There are a ton of different options when it comes to flashlights. When you throw in headlamps, the list just becomes humongous. I have recently been utilizing some options from Olympia Outdoors; in particular the RG850 flashlight and the EX550 headlamp. If you would like to read a full review as well as watch a video review and walkthrough of the RG850, please click here.
So the key question for this match-up is should you pick a headlamp or a flashlight? From my personal experience a flashlight is great for investigating. What I mean by this is when you simply need a "grab and go" light to take a look at something. This could be going for a walk, taking a look in your attic, or for when the power goes out. A headlamp is optimal for when you can't have your hands to hold a flashlight, or more so when it is difficult to hold a light and perform whatever task you are trying to do. There is one key aspect that needs to be recognized though - lumens. Lets take a quick look at each light option from Olympia so that we can make a better decision on which one to pick.
Headlamps are superior lights for when you need two hands. Having the capability to have a light that automatically looks wherever you are is awesome. The EX550 from Olympia Outdoors does exactly this. For $69.99 the EX550 is in the middle of the range for high end headlamps. It has a maximum lumen rating of 550 lumens, a waterproof rating of IPX-7 (1 meter), and an impact resistance of 1 meter as well. As you can see, the EX550 can take a beating while still putting out a lot of light at the same time. Although waterproof, you really won't utilize the EX550 for anything more than operating in the rain. It is not realistic to submerge your headlamp in water, especially considering it is on your head. However, it is more of a safety aspect for the EX550, as you have the reliability that it shouldn't fail even if you were to drop it into the water.
The bottom line is that the EX550 is the best option if you need to use two hands while still having a light following your working hands.
In comparison to headlamps, flashlights are mostly identical except for the absence of a head strap. A few other subtle differences are size and lumen rating. Typically, flashlights are quite a bit larger than headlamps and produce much more lumens. This is why flashlights are great for investigating and taking a look at something. They provide optimal beam distance because of the larger lumen rating, and they are great for throwing in your backpack or keeping in your pocket for some cases. Not all flashlights are made the same though, and the Olympia RG850 is no exception as it is the flagship of high performance flashlights. It has 850 lumens, a waterproof rating of IPX-8 (2 meter), and an impact resistance of 1.5 meters. From this, you can see that it is simply just a larger scale EX550, meaning it has better lumen rating, waterproof rating and impact resistance.
The bottom line is that the RG850 is an extremely powerful flashlight with 850 lumens. It is very small for such a large lumen rating and will make a great flashlight for your emergency kit, in your car, backpack, or out on the water.
For this match-up of "Which One?" there is not a definite winner. Both the EX550 and RG850 make and excellent choice for portable lighting. The EX550 is better for times where you have to use your hands and can't hold onto a light, whereas the RG850 is better when you need even more waterproofing, impact resistance and lumens. I have used both the EX550 and RG850 for quite a while now and I can say they both serve their purpose extremely well. Check out the RG850 and EX550 at www.olympiaoutdoors.com, and if you would like to see more on the RG850 flashlight watch my personal video review and walkthrough below.