On our recent trek I had a chance to try out a new piece of trekking gear that we’ve purchased for our groups – the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern.
This small LED lantern runs on 4 AA batteries, or there is the option to buy a rechargeable battery kit from Black Diamond. My preference was to use some AA Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries, and on a 3 night trek with temps getting down to just below 50° F only 1 of our 4 lanterns had the batteries run out. With AA batteries, though, it is easy to pack some spares for backup. The lantern also has a helpful battery indicator with green, yellow, and red lights to tell you how much juice you have left.
As advertised this lantern puts out some bright (but not harsh) light and the design does a good job of dispersing it. Since it’s not very tall I found hanging the lantern up in the tent was more effective at spreading out the light. When we had the lanterns standing on the ground, it took about 3 of them to sufficiently light up our large dining tent for a game of cards. However, when I hung them up from the center pole in the tent only 2 lanterns were necessary to light that big space. One lantern was plenty sufficient to light up my family’s 4-man tent.
Size comparison with a 1 liter Nalgene bottle
In addition to being bright the lantern can be dimmed to a lower light output. I really appreciated this feature since my wife and I had our 9 month old son with us in the tent. We didn’t want to wake him up with the bright light after he had gone to sleep. By pressing down on the on/off button I could dim the lantern to the lowest setting which was almost like a night light. There was still enough light for us to see around the tent, but not too bright that it bothered our sleeping baby.
Another positive factor for us with this lantern is the low weight. Even though we pack all our big gear on ponies rather than backpacking, it’s still helpful to reduce weight where we can. Our main light source for the dining tent has been a much heavier locally sold gas lantern. The Black Diamond lantern weighs just under 11oz with the AA batteries. Added all together the 4 lanterns we carried easily weighed less than the gas lantern, plus their small size took up less space when packed.
Size of the lantern when folded up and closed
Small and light doesn’t mean fragile, though. It passed the sturdy test with our infant son, as the lantern became his favorite object to play with in our tent during the day time. Being drooled on and tossed around were no problems. This lantern is well built and looks like it will last us a long time.
Overall I would definitely recommend this lantern for camping and trekking.