morning, late night, and in a single day miles throughout 2023 whereas coaching for and racing each the Western States 100 and IMTUF 100 Mile. In each races, I wore the headlamp over a backward cap or a folded-up gaiter. This headlamp was snug by way of the night time and by no means brought on any stress factors or pressure complications.
The Nao RL is simple to regulate whereas working, utilizing the orange twine and a small orange tab that sits above the battery pack on the again of the headlamp. Merely flip the tab up, regulate the orange strap for the perfect match, then push the tab again down. Additionally included with this lighting system is an elastic cable strap that may be added to the highest. This extra strap may help diffuse stress in case you’re delicate to headlamp straps in your head, nonetheless I by no means felt the necessity for this extra strap.
In our greatest working headlamps article, we dinged the Petzl Nao RL for its consolation. Whereas it’s nonetheless our top-choice ultrarunning headlamp, its elastic cable development is just a little awkward, particularly you probably have a low ponytail or bun. That mentioned, with a gaiter-like headband or backward cap offering just a little padding, it’s simple to overlook you’re even carrying this headlamp.
Greater than something, I used to be impressed with the Nao RL’s battery energy. Throughout my in a single day races, I used the Reactive Lighting setting and often set it at the usual degree to optimize the battery and to make sure it’d final by way of the night time. Nonetheless, in each the Western States 100 and IMTUF 100 Mile, I reached a degree the place I needed extra mild by way of a technical part of path, and I switched to the max energy degree. I frightened about draining the battery, so I carried a backup (albeit, much less shiny) mild simply in case.
I used to be shocked to seek out that the Nao RL’s battery lasted by way of the night time, not solely Western States’s roughly eight dead nights, but in addition IMTUF’s 11 dead nights. Whereas these numbers are inside the up-to-24 hours listed on Petzl’s web site, and I used to be not utilizing max energy the whole time, I didn’t absolutely belief the headlamp to final by way of the night time and was happy to seek out that it did.
Runners could have completely different preferences for headlamp brightness, and their preferences will change based mostly on the terrain. After 5 100 milers and numerous adventures at midnight, I’ve discovered that I’m snug preserving my mild as dim as doable on a gravel highway, pavement, or different open and non-technical surfaces, however I like extra brightness on the path, particularly after I’m working alone.
Now that I’ve bought some expertise with the Nao RL, I’ll doubtless set it at max energy with Reactive Lighting anytime I’m on singletrack within the forest at night time. I’ll proceed carrying a backup headlamp or, higher but, a second Petzl R1 battery pack that I can simply swap on the fly.
Lastly, whereas this mild packs down small contemplating its battery pack, it nonetheless occupies a piece of house in my hydration pack. I seen that after I stashed it in a rear facet pocket (so I might entry it with out stopping or eradicating my pack), I had to verify it was positioned flush towards my again, or I’d really feel its laborious plastic edges urgent towards my low again. After all, this was not a problem if I saved it in my vest’s bigger again pocket, however then I needed to take my pack off or get assist from a pacer to dig it out.
For these causes, I sometimes left the headlamp with my crew throughout races till I wanted it after which dropped it with them once more after dawn. Because of this, I gained’t essentially attain for this headlamp if I want simply an hour or two of sunshine at first of a long term, as a result of I’ve different lighting choices that pack all the way down to a couple of third of the scale.
Petzl Nao RL Total Impressions
The Petzl Nao RL is a dependable mild that’s each highly effective and compact. Whereas it’s costly, it’s a premium, feature-packed mild that’s ideally suited for ultrarunning.
It has a variety of each brightness and battery energy, so runners can discover the right steadiness of sunshine and run-time for his or her particular person preferences and the calls for of the terrain, climate, and goal at hand. This mild is simple to regulate, and the battery pack might be swapped out on the fly. The one draw back is that it’s costly, particularly in case you add on an additional battery pack.
That mentioned, it’s our favourite headlamp for ultrarunning in our greatest working headlamps information, and it’s well worth the funding for any runner who usually runs for a number of hours at night time.
Name for Feedback
- Have you ever tried the Petzl Nao RL? What do you suppose?
- For individuals who additionally ran with the unique Petzl Nao, what do you concentrate on this second model?
- What’s your favourite headlamp for each day use and/or ultrarunning?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]