Showing posts with label Headlamp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Headlamp. Show all posts

Gear Closet: Ledlenser NEO Headlamp for Runners

Fall is here and the long days of summer are completely behind us. Now, when I head out for my evening run I am typically greeted only by darkness. That means I need to use extra caution when running on busy roads and take steps to make myself more visible. Reflective clothing helps in that area, but to truly be seen – and see the path I'm running on – I often wear a headlamp as well. But, living in an area where the temperatures are still a bit on the warm side, a full-sized headlamp can be quite warm and burdensome on longer runs. Thankfully there are lightweight options available that have been designed specifically with runners in mind, such as the NEO from Ledlenser, which may have just become my favorite light for after-dark workout.

Weighing in at just 1.9 ounces (54 grams), the NEO is designed to be lightweight and comfortable to wear. When I took it out of the box, I was immediately struck by how thin the headband was, which helps to eliminate some of the heat generated by wearing it during an intense run. That same headband is still strong enough to hold it firmly in place however, as once I put it on the headlamp didn't move at all while I was exercising. That hasn't always been the case with similar lights that I've used in the past, and it can be frustrating to constantly have to adjust the fit while on the move. Thankfully, that isn't the case at all here however.

Despite its diminutive size, the NEO also manages to crank out plenty of light. On its brightest setting it throws off up to 90 lumens, which is fairly impressive considering how small the headlamp is over all. At that setting, the replaceable AAA batteries can last up to 10 hours, which isn't a bad burn-time either. I usually don't need that level of brightness on anything other than trails, so while running on city streets I set the lamp down to its lowest setting, which is a still-useful 20 lumens of light, which can be produces for up to 40 hours. The headlamp also has a flash mode, which I seldom use, and a red light on the battery pack that makes the wearer more visible with traffic approaching from behind as well.


In addition to its various illuminating modes, the NEO also protects its light at an ultra-wide 150º angle. I've seen some other reviews of the product online that criticized this aspect of the headlamp as they felt that it diffused the light too much, with the reviewer instead preferring to have a more narrower, and thus brighter, beam. Personally though, I like being able to see in a broader area when I'm running so that I can notice things approaching from the side. For instance, on a recent evening run on a very dark trail I was able to see a deer running alongside me about 10 meters ahead. If the angle of the light were a bit less, I probably wouldn't have noticed the animal at all, nor been able to adjust my running path to avoid wandering too close.

As you can probably tell, I'm pretty impressed with this headlamp. In fact, about the only thing I would have liked to have seen different would be replacing the standard AAA battery with a rechargeable power cell instead. Most of the other headlamps that I use today are rechargeable, and it is hard to beat that level of convenience. This is especially true if you run nearly every day, which means you'll go through the batteries on the NEO fairly often. Of course, I also understand that adding a rechargeable battery may have caused this headlamp to be bigger, which is a compromise I'm not sure I'd want to make. As it stands, the NEO is the perfect size for frequent runners to take with them on their evening outings.

When I'm selecting a headlamp to wear when I'm running I'm fairly particular about the features that I'm looking for, but the NEO checks all of the boxes. It is small, lightweight, and comfortable to wear. It is also plenty bright, has good battery life, and includes a red rear light for additional safety. Ledlenser has also imbued the light with a measure of water resistance, making it safe to use while running in the rain too. In short, it is pretty much everything that a runner could want out of a headlamp. And, priced at just $25, it is very affordable too. In fact, considering everything that it brings to the table, I find the NEO to be quite a steal at that price.

With the holidays coming around the corner, this would make a great stocking stuffer for the runner in your life. Find out more at Ledlenserusa.com.


Gear Closet: Petzl Reactik+ Headlamp

It seems all of our electronic gadgets are getting smarter these days. First came the smartphone of course, then tablet computers, and smartwatches too. Now, thanks to the the Reactik+ from Petzl, we can add "smart" headlamps to the list too.

