Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Product Review: UCO Micro Candle Lantern

Chaplain Tim has been talking about various lighting methods recently, and I decided I wanted to chime in with one of my favorites, and review a new gizmo I picked up.

I've been on the lookout for a candle lantern for a while now.  A couple friends had them when we were kids, and they were great for camping trips.  They were cheap to buy, cheap to run, and didn't require special, potentially dangerous fuels that might worry our parents.  I finally stumbled across the UCO Micro Candle Lantern at a local sporting goods store, and it looked like just what the doctor ordered.

Collapsed lantern.

Set up for use.

Base removed for candle access.
Spare candle storage.

Candle lanterns have several appealing features, particularly the tealight variety.  They tend to be more compact and lighter than other light sources.  They don't require batteries or volatile fuels.  Candles can be purchased for a song, and will store virtually forever.  Those with a bit of knowledge can even make their own candles, and citronella candles can also be had, giving the additional benefit of keeping insects away.  They also generate a bit of heat, although I wouldn't depend on one for a primary heat source in any but the most dire of situations.

UCO makes several varieties of candle lantern, in several sizes and taking different candles.  The Micro takes common tealight candles, with an advertised burn time of 4 hours per candle.  One candle is held in the ready position, and the other is kept in the base.  I haven't tested the burn time claim, but it doesn't seem unreasonable based on other tea light burn times I've observed. It collapses down to roughly 2.5" in all dimensions, and weighs less than a quarter pound (including both candles), making it easy to fit into a pack or BOB, with negligible weight.  Build quality and finish are quite good.  Everything fits together snugly but moves smoothly.  The handle has a chain and hook attached, making hanging the lantern a simple affair.

These little lanterns really shine when it comes to performance.  I took mine into my master bathroom to test light output (it's the darkest room in my house, having no outside light input.)  It very comfortably lit a room with over twice the square feet of any tent I own, and with a far larger volume.  Reflectors are also available to direct the light, which would increase brightness in desired areas.

All told, I highly recommend this little lantern.  4/5 stars on its own.  Once I pick up the reflectors, I expect it to be a full 5 stars. Depending on your intended use, their Original lantern may serve you even better.  The examples I handled had the same build quality, and took 9-hour candles, with a larger globe.

While I purchased mine locally, they can also be found on Amazon.  They're even available in a variety of colors, if that matters to you like it does to some.  Mine is blue, in no small part because it matches my pack.  I get the feeling that when I get one for my wife, it'll end up being purple.  I just know her that well.

Hopefully that sheds some light on the subject.


Dearest FCC: I found a product that I liked, I spent my own dollars on it, and now I'm telling folks about it.  It's that simple.  Go find a real problem to solve.

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