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Running at night: lighting tips for your nocturnal adventures

From a physical, sensory, and mental point of view, running at night is an entirely different world. You view this world through the beam of your headlamp. To stay safe, run well, limit eye fatigue, and manage your effort, choosing the right headlamp is important. Here are our tips on how to best light the way when running at night.

July 3 2017

Night trail running

Quick access:


© Marc Daviet


Tip #1: choosing the type of headlamp

There are two types of headlamps:

  • Headlamps with the battery pack located on the back of the head. In general, this type of headlamp is brighter with longer burn times since the batteries are much bigger.
  • "All-in-one" headlamps with the weight in the front, which are extremely versatile.


© Rémi Fabregue


Tip #2: finding the right balance between brightness and battery life

Having a bright headlamp reduces the strain on your eyes to see the terrain ahead, allowing you to relax and run faster, and translating to to less cumulated fatigue. However, be careful, brighter headlamps also have a shorter battery life. Brightness and battery life are intimately linked, whatever the lighting technology. 


Brightness vs. burn time



Today, thanks to REACTIVE LIGHTING technology, a headlamp's brightness has the ability to automatically and instantaneously adapt to the available (or ambient) light in order to maximize battery life. This smart lighting technology is available in our PERFORMANCE headlamps

Varying brightness based on ambient light

Learn more about REACTIVE LIGHTING technology >


The MyPetzl Light application

To go even further in managing headlamp brightness and battery life, the MyPetzl Light mobile phone application allows you to preprogram lighting power profiles, and to view and manage battery life during a race. You can therefore customize your lighting settings.

Learn more about MyPetzl Light >


© Marc Daviet


Tip #3: choosing the right energy source: regular or rechargeable batteries??

For occasional headlamp use, regular batteries work best:

  • they do not lose their charge: regular batteries work even after not being used for a long period of time,
  • you can store them for a long period of time.


For regular or frequent use, choose a headlamp with a rechargeable battery:    

  • easy to recharge via USB port,
  • cost-savings solution over time,
  • lithium-ion battery: loses very little of its charge, and works well in cold temperatures.



To allow you to choose the energy source based on use and need, Petzl developed the Hybrid Concept. Hybrid headlamps work with both rechargeable and regular batteries. 

Learn more about the Hybrid Concept >


© Dave Burleson


Tip #4: good habits to develop

Here are a few tricks of the trade to develop for a safe and enjoyable race: 

  • On climbs, set your headlamp on power-saving mode to conserve battery life,
  • On fast descents, increase brightness or even adjust your headlamp to the highest brightness setting to better view the terrain ahead and identify key intersections along the trail,
  • Bring spare batteries,
  • Remember to bring an emergency or backup headlamp. This is an important piece of safety equipment in case your main headlamp stops working. 


© Marc Daviet


So, what headlamp is made for you?

Do you run on a regular basis?

Our PERFORMANCE headlamps are ideal! These powerful and bright rechargeable headlamps are equipped with REACTIVE LIGHTING technology.

Are you an occasional runner?

Choose from our ACTIVE headlamps range. These compact headlamps guarantee comfortable lighting. 

And for an emergency or backup headlamp?

Our extremely lightweight CLASSIC headlamps will work perfectly for your needs. You will quickly forget that you have one in your pack. 


© Marc Daviet


Would you like learn even more? 

Find all of our tech tips, gear, and news organized by activity on the Activities and Techniques page on 


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