What makes the Reactik+ so smart you ask? Well for starters, it comes with Bluetooth wireless technology baked in that allows it to connect to your smartphone and control its functionality using a special MyPetzl mobile app. That app gives users the ability to control the brightness of their lamp yourself, or tell it what type of activity you'll be doing, and for how long, which gives the device the ability to set its own brightness levels based on how much power is lift it is rechargeable battery. The app has preset profiles for sports like trail running, mountaineering, hiking, or simply just hanging out around the campsite. You can also add your own custom profiles as well, allowing you to dial in exactly the performance you need.

At its brightest setting, the Reactik+ can crank out as much as 300 lumens of light, which is plenty for just about anything you want to do outside. On that level, it the headlamp can run for about 2.5 hours, but you can adjust the burn time for 5 or 10 hours as well, and the lamp will automatically regulate itself to achieve that length of time. This ability to extend the life of the Reactik+'s battery comes in handy if you find yourself out on the trail for longer than you expected, or you don't have a handy way to recharge the device while in the field.


The Reactik+ has several different lighting modes to help you navigate through the darkness. For instance, it features a proximity beam that diffuse the light across a wider area, as well as a focused beam that acts as a bright spotlight for when you just need to see as far ahead as possible. Of course, it also comes with a red light mode, which is handy around he campsite when you don't want to burn out the retinas of your friends who are accompany you on your outdoor adventure.

Designed to be tough and weather resistant, I recently put this headlamp to the test on a backpacking trip to Bryce Canyon where the rain was coming down sideways. Despite those poor conditions however, the Reactik+ performed admirably, surviving some of the worst weather that part of the country has seen in years, and continuing to work well. After that experience, I feel confident that this light will work great in just about any weather, with perhaps the exception of extreme cold. Frigid temps can put a strain on the life of the built in rechargeable battery, although this is something that plagues most other headlamps too.

Other features of this headlamp that I really like include a washable headband, which is a must for those of us who live in warm climates and will run with this light on our heads. I also appreciate the ability to lock-out the power source, preventing the lamps from accidentally turning on while in our packs and running down the battery. Petzl has even given the headlamp the ability to use a standard battery pack that employs AA batteries for power instead. This battery pack is sold separately, but it is nice to have the option none the less.

In terms of performance, I love all of the technology that this headlamp brings to the table. It's "smart" features work great, and I appreciate its ability to dial in just the right level of lighting to get me through a long run or a night hike back to camp. The MyPetzl app is simple to use, connects to the Reactik+ quickly and easily, and is versatile enough to allow you to fine tune things to your own liking. My only complaint is that I wish it had Apple Watch support that would allow me to adjust the light's settings on the fly without having to retrieve my iPhone from my pack or wrist strap.

At $109.95, the Petzl Reactik+ is on the expensive side in terms of headlamps. But, if you're an active outdoor athlete who runs, bikes, climbs, or hikes a lot, you may very well appreciate all of the tech features that it brings to the table. As a gadget-nerd myself, I know I certainly do. However, if you're just looking for a very good headlamp that you can take with you on your adventures, the standard Reactik may be a better choice. It performs much the same way as the "+" model, but without the "smart" features. It also sells for $84.95, making it a bit less expensive. Either way, you'll get an excellent headlamp that is comfortable to wear, versatile to use in the field, and very powerful at lighting your way.

Purchase your Reactik+ at REI.com or CampSaver.com.


REACTIK + Bluetooth headlamp with Reactive Lighting Technology from Petzl-sport on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Gear Aid Flux LED Light and Power Station

When I traveled to the 2016 Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City this past summer I had the opportunity to meet with a number of companies who are making great gear for use in our outdoor pursuits. As usual, there were a number of trends that shone through, including gear getting lighter, more eco-friendly, and improving performance in inclement weather. But, there was also another trend that was easy to notice with numerous gear manufacturers putting an emphasis on better lighting solutions for use around our campsites. In the weeks ahead, you're going to see some of these products begin to make their way onto the market, and several of them are truly going to revolutionize the way we illuminate the campgrounds. The first of these to cross my desk is an incredibly bright and powerful LED lantern from a company called Gear Aid, whose new Flux light will prove very handy in a wide variety of situations.

The first thing you'll notice about the Flux is that it is extremely rugged and durable. Gear Aid spared no expense in creating a light that can survive in just about any environment, including a campsite, warehouse, or garage. Housed in a tough plastic suit of armor, my test unit has survived several serious drops onto a variety of hard surfaces, and has come away without nary a scratch. On top of that, the Flux is also water resistant, which means you should have a bright source of light no matter the weather conditions.

Did I mention that this lantern was bright? With 82 individual LEDs onboard, it can crank out as much as 640 lumens of light on its highest setting. At that level of brightness, the Flux's built-in rechargeable battery – which is rated at a whopping 20,800 mAh – can power the light for up to 13 hours. Turn it down to a much more modest 20 lumens – the Flux's lowest setting – and the burn time increases to an impressive 192 hours. That should be enough to get you through just about any camp outing. And since it has 10 brightness settings, and three color temperatures, you'll always be able to find just the right lighting for to meet your needs.


That massive rechargeable lithium-ion battery can be put to other uses too however. The Flux comes equipped with 1.5-amp USB port that can be used to power-up your electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, cameras, headlamps, and other gadgets. In fact, the Flux can recharge your iPhone 10 times over, and still have some juice left to power the light.

To add yet another level of versatility to this lantern, Gear Aid has created a series of mounts that allow you use the Flux in a number of different settings. For instance, I tested a magnetic mount that comes in hand when you need to attach the lantern to a car for instance, while a claw mount clips to a pole or similarly shaped attachment. The Flux also comes with a handy built-in kickstand, and a special adapter that is sold separately allows it to work with any GoPro mounts as well.

As if that wasn't enough, the Flux has a couple of other nice tricks up its sleeve. For instance, it can be set to SOS mode to signal for help should you find yourself in trouble in the backcountry, and it ships with a hanging hook and diffuser bag for use inside a tent too. In short, it seems Gear Aid has considered just about everything when designing this lantern.

The Flux doesn't come without a few compromises however, the biggest of which is its size. It is a burly beast when compared to some other camp lights on the market, and those amongst us who count every ounce will likely want to pass on this option. It does take up a considerable amount of room in your pack, and adds some weight too. That will make some hesitate when carrying it into the backcountry, although if you don't mind a slightly heavier load, it does deliver a lot of functionality.

Personally, I like the Flux a lot because it can be used in so many different ways. Yes, it is great to have at a campsite, as it can obviously light up a large space with ease. It is also nice to have a portable power generator to keep electronic devices working too. But, this light is also really handy for working in the garage or basement too, especially if light is at a premium.

The Flux is just one lighting option in a new series of lanterns from Gear Aid. It's siblings, the ARC and Spark offer similar performance in smaller and lighter packages, with the trade-off being lower brightness and less burn time due to smaller batteries. If you like what you see in the Flux, but would like something smaller and lighter, one of those options just might fit the bill instead.

Priced at $149.95, the Flux is very competitively priced, particularly when you consider everything that it brings to the table. It is bright, extremely durable, water resistant, and has great battery life. It can also recharge your other electronic devices and thanks to a clever mounting system, it can be used in a wide variety of ways. If you're in need of a good lamp around the campsite or elsewhere, this is a worthy option to consider. In terms of pure, raw performance, it is tough to beat the Flux right now.

Outside Gives Us the Best New Gear for Under $50

The 2016 Summer Outdoor Retailer show may be long over at this point, but there are still things to be said about what we saw there. Case in point, Outside magazine has posted a story that reveals their picks for the best pieces of gear for under $50, a price point that isn't necessarily all that common when it comes to the gear we use on our adventures.

