Outside Magazine recently hailed two Petzl products as among "The Most Influential Gear of All Time": the original Petzl headlamp, introduced in 1973, and the TIKKA, the first compact headlamp designed around durable, efficient LEDs.
The Original Petzl Headlamp
Fernand Petzl, a pattern maker / machinist and caver who broke world depth records in the 1950s, had already made several innovations in the field of caving equipment by the time the first Petzl headlamp was invented. This headlamp, which Fernand developed with his son, Paul, and others, was designed for mountaineering. It allowed climbers to move in the dark while keeping their hands free. The original Petzl headlamp used an incandescent bulb, while the battery pack, compact for its day, sat on the back of the wearer's head. The headlamp was supported by an adjustable elastic-strap design -- for the early prototypes, the design team used elastic cut from garters that Paul's wife, Catherine, purchased at the local market.
"We are very proud to appear twice on this list of the 100 most influential pieces of gear of all time," said Nazz Kurth, President of Petzl America. "The original Petzl headlamp and the TIKKA LED headlamp are both prime examples of Petzl's longstanding commitment to innovation and quality in the realms of hands-free lighting and beyond."
A History of Innovation
Since the 1960s, Petzl gear and techniques have continually revolutionized caving, alpinism, rock climbing, and other pursuits in the vertical world. The BASIC rope grab and SIMPLE descender, for example, helped make ropes a viable way to move through caves, where cumbersome cable ladders had been the norm. In 1977 Petzl introduced the first modern sport climbing harnesses, designed for comfort. The GRIGRI, released in 1991, was the first braking-assisted belay device. In 2002, the QUARK ERGO became the first leashless ice tool.
Looking to the Future
Today, Petzl continues this history of innovation with, among other things, the introduction of the NAO headlamp, the first headlamp to use REACTIVE LIGHTING technology. REACTIVE LIGHTING detects the amount of light a user needs and then instantly and automatically adjusts the headlamp's output for optimal lighting and maximum battery efficiency. It is truly the next generation in hands-free lighting. (EDIT: In July, Outside Magazine also identified the NAO as one of 2012's most innovative pieces of gear. More here)
Read the Outside Magazine articles on the Petzl Headlamp and the Petzl TIKKA:
More on the NAO headlamp: