As an outdoor publication, there’s pretty much a constant stream of cool gear rolling through our office. It’s definitely a perk, but one of the unfortunate side effects is that we tend to become a little numb to it. I’m aware of how that sounds, but it’s like attending Barrett Jackson. Seen on their own, any one of the cars there would be cool, but amidst hundreds of other vehicles it takes something special to really stand out. Much to my surprise, the new ARB Adventure Light 600 had that something special.
Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the last adventure light. It felt sort of cheap, was bright orange, and looked like something included in those terrible roadside emergency kits you’d find at a grocery store. To make matters worse, the thing needed to be plugged in to work, which made it difficult to position, limited its use to around the truck, and was totally pointless if you were chasing down an electrical failure. Needless to say the new light had a long way to go.
I received our test unit in the mail about 2 months ago, and upon opening the box immediately knew ARB had taken things to the next level. The components are neatly separated in a dense foam insert, the box has a magnetic lid, and there are no cruddy wrapping materials to be seen. It feels more like unwrapping a new tablet instead of a camp light. The 600 itself feels solid, and has a good heft without being unnecessarily heavy. ARB wisely ditched the old hard plastic shell, and replaced it with a thick rubber surround which feels good under your hand and provides plenty of grip. The face sports a smooth orange insert with topo lines and ARB’s logo, as well as a backlit battery display which indicates charge percentage in quarter marks.
In the field the Adventure Light 600 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, primarily in practicality. The biggest advantage is that you’re no longer tied to the vehicle’s power source. With a 3.7-volt, lithium ion 4400 m4H battery you can now move about the camp or position the light where it works best, instead of only where you can reach the cable. With a 6-hour battery life on the 300 lumen setting, it’s even possible to use it for evening hikes, and we have on several occasions.
The second huge improvement was made in hardware. The new 600 features two fold flat hooks on the back and two high power magnets, a combination that seems to accommodate just about any mounting position you desire. The hooks fit perfectly on the end of an awning or the rear hatch of a vehicle, and thanks to their pivoting ends the light can easily hang facing downward, a notable weakness on the last model. We’ve found this setup to work best for illuminating a kitchen or cargo space, or lighting up a campsite for an evening of cards.
Of course, the hooks don’t always cut it, and that’s where the magnets come in. I tend to avoid placing them on the sides of my vehicle as grinding the dust and dirt into the paint will certainly cause scratches, but they’re well suited to a roof rack, bumper, tire carrier, or accessory. That being said, it is under the hood where they really shine (bad light pun). Here the magnets make it easy to throw the adventure light onto a frame rail, the underside of the cab, or darn near anything else within reach. Just be sure to remove the light from the vehicle once you’re done.
Each light has two output settings; low at 300 lumens with 6 hours of battery life, and high at 600 lumens and 3 hours of battery life. The power on the low setting is what I would expect from most camp lights, but on high this thing feels like a small sun. The beam pattern is very wide, so don’t expect a great distance out of it, but it is great for flood pattern tasks.
By using the light sparingly I’ve been able to run it for most of my trips without depleting the battery, but ARB includes a branded 12-volt USB plug and cable just in case. From zero it will take about 4 hours for the light to reach 100 percent, which isn’t fast, but acceptable.
I really tried to think of a complaint for this light, and the closest I can come is to say I wish they had made it waterproof. As it stands the Adventure Light 600 carries an IP54 rating as dust and water resistant, meaning you can hang it out in the rain and it will be okay. That’s really as much as most of us need, but making it submersible would have been next level cool. Unfortunately, it would have also made it next level expensive, so in the end I can’t even make that complaint. I’ll just be happy with the $59 price tag.
In the seemingly endless pool of products out there, the ARB Adventure Light 600 really does shine through. It’s a brilliant cross of rugged components, simplistic design, and usable features, which has earned it a permanent spot in both my camping gear and tool kit. If you’re searching for the perfect light for your vehicle, or just need some additional illumination in camp, you could do a heck of a lot worse than the ARB Adventure Light.
To find out more, view it on the ARB website here.