Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $30
Pros: Sturdy, compact, bright, features.
Cons: Too bright at times, wish it dimmed, D batteries are expensive.
Best Uses: Emergency backup, camping, outdoor lighting.
Let's talk about a good deal. The Rayovac Sportsman is sturdy, reliable and is rated at a whopping 240 lumens. Its compact design allows for easy storage and transport, and it is wonderfully simple to operate. After taking these factors into account, the Rayovac was the obvious choice for our Best Buy award.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Small but mighty, the Rayovac packs 240 lumens into its compact frame. It can light up a room or campsite, but the glaring LED bulbs are far from mood lighting. For this reason, we much preferred hanging it.
While camping in Squamish, we used the Rayovac to light our dinner activities in the group cook area. Even dimmed, the Rayovac was uncomfortably bright to the point where it was disrespectful to the other campers. Inspired by another group, we placed an ordinary plastic bag over the lantern. This makeshift lampshade created a pleasant orb by which we cooked and ate our meal.
We found the lumens of the Rayovac to be more than adequate, but if you are looking for something even brighter, take a look at the 260-lumen General Electric ChromaLit 3D. For more comfortable lighting, we loved Black Diamond Apollo, our Editors' Choice winner.
Ease of Use
The Rayovac is a one-button wonder, and its classic design is straightforward. The large, curved handle allows for some flexibility when hanging it. However, the handle is closed so suspending it from a tree means either sliding it up a branch or finding a broken nub (it is a little heavy for small branches). In addition to the handle there is a small plastic hook on the bottom. We recommend removing the plastic shell around the light and hanging it upside down by this hook. Doing this allows the light to disperse more evenly when hung, lighting a larger area than if the top was on. A common qualm in Amazon reviews is the battery compartment. Replacing the batteries is awkward the first time, but definitely not an issue (line up the arrows and it screws right back).
The rubber on the base and sides helps when positioning it on uneven surfaces, but adds to the weight. The Rayovac is 14.4 ounces, and obviously not meant for backpacking. If you are looking for a lighter backpacking option check out the Black Diamond Orbit, our Top Pick award winner.
The Rayovac is sturdy, and its simple design means that there is little to break. The only questionable feature is the plastic hook on the bottom, which feels a bit flimsy. While the Rayovac website claims that the batteries will last 90 hours on low and 40 hours on high (low being adequate most of the time), many Amazon reviews attest to even longer battery lives.
The Rayovac features three light modes: high, low, and strobe (for emergencies and impromptu dance parties). It also has the unique ability to become a "ceiling" light. A tent hook on the base folds out so that it can be hung upside-down, and the top of the lantern surrounding the bulb can be completely removed–offering 180-degree light.
A somewhat controversial feature of the Rayovac is a small LED light above the on/off button that blinks every five seconds when the lantern is off. This light is helpful when finding it camping or in an emergency, but undoubtedly places a small drain on the battery. This is an issue for long-term storage, but batteries should not be stored in a lantern long-term (battery leakage can corrode/ruin the product). One solution is to flip one of the batteries upside-down, which will break the connection and keep the LED light from blinking. When you want to use it again one need only to flip the battery back over instead of finding new batteries altogether. To reduce the chance of leakage, store it in a cool, dry place.
We highly suggest the Rayovac Sportsman LED as an emergency backup option for power outages and disasters. The amount of lumens for the size makes it a worthy purchase, and its little frame is rugged and water-resistant. Naturally, the Rayovac is too heavy for backpacking, but it is ideal for camping, and can easily light up a campsite. It is also well suited for backyard lighting and barbecues - just don't leave it outside if the weather goes downhill.
The fantastic value of the Rayovac is what earned it the Best Buy award. It is remarkably high quality for the $30 price. For comparisons' sake, the Eureka Warrior is essentially the exact same lantern in a different color with a little added remote, and it is twice the price ($64.99 on Amazon). Unless you have an affinity for remotes, the choice is pretty obvious.
If you're looking for something with even more lumens, check out the Sportsman 300 lumens. The Sportsman Xtreme is different, as it is a headlamp. It costs $25 and has a maximum of 105 lumens.
All in all, the Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern does the job. Use it for emergencies, camping trips, and summer barbeques, and you will not be disappointed. The durable structure is nearly kid-, pet- and adventure-proof.
— Devin Chance and Audrey Bayless
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Most recent review: December 28, 2013
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