So what made Outside's list? As you can imagine, they selected some unique items that are affordable, but also highly functional. For instance, Stanley showed off a new product designed to help keep your coffee warmer for longer, while Hydroflask revealed a Growler that can keep your craft brew drinks colder. Meanwhile, JetBoil's new MightyMo stove is certain to be a big hit in part because it weighs just 95 grams (3.35 ounces), and the latest knife from Gerber proves you don't have to break the bank to find a decent everyday carry for your pocket. Finally, the latest headlamp from Black Diamond also received a nod from the magazine thanks to it being very light (56 grams/1.97 ounces) and bright (150 lumens).

Since each of these items is $50 or less, there is sure to be a lot of interest in them. You'll probably have to be a bit patient however, as most of the gear shown at Outdoor Retailer won't be available until next spring. Still, it'll be worth the wait, and since these products are so inexpensive, you won't have to take out a second mortgage just to pay for them.

In the weeks ahead I'll be testing a lot of gear that I saw at OR and posting reviews. I've already started to receive some of those products, and there is plenty of good things to come for outdoor adventurers and travelers. I think you're going to be very happy with the way the industry is evolving, both in terms of delivering high quality gear that performs amazing well, and how eco-friendly the approach to creating our gear is becoming. It is an exciting time to say the least.

Gear Closet: Enevu CUBE Utility and Mood Lights

One of the most interesting and fun trends in outdoor gear over the past year or so is the increasing number of lighting options that are coming our way from a variety of companies. Sure, we've all worn headlamps forever, but now a number of gear manufacturers are working on innovative and fun ways to light up our campsite. One such product is the new CUBE utility light from Enevu, which brings some unique features that will come in handy both outdoors and around the house.

As the name implies, the CUBE is a perfectly square light measuring 2" (5 cm) on a side). It also weighs just 3.42 oz. (97 grams), which makes it highly packable and easy to carry with you just about anywhere. And since it has an IPX4 splashproof rating, it can survive a bit of rain, although I wouldn't want to submerge it completely in water.

On its highest setting, the CUBE is capable of putting out 100 lumens of light, which is plenty bright for just about any dark setting. In fact, I actually found that I preferred using the light on its medium or even low settings, as it not only prolonged its battery life – which is over 100 hours on its most efficient level – but also provides a softer light for enjoying your time around the campsite.

In addition to its three different brightness settings, the CUBE also has the ability to change colors. When put into multicolor mode it will slowly cycle through the entire range of the rainbow, and then some. This makes for great mood lighting, particularly when you're enjoying some time outdoors with friends. And if you come across a color that you prefer, a simple click of the button locks the CUBE into that color only for as long as you'd like.


As a safety measure, the CUBE also has a beacon mode, which can be activated in an emergency. When placed in that setting, the light will flash every three seconds for up to 48 hours, indicating that someone is in need of assistance. Hopefully that is one mode that you'll never need to use, but it is nice to have it just in case.

The CUBE ships with 3 AAA batteries to power it, and even comes with a hook to hang it in your tent or from a tree branch. It has been drop tested from 1 meter too, which means that it has been built to take a beating and continue to function.

My wife and I have been using the CUBE light for sometime now, both indoors and out. We not only really enjoy it for use around a campsite, but also in our backyard or just in the living room when we want some mood lighting while enjoying a glass of wine. The color changing mode has been especially popular around my house.

This little light is handy and versatile. It's great for travel, camping, backpacking, or as a useful source of illumination around the home too. And with a price tag of just $29.90, it is highly affordable too.

If you're looking for a fun, inexpensive, and easy to use lighting system for your next camp outing, the CUBE is a great option. And like me, you'll probably find you'll have plenty of uses for it elsewhere too.

Gear Closet: UCO A-120 Comfort-Fit Headlamp

It seems like these days everyone and their brother is making a headlamp. As a result, there are more options to chose from than ever before, and the list of included features is growing longer than I'd ever thought possible. That's why it is so refreshing to come across a headlamp that is focuses on getting the simple things right. For me, a good headlamp should be easy to operate, provide plenty of light, and be comfortable to wear – three qualities I found in the A-120 Comfort-Fit Headlamp from UCO.

