Talkback: Paws On The Petzl Nao...

1 to 20 of 26 messages
24/02/2012 at 14:55
I am impressed by the spec, but sorry i will stick with my £12-50 Alpkit gamma. I just couldnt justify that money on a head torch.
24/02/2012 at 15:55

Well, the Gamma is a pretty cheap and cheerful bit of it. There's plenty of folk who want something a bit more powerful, or a bit more waterproof, or with a bit more battery life.

Thing is, you can get those things for half the price of a Nao... take a look at the Princeton Tec Apex for a moderately expensive example. Are there people out there really prepared to pay double in order to get the fanciest things?

I dare say it is a strategy that has worked well for Arcteryx and Apple, so it might not be without merit

24/02/2012 at 16:36
It's not just the brightness though. It's about the reactive lighting thing, which ought to improve burn time by optimising light output and the programmability via Petzl's OS computer software. For some users that stuff's not a factor, for other's it's highly desirable and it's one of the reasons that the torch is expensive.

It depends on your usage and priorities. I like the Gamma a lot and it does a great job at the price, but if I was, say, tackling a Bob Graham round, I might think it worth investing in a top notch torch.

OutdoorsMagic Editor | jon@outdoorsmagic.com 

24/02/2012 at 16:45

If i was doing a Bob Graham round (very doubtful these days) i too would want something better than a Gamma.

I would get one of the Fenix models at half the price of the Petzl.


24/02/2012 at 17:03

The question I'd ask is it really worth a £100 more than a H7? 

 I think I'd take a lot of convincing.

24/02/2012 at 22:44
Another H7 owner here. Picked it up for £28 from Go-Outdoors. VERY hard to get my head around the Petzls price tag, no matter how bling it might be.
24/02/2012 at 22:53

"and some disco moves suggests that it's incredibly stable and the torch"

do you have a video clip of that Jon

24/02/2012 at 23:19

Companies spend a lot of time doing research into what price point their goods will be successful at. Unfortunately alot of them get it wrong and I think this is on the cusp of that. Manufacturing costs are low these days if you source from Asia in general

Is the Petzl Nao 10 times the torch that the Gamma is since the cost is ten times as much? The answer to that depends on your perspective, kit performance requirements and specialisation

Does the Petzl Napo cost 10 times more than the Gamma to make and ship? No, the costs will actually be very very similar. The cost differential is made up of advertising, front end payabck for development costs and good old profiteering

Edited: 24/02/2012 at 23:20
25/02/2012 at 08:53

Not sure how similar the component costs will be actually. The gamma is no doubt very much off the shelf stuff.

The Napo sounds like there might well be a few bits of custom electronics in it. Even with the extra silicon not costing much you've still got to set up to make the things, and probably in quite a small batch size too.

Of course thats far from the whole difference A chunk of it is presumably them reckoning they've got something genuinely better/different and some people will go for that sort of regardless of the price.

(The absolute cost differences involved here aren't trivial but not so huge that someone might not.).

25/02/2012 at 10:52

Considering that Petzl will likely put the torch in every kit shop from Aviemore to Capetown and from Jasper to Cairns I reckon the run would actually be a lot larger than you may think. Certainly a lot bigger than "out of stock" Alpkit and the Gamma.

For an interesting read on manufacturing costs visit The IET and  in the search type in "The Teardown" you will find a number of regular articles that appear most months in their journal about component and manufacturing costs of some common modern gadgets. The costs do not include advertising, etc.  as an interesting example the Kindle Fire which retails for $199 costs $187.56 to make but Amazon want you to then use it to buy into more of their stuff.  A norm seems to be about 30% of reatail price.

25/02/2012 at 11:15

yes there are better electronics on the Petzl no doubt and the components will be of a higher grade but not 10 times the cost worth, no where near

i'd be very surprised if the Petzl cost more than about £10-15 to actually make

but if you think its worth it then thats the consumer's choice

but not for me

26/02/2012 at 22:07
Funny you should say that, because I know or know of at least two people who've done the Round with a Gamma. Having run with mine quite extensively though, I have to admit that if I had the money, I'd definitely go for something more powerful (Nao or otherwise), because even though the Gamma's stronger than Petzl lamps that are double the price, you can tell it's cheap.

