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Klarus CL2 review
Klarus CL2 specifications
|Brand & Model||Klarus CL2|
|LED||N/A (cool white, warm white and red LEDs)|
|Max. output||750 lumens|
|Max. beam distance||–|
|Max. beam intensity||1712 cd|
|Battery config.||Built-in battery pack|
|Onboard charging||USB-C Onboard|
|Blinkies||Strobe and SOS|
|Review publication date||December 2022|
The flashlight world has gone abuzz in recent years with lanterns. Olight has a couple of variations including a brand new model, Lumintop has a fantastic offering, and of course, no one could forget about the BLF-LT1 with all of its offered variations. If you dig just a little bit, I am sure you will find a new lantern being released every month. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle of black metal cylinders that shoot light in a 360 degree pattern. So, what if someone were to make it white… and plastic… and let you decide how to direct your light panels by making each side independently indexable? But most of all, they kept an actual flashlight in the housing as well. It is a bold move to stand out. Let’s see if it pays off.
The white, printed thick cardboard box that the Klarus CL2 arrived in is big. I wondered how much extra space was going to be in the packaging once I opened it. To my surprise, there was literally almost no extra room. The actual light is considerably larger than I was anticipating and was encased in a soft, flocked bag, sitting next to an accessories package. Waste not, want not, I guess. Inside the accessories package, the charging cable, manual and iPhone adapter were squeezed together inside.
The full list of contents included are:
- Klarus CL2
- Carrying pouch
- Charging cable
- iPhone charging cable adaptor
- User manual
Flashlight in use
Getting the CL2 out of the box, it is apparent that this doesn’t quite follow the norm with Sofirn, Lumintop, or other lanterns of recent memory. This isn’t some black chunk of aluminum. Nor is it any other exotic metal. This is plastic. And, it’s a light gray color. The CL2 is a little over 5.5cm squared, but with a soft radius at each corner. Standing tall, at over 22cm, there is a whole lot of light here.
The entire top half is made up of four individually folding lantern panels that allow you to direct, or block, light in any direction except straight up. It will tail stand all day long, but won’t actually shoot light in an upward direction at all. When these are folded down, you can hear the audible clicks of a ball detent system to help keep them indexed as you have chosen.
Folding them down also exposes a silicon hanging loop and a ¼-20 tripod thread in the center. The silicon is quite soft to the touch but thick enough to make it feel quite durable. There is no pocket clip and feels much too large to be stashed away in a pocket, so, these, aside from setting it on a table, are the only means of supporting it. If you opt to carry it around by hand, you don’t have to worry about the cold feel of aluminum, as the plastic body stays warmer than metal in the cold, where I am testing it.
The radiused edges also make it more comfortable to hold. It has an e-switch located near the bottom. The switch cover is made of the same material as the charging port cover on the opposite side. It would have been nice to have some way to illuminate the switch, to make it easier to activate in the dark. On the bottom of the light, there is a small (17mm) lens for a flashlight that can be engaged and while the ergonomics are not perfect, it can easily be held to use this if needed.
Build Quality, and Warranty
The build quality is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Being made of ABS plastic, you are not getting the same machining tolerances of aluminum or any of the exotic metals used in modern flashlight construction, but everything is stout and there are no creaks to speak of.
The coloring of the CL2 is a light gray that kind of lends itself to being called white in the right light. The hinges for the folding lantern panels can twist slightly, but feel sturdy. When they are closed, they are held together by a set of magnets in each panel. After I took my photos for this review, I did perform a drop test to check the durability of the plastic and it passed with flying colors. After multiple drops, the only casualty is one diffusion lens popped off but easily snapped back in. My guess? It was the panel I removed earlier to take an internal shot of the lantern panel.
Now, my attempts at destruction were intentional, and there were still no issues or damage that arose from that testing. If the lantern you get happens to have any shortcomings, Klarus backs up the CL2 with a 1 year warranty. You can contact them via their website and things will get sorted. That being said, there were a few things that didn’t seem up to snuff as far as the quality of my unit goes. One, is the actual operational button. It would register around 95 percent of clicks that I threw at it. If I positioned my button pressing finger slightly favoring the top of the button, I would have slightly better success. On multiple attempts, I found that it would not register as a held press and instead cycled quickly through the main output configuration (warm low, warm medium, warm high and cool high) as if I pressed it multiple times really fast.
