I've only ever found myself hiking in the dark once so far. It was the final day of the Inca Trail and we started early, in hope of getting to Intipuncu (The Sun Gate) to watch as the sun's first rays hit Machu Picchu. Of course, as luck would have it, my headlamp battery had gone flat the night before.
Since I was part of a group, this only made things a little tricky, but it did make me think. As a result, I've never taken off on a solo hike without spare batteries since that day. With your average everyday headlamp, spare batteries have got you covered. Not much else can go wrong (unless it has a globe, in which case you'd also bring a spare globe). When gear gets any more technical than that, I start to question whether I should really be relying on it.
Enter the Petzl Nao Headlamp. Soon to be on the market and quite possibly the most complicated torch of any kind that I've ever heard of. The promo video below sells the Nao's features very well but just in case you can't watch it, I'll summarise...
The Nao is a headlamp that senses reflected light and adjusts the shape and power of its beam accordingly. This is not only incredibly useful for hiking or trail running, but it also helps to lengthen battery life, since it's only ever using as much power as necessary.
On top of all that, it has a built-in rechargeable battery that can be charged via USB, mains-power or a car's 12V outlet. While charging via USB you can even use Petzl's software to create custom activity profiles for the Nao, to tailor its settings for specific conditions. I would never have dreamed of a headlamp that does all this (possibly because I've never had the need for one).
As impressive as it is, I can't help but be brought back to what my Dad used to say when we got our first family-car that was equipped with power-windows... "Just another thing to break down and cost me money."
The Petzl Nao Headlamp is due for release in July and will be priced at US$175.
What do you think? Would you buy a headlamp with this much technology inside? If you have anything to say, please leave a comment below.