More things to push back the darkness

This past weekend, Naienko and I attended Outsidecon.  It’s a small scifi convention that takes place every year at a local state park (hence why I like to call it “when geeks go camping”).  It being in the middle of a heavily wooded park where many of us stay in tents, you tend to need some form of portable illumination.  Flashlights work ok, and the little Fennix E11 that I wrote about yesterday worked well in that role, but for the tent or playing games you really want a lantern.  This is also the case if you ever have power outages, which is not unusual in my area.

A while ago, I ran across a a couple neat items by Coleman.  The first one is fairly small on the scale of lanterns.  At roughly 5″ tall and 3″ in diameter, the Microburst Mini-Lantern will slip into a cargo pocket fairly easily, and each of the four pods produce 10 lumen, for a total of 40 lumen.  I used this one at last year’s outside con, and hanging it from the ceiling of my tent, I had plenty of light to read into the night.  They claim that it will run for 25 hours before you need to replace the 4 AA batteries that power the core unit.

The second is the big brother to the Microburst.  The Coleman LED Quad Lantern is about 13″ tall and roughly 7″ in diameter, this is more in the class of serious lanterns.  They claim a total of 190 lumen, so I’m guessing that splits into about 42 lumen per panel.  I do know that it was bright that folks were joking about my tent being bright enough that they could see it from space.  It is pretty hefty due to the 8 D cell batteries that power it.  The company claims that you should expect about 75 hours of run time before changing them.  I threw fresh batteries in before going to the con, and left it on between dusk and retiring for the evening (around 1 or 2 am) both nights.

The thing that sets these lanterns apart from your standard lantern is the four removable pods.  Each one has it’s own power source (rechargeable batteries in the case of the big guy, CR2032s in the case of the mini).  While on the base station, they are controlled and run off the base station, but can easily be detached and carried separately.  This can be especially handy if you’ve got multiple folks hanging around and one or two need to do something away from the group.  Sure, everyone *should* be carrying their own flashlight, but it’s nice to have a backup plan.  This is especially true for power outages or other emergencies where the flashlights are in another location.  Naienko snagged one of the smaller pods for wandering around at night over the weekend, and it provided plenty of light.

As with any product, these guys are not perfect.  I would like it if it was possible to configure which lights came on when attached to the base station.  They’re either all on or all off.  It would also be nice if the mini lantern had a proper dedicated handle on the base station.  These guys also aren’t cheap.  You can probably get a brighter lantern for less.  The detachable panels feature means that it’s more complexed, and therefor more expensive to make.

At least one of these two lanterns will be with me when I go camping, and will be one of the first things I grab when the lights go out during a dark and stormy night.

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