The Petzl Nao+ is the most expensive headlamp we reviewed this year, at around a staggering $200. Despite this hefty price tag, we highly recommend it if you have the money. It incorporates all the best aspects of the Petzl Reactik+ while improving on performance and durability. It can produce a maximum of 750 lumens and can illuminate up to 140m.
Like the Petzl Reactik+, the Nao+’s most impressive feature is the reactive lighting mode. This mode uses a sensor at the top of the headlamp to evaluate the ambient light and the proximity of objects to adjust the amount and type of light that should be emitted.
This setting allows you to achieve the perfect light setting without the hassle of flipping through all the available light settings yourself. It will also extend the battery life of the headlamp by reacting to the light produced by others headlamps when you are hiking in a group.
The only downside to this technology is that when operating in foggy or snowy conditions, the light is reflected confusing the sensor resulting in it emitting light that is too dim. This problem can be easily alleviated by switching the lamp back to the constant lighting mode.
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Petzl Nao Plus Detailed Review
Another feature the Nao+ has in common with the other Petzl models is that it can connect to the MYPetzl mobile app. The app allows you to control the brightness and beam type from your phone rather than on the headlamp itself. You can use it to activate one of the preset lighting profiles (discussed in lighting modes section below) or you can create different profiles that suit your own needs.
Although these functions are very useful, we found that the app was most useful to set the headlamp up when you begin a night hike or activity and we did not use it after that because it is too much of a hassle to get your phone out each time.
The most useful part of the app is the battery management aspect. The app tells you exactly what percentage of the battery is left, a huge step up from simple 3-bar battery life indicators on some headlamps. It also allows you to manage the brightness of the beam to achieve a certain battery-life.
An example is that if you set the beam to maximum brightness for 3 hours of use compared to ten the brightness will be higher for the former and lower for the latter.
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The white light can be utilized in both reactive and constant lighting modes. There are also four different preset lighting profiles to choose from, namely, trail running, mountaineering, trekking, backpacking. As mentioned before, you can also create your own lighting profiles on the MYPetzl app.
The multi-beam lighting mode combines a wide beam for proximity lighting with a focused beam for long-range vision that provides the perfect trail finding beam. There is a red LED on the back of the lamp for signaling an emergency but this headlamp lacks a night vision red LED in the front of the lamp.
A lock function is included and it avoids accidental activation of the light in your backpack or storage. With the wide variety of modes and settings, the operation of this lamp can seem overwhelming at first but it is very intuitive and once you get the hang of it you will find that none of Petzl’s competitors can compare.
The battery life of the Nao+ was one of the poorest we reviewed (in the maximum brightness setting). However, using the app to set the duration of your activity can help make up for this. Another issue with the battery is that Petzl removed the emergency AAA battery option so you can’t use disposable batteries in this lamp.
We therefore recommend that you consider purchasing extra battery packs for long treks. When considering the cost of the headlamp itself this is disappointing and seems like an unnecessary cost.
Comfort and Design
The Nao+ has a unique design. The front of the head-strap is made from durable nylon from which two elastic chords branch out. The chords are strong and surprisingly comfortable. They provide extra support which ensure that the headlamp doesn’t move around or cause discomfort when running or engaging in more technical activities.
Despite being on the heavier side of the spectrum of headlamps we tested, the Nao+ feels extremely well-balanced and does not feel uncomfortably heavy. This is owing to the battery pack being placed at the back of the strap. The battery pack itself is attached to the headlamp with a chord that, despite our initial impression, does not get in the way. They battery pack can be detached and clipped onto your belt or bag to lighten the lamp on long trails.