Thursday, October 09, 2014

Gear Closet: Bushnell Rubicon A200L Compact Lantern

Recently I reviewed the UCO Tetra lantern, and found it to be a fun, innovative little gadget that not only made an excellent flashlight and lantern, but also allowed you to charge your smartphone and other gadgets from its internal rechargeable battery. In that review, I mentioned that I had another lantern that I'd been testing, and that while I had considered reviewing them both in the same article, I eventually decided that they both deserved their own independent review. Today, I'm back with some thoughts on the Rubicon A200L Compact Lantern from Bushnell, a product that is more focused on strictly being a lantern, but still deliver some great innovation in its own right.
This lightweight, but still rugged, lantern will impress you straight out of the box with how durable it feels in your hands. While it weighs just 11.8 ounces (335 grams), it feels like it is strong enough to survive just about anything you can throw at it, without adding a lot of undue weight to your pack. Bushnell says that it is impact proof to up to 2 meters, which ought to be enough to cover the usual jostling about of gear while on the trail. The company has a legacy of building quality outdoor products that dates back decades, and that shows through in this lantern too.

Of course, it doesn't matter how rugged a lantern is if it doesn't provide plenty of light. The Rubicon has you covered in that area too, cranking out an incredibly bright 200 lumens on its highest setting from its integrated LED lamp. Powered by four "AA" batteries, you'll get a burn time of about 5 hours on that setting. Considering just how bright 200 lumens actually is – particularly around a dark campsite – Bushnell had the foresight to include a much lower setting as well. When dropped down to that mode, the lantern will still give off 25 lumens – plenty of light for inside a tent – and increase the burn time to an impressive 134 hours.

"High" and "low" aren't the only two light settings you'll get with the Rubicon however. It also comes equipped with a "down light" mode, which when activated, focuses the light through the bottom of the lantern. This is incredibly useful when hanging the light inside your tent, allowing you to read in your sleeping bag, or organize gear in your pack. Bushnell even includes a handy carabiner loop on the top of the lantern to make it easer to hand the Rubicon from a tent loop or overhead branch. When this mode is activated, the lantern gives off about 20 lumens, and has a burn time of around 47 hours.

As if that wasn't enough, the Rubicon also comes with a "Red Halo" mode as well, which is great when turning on the lantern in very low-light conditions. This subtle method of illumination actually enhances your natural night vision, without blinding you with bright, harsh, white light.

The designers of the Rubicon added a few other surprises to the lantern as well. For instance, it includes three foldable legs that allow it to sit securely, even on uneven surfaces. It is also IPX4 water resistant, which means you shouldn't immerse it water, but it will survive splashes just fine. In practical terms, that means the light will function properly, and continue to perform well, even when its raining.

Perhaps the best feature of the Rubicon is its price. This compact, powerful, and durable lantern carries a list price of $37.49, although it can be found for far less online. Considering everything that the lantern delivers, and the legacy of the company behind it, that is a great price for a piece of gear that performs well, and will accompany you on many adventures to come.

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