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If you’re not already on “team headlamp,” let’s get one thing straight right now. The headlamp is to an outdoorsperson like the internet is to shopping. Once you’ve seen firsthand just how easy and effective it is, you’ll wonder how you got along without it. Headlamps give you light right where your gaze falls, and they leave both hands free to work. At the risk of being cliché, headlamps are the greatest thing since sliced bread. But wait, there’s more. Here’s where the toasting and the buttering come into play.

Olympia’s new Explorer (EX) Series of headlamps has been designed with outdoor junkies like us in mind. The series gives us lamps with great features that don’t cost a fortune. Take the Olympia EX550 headlamp: This tough aluminum body headlamp casts out a scorching 550 lumens, and it’s perfect for chasing down a blood trail after dark, cooking in hunting camp, or working under the hood of your truck. The Cree XM-L LED bulb delivers a beam of light that can reach out 135 meters, and it has five lighting modes, including a distress strobe. It’s even waterproof down to one meter. Here are the specs:

Light Output: 550 Lumens from a Cree XM-L LED bulb
Waterproofing: IPX-7 (down to 1 meter)
Light settings: 5 (Max with a 3.5 hour run time, High, Medium, Low with a 60 hour run time, and Strobe)
Beam distance: 135 Meters
Battery Requirement: 2 x CR123A Lithium batteries (included)
Weight with batteries: 5.5 ounces
MSRP: $69.99

What’s my favorite feature? Well, aside from having a laser beam strapped to my head, I have to say that the lock-out function is a really great touch. This feature prevents battery drain from accidental activation, which often happens when your gear is tightly packed or during the jostling of travel.

Was there anything I didn’t like about the light? Just nit-pick stuff. I wish the light didn’t protrude so far, but I’m sure there’s a good reason for it (probably heat dissipation). And I wish there was a bit of cloth where the lamp base sits upon your forehead (a little sweaty under there when you’re working hard). But other than those minimal issues, this light does the job of other tactical headlamps, and it does it for a fraction of the price. It’s a really great headlamp at a really nice price.

Find out more about this light at

Have you used an Olympia EX550? Did it melt the fur off a bear at 100 yards? Tell us how you liked it by leaving a comment.