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5.3 oz | 550 lumens | $70 | www.olympia.com
The Olympia EX550 offers almost as much power as the Petzl Nao, but in an intuitive, no-fuss package at an extremely competitive price point. The lamp’s position adjusts smoothly to whatever angle you like, unlike most headlamps that have only a few fixed positions. This came in handy for route-finding in the dark, as it’s easy to straighten the lamp quickly and see what’s up the trail, then lower it again to focus on your footing. The brightest, 550-lumen setting casts a strong enough beam to illuminate features 100 yards away.
For such a powerful lamp, the EX550 is surprisingly light. Nearly all that weight is concentrated in the front, which rocks slightly, but the top strap keeps the fit secure, and there’s no heavy battery pack in the back. The EX550 has a relatively short battery life (three and a half hours on high), but needs only two compact CR123A lithium batteries. Though more expensive (and less readily available) than AAs, the batteries are lightweight, so carrying extras isn’t much of a burden.