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Light your camp: Lanterns

Diffuse lighting solutions to brighten up your campsite.

Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry Lantern
.5 lbs.; 4"x4"x3" packed size, 150 lumens; 32 hr. burn time; $35.95; www.princetontec.com.

Leave the old heavy camp lantern behind. The Helix exemplifies the new surge in lantern technology – lightweight, multiple settings, rechargeable battery, and swipe technology. It collapses down to a very packable size, with legs that stand it up above the table, set it at an angle, and a hanging loop for overhead use. The globe is removable if you want a brighter hanging light and there are multiple ways to hang. It looks like a lunar landing module, and once you (at least people my age) get used to all the swiping options, it is fast and efficient to operate, from bright light to dim, red or pulsing. Then it squishes down to go in the bag until next time. Cool.

Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry Lantern

Black Diamond Apollo lantern
Intel: 12 oz.; 3"x5" packed size; rechargeable or AA batteries; 250 lumens; $59.95; www.blackdiamondequipment.com

Another new age lantern with push button/swipe technology, rechargeable batteries (also accepts 3 AA batteries), and a port to charge additional devices. Fold-out metal legs perch the lantern above the table level, or hanging loops suspend from above. The no-glare globe provides pleasant light up to 250 lumens and burns for 24 hours. Packs down to the size of a coffee mug.

Black Diamond Apollo lantern

Micropower Design Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Lamp
4.4 oz.; 5" diameter x 1" thick; 3 brightness settings (up to 75 lumen) and flashing; 10 white LEDs; 24 hr. burn time; no batteries – 7 hours charge time in the sun; $19.95; www.mpowerd.com.

These things are brilliant, literally. Originally the Luci lights were designed for 3rd world or emergency settings where power can be iffy or nonexistent. Camping applications came later, and they are pretty exciting. The Luci light weighs almost nothing, flattens to the size of a small pancake, powers efficiently in the sun, and lights up the tent from a hanging strap like no other. It really is a breakthrough. My only complaint is that the inflation is a little awkward (I pinch the valve and begin it manually before using my mouth) and the power buttons are hard to find by feel in the dark. Other than that, these are really, really cool.

Micropower Design Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Lamp

Click the links below to read about more camp lighting solutions:

The Flashlights

Versatile flashlights for multipurpose use on camping trips.


The Headlamps

No-frills headlamps that get the job done.


Light Your Camp: Home Page

Alan Kesselheim reviews nine lighting solutions for camping adventures.


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—Field Tested Four Biomass Fuel Stoves

—Field Tested: Three Person Tents

–Weather Tough Wheelies