[Review] Fenix CL23 Lantern ... 3xAA + 300lm + Down & Front lights

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
CivilGearReviews's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 04/06/2016 - 12:55
Posts: 84
Location: San Jose, CA
[Review] Fenix CL23 Lantern ... 3xAA + 300lm + Down & Front lights

This is the newest addition to the growing Fenix lantern series, this one featuring 3XAA for extended runtimes off the grid.

Fenix CL23 Lantern Review CivilGear 000

Link to manufacture product page: http://www.fenixlight.com/ProductMore.aspx?id=3281&tid=31&cid=30#.W6snNGhKjIU


Overall, I really like 3XAA format and the extended runtimes. The light has some interesting modes such as front light, and a separate down light. The light is a very good at up-close and it works pretty good as an area/tent light but when hung up in the peak of a tent the down light is a bit too dim for my taste and the main beam pattern hits the ceiling more than pointing down, somewhat decreasing the available light. 

Quick Specs

The light uses 1, 2, or 3xAA batteries, Alkaline or NiMH (aka typical rechargeable). The runtime numbers in the table below are likely for NiMH so expect weaker performance from Alkaline. 





  • CL23 Lantern
  • Keychain/clasp
  • 3xAA Alkaline batteries
  • Spare O-ring
  • Manual
  • Warranty Card


Fenix CL23 Lantern Review CivilGear 015


There are two body colors, red and green.



 Current price is about $40 USD (buy links at the end of the review)

Look & Feel




Main comment is that the top cap can be hard to unscrew because of both the smooth grip on the outer plastic and the tight seal. Notice that the batteries are in parallel so you can you use 1, 2, or 3 cells, but you can’t access HIGH on 1xAA.




LED specs

No info is provided on the LEDs used in the light.


Beam Profile

Main beam: 83° FWHM

Bottom beam: 70° FWHM

Side beam: 138° FWHM

FWHM=the angle at which light output has reached 50% of maximum.

Note that the side beam never goes down to 0% because the diffuser scatters light in pretty much all the way behind itself

Currently, these readings are strictly sensor recorded, and are not adjusted based on human perception of light.


Main Beam



Down Beam 


Side Beam 



The main LEDs are more neutral than I expected, which is a nice surprise! The down light is down right neutral lol. On the right is the Nichia 219B in the Nitecore MT06MD penlight.


Output Levels

Below is a video going through the different levels.


Outdoor Beamshots

 All the pictures below are taken with the light in is corresponding brightest setting.




The light stays very close to 100% for a solid 6 min before slowly declining to 50% at 53 min; then levels out at 17.5% at the 7 hour mark where it ends.

This runtime test was run using 2000mAh NiMH rechargable Panisonic Eneloops.



 A max temp of 89.4°F was observed for High.

PWM Check

There appears to be no significant PWM on any constant mode. For comparison, the second graph shows PWM varying from 0 to 120 lx on the LOW mode on the Nitecore R25 flashlight.



There are no special modes.

User interface

Overall, the UI is very easy to learn and use as most of the modes are in a single primary cycle and thankfully the light has mode memory so you don’t have to scroll back to your previous mode! To get to red, while ON double click the switch. Pretty neat that there is a “Front” mode where you can have a bit of directionality of the main light.

Some UI features it doesn’t have are: white flashing modes like SOS or beacon, there’s no electronic lockout (only physical), no shortcut to low, and no battery indicator light.

Fenix CL23 User Interface Diagram CIVILGEAR 01_1



  • 3xAA format is very unique
  • Good neutral tint
  • So many light sources (main, down, front, and red)
  • Straight forward UI


  • No battery indicator
  • Lid is a little hard to open
  • Perhaps a magnetic base would be nice
  • Maybe a rubber base would be nice


The current price for the light is about $40 USD 

FenixStore.com: https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-cl23-lightweight-camping-lantern/ (non-affiliate)




  • CivilGear Reviews received this product from Fenix-Store.com testing and providing an honest review.
  • CivilGear Reviews was not paid for writing this review.
Edited by: CivilGearReviews on 09/29/2018 - 01:34
hodor's picture
Last seen: 23 hours 28 min ago
Joined: 07/11/2018 - 03:58
Posts: 1063
Location: UK

I was curious to see if there were any 3xAA soda can style lights and found this. Thanks for the detailed review Thumbs Up .

Looks like a cute little lantern. Shame there are no details on the emitters.

Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 01/16/2017 - 19:03
Posts: 430
Location: New Brighton

The output drops to under 20% after two hours? Even if we add 25% runtime for Eneloop Pro that seems like a severe drop.

I also have a rant about marketing literature. “Fashionable”? I’m picturing myself walking down the boulevard gently swinging my fashionable lantern like a boss. Or maybe the context was just camping. I can get girls in my tent because my lantern is sexy?

Last seen: 5 days 12 hours ago
Joined: 12/10/2017 - 12:46
Posts: 4341
Location: US

Actually looks like a very nice lantern for the universal AA batteries. Thanks for the review!

Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 01/16/2017 - 19:03
Posts: 430
Location: New Brighton

I will say that a compact lantern that allows 1-3 aa seems like an ideal setup.

Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
Joined: 10/30/2017 - 16:56
Posts: 1163
Location: Earth

Wow, That looks cool.