"I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match." -- Mia Hamm

27/02/2012 at 11:35
I just tested new Petzl Nao and it was incredible. I really recommended it. Burn time was 4,5 hours.
Vid
27/02/2012 at 11:48

So, question for you all... how do you tell the difference between profit or job motivated astroturfing, and single-post users enthusing over a controversial product?

Anyway, the fact it might be 'incredible' isn't really important here, chief. It is after all, just a torch. Are its gimmicky features really worth paying double what a high spec torch from a different manufacturer might charge? I don't really think so.

Having said that, the non-gimmicky parts of the torch (two superbright LEDs, one flood, one spot) are quite sensible, and done by irritatingly few manufacturers. Most folk seem to ignore flood lighting, or use a whole load of little LEDs instead of one decent light.

28/02/2012 at 12:05
Couple of things. No, there is no video clip of me shaking my head and body in a John Travolta stylee. It could be arranged for a price.

Second, value for money is more complex than 'this is a torch'. If you look at the Nao, there's a fair bit going on. For starters, it's rechargeable, which very few outdoors torches on the market are. It's also programmable, via Petzl's own software and a USB socket. Then there's the reactive lighting - it's undoubtedly very clever, whether it's worth it for your particular useage is another question, but for some people it will be really useful. Ergonomics? Feels extremely stable and comfortable and well made.

Value for money is a really hard one with outdoor kit. One person's value for money is another person's pointlessly expensive luxury buy. Say you're planning to sleep at 8,000 metres on Everest, a sleeping bag costing £1,000 might be the best investment you ever made. If, on the other hand, you simply want to stay warm in the Lakes, it would be absurdly overpriced. Same bag, different end user, different value for money.

Oh, and the Gamma, while it's an excellent budget torch and I use one myself, is clearly a lightly customised off the shelf unit. I've seen two near identical models from other brands. I've also managed to break one in long term use. I've never managed to break a Petzl. I think it's a bit of an apple versus oranges scenario tbh.

OutdoorsMagic Editor | jon@outdoorsmagic.com 

28/02/2012 at 17:18
Jon Doran wrote (see)
Say you're planning to sleep at 8,000 metres on Everest, a sleeping bag costing £1,000 might be the best investment you ever made. If, on the other hand, you simply want to stay warm in the Lakes, it would be absurdly overpriced. Same bag, different end user, different value for money.

A better example in this case might be £500 worth of Arcteryx goretex. Unlike the super toasty down bag which is almost useless across much of the world, you can use your fancy mountaineering hard shell whilst you're out walking the dog or nipping down to the shops.

Value for money? Debatable

Jon Doran wrote (see)
Oh, and the Gamma, while it's an excellent budget torch and I use one myself, is clearly a lightly customised off the shelf unit. I've seen two near identical models from other brands. I've also managed to break one in long term use.

I think Alpkit were the first with that model, same with their BULB thing. I'm assuming they didn't bankroll the design or the setting up of the manufacturing run, mind you, but they did have exclusivity for a while.

My first Gamma just stopped working one day after getting very confused (which did activate all sorts of interesting nonstandard modes, like the main and small white LEDs on at once!) and I've snapped the battery case retentiion clip on the second so it is held together with a tough bit of elastic. But for the price, I can get several and leave a spare in the bototm of my bag on every trip.

Jon Doran wrote (see)
If you look at the Nao, there's a fair bit going on. For starters, it's rechargeable, which very few outdoors torches on the market are. It's also programmable, via Petzl's own software and a USB socket. Then there's the reactive lighting - it's undoubtedly very clever, whether it's worth it for your particular useage is another question, but for some people it will be really useful. Ergonomics? Feels extremely stable and comfortable and well made.

