Fernand Petzl was only 17 years old in the 1930s when he discovered his passion for caving. Along with his friend, Pierre Chevalier, Fernand Petzl became recognised as a world leading caving specialist. Thanks to their creativity and imagination, they developed the original vertical progression techniques and perfected new equipment (climbing poles, nylon ropes). They were behind many exploits and major discoveries, like the Gouffre Berger in the Vercors Massif. At the same time, they were actively involved in creating associations and institutions that oversee caving and rescue.
Fernand Petzl, followed his grandfather into engineering but his one true passion was caving. In 1933, with Pierre Chevalier, he explored 17 kilometers of the dent de Crolles network. From 1952, he headed the Gouffre Berger expedition, which in 1956 reached a depth of one thousand meters, a world record at the time. In 1933, Fernand began using his engineering skills to producing climbing tools.
Petzl’s expertise stems partly from caving - the activity that defines the company’s history. The constraints encountered underground are significant; mud, sand, humidity, and absence of light. Other constraints are activity-related. While exploring a cave, it is not unusual to use fixed ropes that were first installed many years before.
In 1968 the first "Petzl" products were sold. Rope clamps and descenders allowed ropes to permanently replace ladders. This new type of "single rope" technique revolutionised caving. Throughout the last 30 years, Petzl has gained a level of experience that is unanimously recognised in the field of verticality.
To make advances in this domain Petzl designs and manufactures tough, reliable products with maximum versatility for all vertical terrain: climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing, etc. By being at the heart of these activities, Petzl have accumulated a wide range of experience that today directly benefits the entire line of Petzl products.
For more than 30 years Petzl has led the way in as an innovator in the research, design and manufacture of quality headtorches. From humble beginnings, when Fernand Petzl fashioned the first helmet-mounted light for caving, headtorches were refined over time, until he created the 'Zoom' model, which, with its rotating bezel as a switch and focus adjuster, became a seminal outdoor product well into the 21st century. At the same time, international praise grew for all of Petzl's climbing and mountaineering equipment.
Petzl truly is the world’s leading manufacturer of safety products for the vertical domain!
Petzl now provides a comprehensive range of hands-free lighting for many outdoor activities from alpinism to fishing and night-running to canyoning. Utilising the very best LED and battery technology you can choose from the iconic TIKKA family, get technical with the programmable features of the Petzl Performance Series, illuminate objects from 170 metres with the super powerful ULTRA RUSH or keep your dog in sight by attaching a tiny e+LITE to its collar!
Petzl's Petzl NAO, Petzl R+ and Petzl RXP headlamps featuring reactive lighting technology are currently revolutionising the way we use headlamps in outdoor sport. Contact your local retailer for a demonstration of reactive lighting technology