Last Updated on 24/01/2023
In this Petzl Nao Plus review, we share our honest opinion of this headlamp for hiking, biking, running, and camping. We share the pros and cons of having a headlamp with an external battery pack and why we love the headband on this torch.
This Petzl Nao Plus review is not sponsored, and I bought this headlamp a few months ago. I have been testing it for various weekly activities, including early morning dog walks, nighttime jogs, cycling with no bike lights (just the Nao headlamp), and for a winter camping trip on a mountain summit.
I downloaded the app and connected wirelessly using Bluetooth to change the rear lamp settings and play around creating profiles for different sports. I hope my testing and results can help you decide if this is the right headlamp for you.
Petzl Nao Plus Review
If you are in a hurry or don’t want to read our full review of the Petzl Nao+ headlamp, then here are our pros, cons, and final verdict:
9 Pros of the Petzl Nao+ Headlamp
Here are the advantages of the Petzl Nao+ vs other headlamps:
- Stable and Balanced
- Reactive Lighting
- Easy to Control With Gloves On
- Easy to Adjust
- Rear Red Light
- Bluetooth Controls
- Multiple Settings
5 Cons of the Petzl Nao+ Headlamp
Here are the disadvantages of the Petzl Nao+ vs other headlamps:
- No rear lamp adjustment without the app
Our Final Verdict
The Petzl Nao Plus is the perfect headlamp for fast-paced sports like trail running, mountain biking, and skiing. This is because the headband is very well designed and easy to adjust, the light output is beyond what most people need, and it has a red light on the back, so you are visible to the people behind you. Reactive lighting means you can wear this around other people without blinding them and save battery life.
Petzl Nao+ Specifications
Here are the specifications of the Petzl Nao Plus headlamp:
- Bulb Type: Front: 2 White LED; Back 1 Red LED
- Light Output: High: 750; low: 120 lumens
- Beam Distance: High: 140 meters / low: 65 meters
- Brightness Levels: 4
- Average Run Time: High: 6.5 hours; Low: 15 – 25 hours
- Batteries: 2,600 mAh Rechargeable Lithium-Ion
- Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
- Weight With Batteries: 5 oz / 185 g
Here are the features of the Petzl Nao Plus headlamp:
- Custom Beam Settings Using MyPetzl Light App
- Accurate Battery Charge Amount
- Constant Light Technology
- Reactive Lighting
- Wide Beam
- Recharges in 5 Hours from 0% to 100%
- Adjustable Headband
- Compatible With Belt Clip Accessory
- 3-Year Guarantee from Petzl
Petzl’s Reactive Lighting is fantastic. I was a bit apprehensive initially, but after playing with it for a few weeks now, it’s hard to go back to manual lighting.
The first way reactive lighting works for me is when I look down at the ground, the beam gets brighter and broader, and then when I look straight ahead, it changes to a more focused beam. The second way it works is by dimming itself when you look down at your phone or watch in high light mode as it senses the screen’s reflections.
Another way it pays for itself is when other people are around using their head torches or a car comes towards you, it automatically dims the light so as not to blind anyone with 750-lumen LEDs. The full beam setting would look like a bright headlight to an oncoming vehicle, so it is much safer to dim it until the car passes.
At max brightness, the Petzl Nao+ has an output of 750 lumens which is more than bright enough for 99% of people. I have yet to try it for skiing, but on a bike, it gives you plenty of time to react to obstacles you are fast approaching. For jogging too, you can often use the second or third brightest setting, which offers plenty of illumination on the trail. On the lowest setting with just one LED, the output is 120 lumens, giving you a much longer battery life.
On the lowest output setting of 120 lumens, you can see for around 65 meters in front of you before the light gets too weak. On the highest setting, you can see over 140 meters out into the distance, which is about 460 feet, in case you didn’t know. The only reasons I can think of being able to see so far ahead of you are if you were rock climbing at night (unlikely) or if you want to be visible from a distance.
Some joggers like using full beams so that cars can spot the beam of light from a distance. If you do that with the Petzl Nao+ with reactive lighting turned on, then as soon as the car becomes visible, your high beam will dip down to medium or low the closer it gets.
The beam on the dual bulbs is very wide, as well as traveling for a massive distance. It provides a broad field of vision of both focused and diffused light to let you see forks in the trail ahead as well as see things other headlamps might miss.
The power for the Petzl Nao+ comes from a rechargeable 2,600 mAh Lithium-Ion battery that can be removed. This means you can buy some spare batteries from Petzl so that you can have days worth of power if you need to go caving or something like that. It does mean that you can’t use disposable batteries, which is a plus and a con depending on your situation.
