PETZL NAO 2 – 575 Lumens – Headlamp Review

[Page updated: March 30, 2017]

Petzl Nao 2 Headlamp Review – 1 Year of Use

I have 6 headlamps I use for looking for snakes (herping) in Thailand’s rainforest on an almost nightly basis. This is my “Go-To” light because I just haven’t found anything better. There surely is something better, but it’s damn decent, and I don’t have too many complaints. I do have some that I’ll cover later.

If you just want to watch the video – which has a TON of information – including in the description it has some of the same positives / negatives of this headlamp listed below.

I’ll jump right into the…

POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES of the PETZL NAO 2 575 lumens HEADLAMP

Positives

1. AWESOME QUALITY OF LIGHT – Very nice quality of white light. Using this as fill for my camera’s flash, it does an exceptional job because no messing with the color balance is needed. The light is pure white without any orange or blue tint. As a result, the colors you see while using this PETZL NAO 2 headlamp are true to life.

2. BEAM QUALITY – Exceptional. I use this headlamp for spotting wildlife like snakes, spiders, geckos, lizards, centipedes, scorpions, slow loris, etc. There is a flood light and a spot beam which, when combined, create the best lighting conditions I’ve ever seen for lighting up what is in front of me. The spot in the middle is not so sharply defined and so much brighter than the flood that it destroys the continuity of the light… it’s rather even with a brighter area in the center – ideal lighting for me.

If you’re wondering about the one major difference between the Petzl NAO 2 and the Petzl Tikka RXP this is it – beam quality.

The beam on the Petzl Tikka is more like a vertical spot beam that is OK for what I do, but not ideal. The NAO beam is more spread out horizontally than the Tikka – and gives a wider, brighter area. The flood beams are somewhat the same – I don’t notice them that much, so they are basically fine for peripheral lighting around the center spot beams.

3. BRIGHT ENOUGH – the beams when at full power and manual setting – which is high on spot and flood beams, is bright enough to be perfect for me for hunting wildlife in the rainforest. It is probably bright enough for just about anything I could think of wanting to do outdoors. The beams at this setting are around 430 lumens combined. The listed high of 575 lumens can only be obtained when the light is on Reactive Lighting, and you’re looking about 100 meters out in front of you. You cannot get 575 lumens EVER on manual setting when you want it.

Negatives

1. BATTERY LIFE AT MAX IS HORRIBLE – There are a couple different high or max settings for the brightness of the light. One is a gimmick, and one is what most people will use. The PETZL NAO 2 has “Reactive Lighting” which is supposed to guess just how much light you need, and give you just enough – saving battery for close in lighting needs, and using high power only for very far away searching. When you let the headlamp use Reactive Lighting – you can supposedly get around 6 hours and 30 mins of light which ranges from 7 lumens to 575 lumens.

When you use the Petzl Nao 2 on Max Constant power lighting mode – you get 1.5 hours. That’s it. That’s what I get. This would be OK if batteries were easily replaced, but because of cost – $60 USD per battery!! – it sucks.

Petzl uses proprietary battery setups so you must use their batteries which are nothing more than simple 18650 3700 mah batteries which have a special electronic chip to thwart all efforts to use any replacement with their plastic wrap around part.

So, it’s $60 for a replacement battery – which is INSANE and RIDICULOUS.

LUCKILY there just came out a solution – a German company on EBay is selling replacement batteries that have the chip in them. The batteries are only about $12-18 each – and I ordered 2 of them on Ebay last week. Cannot wait to get them. If they work, I’ll do a video here to let you know – SUBSCRIBE TO GET IT!

Update January 11, 2017 – I’ve used the Petzl Nao headlamp for over a year and it has been astoundingly good. I now wish I would have only bought these lights instead of the Fenix 25 and Petzl Tikka (died after 8 months use).

So, there are very few negatives I can say about this light, but the 90 minutes of battery life at top end is just about a deal breaker. I’m in the market for a headlamp which has the following…

FEATURES OF THE IDEAL HEADLAMP

  1. Four (4) hours of battery life at max brightness settings. I would like 100 hours, but you know, I understand that we’re not there yet technologically unless I want to carry six 20,000 Mah battery packs in my backpack.
  2. 700 lumens on tap – anytime. Customizable brightness profiles i can change to suit the activity I’m doing. For over $200 USD – this should be a feature of these PETZL lights.
  3. 18650 batteries that WORK, and that are easy to find online and impossible for rip-off artists to copy and sell as the real deal. I have a bunch of rip-off batteries I bought here in Thailand that worked for a couple weeks, and then died. The 18650 batteries put out huge amounts of juice – and they’re a necessity. Now, make a headlamp that takes 2-3 of them, and puts them on your waist, with a wire running up to your head and I’m all over that.
  4. Decent Price. $250 for a frickin’ light on my head, is not reasonable. I want it for under or around $100.

I Strongly Recommend One of the High-end Petzl Nao Headlamps!


Over at Thailand Snakes they have an extended wildlife internship (OK, it’s my site), and they are using this PETZL headlamp exclusively for all night time wildlife field trips. They’re reliable, bright, and there’s literally nothing else better on the market yet. If you’re looking for a light for running, camping, cave exploring, or wildlife exploration – this light is a very good, and probably the BEST choice.