Tipping the scales at just 3.7 ounces with its three AAA batteries installed, the A-120 is one of the lightest headlamps on the market. It features a neoprene strap that is easy to adjust to the perfect fit, and offers enough flexibility that it can rest directly against the skin, or worn over a stocking cap or helmet as well. An adjustable mount on the front of the lamp allows the wearer to tilt the light at an angle that is most suitable, while the lightweight battery pack has adjustable positioning to maximize comfort as well.

Simplicity is at the core of the A-120, and UCO made it extremely easy to operate. A single dial is used to not only turn the white LED light on, but adjust its brightness as well. Turn that same dial the opposite direction and it will activate the built-in red light mode as well. The use of the dial also makes it almost impossible for the light to be turned on accidentally while inside your pack too, unintentionally draining the batteries without you even realizing that it is on.

On its highest setting, the headlamp is capable of putting out as much as 120 Lumens of light. That's actually very bright in a dark setting, so chances are you'll actually dial it back to something a bit less intense. UCO says the burn time on a single set of AAA batteries is up 200 hours as well, making this one very efficient light to carry with you while camping, backpacking, or traveling.

I found that the A-120 definitely lives up to the "comfort" label that is found right in its name. Thanks to its lightweight design and comfortable headband, this is the kind of headlamp you can put on, and forget that you're even wearing it. It puts no strain at all on the forehead either, which means you won't get a headache from using it for extended periods of time.

The A-120 has a unique, almost retro look about it that I like a lot as well. It almost looks like a piece of vintage gear that you might have seen around the campsite back in the 1950's or 60's. Don't be fooled by the look however, as there are a lot of modern technologies and materials in this product which allow it to perform at a high level. It is even IPX4 water resistant too, bring a nice level of durability to the headlamp as well.

Priced at $39.95, the UCO A-120 Comfort-fit Headlamp is an affordable option for anyone looking for a lightweight lighting solution that is bright, easy to use, and well built. This is a real winner in all of those categories, making it very easy to recommend.

Gear Closet: LuminAid PackLite 16 Inflatable Light

If you're a lover of outdoor gear like me, you have to realize that we're living in a great time in terms of the products that are available to us. Not only are many of the major gear manufacturers making some of the best boots, packs, tents, and sleeping bags ever, there are a number of smaller companies that are producing really interesting and innovative stuff as well. Take for example the LuminAid Packlite 16, an inflatable light that is designed to go with you anywhere, and provide plenty of light along the way.

In terms of what we typically look for in an outdoor gear product, the Packlite has it all. As its name implies, it is incredibly lightweight, tipping the scales at just 2.9 ounces. It also packs down to a small footprint, taking up very little room in your backpack, and it is powered by an integrated solar panel that allows it to produce up to 30 hours of light on a single charge.

Made from a surprisingly durable TPU material, the Packlite is essentially an inflatable bag that contains LED lights, a solar panel, and not much more. While not inflated it measures 8.5" x 12" in dimension, but can be easily folded up and stuffed in a pocket on your pack or even your pants. When fully inflated, it creates a lantern that can be easily carried around or hung from a guy line to provide illumination in your tent or around your campsite.


The light has four settings: low, high, extra bright, and flashing. On its highest brightness level it is capable of putting off 65 lumens, with a burn time of around 6 hours. On high it can achieve 10 hours or light, and on low it will reach the aforementioned 30 hours of burn time. Recharging takes just 7 hours of exposure to the sun using the built-in solar panel. A small light on the outside of the Packlite serves as a battery indicator, letting you know when it is time to make sure you power it up once again.

On top of that, the Packlite 16 is waterproof to help protect it from the elements, and it can even float on water. This helps to make it a versatile product that you can carry with you on your outdoor adventures without fear of it being easily destroyed.

I'm impressed with the design and function of this light. It packs a lot of innovation into a small product, which is very affordable ($24.95), easy to carry, and very useful in the field. LuminAid says that the Packlite is capable of 10,000+ hours of light over the life of the product, and it can sit on your shelf for two years without losing its charge. That means that it should be ready to go when you are, and it makes it a good option for a lantern to keep around in case of emergency.

