Summer is rapidly approaching us once again. This means later evenings, warmer weather, and that wonderful outdoorsy pastime: camping! Of course, this calls for special lights.
Meat and Potatoes
Camping lanterns have seemed to me to be an area absolutely ripe for innovation. The old method of containing burning gas or propane within an ashen silk mantle seems positively archaic by today’s standards. Compact fluorescent bulbs have never felt like a genuine option, since the delicate glass bulbs come standard with toxic mercury as an integral component. LED is definitely the way of the future.
I’ve had just about every form of camping lantern over the years, so I feel fairly well qualified to judge. Just recently I’ve even had the opportunity to see some quality LED models. The Nitefighter version doesn’t try to rewrite the book with lantern innovation, but simply feels like a very solid option using subtle variations on traditional LED technology.
The unknown LEDs sit inside an integrated set of diffuser panels, spreading the warm white illumination evenly around a wide area. I’ve read somewhere that they are 0.5W Nichia LEDs, but I don’t know for sure. Power is supplied by a trio of D cells that should be capable of maintaining significant output over an enormous stretch of time. Once again the actual LED module is obfuscated, so I am unable to guarantee exactly what brand and model is in play here. As a point of good news though to all the tint connoisseurs, this camping lantern lands solidly within the neutral to warm white end of the spectrum.
The lantern has a useful 3 mode interface without mode memory. Whatever mode you are using when you turn it off, you will start on the full 300 lumen high. quickly pressing the electronic switch again will lower it to a lesser constant output mode, and pressing it again will send the lantern into a perpetual SOS mode. Unfortunately, this is actually just a perpetual S-O mode, but I know I’m not likely to use it anyway, so not really an issue. After the light has been in one mode for enough time (a couple seconds), pressing the button again will turn it off, regardless of mode. It’s actually a very efficient and natural UI and I rather like it. Hidden away behind a long-press of the button when the lantern is off, is a pseudo-flashlight mode. This lights up a separate LED on top of the flashlight that is focused forward like a torch. I say pseudo-flashlight, because I wouldn’t want to lug something this cumbersome around too long in that configuration. 3XD cells side by side doesn’t strike me as terribly ergonomic.
Once again we run afoul of the bane of inexpensive illumination. Plastic and permanent assembly. This looks to be quite a nice little light, with lots of capability stored within its limited intentions. The drawback is a complete and utter lack of repairability, and a fragile shell containing it. Under the standard use level of a casual camper, it should hold up for years to come, but it doesn’t possess any kind of true ruggedization for occasions beyond casual use. Also, I have thus far been unable to determine any method of disassembly that doesn’t require breaking apart permanently glued pieces (or more likely, breaking the pieces themselves). It’s a good lantern, but probably not a lifelong purchase.
I’m always looking to improve evening camping, or emergency preparedness options. This Camp 500 lantern fits right into my lifestyle without question. It isn’t super durable, or necessarily the brightest thing on the market, but it is a pleasing light, with a useful UI that should work for some time.
Provided for review by the kind folks at NiteFighter.
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