Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

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Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by Woods Walker » Sun May 15, 2016 10:00 am

Fenix CL20 field test review.

I spend a a good amount of time with a light strapped to my head. It gets old fast when in camp so am always on the lookout for lantern options. Also lanterns have some pros to headlamps and flashlights within a group setting be it during blackout conditions or around the campfire. Head lamp courtesy is a term for when people blind each other with their headlamps. As technology increase the output of headlamps and flashlight so does the level of aggravation in some settings. One solution is a lantern. Here are the features of the CL20 as listed by the manufacture.
Features:

Utilizes nine neutral whte LEDs and two red LEDs with an even and smooth beam
White light with four output options
Turbo: 165 Lumens (2 hours and 23 min using AA Ni-MH; 3 hours and 10 min using AA Alkaline; 2 hours using CR123A
High: 100 Lumens (5 hours and 15 min using AA Ni-MH; 4 hours and 9 min using AA Alkaline; 3 hours and 31 min using CR123A
Mid: 50 Lumens (11 hours and 28 min using AA Ni-MH; 9 hours and 8 min using AA Alkaline; 7 hours and 32 min using CR123A
Low: 8 Lumens (71 hours and 40 min using AA Ni-MH; 56 hours and 40 min using AA Alkaline; 46 hours and 50 min using CR123A
Red light with two output options
Regular: 1.5 Lumens (27 hours and 10 min using AA Ni-MH; 24 hours and 15 min using AA Alkaline; 20 hours using CR123A
SOS: 1.5 Lumens
Powered by one CR123A Lithium battery or two AA (Ni-MH, Alkaline) batteries
Built-in magnet for easy attachment
Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
One-button switch for easy and fast operation
Reverse polarity protection guards against improper battery installation
Made of quality plastic and high-transparency material
Waterproof to IPX-6 Standards: Protection from heavy splash and rain
So lets take a look.

It easily fits in my hand.

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The UI operates from a single button which is placed in an ideal position for access when hanging.

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Can hang from the same loop which turns to open the battery compartment. There are two reasonable strong magnets on both sides. The proper turning diction is shown for access to the batteries.

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Magnets don't seem to have any difficulty supporting the lantern.

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Open. On a side note I am not recommending Goal zero batteries rather that's what was charged and available at the time. The top or bottom depending on perspective is held in place by a simple lever.

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Duel fuel capable however I tend to use this lantern when running 2XAA. Everyone in my bag is on the same diet be it GPS, camera, headlamp or flashlight.

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It does feel noticeably lighter with 1XCR123 rather than 2XAA NiMH.

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So how does it look compared to another Fenix lantern the CL25R in actual use? Not bad! The CL25R runs 1X18650 or 2XCR123 and is brighter but IMO the CL20 preforms better when hung and the 9 lumen mode is really nice. Both are winners each with their own pros and cons. I normally only pack one depending on the prevailing battery type of everything else. If running a Surefire/Malkoff and Fenix HP12 or Nitecore HC30 then the CL25R gets taken. If I am running the Fenix HL30 and 4/7 mini 2XAA then the CL20 goes.

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But then again why pack a lantern at all if solo? On a recent outing I had the following electronics.

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Notice the DIY lantern/diffuser which fits on the 2XAA 4/7 mini. I normally try to reduce pack weight whenever possible. I don't always pack a dedicated lantern when solo though do if within a group. However excess gear within my pack must be multi purpose or it doesn't go. This applies to both camping and preparedness aka BOBs etc. Granted a water filter need only be a water filter etc etc etc. That said something like a lantern had better do more than just sit on a log. So what else does this do?

1. Extra battery carrier. Two extra batteries can be robbed to power the GPS or anything else which might be more critical at any given moment. The ability to use CR123 only increases this versatility.

2. Backup flashlight. If only packing the headlamp this roll is important. Here is one area which the CL25R struggles (however it wasn't designed for it) but the CL20 does ok. The CL25R produces too much glare unless a glare shield is field expedited for extended use as a flashlight. The CL20 emits light from a top dome much like a flashlight throws from it's bezel window. Granted it's a pure flood light but actually works just fine as a backup flashlight. Heck even the switch is in a good position for easy access. The hanging loop makes for a nice finger loop.

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3. Camp marker. Sometimes it's necessary to forage water and wood at night. A lantern makes for an deal camp marker as the floody glow can be seen far off from any angel though a tree can temporarily block line of sight however unlike a reflector it's not dependent on an external light. Useful for fast camp finds if the headlamp/flashlight should fail or outside their range. Believe it or not people have been turned around from their camp even from a short distance at night if conditions and situations conspire.

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4. Goes without saying the CL20 makes for a great lantern. The mode spacing and neutral white tint are very good for my needs. Often most of my headlamp use is within camp. The position of the dome and 9 lumen low output is really about perfect for most camp work. This saves my headlamp from use.

