R-PAL Lantern from RTG

r-pal_featured_grande

Okay, y’all…let’s get this out of the way right up front. This little lantern is relatively expensive when compared to the likes of a Rayovac or Streamlight. With all due respect I suggest that you stop reading now if you are not of a mind to spend a bit more for what this little light offers.

Okay? Are you still there?

If you are still reading you are likely curious as about this little lantern so I will do my level best to provide you with an unbiased assessment of the R-PAL lantern from RTG. I must confess that when I first received the test sample I thought, “Really? $129 for this little lantern?”  I have a history of purchasing very expensive flashlights, but LED lanterns are fairly inexpensive.

As I have used it over the past few weeks it has really grown on me, and it really impressed me during last night’s power failure in my neighborhood. I will almost surely buy one – this sample is strictly on loan and I have grown accustomed to having one around.

Comparison to Streamlight LED lantern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This light differs in many ways from the ubiquitous LED lantern: it’s VERY small, it’s VERY bright, it has 15 brightness levels (2.3 to 300 lumen), it uses 3 state-of-the-art Cree XLamp XB-D emitters with a very nice 3000k color temperature (think incandescent light bulb tint). It uses rechargeable li-ion batteries, specifically 18650, rather than the more typical C or D cells (or even AA.) While that might be a hassle for some, the benefit is that the 18650 cell produces ~3.7V in a form factor not much larger than an AA cell and can be recharged many times.  The 30 hour run time is also impressive.  Solid construction and good sealing – light is claimed to be waterproof to IPX67 standards

Parts

Comparison to D sized battery

Technical specs:

Model R-PAL
Weight 3.0 oz / 86 g (without battery)4.7 oz / 134 g (with battery)
Dimensions Diameter = 1.6 in / 42 mmLength = 4.1 in / 104 mm
Mounting Holes (2) 1/4″-20 x 0.28″ (For Tripod or Camera D-Ring)
O-Rings (2) AS568A-024Fractional Size: Width = 1/16″, Inner Diameter = 1 1/8″, Outer Diameter = 1 1/4″
Battery (not included) Lithium-Ion 18650 Protected 3.7V
Average Battery Life 30 hours
LED Cree XLamp XB-D
LED CCT Range 3000K
LED Typical CRI >80
Light Output 2.3 – 300 lumens
Projection Angle 360°
Brightness Settings 15 logarithmic settings
Modes Normal, Flashing, SOS
Automatic Shut-Off Capable Yes
Automatic Shut-Off Time 18 min
Waterproof / Dustproof Rating IP67 (Protected against water immersion – Immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter)
Temperature Rating -4 to 104°F / -20 to 40°C (limited by battery)
Impact Resistance 5 ft / 1.5m (excludes scuffing)

RTG’s web site identifies the company as a “microchip” company that (paraphrasing) couldn’t find a small, variable brightness lantern – so they made their own. In conversations with the company you quickly discover the pride they take in this little product (rightly so.) It has state-of-the-art controls and construction – and RTG is an American company (30 years in California) and this is an American made product.

I mentioned the power failure last night. Being a pseudo prepper and flashlight nerd ensures that there is no shortage of lights around the house. I have 2 LED lanterns on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen and flashlights everywhere, but I chose this little lantern to light up the bathroom area – it was so small that it sat on top of the shower door and illuminated the sink / bathroom area as my wife and I got ourselves ready for bed.

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(I apologize for the impromptu lousy iPhone photo…)

It has standard ¼ inch tripod style holes on each end – and includes a D-Ring that can be installed on either end – ideal for hanging inside a tent or from a tree in a camp site – and the light is small enough that you could attach it with a carabiner to your backpack.

D Ring - tripod mount

As mentioned earlier, the quality of light is very nice. You don’t want to stare at the darn thing when it is on ‘high’, but for a larger area the high level projects a nice, warm glow.

Light pattern

The levels are adjusted by either holding the ‘up’ or ‘down’ button or repeatedly pressing them.

What would I change? I wished out loud for a ‘frosted’ LED cover that would diffuse the light. RTG’s logical answer is that such a cover would reduce the output…frankly I wouldn’t care. It would still likely be bright enough. And mentioning that cover, it concerns me how easy it is to remove and expose the bare LEDs. It might be good to have some way to secure the lens/cover – screw it into the base or something. Or maybe protect the LEDs with a thin layer of epoxy or something. RTG indicated that they are constantly seeking ways to improve the product, so who knows what the future holds…

Exposed LED large

Meanwhile, is this little lantern ‘worth’ $129? Only the market can answer that question – RTG indicated that they are aware that it is a premium price but at a level necessary to cover their costs and make a small profit. I believe that.

My personal opinion is that, compared to all the choices, it is worth it.



