The first thing to note is you have to open the battery case and plug in the battery before you can charge it. Like most people I rarely read the manual and knowing I’d have to charge it first off I just plugged in the usb cable and wondered why the charging light wasn’t coming on – much head scratching until I finally read the instructions, unclipped the battery case and plugged the battery in! The first charge took about 4 hours by the way.
So now we’ve got that out of the way, how does it perform ? The answer is fantastically, although if like me it’s the first time you’ve used a head torch with ‘reactive lighting’ it might take some getting used to.
Straight out of the box, switching the light on with a single twist of the on button has it set on it’s Maximum Power setting, with Reactive Lighting enabled. This setting means you’ll get the brightest beam it thinks you need given the amount of light (or darkness even) you are in. In fact it seems to react to the amount of light that is reflected into a sensor at the top of the unit, so you get some interesting changes to the beam when for example you are running down a dark path and a car comes towards you. I noticed a few times the light seemed flicker a few times at it picked up the light from an oncoming car headlight.
In darkness though, this light really excels. Here’s how the first run went.
It’s 5:30 AM, pitch black outside and I’ve hauled myself out of bed and donned my kit. Torch on head I give the ‘On’ button a single turn and I’m ready to go. There’s lots of streetlights on outside the house so the beam is fairly sedate. In these sorts of surroundings I don’t really need a head torch and this one has adjusted itself accordingly.
Give it another 5 minutes though and I’ll be heading out of the village into complete darkness. Running through a completely dark patch of woodland, along a thin muddy path, this light has lit up the way ahead clearly. There’s no chance of me missing the muddy puddles and fallen branches here! Then down a dark path along a B road and the path is lit up perfectly too. This head torch is like having a lighthouse fixed to the top of my head and best of all I don’t need to worry about the cost of batteries as of course it’s rechargeable.
A car heads towards me, headlights blazing and the beam from my head torch reduces it’s intensity as it picks up the light coming from the car. The reaction is near instant and as the car passes the beam goes back to a very reassuring bright light.
Heading now into the nearby town there are once again lots of streetlights around and the head torch dims itself once more. I’m heading around the outskirts of the town and there quite a mixture of dark and streetlight lit paths. Again the beam is adjusting itself automatically, giving me more light when I need it and dimming itself when I don’t.
Nearing the halfway point of this mornings run I head through the centre of the town. There’s a real mixture of light sources here. A few corner shops, the local fire station, street lights and more cars. I do get a sense that with the rapidly changing light around me and also light from the torch bouncing of street signs that it flickers every now and then as it adjusts itself constantly. That might well take a bit of getting used to but overall this head torch is superb.
The Petzl Nao punches out an amazing amount of light out when needed and then reigns it back in when not. Even though it’s rechargeable there’s something quite reassuring about the fact that it makes best us of that battery and ultimately extends the burn time to the full. No point in blinding oncoming traffic with a lighthouse type beam either!
So overall it’s a great piece of kit and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s serious about running in the dark. Probaly overkill if you are only running on streetlight lit paths, but if like me, you want to get out into the countryside then I don;t think you’ll go far wrong with one of these on your head.
You can get one of these by following these links