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Other features tested:

1. Drop test. I never really need to do an intentional drop test as always drop stuff. This time I forgot to lock the top in place with the lever so the bottom fell. It struck the ground tossing the batteries. No problems!

2. Water test. It's rated for heavy splash/rain. There is an o-ring on the tight fitting lid which worked just fine through multiple storms. No dunk test was done as it's not rated for that but there would be no problem in heavy rain based on my use.

Pros and Cons:

Pros.

1. An fantastic lantern. Everything about it works great in this role.

2. Multi fuel.

3. Makes for an ok backup pure flood flashlight.

4. Not all that heavy at 3.6 oz empty.

5. Nice mode spacing and tint.

6. Red light modes though I don't use them.

7. The magnets are strong. I don't use them in the woods but rather nice around the house.

Cons.

1. A bit expensive. Priced from 30-40 dollars.

2. The low mode might be too high for some people. The CL25R has a 1 lumen low mode which could be preferable in some situations.

3. I worry about the thin plastic the metal lever slides into holding the two parts together. So far it held up but seems like a potential failure point. That said the bottom of the light runs interdependently from the top.

4. A lantern in a solo setting is a luxury item IMHO. When doing a gear shake down to drop weight even with the multi use applications it would be high on my removal list.

Here is a video review of the CL20.



For those who haven't seen my video review of the CL25R as talked a bit about it within this review.



Thanks for looking!
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by absinthe beginner » Sun May 15, 2016 4:50 pm

I bought the CL20 and CL-25 based on your reviews, WW, and have not been disappointed. I have since ordered several of each to add to my preps and to give as gifts to friends & family.

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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by modustollens » Sun May 15, 2016 11:32 pm

Nice. I may pick one of these up for myself. My UCL candle lantern is getting banged up and is a bit messy, plus, in the kifaru tipi, when the stove is running super hot, the candle melts en masse when hanging and gives no light and makes a mess. Plus, my small primus gas lamp, which I really like, uses compressed gas cylinders that are pricey and large. So this little lamp should be a good alternative.

I am still looking for a good battery charger for my AAs for the gps and flashlight; I would like to find a two or one battery charger that is small and light that I can plug into the USB output attached to my solar panels.

MT
Last edited by modustollens on Mon May 16, 2016 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by turbo6 » Mon May 16, 2016 4:48 pm

Excellent review. Can't get enough Fenix. [emoji106]

I'll have to check out the CL series, I could use a lantern for sure. I actually won a free CL05 a few months back, but that's more of a wacky colored key chain lantern. This looks like the real deal!

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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by Woods Walker » Sun May 22, 2016 11:34 am

turbo6 wrote:Excellent review. Can't get enough Fenix. [emoji106]

I'll have to check out the CL series, I could use a lantern for sure. I actually won a free CL05 a few months back, but that's more of a wacky colored key chain lantern. This looks like the real deal!
I have used similar things to mark my pack at night so betting that will be useful. I think it uses 1xAAA?
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by Woods Walker » Sun May 22, 2016 11:36 am

modustollens wrote:Nice. I may pick one of these up for myself. My UCL candle lantern is getting banged up and is a bit messy, plus, in the kifaru tipi, when the stove is running super hot, the candle melts en masse when hanging and gives no light and makes a mess. Plus, my small primus gas lamp, which I really like, uses compressed gas cylinders that are pricey and large. So this little lamp should be a good alternative.

I am still looking for a good battery charger for my AAs for the gps and flashlight; I would like to find a two or one battery charger that is small and light that I can plug into the USB output attached to my solar panels.

MT
A harder animal to find than one might expect. I do have a universal charger which can do just that but it does trigger a charging error if the sun gets obstructed too much. Thank for looking!
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by turbo6 » Sun May 22, 2016 12:37 pm

Woods Walker wrote:
turbo6 wrote:Excellent review. Can't get enough Fenix. [emoji106]

I'll have to check out the CL series, I could use a lantern for sure. I actually won a free CL05 a few months back, but that's more of a wacky colored key chain lantern. This looks like the real deal!
I have used similar things to mark my pack at night so betting that will be useful. I think it uses 1xAAA?
Yup. 1 AAA and 7 modes

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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by modustollens » Sun May 22, 2016 10:49 pm

I see the Fenix CL25R has a built in recharger; perhaps this would be a better option for I can use my panels to top up the power... Have you used your panels to charge this thing up?

MT
Last edited by modustollens on Mon May 23, 2016 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by Woods Walker » Mon May 23, 2016 12:20 am

modustollens wrote:I see the Fenix CL25R has a built in recharger; perhaps this would be a better option for I can use my panels to top up the power... Have you sued your panels to charge this thing up?

