This summer, on a couple family camping trips, I put a new Coghlan's item up to the test. The LED Micro Lantern costs $7.99 and weighs less than 1 oz. It looks like a toy or a keychain trinket. But hang it from the ceiling in a tent and you'll be impressed with the little lantern's ambient illumination.
At 2 inches tall, the company (www.coghlans.com) brags that the Micro Lantern can illuminate "an entire camp site and replace your old bulky lantern."
Bolstered by a 5mm LED and a conical reflector, the light can brighten a picnic table in utter night enough to eat, cook or organize gear. But replace the "old bulky lantern" burning white gas with its mantles ablaze? Nope.
In a tent, the Micro lantern was more at home. I hung it from its carabiner clip on a nylon loop at the zenith of our six-person Kelty.
The tent, an octagonal dome with a mesh ceiling and shadowy corners, was softly lit by the press of a button, the Micro Lantern casting its LED haze enough to roll out sleeping bags, hang out and get ready for bed.
To read comfortably while laying down, however, I had to wear a headlamp.
The Micro Lantern comes with two tiny lithium batteries that are quoted to power the light for 25 hours. An emergency strobe feature will flash for 50 hours, the company says.
Coghlan's markets the light for backpackers and campers. For its size, the light was impressive. But for adequate illumination camp-wide, don't leave your headlamp behind.
Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.