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Which Headlamp Do Ultra-Runners Use? Find Out!

I follow the ultra-running scene some and I pay attention to what they’re wearing on their feet, body, and heads.

I frequently see headlamps I recognize. During an ultra-run which goes through the night, which most of them do because it’s cooler then, headlamps are a crucial bit of technology that must be taken seriously. No ultra-runner wants to be caught in the middle of the forest or the Great Outback with a faulty light, so runners tend to spend whatever they need to in order to get a reliable and very bright headlamp.

Which Headlamps Do Ultra Runners Wear?

Let me just blow the surprise right here. The most frequently worn ultra-running race headlamp is the Nao+ 750 lumens headlamp. We have it here and it is one of the most reliable and cool (programmable activity profiles!) headlamps ever. The fit is fantastic, and the weight is almost negligible. It uses 18650 batteries that pump out the lumens for hours. For an ultra run including overnight you might need just 1 battery, or you might have 2, just in case. Some ultra-runners prefer a lot of light (Kilian Jornet) and others like in the first image below on the left, the guy has one of those minimalist Petzl lights that barely puts out any light at all. How he ran a major race with that, I’ll never know.

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Petzl Headlamps

Kilian Jornet talking with Anna Frost before Ultra Race. Kilian wearing a petzl Nao headlamp.
Kilian Jornet – race number 1 – wearing the Petzl Nao headlamp and talking to Anna Frost.

The following athletes have been known to wear, or are still wearing Petzl brand headlamps during their ultra runs. It isn’t just the pros that wear Petzl, if you take a look at the start of any ultra-run which begins at night – you’ll see hundreds of Petzl headlamps lighting up the starting line. They are known worldwide since the 1980’s for making great climbing and lighting technology.

Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb winning the Hardrock 100 race together, both using Petzl headlamps.
Kilian Jornet wearing his Petzl Nao 2 headlamp and Jason Schlarb wearing the Petzl Reactik+ or maybe the Tikka RXP headlamp during the Hardrock 100 ultra race where they tied for first place.
Kilian Jornet running ultra-race wearing a Petzl headlamp.
A young Kilian Jornet wearing some model of Petzl headlamp, it looks like the Ultra Rush with a Myo band.
Kilian Jornet World Best Ultra Runner with Petzl Nao Headlamp for his profile portrait.
Kilian’s portrait at – wearing the new Nao from 2016 with 700 lumens. This headlamp is not available in the USA and many other countries. You can purchase the NAO+ Plus instead.

One of the best ever trail runners in the world has worn Petzl headlamps since at least 2010. Kilian still wears Petzl today – and so does his girlfriend, and female ultra-running legend, Emily Forsberg.

Emily Forsberg

Still trying to catch Emily wearing a headlamp. If you have a photo, let us know!

Anton Krupicka

Anton is not doing very much ultra running anymore, being plagued by chronic injuries. Instead, he has switched over to cycling and is having a blast. I’ll have a look to see which headlamp he is wearing for cycling now.

Anton (Tony) Krupicka wearing a Petzl Nao headlamp during an ultra race.
Anton is wearing one of the Nao series headlamps, quite possibly the Nao+ Plus.

Jason Schlarb

Pictured above with Kilian Jornet as they came across the finish of the Hardrock 100 tied for first place. Jason wearing the Petzl Reactik+ Plus headlamp I believe.

Dakota Jones

Dakota Jones, ultra-runner, wearing an older model Petzl brand headlamp for one of his ultra-races.
Dakota wearing some model of Petzl headlamp that looks like the old Myo headlamp, while running the Transvulcania ultramarathon race at night.

Adam Campbell

Adam Campbell before an ultra running race wearing the Petzl Nao 575 lumens headlamp (Nao 1)
Adam appears overjoyed at sporting his Petzl Nao – 575 lumens headlamp at an ultra run.

Sondre Amdahl

Sondre Amdahl racing with a Petzl Nao ultra runners headlamp in a race.
You’re probably not going to get in the way of this guy if you see him like this coming at you. Sondre Amdahl shows what ultra-running focus is all about. Wearing the Petzl Nao 700 lumens headlamp during the UTMB ultra trail race.

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Sophie Grant

Sophie Grant wearing a Petzl headlamp for the Lavaredo ultra-running race.
Sophie wearing a Petzl Nao 2 headlamp at the Lavaredo ultra race.

Various Ultra-runners Wearing Petzl Headlamps

Ultra runner wearing a Petzl Co. running headlamp during a night race.
Ultra runner wearing Petzl headlamp at night.

It will be interesting in 2019 to see who is wearing what. Really, the Petzl Nao+ Plus with 750 lumens on Reactive Lighting mode, is pretty perfect for running at night in ultramarathons. Sure you’ll need two batteries if running all night on the manual high setting, but the 18650 batteries are light and powerful. If you don’t mind the fluctuations of the Reactive Lighting Technology – dimming and brightening constantly, you can use 1 battery for the entire race.

As far as running goes, the Petzl Nao+ is probably the ULTIMATE trail running headlamp, and most people have found that out recently and are getting rid of their Nathan and Black Diamond, and Fenix headlamps. You should too!

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Any action sport including skiing, running fast, trail running, hiking, campingfishing, working around the house, reading books. Almost anything.

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