Every time this happened, I just shut it off and made more deliberate presses the next time. The second, and unfortunately this is a use feature I would utilize ALL the time, is the mount for the tripod. Upon inserting the tripod to hold the light, I found that it just kept spinning. I removed a screw to examine the fault and it turns out that there is a 1.5mmx1.5mm plastic nub/keyway that stops the tripod mount from spinning. If there is any force, it shears right off and doesn’t hold sturdy from that point on. Now, with this particular unit, since again, it is plastic, I am just going to epoxy it to use it to its full capacity. Not making it two pieces would definitely have been the way to go for Klarus.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
This will be broken up into 2 parts. First, we should discuss the main event, the folding lantern panels. There are 4 and each has individual LEDs for the warm and the cool modes. The diffusion is quite close to the actual emitters, so they are obligated to use more LEDs to get the same effect. For each mode, there are 24 LEDs. and that’s just one mode. Warm has 24, and then cool has 24 more. Oh wait, there is also the red strobe. Yeah, there are 10 more crammed in there for that too. By my math, that is a total of 58 separate emitters in just one panel.
And, there are 4 panels. 232 individual LEDs soldered onto every lantern. On an aside, if you want to count the flashlight portion and the battery indicators, there are a total of 237 leds inside every single CL2. Whew, that’s a lot. The warm white emitters didn’t have a temperature rating from the factory, but came in at just under 3000k while the cool white hit your eyes at 5350k. Both are 70CRI Ra, with the warm coming in just a hair less than the cool white. There was no tint shift though, as the numbers were consistent between low, medium and high.
Now onto the actual flashlight. For such a small light, and one I would have assumed would have been an afterthought, the singular thrower that is at the base of the CL2 is potent, considering it isn’t supposed to be the star of the show. Now, it is the brightest thing in the world, but measuring in at only 100 lumens, there is a decent amount of distance on this little guy. Thanks to a TIR reflector that seems to be relatively deep for its size, the light comes out in a fairly pronounced hotspot with an ever so slightly present two-stage corona. Appearing almost like a halo, there are two small rings floating around the center, giving it just a tiny bit of spill. The light came in at about 6750k and looks the part too, appearing to almost lean into a blue light.
Dimensions and size comparison
|Length||222 mm||8.7 in|
|Head diameter||56 mm||2.2 in|
|Body diameter||56 mm||2.2 in|
Dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter, and to the nearest tenth of an Inch.
|Klarus CL2 weight||Weight in grams||Weight in oz|
|With battery||411 g||14.5 oz|
Weight is rounded to the nearest gram, and to the nearest tenth of an Oz.
Flashlight size comparison with its competition:
Driver & User Interface:
The UI interface for the Klarus CL2 is almost, to me, like a more intelligent version of the standard “zoomie” variety. Pressing the button will turn on the “warm low” mode, and cycling through will then send you to “warm medium”, then “warm high” and finally “cool high”. However, if you stop to smell the roses and wait longer than three seconds, any click will then shut off the light. It can be a little tedious if you are looking to increase your brightness but have already had the lamp in a different mode. To turn on the flashlight, strobe or the SOS, the same procedure still applies, but you initiate this by holding the power button. This will start the cycle of your “secondary configurations”. It is kind of unusual to have a flashlight show up in your secondary modes, but it emphasizes that this is a lantern first and foremost. The other options? Well, those are a bonus.
Available modes: Warm Low, Warm Medium, Warm High, Cold High, Flashlight
Available blinky modes: Red Strobe, SOS
- Press and hold: Go into secondary configuration (Flashlight, Strobe and SOS)
- Single click: Turn the unit on
- Press and hold: Go into secondary configuration (Flashlight, Strobe and SOS)
- 1 click (within 3 seconds): Rotate between modes in configuration
- 1 click (after 3 seconds) Shut the light off
- No memory mode. Must cycle through all settings.
Low voltage warning:
- Just the battery indicator
- Strobe and SOS. Press and hold the power button from off, this will activate the flashlight. From here, a single press will move to a red strobe and then an SOS from the flashlight.
- No lockout mode present
- No PWM present
Batteries & Charging
The Klarus CL2 has an onboard USB-C charger as well as a powerbank function. Now, I am not exactly sure of the configuration of cells in this particular light, but being rated at 10400mah, I would guess 4*18650 cells. That is pure speculation though.
