User Review: UCO Clarus Collapsible LED Lantern
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $19.99
A truly worthy replacement for the venerable UCO Candle Lantern. It's lighter, brighter, sturdier, safer, easier and has more uses.
- Very light weight
- Excellent lens frosting diffuser
- Switchable intensity is perfect for twilight to total darkness
- Very effective as a flashlight
- Soft, steady lantern light when extended
- Tucked-away hang loop
- Could use a 2nd hang loop on the bottom
- Provides no heat in an emergency
- The single control button for intensity is tricky
Although I have been a devoted user of the Original UCO Candle Lantern for well over a decade, carrying it for dozens of trips and many hundreds of miles of wilderness backpacking, I've chosen to replace it with the UCO Clarus Collapsible LED Lantern. The Clarus has been one of those rare purchases (and for under $20) that makes me feel happy every time I glance at it.
For starters, its light weight—about 4 ounces with batteries—makes it an obvious candidate for lightweight backpacking. It requires 3 AAA batteries, which grant it over 60 hours of light (at the dimmest setting). While none of my excursions has lasted more than ten dark winter days, this little jewel could handle a much longer trip without the need for spare batteries.
In its brightest mode, the lantern far outshines the original UCO Candle Lantern, and without the flame flicker and vulnerability to wind. No more soot-dimmed globe. No more temporary blindness when a companion glances over with a bright headlamp.
At the low setting, the soft light is perfect for use in total darkness, while conserving battery power. The flip-out hang loop—much smaller than the long bale of the candle lantern—makes it a better and safer fit for hanging inside a tent. I do wish it offered a second loop on its bottom.
When the Clarus globe body is left in its compressed position, its parabolic reflector rests beneath the bright LED, allowing it to serve admirably as a well-focused, pure white flashlight. With three intensity settings (curiously beginning with "medium," then clicking to "bright," "low," and finally "strobe") controlled by a subtle touch of the single button, you can use only the power consumption that you require. I found that single button a bit tricky at first. At the "medium" setting, the beam is no slouch, capable of splashing a bright white spot 15 feet away on a white interior wall in full daylight—an unfamiliar capability for us old candle lantern veterans.
When the globe body is extended, most of the LED light strikes the glossy underside of the parabolic reflector, which spreads it nicely over the inner surface of the frosted housing. At the "medium" setting, lantern mode easily illuminated my entire living room during a recent storm-related power outage. Because of the frosted globe and the parabolic underside of the reflector, there is no longer any need to carry the optional fold-flat steel reflector that I regularly placed atop the old candle lantern.
Aside from its usefulness in backpacking, this little jewel (both flashlight and lantern) is so small and so effective that it is perfect as a component in an emergency kit for homes and automobiles. I guess that's a use for the "strobe" setting.
Even though it easily fits into the candle lantern's fleece pouch, there's really no need for the added protection. In its compressed position, it would be a challenge to break it accidentally, either by dropping or from a surprise blow while in an exposed backpack pocket.
I do wish the intensity settings started with "low," then to "medium" and "high," since in a very dark setting, I don't want my dark accommodation to be lost while fumbling to reach the "low" setting. So I just cover the end with my other hand, while bringing it to "low." I suspect this is a design choice related to its perceived most common use. The intensity sequence is only a minor issue for me.
I love this thing. A Clarus Collapsible LED Lantern deserves a place in your backpack, in your glove box and in your home. UCO offers fancier models at higher prices, but they come with significantly greater weight and, to my sensibilities, silly added features.