MT
What do you think. :)

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Tested on an unsettled day. No charging errors.

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Both AA and 18650 solar charging options.

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The pro to lithium ion is POWER! Lots of it. Downside is the chemistry isn't as stable compared to LSD Eneloops which can hold a charge for years and be charged 2000 times compared to 500 for lithium ion. Also lithium lion doesn't play well with the stupid, careless, very distracted or unlucky though it's safe if done right. I am being sent a USB lithium ion charger from Nitecore which is supposed to double as power bank for testing. Supposed to be solar comparable and act as a pass through charger aka charge the battery and phone at the same time with one plug. Basically turn a lithium ion battery into a powerbank. Lots of built in safe guards as well.
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by modustollens » Mon May 23, 2016 1:57 am

I figured as much.

Now that I own solar panels there is added utility for having a built in re-charger. This lantern is still lighter than my little primus gas lamp and a full can of finite fuel and it will last longer. I really don't need the heat from the gas lamp now that I have the tipi and stove.

How do you think these lamps will fare hanging up in the tipi when the stove is running full bore?

I had a cheap car LED hanging up that I bought for the tipi here in Kazakhstan; it was 12 DC, which was not a problem to power when I was car camping and have an extra full size car battery that I use to run the HAM radio when car camping. The LED failed because the internal connections on the LED circuit board melted! Cheap Chinese stuff from the auto-flea market are rarely useful given their low quality.

I still need to find a good field charger for my batteries; I am using AA in my gps and my fenix HL50; I certainly need to be able to charge AA. I don't want to have 20 different batteries thus requiring 20 different chargers. Lio-in batteries I have a tonne of (for my friend strips them out of old laptops and has made many battery packs for powering our HAM radio with them). But, Li-ion need a Li-ion compatible charger, which I have.

One of these days I will find a small AA charger...

MT
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by Woods Walker » Tue May 31, 2016 10:38 pm

modustollens wrote:Nice. I may pick one of these up for myself. My UCL candle lantern is getting banged up and is a bit messy, plus, in the kifaru tipi, when the stove is running super hot, the candle melts en masse when hanging and gives no light and makes a mess. Plus, my small primus gas lamp, which I really like, uses compressed gas cylinders that are pricey and large. So this little lamp should be a good alternative.

I am still looking for a good battery charger for my AAs for the gps and flashlight; I would like to find a two or one battery charger that is small and light that I can plug into the USB output attached to my solar panels.

MT
Ok Nitecore marketing sent me the F1 charger. In a short test with a 14W higher efficiency panel it was able to add charge to a lithium ion 18650 and pass through charge my phone. It appears to charge the external device then dump excess energy into the battery at the same time. It can also turn most common lithium ion batteries into a power bank but might not for the smaller ones to protect the battery as was the case with a 14500. Even has protection from over discharging. Terminated charging at 16% but will need to test that again. Also told me a 14500 has 3.8 volts based on blinking. Might check to see if that's accurate.

It uses only one battery at a time however 1X18650 3500 mAh = 4xAA 2500 mAh or near about (ether a bit more or less). It's kinda like having total control of energy. Didn't even trigger any solar charging errors etc. I gotta test it more so won't recommend the gear item without real field testing. Also it's crazy small.
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by absinthe beginner » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:28 pm

Fenix just announced its new CL30 lantern. A bit pricy, but would be nice to have on hand in an emergency.

http://www.fenixoutfitters.com/fenix-cl ... eting+List

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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by modustollens » Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:31 am

I ordered one of each - the CL20 and the CL25R; I certainly prefer CL25R - it is super light when powered by the big lithium battery. I have not tried to recharge it yet with my solar panels. I have a week long trip coming up where I'll get to try that out.

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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by Woods Walker » Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:29 pm

modustollens wrote:I ordered one of each - the CL20 and the CL25R; I certainly prefer CL25R - it is super light when powered by the big lithium battery. I have not tried to recharge it yet with my solar panels. I have a week long trip coming up where I'll get to try that out.

MT
Both have pros and cons. For example I really like the low mode on the CL20 but also like the moonlight mode on the Cl25r and the fact it can recharge lithium ion.
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by 0122358 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:20 pm

I bought one of these based you your video review. Id like to get another one to kinda have one on each side of my lean-to
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Re: Fenix CL20 Lantern Field Use Review.

Post by BAD BOY » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:14 pm

I've been using the 25 since it first came out. Absolutely love this light! All the levels are perfect for every need you need to taylor it for. Never too bright or not bright enough.

Not only do I use the light camping but also every night on the night stand. The super strong magnet was one of the best additions to the design.

I don't know that I really need or want more light but I pretty much have to have one of the new 30s now.

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