Paul Butzi |||

Running Headlamps

Back inn 2018, in preparation for running Badwater Cape Fear 50 miler, I got a Petzl Reaktik+ headlamp. It’s a good headlamp. But it’s showing it’s age - it has a couple of cracks in the case. And on top of that, the weight on my forehead causes chafing and, on long night runs, leaves me with a bruise.

I thought this year, rather than get caught behind the eight ball again by leaving finding something new until the last minute, I’d try to get ahead of the game and try things now.

So I’ve picked up two new headlamps:

Petzl Iko Core

Petzl Iko Core

I love this little guy. It’s lightweight. The weight distribution is wonderful - I love having the battery at the back. The lowest light setting is dim (6 lumens), the normal’ setting (100 lumens) is still a bit too dim, but the brightest setting is fine for my needs (500 lumens) is plenty light for my needs.

It’s awesome for walking the dogs and probably for short night runs but it comes up short for running ultras that involve more than a couple of hours of running in the dark.

One additional benefit of the Iko Core is that it will run on 3 AAA batteries.

Those shortcomings are:

  • battery life of 9 hours on normal (but normal is just a bit dim)
  • battery life of 2.5 hours on bright, which would mean 3 battery changes on an overnight run
  • worst of all, battery changes are hopelessly fiddly. Trying to change batteries in the dark, when sleepy and clumsy, and when so fatigued that fine motor control is but a distant memory.

Petzel Nao RL

Petzl Nao RL

This monster is amazing. With the battery at the rear it’s nearly as comfortable as the Iko Core, and far more comfortable than my old Reactik+. It’s difficult to explain just how much getting the weight of the battery off of your forehead and making the light emitting pod up front as light as possible improves the comfort of wearing the thing.

The lowest light setting is about the same as the highest setting on the Iko Core. The medium light setting is bright, more than bright enough for me. The brightest setting on the order of a car headlamp on high beam - seriously bright.

In addition the battery has a feature I like a lot - it has red LEDs in it that make a taillight. The taillight can be off, on, or blinking. At night I vastly prefer to run with a taillight for a bunch of reasons, not least of which is that taillights are encouraging and comforting the the runner(s) behind you if you happen to be a back of pack runner like I am. So this taillight feature means there’s one less thing for me to carry at night, one less device to turn on/off at the right time, one less device to worry about charging before a run or about the battery dying during a run.


For runs shorter than around 2 hours, on unchallenging terrain, I’d opt for the Iko Core.

For runs longer than 2 hours, or which are on terrain which is challenging, or on nights that are particularly dark (no moonlight or assist from light pollution or surrounding lights), the Nao RL is definitely my pick.

Up next Batteries and Preparedness Long ago I settled on non-rechargeable AA cells as the battery standard for various packs/kits for both preparedness purposes and also recreational Cold Showers
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