Dan M

Love firearms and flashlights – and they go well together. I’ve been admiring and writing about quality flashlights for about 9 years…built my own integrating sphere….done a few mods. Proof positive that a 59 year old can still love toys!


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  • I really like the design of this flashlight, and the fact that it can be used with protected 18650 batteries.

    But that price!

    • MP

      Wait a week, go on ebay, buy the chinese clone (that will be just as good) for $7.95 shipped. Because that’s how much these cost to produce.

      I know that there is R/D factored into price, but LED flashlights (of all form factors) are a known quantity at this point.

      • Mystick

        Check Alibaba… they’ll have it first, so you’ll know it’s in the pipeline.

      • RTG, Inc.

        Hi MP,

        As the manufacturer, I can certainly guarantee you that your BOM, which does not include assembly of any of our 4 circuit boards or the device itself, costs more than a Streamlight Siege. The LED’s themselves run about $1 apiece, and the Sullins connectors (also made in the USA) also run around $.

        That’s $6 in LED’s and connectors. But, that’s the price we pay for quality. If the Chinese are able to produce a physical clone, then more power to them.

        They’ll never get our chip though 🙂

  • sianmink

    The cover is a solid ring of clear plastic. There’s about 5 dozen good ways to frost it, and some of them are even reversible. get a frosted glass window applique and wrap it around that sucker.

  • allannon

    I understand the reasoning behind the 18650s, but but they’re a turn-off for me.

    I already have AA lights, chargers, and a solar panel with a AA charger/USB battery; the benefits of a common battery, for me, outweigh those of 18650 cells.

    And everything in the house takes AA anyway.

  • Pete

    18650 is fine as long as it is tuned to use 3-8V input allowing 2 X CR123, RCR123, LiFePO4 usage in a pinch. 18650’s are great cells, but they are pretty much a mail order thing and you don’t keep more than a couple because of Li-Ion chemistry degradation over time. While I like AA things as well, they are very good reasons to avoid that as a battery source for this sort of light. I understand many people don’t keep CR123’s around, but it’s not the year 2000 anymore either – lots of us do (and many can get them from work). For that matter, quality CR123’s can be had for less than E2 AA cells these days.

    Also, as far as diffusing, if there is a plastic cover, just run scotch tape over it – frosts things up nicely for free.

    • RTG, Inc.

      Hi Pete,

      I thought I would mention that we are planning on releasing additional lens replacements, which include frosted and colored variants.

      However, your scotch tape idea is also a mighty fine solution!

  • Blake

    li-ion batteries make sense for this kind of device as they have much better energy density than nimh, but it would have been more practical to integrate the battery & add a USB charging port. That’s more complicated on cheap devices, but I can’t imagine that adding USB charging to a $129 device would add much to the baseline.

    • RTG, Inc.

      Hello Blake,

      At the time of design it was not so much the complexity as it was the size. The majority of the length of our device is actually due to the molded in 1/4-20 threaded inserts. Our circuitry is only about 1/4 of an inch tall, and is extremely dense.

      We wanted something that was small and durable. If we were to add the charging circuitry, we would have to add a USB slot, and then design a sealing mechanism to retain our IP67 rating, which may add more bulk to the R-PAL.

      However, we may roll out a larger version with said features in the distant future.

      • Chief Homeslice

        If you rolled that out I’d buy one.

      • Blake

        Makes good sense. Thanks a lot for the reply.

  • noob

    does it come in any other color than white? the body plastic looks like plumbing pipe.

    • RTG, Inc.

      Hi noob (no offense),

      We are working at getting the entire fixture in matte black. Currently, the special aluminum boards that the LED’s are mounted on are white. We actually inspect the boards, and if they are not white enough, we send them back.

      Also, I assure you we are not using PVC. We specify BAYER UT6007 (or equivalent), which according to Bayer: “offers an exceptional low-temperature impact strength, good flowability and excellent chemical resistance.”.

      We basically want to be able to get oil, grease, gasoline or whatever on it and not have the fixture dissolve on us.

      • noob

        Thanks! that’s good to hear.

  • gunslinger

    what is IPx67 rating? IPx6 would mean it’s resistant to water penetration from powerful jets, but has no real dust/partical protection.

    IP 67 is dust tight with water protection from immersion in <1m depths.

    • RTG, Inc.

      Hi gunslinger. You are correct in that the R-PAL is rated at IP67. We have taken several measures to ensure the dust proof side of things:

      1) we molded the threaded inserts directly into the plastic, ensuring no entry points from either cap
      2) we used a special overmold that chemically bonds with the plastic, ensuring no leakage or exposure through the buttons. dust will also not prevent the buttons from actuating the internal switches.
      3) we have two o-rings that seal both ends of the lens, which are also pre-lubricated with silicone grease

    • Dan M

      Yeah, sorry folks. Typo. Everything published on the light lists it as “IP67”. Thanks, RTG and gunslinger for clearing up my error.