Adaptive light output head lamp under $100


Flashlight Enthusiast
Feb 18, 2008
A place in need of light.
1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?
____This will be mail-order or Online (location doesn't matter).
2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :)
____Up to $100.
3) Format:
____I want a headlamp
5) Emitter/Light source:
___LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
6) Manufacturer:
____I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
____I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
7) What power source do you want to use?
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells based on less common formats (18500 or 18650 Li-Ion, RCR123, et-al).
____I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery pack.
7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
____Best if it had a built in charger but ok if not.
8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need?
____ 200 lumens is fine but as long as it's adaptive up to say 1,000
11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase "you get what you pay for" is very accurate for flashlights.
____Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):
13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection.

Very simple on and off be best, hate mode lights you need a PHD to remember how to use it 3 years later.
15) Water resistance
___ rain
17) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any/all below.
____ Needs to have adaptive light output based on range of object from you.

I've had a first gen petzl Nao for over a decade now, it's the best head lamp I've ever owned, incredibly reliable, simple and the adaptive dimming based on reflected lux from objects to adjust the output on the fly is the coolest and most useful feature I've ever seen in a head lamp.
I need a 2nd head lamp for a friend who's always doing night stuff with me, and ultimately another new Nao seems like it be the best fit, however for over $175 he can't justify it. I've always read mixed reviews on their current gen's run times.
Is there any other cheaper adaptive head lamps out there for under $100?
I did some looking but I think petzl has that term copy righted so it's hard to know what brands actually have this feature. Petzl themselves used to sell cheaper adaptive lights but those seemed to have very poor reviews even if I could find a used one.


Flashlight Enthusiast
Feb 9, 2007
Central UK
There is the Petzl Swift RL - going from the cheapest UK prices (typically ~£70), it might be buyable for ~$100, and seems to have much in common with the Nao.

Googling for headtorch automatic dimming brings up quite a few other possibilities


Newly Enlightened
Oct 14, 2003
Periodically, maybe every few months, you can find the Swift on sale for 20% off- e.g. REI if you're a member ($20 lifetime membership). Other companies like - various outdoor companies, also will frequently have sales.

I love this light although when I'm hiking at night I take a light that accepts AAA batteries, in addition to it, so I can be sure to make it through the night- I just don't trust something so small, so bright, for duration. So far it is one of my favorite headlamps- much much lighter weight than the NAO yet nearly as bright and also with this and the NAO the sensing function is so smooth you don't notice it- which is one less thing to worry about if you're hiking, running, or climbing.