If you're looking for something that looks a bit more like a traditional lantern, LuminAid has you covered there too. Their Packlite 12 and Packlite Spectra models have much of the same functionality as the Packlite 16, but resemble a lantern, complete with square design and a handle to carry them around.

These make great products for camping trips, travel, or just for use in the backyard. It is tough to beat the versatility and price, and I have been pleasantly surprised with the overall design and performance. They'll even make great stocking stuffers for the outdoor enthusiasts in your life during the holiday season ahead. Pick one up for yourself while you're at it, as I think you'll find it to be as handy to have around as I do.



Gear Closet: UCO Tetra Lantern

Lighting options for outdoor adventure and travel continue to get more sophisticated and useful. Recently, I was sent to great new lanterns for use while camping, and I briefly flirted with the idea of reviewing them together in one blog post, but after using both of them for a bit, I've come to realize that both products are unique, useful, and worthy of their own individual reviews. The first of those products is the Tetra lantern from UCO, a lighting option that has some great tricks up its sleeve.

Out of the box, the first thing that impressed me about the Tetra is just how incredibly lightweight it is. The lantern tips the scales at just 4.3 ounces (124 grams), and yet it still manages to put out a considerable amount of light. On its highest setting, the Tetra can put off an impressive 170 lumens, which is a surprising amount of light for use in a tent or around a campsite. Holding the power button acts as a dimmer switching, bringing the brightness down in smooth increments. Holding it for eight seconds will switch into a flashing strobe mode used for emergency purposes.

Powered by a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, the Tetra is capable of up to five hours of light on its highest setting, and as much as 120 hours on its lowest output level, which is 6 lumens. That's a solid amount of burn time, particularly since you're likely to actually get closer to 80-100 hours depending on the level of brightness that is most suitable for you. The built-in battery can be recharged via USB, which means the Tetra can be recharged via a laptop, or a portable solar panel. The light also has an extra USB port, that allows you to attach other devices, and charge them up as well. This is a feature that comes in handy when traveling in particular, as you never know when you may need to top off the charge on your smartphone, a camera, or some other small device.


The Tetra's list of features doesn't end there however, as it has few other tricks up tis sleeve. This lantern can also convert to a flashlight simply by pushing its outer opaque covering up into an extended position. When that cover is down, it diffuses the light like a lantern, but when slid into the up position, it focuses it into a beam. This is turns what could have been a simple, but handy, lantern into a far more versatile piece of gear.

UCO has put a lot of thought into the design of the Tetra, with some features that travelers and outdoor enthusiasts are sure to appreciate. For instance, a D-ring is incorporated across the top, making it easy to hang the light in a tent. The dimming switch and the base also give off a slight glow, making it easy to locate and operate in the dark, while the power button serves as an indicator of how low the current charge is, alerting you when it needs to be connected to a USB port for charging.

I love how small and lightweight the Tetra is. It can be easily tossed into your backpack, and used in a tent, mountain hut, hotel room, or just about anywhere else you might need it. It has long battery life for use on an extended trip, and it is easy to recharge when necessary. On top of that, it provides plenty of light, and is versatile enough to be used both as a lantern and a flashlight. Throw in the ability to recharge other devices, and you have a real winner. This is exactly the kind of gear I like to have with me when I'm traveling, and I think you will too.

The Tetra retails for $49.99, and considering how much functionally it packs into such a small package, I feel that's a great price. This is one of those pieces of gear that you don't realize you need until you start using it, and I'm glad to have it my gear closet for future adventures.

Gear Closet: Olympia EX550 Headlamp

One of the most difficult categories to break into in the outdoor gear space has to be the headlamp segment. There are literally hundreds of different lamps to choose from, they all do very similar things, and they can range in price from just a few bucks, all the way up to hundreds of dollars. For any company looking to break through in that environment, they need to deliver a product that dependable, durable, and affordable. That's exactly what Olympia has done with their EX550 model, a headlamp that delivers fantastic performance in a tough, lightweight package.

