UPDATE May 2007: For those of
you who missed out on this lantern at Target, reader
Mikhail V. has pointed out that a similar (but possibly
different) lantern is available for $10.00 from an online
company called the LED
Shoppe. I've never bought from them, so I can make
no statements about their service.
The River Rock lantern is a HUGE surprise in my experience.
We have a small and surprisingly lightweight single
LED lantern that uses one of the brand new Nichia Jupiter
high output LEDs (a competitor for Luxeon), with a fairly
durable and well made polymer body, with a regulator
circuit to control output, available at a DEPARTMENT
STORE for under 20 bucks! This unit was purchased from
Target. You usually never see lights of this caliber
at a department store.
Body: The body is made from some type of polymer with
a silver finsih on the plastic parts. The base has 6
notches to improve grip for removing the battery compartment
lid. There are 3 little rubber grips on the base to
keep it from slipping. Although the base is narrow,
since all of the weight from the batteries is at the
very bottom it does not have the predisposition to tip
over. Around the body is a rubber sleeve with 6 ridges/grooves
running lengthwise. The globe is polycarbonate and is
topped off with a silver plastic cap that has the chromed
handle and an upper cap which protects the circuitry
and contains the switch.
Bezel/Head: Inside the globe you will see the LED at
the very top surrounded by a polycarbonate dome and
a sliver ring. This is attached via two arms to a lower
conical polycarbonate shelf which has a sliver reflector
built in. This is a very clever way to spread out the
beam. The light from the LED spreads outward through
the upper polycarbonate ring just below the upper silver
ring. Light that is projected down hits the reflector
and the lower polycarbonate cone and is projected out.
Below this whole assembly is silver plate at the base
of the globe. This reflects any light that misses the
cone reflector up and out, giving yet another opportunity
for the light to be projected beyond the lantern. The
two contact/support rods on either side of the light
module are also chromed so as to reflect light outward
as well. All-in-all, a very nice design.
Output description: Output is not in the form of a
super smooth beam. As a result of all of the reflective
surfaces the beam produced is stratified like sedimentary
rock. Adding a layer of smoothing material inside or
around the globe would greatly diminish light output,
so the stratified-looking beam is a minor price to pay
in order to get as much light OUT of the lantern as
is possible. In addition to it's constant-on option,
pressing the switch a second time causes the light to
strobe about 4 times a second. This is a real attention
Beam in front of target
Runtime Plot: This is where I was totally stunned by
this lantern. The Nichia Jupiter LED is fed with a regulator
circuit! Sure the regulation isn't perfect, but it's
pretty good, and it allows the lantern to provide light
for 8 hours before dropping to low levels. If you give
the batteries some time to recover the brightness will
pick back up again for a while. I never expected to
see this kind of regulation from a $20 department store
completed with Duracell batteries. More information
on runtime plots is available HERE.
Switch: The switch is a simple rubber covered click
switch. Press once for on, press a second time for the
strobe beacon, press a third time for off. The switch
is recessed to prevent accidental activation. The cap
that the switch resides on actually unscrews off of
the body (above the handle attachments) to reveal the
regulator circuitry hidden at the top of the lantern.
An O-ring seal protects the compartment and the board
has printed on it "LTJ-0154AA REV2" for you
techies that want to check it out.
Seals / Water Resistance: The whole thing seems very
well sealed against the entry of water or the environment.
I'm rather confident that it would withstand a quick
dunk without any problems based on all the O-ring seals
and basically tubular construction of the lantern.
If it gets wet inside, just disassemble as much a possible
without tools and let it dry before using again.
Ergonomics: As you can see in the picture, it's pretty
small for a 4-AA light. Compact and well engineered.
The baseplate which exposes the battery compartment
can be a bit difficult to put on and take off. I press
the entire lantern between my palms and rotate the palm
on the battery compartment to unscrew it. The O-ring
seal provides a significant amount of resistance to
twisting. The switch is very easy to operate and requires
a little bit of an inward press on the rubber cap to
turn it on. The little handle loop on top is large enough
for me to fit three fingers through with some room to
spare between my first knuckles and the top of the lantern.
Size compared to a common 2AA aluminum light
Batteries: For batteries, this light takes four AA
alkaline cells. It will run on rechargeables with no
noticeable decrease in output, but I did not complete
a rechargeables runtime, so I don't know how long it
To change out the batteries: unscrew the tailcap, drop
out the old cells, place in new cells observing proper
polarity. Reattach the tailcap and you're ready to go.
The tailcap includes a pivoting internal contact plate
with polarity protection built in to both the plate
and the inside contacts. The light will not work if
ANY of the cells are put in incorrectly. The contact
springs are fairly thick - not your common thin cheap
What I Liked: Watertight, Tough/impact
resistant (withstood several drops), Regulated/long
battery life, Bright, Lightweight, Stands up
What I Didn't Like: Battery compartment
can be a little tough to open/close
Other Things I Noticed: Wish list:
A variable output switch would have been nice so it
could be dimmed.
Conclusions: A great lantern, period.
Small, relatively lightweight, great output, very well
made. A little hefty for backpacking, but not too bad.
Great for all other types of camping and outdoor activities.
This is going right into my emergency kit for disasters
and power outages.