What I can tell you without certainty however, is that the charge topped out at 2A (exactly what the specifications say) and topped the light off to full in 5 hrs and 18 minutes. Not bad at all. The charging port is a USB-C port and it sits next to a full size USB-A port under a silicon cover. This is press fit to seal off outside moisture. Also under this cover are 4 little white LED indicators that let you know just how full the battery is. Between full capacity and 76 percent, all 4 lights will be illuminated, 3 lights for 75 to 51 percent, 2 lights for 50 to 26 percent and 1 light for 25 percent and under.
The full size USB-A port is present to give you a powerbank option to keep your other accessories charged up. This has the battery to spare, so it is nice they are giving you multiple ways to use it. I did test the fullsize USB-A port to charge my cellular phone and it worked quite well. My USB Meter showed it topped out at 1.9 amps but liked to stay around 1.5 amps.
All measurements were taken using a purpose built integrating sphere and an ExTech SDL400 datalogging lux meter. The known output from a light source (273lm Convoy S2+) was then taken into account when getting my figures calibrated for accuracy purposes. The built-in battery pack was fully charged for each performance test.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
|Mode||Specs||@turn on||@30 sec||@10 minutes|
Battery Life: Runtime graphs
All modes were tested using the built-in battery charged to full (When the charging sequence stopped)
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime ANSI||Time till shut off|
|Warm Medium||12h||17h 5min||17h 5min|
|Warm High||4h 45min||5h 3min||5h 3min|
|Cool High||4h 45min||4h 57min||4h 57min|
Some of these modes performed almost exactly as Klarus said they would. Others…. not so much. The runtimes on Warm Medium and the flashlight lasted significantly longer than the specifications called for. The driver keeps delivering enough juice to keep at a reasonable output level until it literally can’t anymore. This is why the ANSI runtimes lasted longer for some modes.
ANSI FL1 standards: The runtime is measured until the light drops to 10% of its initial output (30 seconds after turning on). This does not mean that the flashlight is not usable anymore. The last column shows how long the light actually works till it shuts off. If there is a + symbol, it means that the test was stopped at that particular point, but the light was actually still running. This happens on certain occasions, with certain drivers, firmware, or batteries.
Peak beam intensity and beam distance measurements
The Klarus CL2 was tested at 5 meters with the Opple Lightmaster Pro. There was an attempt to try from further back, but the omnidirectional nature of a lantern brought the light down too much to be able to get good numbers.
*manufacturer specifications not provided
The lantern has no specifications from the manufacturer, which is relatively normal for a lantern, but I am quite pleased with the figures I received. The flashlight mode seemed to exceed what I was expecting, but not by kilometers and I believe these figures.
Extra info: Peak beam distance according to ANSI FL1 standards: The calculated value of distance in meters at which the flashlight produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux. (0.25 lux is about the brightness of a full moon shining on an object). The columns ‘Meters’ and ‘Yards’ use rounded numbers.
Photos were taken using a Panasonic Lumix g7 set at ISO 200 and shutter 1/60. Unfortunately, the smaller image sensor doesn’t play well with low light levels, but I tried to stay consistent. Instead of beamshots, I tried to take some telling brightness shots of the output.
Lantern “glow” comparison of the following flashlights compared:
- Klarus CL2
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Klarus. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Indexable and directable lighting
- Unique design offers a lot of functionality
- Massive battery with powerbank feature
- Button presses can occasionally miss
- Needs stronger magnets in the folding panels
- Silicon strap gets in the way of using the tripod mount
- Tripod mounting failed during testing
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: a match would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
3.5 stars: ★★★⋆
There are many lantern options available out there and that number seems to keep growing. The more unorthodox design and material choice definitely helps the CL2 stand out as an option, and fortunately, the systems implemented are easy enough to use and give a good user experience that it climbs a little higher on the list of go to lanterns.
I have grown to enjoy the indexable heads offered and the customizability of light output it provides. If the button were more consistent and registered every single time, this would get an extra half star, but I start to question the longevity when newer systems don’t work as intended. On top of the fact that the tripod mount failed me during my testing, reducing my score another half star. These are the only shortcomings I found, and they are almost offset by the new, innovative features offered. All things said, the Klarus CL2 is deserving of 3.5 stars. With no button issues or tripod mount failure, it would get another star.