On a camping trip awhile back, some friends and I commented on the need for a good area light around the campsite. Years ago, most of us had owned either Coleman gasoline or battery-operated fluorescent lanterns of various types, but all had gone by the wayside with the passage of time. I decided to look for a modernized version of the old camp lantern, something light and compact, and which did not require carrying liquid fuels or regular maintenance beyond the supply of fresh batteries. The result was the purchase of Rayovac’s Sportsman Xtreme™ 300 Lumens Area Lantern and Strobe, Model SE3DLN.
The Sportsman Xtreme looks like a kid’s-sized version of the older fluorescent-tube camping lanterns, measuring just 7.25 inches tall, 4 inches wide, and 3.8 inches deep, and weighing about 30 ounces (850 grams) when loaded with three alkaline 'D' cells. Constructed largely of ABS composites and rubber, the Sportsman Extreme has a substantial feel to it. A sturdy rubberized carrying bail is attached to the lens housing, and folds flat when not in use. Rubber bumpers are mounted around the top of the light housing as well as the base and sides to protect the lantern from shock impacts. Rayovac lists this model as ‘water-resistant’, and a close examination revealed the use of O-rings or rubber sealing surfaces for all separating components including the lens housing and battery compartment. It’s good to know that if it rains after you leave the lantern out for the night, you won’t have to buy a new one.
The weight of the three 'D' cells mounted in the base adds to the stability of the lantern, while a sturdy bail allows it to be suspended above the ground for maximum area coverage. The top of the light assembly may be unscrewed and hung upside down using a fold-out hangar in the base in order to use it as as a tent or table light. This fold-out hangar or hook is made of plastic, and is the only component that does not compare in quality and sturdiness to the other parts of the lantern.
Rayovac states that the Sportsman Xtreme LED assembly produces a 300 lumen, 4 watt area light when set to its highest power level. At this setting the light was sufficient to adequately light a small living room or campsite, with a color on the 'cool blue' side of the spectrum. The diffuser lens does a adequate job of cutting the glare from the LED, which is tolerable unless one looks directly into the light from a couple of feet away, something that's not recommended! The lens also assists in distributing the light in a wide 360-degree circle of illumination. When the lantern is in ‘high’ power mode, the Sportsman’s diffused area light is a nice compromise, with more illuminated area coverage than most of the fluorescent tube and LED lanterns on the market. However, the Sportsman Xtreme does not come close to achieving the arc-light intensity of a gasoline lantern such as the Coleman dual-mantle unit.
To install the batteries, the base of the lantern is grasped and rotated off the lantern body, exposing the battery compartment. Once the batteries are installed, the cover is rotated back into position. It is a bit of a trick to reposition the battery cover and align all the necessary parts while accomplishing this, but it gets easier with a bit of practice. The recommended procedure is to align the tab located on the battery compartment cover plate with the notch located inside the lower housing (marked by twin red arrows) and twist the cover back into position until it locks. Because alkaline batteries can leak over time, removing any alkaline cells before storing the lantern for any length of time is highly recommended.
In addition to alkaline batteries, the Sportsman Extreme lantern will also run satisfactorily on NiMH or NiCad rechargeable 'D' cells. When batteries are loaded, a blinking green LED flashes intermittently on the front panel, presumably to enable the operator to find the lantern in the darkness. Its effectiveness is rather limited, as one must face the LED directly to see it at all. While very faint, this flashing LED cannot be turned off; fortunately, its power drain is so miniscule that it can be disregarded. If it bothers you, reversing one of the 'D' cells in the compartment will cut off battery power and disable the flash function until the lantern is needed.
A single power button controls all light modes/power levels. A single push of the button delivers light at the highest power setting; a second push cuts in a reduced-power (economy) mode; a third push turns the light off. By pressing and holding the power button the LED will flash on and off in the manner of a strobe light. I haven't used this feature, but it might prove useful for signaling someone at night in the event of an emergency.
Rayovac provides still another lighting mode for the Sportsman Xtreme. By removing the upper diffuser lens housing and suspending the lantern upside down from its base using the provided foldaway plastic hangar, the LED casts all of its light downwards in a bright floodlight. When the lantern is hung just above eye level, this gives an effective downcast light for illuminating a table or work surface.
Rayovac claims that the Sportsman Xtreme lantern has a run time (battery life expectancy) of 75 hours on its highest power setting and 150 hours with the lantern set to reduced-power (economy) mode when using alkaline batteries. A check of power consumption revealed a drain of 600mA on the high setting, and 250 mA in reduced-power mode. Using alkaline batteries, I achieved a run time on 'high' of around 72 hours, roughly comparable to Rayovac's figure. I found run times using rechargeable NiMH 'D' cells to be less than when using alkaline batteries - about 50 hours on the 'high' setting and 120 hours in reduced-power mode.
Overall I regard this as very good performance, given the light output of this small lantern. It is true that you can find brighter LED or fluorescent-tube lanterns on the market using six or eight 'D' cells, but most of these are larger, heavier, more expensive, and/or have shorter run times.
One word of warning when comparing models: it's apparently somewhat common for battery lantern manufacturers to disingenuously quote total lumen output of their product at the highest power setting, then measure run time with the lantern set to its most economical, reduced-power mode.
One disadvantage to the Sportsman Xtreme's compact dimensions becomes immediately apparent. The lantern's short overall length significantly inhibits area light coverage when placed on the ground. To get an acceptable amount of area coverage and make the most of its 300-lumen rating, the Sportsman Xtreme should be positioned on an elevated surface or suspended from a tree or other support, where its 360-degree area floodlight can effectively illuminate the campsite or work area.
While designed primarily for use when camping, the Sportsman Xtreme also makes a good general-purpose worklight when changing a tire, making car repairs, or for use at home in the event of a power outage, the latter being something that's quite common where I live. The lantern's rugged construction and ability to operate for many hours on only three 'D' batteries makes it a perfect general-purpose emergency light, one that could come in handy after an ice storm, flood, or other catastrophic weather event.
As with all Rayovac lighting products, the Sportsman Xtreme lantern is unconditionally warranted for life against all defects in materials and workmanship. The warranty excludes coverage for damage due to abuse or accidents. Damaged caused by leakage from batteries stored in the lantern for extended periods is not covered under warranty. No receipt is required to make a warranty claim, though lantern replacement requires shipping the old light prepaid to the manufacturer's warranty department.
I have used the Sportsman Xtreme for only about a year, but it has become a necessary item on all my camping trips, and is my preferred emergency light to light the living room during a power outage (I usually leave it set on the reduced-power setting). It is a nicely balanced lantern – reasonably priced, compact, efficient, versatile, and most important - bright enough to provide adequate area lighting for all but the largest campsites. In my experience it easily outperforms other LED lanterns of similar size and weight, including the Garrity Nichia LED, Coleman Quad LED, Coleman 4D XPS Classic LED, and Energizer Weather Ready LED light, not to mention most of the older fluorescent light models.
For anyone needing an easily portable camp light, this model will suit them well, and the long lasting LED lighting assembly avoids the bulk, inconvenience and extra maintenance required with a gasoline or propane-powered lantern. It is weather resistant and appears to be well-constructed of good quality materials, with the possible exception of the folding hangar hook in the base. Anyone looking for a compact camping lantern should consider the Rayovac Sportsman Xtreme™ Lantern and Strobe, Model SE3DLN.
Price Paid: $24
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