With a 2014 outdoor product line introduction, Zippo provided us with their new Rugged Lantern for testing and a firsthand review. Advertised as one of the toughest and brightest lighting tools available we were very excited to take the Rugged Lantern with us for an overnight camping adventure in one of our regional parks. The goal was to test just how versatile this new product truly is.
From the get go it was obvious that Zippo wanted this lantern to be bomb proof. Other than wrap it in duct tape there aren’t many durability features that can be added to this piece of gear.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A simple wall charger is provided to juice up this device prior to use. Don’t forget to plan ahead the night before your trip to ensure that you can use this light source.
Upon arriving at our campsite at around 8PM we relied heavily on the Rugged Lantern to aid in our site selection and tent set up. The noticeable thick rubber corners are bulky but a true blessing for what we like to call “careless use”. This feature allowed us to set the lantern down on virtually every surface without concern of slippage or scratching. Since this rubber is non-abrasive It can also be safely placed on the hood or trunk of your car.
To enhance its versatility the Rugged lantern also incorporates vertical stainless steel tubes around the LED housing to protect the unit from blows and drops. These two features worked seamlessly in allowing multiple placement options when setting up our campsite. Horizontal, vertical, upside down or on its edge, we completed our set up with one lantern. Aside from the versatility of placement options, Zippo rated their protective features to withstand a five-foot drop. Although not intentional our lantern survived a free fall from about eight feet where it was wedged on a tree branch above our tent. With little more than a blemish on the plastic casing and some dirt scuffs I’d say you’re covered when dropping this device. To prevent this from happening again we utilized the heavy-duty webbing strap that is riveted to the frame of the lantern. With this you can easily hang the unit from pretty much any structure or comfortably carry it in the palm of your hand without cutting off your circulation.
When it comes to stand out features the Rugged Lantern has many but one in particular that is unique over the competition; flotation. You wouldn’t expect this large unit to do well anywhere near the water’s edge but it does in fact float quite effortlessly.
For the fun of our review we brought the lantern along with us to the lake where we spent the day in the water. Hesitant to cause any damage we started the test by cupping some water and pouring it over the unit. As stated by Zippo the water didn’t affect the lantern at all. With more confidence this time we tossed the light fifteen feet onto the lake and watched it submerge for a couple of seconds then float to the surface where it rested until I swam out and retrieved it. Although we don’t expect most users to treat the lantern this way it truly proves that you can drop or toss it into water without consideration of losing your light source.
All of these dynamic features are what makes this Zippo product a true piece of outdoor gear, but let’s be honest when you purchase the Rugged Lantern your main concern is to produce light. If the higher price point of this unit is a deterrent to you in any way than we suggest that you visit your local gear retailer and turn one of these on to understand its quality.
With a maximum output of 220 lumens on high, a campsite or vehicle can be efficiently illuminated with ease. Since we arrived at our site after dark we assure you that this output will do the trick. Whether you are carrying it at your side or lighting a larger area you will be impressed by its capability. Our area was 80% covered in oak trees limiting the amount of moonlight, which forced us to further, rely on the lantern’s high setting. Once again Zippo has versatility in mind by integrating three output settings into the unit; 10%, 50% and 100% of power.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of light that this LED produces” I quote this sentence since I can’t tell you how many times it was heard during our two nights at the campground. The explanation behind this characteristic is attributed to soft glow diffusers that are used by the lantern to produce a warm and soft light that enhances your field of view at night. Furthermore the high quality LED provides a consistent light beam from your immediate area to about a twelve-foot circumference.
To keep this lantern running Zippo has integrated a lithium-ion battery which lasts up to 12 hours on high, 18 hours on medium, and 59 hours on low. These numbers are a result of long term testing but it’s important to note that they aren’t always exact.
Our review proved that the Rugged Lantern is a car campers dream tool as well as a functional fixture for the outdoor enthusiast. With a plethora of protective features any member of the family can use this gear with ease. The LED light is pleasant for many uses and enables for three dynamic power settings to accommodate whatever setting you may find yourself in.