The list of features for the EX550 is pretty much exactly what you'd want out of any good headlamp. It feature five settings on the light (low, medium, high, max and strobe), and on its brightest setting it is capable of putting out a stunning 550 lumens of light. At its lowest setting, that number drops to a still-ample 25 lumens, with a long burn time of over 60 hours. The headlamp is certified IPX-7 waterproof, which means it is can survive being submerged in up to 1 meter of water, and still continue working just fine. It has a rugged aluminum case that not only gives it a substantial feel in your hands, but also allows it to be used in the most demanding of environments without fear of it falling apart. The EX550's pivoting head rotates 180º up or down, allowing you to shine the light where you need it most, and when its switched off, a lock-out switch ensures that you don't accidentally burn out your batteries while the headlamp is in your backpack. All of this comes in a lightweight 5.4 ounce (153 grams) package that isn't bulk in any way.

I found the EX550 to be extremely comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time. Olympia has generously included a soft, wide, and very comfortable head strap that not only holds the light firmly in place, but does so in a way that makes it easy to forget you're even wearing it. Some headlamps skimp on the headband, and as a result, you really don't enjoy wearing them for very long. That is not the case here though, as the entire package is designed to be worn for as long as you need it. The headband also expands enough to stretch over a helmet as well, which will be good news for climbers, mountain bikers, and adventure racers.


One of the things that I like most about the EX550 is its aluminum body. It feels incredibly solid and durable, which is something I value greatly in all of my gear. Other manufacturers offer headlamps that are lighter in weight, but they often achieve this by using a plastic body, which can be quite fragile. I'm probably not the only one who has dropped a headlamp at some point, only to see it break in numerous pieces. I don't feel like that would happen with the EX550, and I'm willing to sacrifice an extra ounce or two, to have a product that will survive in demanding conditions. But as I mentioned above, this is not a heavy lamp by any stretch of the imagination. At 5.4 ounces, I feel it is the perfect balance between weight and durability.

Any headlamp that you take with you on your adventures needs to be able to provide plenty of light, while also being able to balance a good burn time. The EX550 certainly offers incredible brightness, but it could perform better with its battery life across a number of its settings. As mentioned earlier, the "max" brightness level is a powerful 550 lumens, and the lamp is capable of providing that level of brightness for 3.5 hours. That is actually an impressive amount of burn time considering how much light is being put off. Dropping down to the "high" brightness setting, reduces the light to 250 lumens, which is still very, very bright. But that is less than half of the "max" setting, so you would think that you'd see greatly improved battery life. On the EX550 you'd be wrong however, as it gains just one extra hour over the higher setting. On "medium," the light output is 100 lumens, and the burn time extends to 12 hours, while the "low" setting gives off 25 lumens at runs for 60 hours.

To be fair, you're likely to have your lamp on the "low" setting the majority of the time, as 25 lumens is plenty bright when you're in a dark area. But I would have liked to have seen an intermediate mode, perhaps in the 50-75 lumen range, that offered 30-40 hours of burn time, as a good trade off for brightness and battery life.

Speaking of batteries, the EX550 uses 2 CR123A Lithium batteries to power the lamp. They help to give it such a high level of output, but they also add extra weight to the package when compared to AA batteries, which are more common in other lights. The weight of those batteries are includes in the 5.4 ounces that I've mentioned before, but had Olympia chosen to use AA batteries instead, they could have probably shaved off some extra weight, albeit at the expense of brightness and burn time. The only real problem I have with their choice of battery is that they are a bit harder to find, so you'll want to make sure you have a spare set with you before setting off on any expeditions.

Olympia has delivered in the area of pricing. The EX550 carries an MSRP of $69.99, which I feel is a solid price point for a light that is this comfortable and durable, and is capable of putting out so much light. This is a headlamp that should last you for years, and is capable of surviving a number of demanding environments. Yes, there are less expensive headlamps on the market, but few offer all of the features of this one, and wrap it up in such a sturdy and lightweight case, at such an affordable price. If you're in the market for a new light, this should be on your list of contenders.