I had a friend once say, camping is fun until it gets dark. Then all the scary movies you watched as a child start to replay in your head. The clowns start creeping, the swamp monster emerges for his nightly snack and there is nowhere to run, except the dilapidated cabin hiding the inbred local ready to make you into his permanent roomie.
Somehow these fears seem to disappear if we know we have a reliable light source. Maybe if we can see the threat coming we can better plan our escape or plan to outrun our slowest friend.
Lighting after dark can be a luxury for some and a necessity for others. I need to have reliable lighting to feel safe while camping with others or alone. Rocko is also very much afraid of the dark and will stick like glue at my side if he does not have light. So this past Christmas I was excited to receive a brand new camp lantern from a friend. I typically rely on my Backcountry Headlamp and a few table lanterns I reviewed HERE. These lanterns work fine but they are a bit bulky and take up a fair amount of space in my pack.
I was given a Luci Outdoor Lantern, which is a solar-powered collapsible lantern that slides easily into my bag. The lantern is practically weightless as it is made out of thick plastic that I inflate to increase the distance of the light. I took my lantern with me on my trip to Arizona and it shined (pun intended) when it came to its packability (not sure if that's a real word). It took up little to no space in my already overstuffed pack and was easy to operate when it came to prepping dinner in the dark. One night we even clipped two of the lanterns to our tripod to create a taller light to light everything around us in the field.
It worked like a charm!
Charging the lantern was as simple as remembering to NOT pack it the next morning and place it on our dashboard, solar panel side up, while we drove. I'm not 100% sure how long it took for the lantern to charge fully but we can guess that it was anywhere from 1 to 3 hours during our drive from Sedona to Monument Valley in semi-direct sunlight. Once fully charged we used the lamps that night for 3 - 4 hours while we cooked and hung out around the fire.
I would have to say this is the most useful gift I got for Christmas this year. This lantern will be thoroughly tested my friends so expect lots of updates on how it holds up to multiple camping trips. So far I say it's well worth the $20 bucks on Backcountry.com!