When you're trekking through the great outdoors in the middle of the night, you need your hands free for reading maps, clearing obstacles and fighting off bears. So Petzl's new Nao headlamp makes all the brightness and focus adjustments for you.
Billed as one of the first intelligent headlamps, the Nao (pronounced "now") features a set of LED lights -- one with a wide beam and one with a spot -- that are automatically controlled by a large light sensor located above the two. While you're hiking (or fleeing) the reactive lighting system -- as they call it -- measures the ambient lighting and continually adjusts the beam for optimal visibility, and prolonged battery life.
So when you look down at a map, the headlamp's wide beam takes over as the LEDs are dimmed to as low as seven lumens so they're only illuminating what you're focused on. And then when you look back up at the trail, the spot beam takes over, with the light increasing to a maximum brightness of 355 lumens so you can see off into the distance.
While the reactive lighting system is touted as being particularly beneficial when it comes to stretching out the headlamp's battery life, the rechargeable battery it uses ranges from just four hours and 40 minutes to up to eight hours depending on how it's used. So for real world applications, you're probably looking at closer to the four-hour mark once these become available in the US from July for $US175. [Outside Online via UKClimbing]