There's a lot of gimmickry in that, though: programmability and reactive lighting are handy features, but a torch without them is every bit as useful and has far fewer things to go wrong. A rechargeable lithium battery pack means swapping in your spare batteries is going to be a bit tricky... though in their defensee, all the bright lights are using lithium cells these days for perfectly sensible engineering reasons.

If the Nao were half the price, it'd be a pretty interesting bit of kit and it would compete very well against all the other offerings in the same price range. Hell, I'd be interested in a 'Nao Basic Edition' if losing the magic features meant cutting that price tag down to size

28/02/2012 at 18:54

> It could be arranged for a price.

If we gave you money, would you promise never to post such a video on OM...?

As for Nao, I imagine that the programmability may allow you to determine the ramp-up delay and times, so that the thing won't change much if you simply glance up briefly, or stare at the stars...  My original thoughts were that I wasn't convinced of the battery life argument, but I guess using some sensible techniques, it could well be made to work.

28/02/2012 at 23:10

Serriadh - if you ask Alpkit, they'll replace the battery case cap (one of the clips broke on mine as well) - very helpful, as usual.

As for the Nao, its a lot of money for features many of us will never use - I certainly can't imagine most people programming it, although it has a lot of stuff in it which will become increasingly standard.  I like the easy way to change modes, the light sensor, the wide/focus beams, and the recharging function (although could be difficult if away from a charger for any length of time), but its hard personally to justify paying that much for the first generation.

I notice over on CandlePower Forum that someone has noticed that the batteries appear to be an 18650, and that you could swap the cell - its barely out and people are already thinking of modding!

Overall, if your serious about being out and about in the dark, its possibly worth it, but for most of us will probably wait a year at least, to see if everything works, and to get it for half the price.

I notice that the new Black Diamond Icon Polar also seems to have some element of auto dimming, and their Sprinter uses a lithium cell and is rechargeable via a USB.  perhaps this is year when these features start to be rolled out, with them widening out  next season.  USB, programmable, auto dim/proximity, and of course increasingly powerful LED's. The Nao might be the Iphone of headtorches - the one that really sets out what they will be like. Not sure about the head strap though...

29/02/2012 at 09:32
Mike B 46 wrote (see)

The Nao might be the Iphone of headtorches - the one that really sets out what they will be like. Not sure about the head strap though...

The iPhone was all useful functionality (well, the 3G model was, at least!), and when everyone else finally started making decent smartphones everyone was happy.  The fact that other companies are trying to make their products stand out by adding expensive gadgetry to them is not a good thing.

Mike B 46 wrote (see)
I notice over on CandlePower Forum that someone has noticed that the batteries appear to be an 18650, and that you could swap the cell - its barely out and people are already thinking of modding!

I can pick up a set of AA or AAA alkaline batteries pretty much anywhere in the world. NiMH and NiCad rechargeables don't have a reputation for catching fire if damaged, mistreated, or simply purchased from a less than totally reputable reseller. Cheap, too!

29/02/2012 at 11:13

You can just use AAA batteries in the Nao if you prefer. I think that is pretty neat actually as most rechargable torches don't allow you to do this.

As for programming, I actually know a few people who programme their Petzls so it is not as useless as I thought.

As for the technology, I think the reactive lighting is great! The amount of times I have been out at night walking and end up getting blinded by looking at my map or scrabling, looking down to place my feet just to be blinded by the reflecting light (or any other thing passing in front of your face!) are numerous and I applaud this attempt at solving the problem! I do think it is a lot of money, but if it turns out to work well (and Petzl always make quality products in my experience)  I would pay for it... however, as someone pointed out, I would probably wait a while to see what various people and tests said before buying it.  

I also have a Gamma and it is a great piece of budget kit. However, I find that the brightness goes down pretty quickly and it is a bit flimsy and easy to break. In anycase it is currently cable tied to my cycling helmet and thus not much used to me when I am on foot

My two worries are how easy it is to use the square know with big gloves/mitts on and how good the strap is, both on my head and on a helmet.

Edited: 29/02/2012 at 11:16
1 to 20 of 26 messages
Forum Jump