The Coleman Sentinel, while not the perfect light for camping
due to its lack of waterproofing, is a great alternative
to carrying loads of batteries with you on trips into the
wilderness. Weighing in at about equal to a can of soda, it
should be a useful companion in areas where batteries are
scarce or unavailable.
Fit and finish is rather good. Pretty typical molded plastic
design and finish. Seems to be about what you would expect
from a small home appliance like a blender or good toaster.
Quality / Durability / Construction varies depending on what
you're talking about. The light is fairly hefty and I would
protect it from drops due to the circuitry and gears inside.
The charging gears seem to be really tough in use, allowing
you to instantly stop and reverse directions with the charging
handle without damaging them. The charging handle is also
very tough and well made.
Output is good for an emergency light. On high it can really
hold its own against other broad-beamed lights. On low it
appears a little weak, but in the dark a little light is better
It is conceivable that after 3 years or so after first use
the NiMH batteries may poop out and need to be changed. If
you're handy you may be able to remove the triangular head
screws (anyone got a triangular bit for a screwdriver?) and
unsolder the old batteries, soldering new ones in their place.
Considering the cost of the light, it may be worth it to do
so if you are inclined.
Beam quality is good, and the Sentinel produces a smooth
flood of light in any direction it is pointed. Order a spare
bulb when you get the light just so that you don't get left
in the dark.
Water Resistance is negligible. Don't get it wet if you can
avoid it. Especially avoid dunking.
Important things to note: Charging this little critter can
be tougher than you think. It has a little green LED that
lights when you are charging at the "optimum speed",
whatever that is. If the batteries are dead, get ready to
crank your little arm off trying to light that little LED.
The good news is, it will charge even if you don't light the
LED, but it will take a little longer than the advertised
"30 seconds" to get your 8 minutes of light on "low".
Improvements: Waterproofing. Make it lighter if possible.
I'd like to see them use LEDs for greater efficiency for the
"low" setting and a xenon incandescent bulb for
I primarily got this light to modify it to take LEDs, making
it more reliable in that it never needs bulbs again. Check
out the final mod HERE
which includes 12 white LEDs, 2 for "low" and 10
for "high", all being directly driven off of the
3.6V rechargeable batteries in the light.
(Rating updated April 2003 to reflect ongoing testing
and update to rating system.)
+ + + Pluses: Relatively tough, Needs
no batteries - instant light when you need it, Bright on "high"
- good light on "low"
- - - Minuses: Not very water resistant,
Heavy, Cannot stand on end, Cranking takes some effort if