What I like to do is keep a spare that can be recharged using a power bank in my pocket if I need constant lighting or insurance when caving. The battery sits inside the rear light at the back of the headband, but you can also get an extension accessory along with a belt clip to reduce weight on your headband.
On the lowest light setting with reactive lighting turned on, you can get around 25 hours of burn time. Perhaps more impressively, though, is the fact that you get 6.5 hours on the highest setting. This means you can pretty much use it on full blast all night long if you need to be able to see far ahead.
You can recharge the battery from empty to full in around 5 hours. But if you just need a few hours’ worth of light, you can get by with only charging for an hour or so. The point being it takes a while to charge all the way but jumps the first few bars pretty rapidly.
To recharge the battery, you need to remove the entire back lamp, disconnect it from the coiled wire, and plug it directly into a USB outlet. You do also get an extension charging lead which you may need if charging from a laptop or busy plug socket.
My Petzl Light App and Bluetooth Connection
The My Petzl Light App is super easy to download on your smartphone and allows you to not only control the light settings (front and back), but also allows you to create profiles so you can quickly switch between jogging and cycling modes or for things like city streets and mountain trails.
In reality, this isn’t such a time saver as it would take you as long to select your light mode on the torch as it would to open the app. There are only four light modes for the front, so you can select the most appropriate one using the lamp, not the app.
You need the app, though, because the rear headlamp can’t be manually controlled on the lamp. You need the app to change it. It has a memory function, so once you set your preference, it remembers when you next turn it on. But when you first use the lamp, it is set to flashing. There are two other modes – off and constant.
Weight With Batteries
Weighing 5 ounces with the battery included, the Petzl Nao plus is one of the heavier headlamps you can choose from. However, because the weight is distributed evenly over the front and back of the headband, it feels much more balanced on your head. Of all the headlamps I have tried, this one feels more secure than any other. It never feels like it is going to slide down your forehead, even if you shake, jump, or hang upside down.
Four basic light settings go as follows:
- Low Single Beam
- High Single Beam
- Low Double Beam
- High Double Beam
You alternate through them using the switch on the right-hand side. Twist once to operate. This is super easy to use with gloves or even mittens on and can be locked in position when using or to keep it switched off in your bag.
You then also get an on, off, and flashing option for the red light at the back, but this needs to be set using the Bluetooth connection and My Petzl Light App.
The headband is very comfortable; however, the elastic toggle straps are less comfortable when tightened. Still, as a whole, it sits very nicely, and when you adjust it, it pulls in from multiple angles for a secure fit. What I absolutely love about this headband is how easy it is to adjust.
I find regular headlamp headbands unnecessarily hard to adjust (that might just be me), and so being able to pull on a cord and release with a simple toggle means you can adjust the headband whilst it is on your head instead of having to take it off.
The design of the double cord on each side means that it really grips your head. This is what makes it so ideal for intensive sports like jogging on uneven trails or mountain biking downhill at night – It never slips or falls off. If you lose your light when cycling downhill, you might want to prepare to fall off or hit a tree!
The Petzl Nao Plus headlamp is only rated as IPX4, which isn’t very high. It will protect the light from splashes from any direction, which is enough for heavy rain but not for submersion. If you want a highly waterproof headlamp, then there are much better options out there. I still use mine in wet cave systems without fear of the water getting inside.
The headband is more comfortable the looser it is. So when you have to tighten it up for jogging or to do some other sport, you do feel the straps digging in slightly. This isn’t uncomfortable; it just could be better. One big benefit of the headband is that it can be adjusted while you are wearing it to get the perfect tightness.
I have heard other people actually find the stringy headband more comfortable because it doesn’t put so much pressure on your forehead (which is true). I can take it or leave it. I don’t think it is massively superior to a standard headband in terms of comfort, but the grip on your head is much better.
If you want to use this headlamp underneath a helmet, then you will need the accessory pack, as the rear light interferes with your helmet straps. You can attach the headlamp to torch-compatible helmets, but you will still need the belt clip accessory. I would say that if you want a helmet headlamp, there are better options unless you want to use a belt pack.
Ease of Use
In terms of operating the main headlamp manually using the switch on the side, the Petzl Nao+ is super easy to use. But because you need the app to control the red light on the back, I think it makes this headlamp difficult to use to its full potential (without getting your phone put on and using the app). The fact that you can adjust the headband in one move is amazing, and you can flick through all the settings in four clicks – what could be easier than that?
We hope you enjoyed this Petzl Headlamp Review, and I thank you for making all the way to the end. Let us know what you think in the comments below.