Review: Clarus LED Lantern

I love inexpensive gadgets. That‘s why I was happy to test out UCO‘s Clarus LED Lantern. The folks at Industrial Revolution graciously hooked us up with one during the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised! Flashlights are incredibly useful but often you don‘t realize that until you don‘t have one. Fortunately, this little lantern/flashlight is so easy to transport, you never have to do without it.

For those that don‘t know, Clarus was a territory of Ancient Greece that was renowned for its oracle at the Temple of Apollo, the god of light and sun. UCO couldn‘t have picked a more perfect name for this little lantern/flashlight. With 150 Lumens, the first thing that struck me was its brightness. I compared it to three of my headlamps and it easily out shown them all. I attributed that to the R3 XPE outdoor white LED technology from Cree who have figured out how to maintain lighting-class performance with an 80% smaller footprint. The Clarus‘ mighty beam projects over 160 feet which was great for annoying the neighbors all the way at the end of my street. Most of the time, they‘re concerned about what I‘m doing anyway but shining a powerful flashlight in their windows isn‘t going to win me the neighbor of the year award.

The Clarus Lantern was really in its element when I took it into the National Forest near my house.  It is compact and light weight (2.9 oz) which makes it incredibly easy to squeeze into any little corner of your backpack or gear bag. Plus, its rugged casing makes it fantastically durable for when you inadvertently drop it onto the rocks around your campsite, roll over it in your tent, or your dog decides to use it as a chew toy.

The Clarus is versatile around the campsite too. In the collapsed position, it is a potent flashlight. When it‘s extended, it becomes a surprisingly illuminating lantern that can be hung up or simply placed on a rock or a table. What I liked the most about the lantern mode was how, even when extended into a lantern, it easily stowed in the mesh pockets or the rooftop gear storage of my tent and lit up the whole thing like a candle. I‘m pretty sure the whole mountain could see my glowing two man tent. The Clarus has three settings: ultra mind-blowing bright, a slightly dimmer bright that will set the mood, and a strobe for improvised mountain dance parties…or other emergency situations.

One potential dilemma of the lantern, however, is its narrow base when standing upright. It‘s easily blown or knocked over. In order to eliminate that problem, I simply flipped it over and rested it on its top. (See image)  I couldn‘t tell if this was an intentional design or if it just happened to work out. But it definitely worked out! Not only did it increase the stability, it also shifted the light projection. When the lantern is upright, it provides more light to its surroundings; when it‘s upside down, it provides more light to the immediate surface. And when you‘re playing cards around your camp table, upside down makes sure everyone can see the cards on the table but not the ones in your hand. Or you could simply choose to camp with people who won‘t cheat at cards!

Overall, the UCO Clarus LED Lantern is a solid product, especially considering the price tag. MSRP puts it under $20 which is exceptionally affordable. Everyone should get one! Just think of all of the improvised mountain dance parties!

– Nate

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