Thursday, September 15, 2011

Black Diamond Mini Lanterns

Need a lantern for inside the tent?  Black Diamond has two brilliant small lantern options, the Apollo Lantern and the Orbit Lantern.  Both utilize energy efficient long lasting LEDs.  Both lanterns are perfect for backpacking, using inside your tent, hammock camping, picnic tables, camp stove, and anywhere you want light.  It's not that blinding LED light you might be familiar with, but a diffused, more pleasing light due to the frosted globe.  At the same time they are both bright enough to be used for task lighting.  They don't take the place of a larger lantern for lighting up the whole camp, but they do what they were designed to do wonderfully. 

The foldaway legs allow you to adjust the height and the loops are great for hanging in the tent or a tree branch.  The loops are split so you don't need a carabiner to hang them, but you could also turn it upside down and hang it by the legs with a carabiner.  I love that you can dim the lantern, adjusting the light output and saving battery power for when you need it most.   It's about the size of a soda can, and a little lighter. The legs are super handy, allowing you to place the lantern on uneven surfaces and to help disperse light the way you need it.

Black Diamond offers a rechargeable battery system for both lanterns which comes with international adapters.  They can even be rigged for use with solar power, I've read about people taking these on research trips to remote locations and using them daily for months on end this way. 
Not long ago, BD sponsored a project to use solar power to recharge lanterns in a small village in Nepal.  To reduce the cost and risk of kerosene lighting, Apollo lanterns were given out to locals who then able to power them with solar panels.  This was life changing for the people in this village who used their savings to improve their water source.

You can utilize solar power with your own lantern by charging reusable batteries with a portable solar charger.  Burn life is up to 60 hours, depending on whether you have the lantern set on low or high.

For backpacking, if you are super mindful of weight, the Apollo's little brother, the Orbit is ideal.  It's about half the size of the Apollo and has a 1 watt output as opposed to the Apollos 3 watts.  It doesn't have legs like the Apollo, so it's not as stable, but it does have the split loops for hanging.  It would work great for a one or two person tent, or for hammock camping.  The globe, like the Apollo's globe, slides over the on/off button so it won't switch on accidentally in your pack and eat up all your battery life.  They come in different colors, so you could give one to each child if you are camping with kids, it's great for reading in the tent.  My son went bananas for these small lanterns, confiscating the Orbit immediately. 
Both lanterns would be great for travel or to keep in your emergency kit for power outages and emergencies.  Black Diamond has excellent environmental and fair labor programs, they also reach out in support of many environmental organizations--it's a company you can feel good about purchasing your gear from.  Find both lanterns HERE on their website.