Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Evolution of Light

Up until recently my choice of tent light was a 'Luxeon' Camping lantern bought from Lidl, I've seen these available with a variety of brand names including Silverpoint (The logo on mine is the same as on a Silverpoint) Now while the light was fine for family camping in a 3 man tent I found a couple of problems when I used it in a solo tent, first the led is pretty bright and as it's hung from the inner tent it's quite close to eye level and is a bit like being flashed by a camera, the other problem is that as it's a lantern style it creates it's own shadow, an eclipse effect which reduced the amount of light in the very place where I needed light, at floor level. In addition it's pretty heavy at 205g and unlike my headtorch which uses AAA batteries the lantern used AA's.

My next tent light was found by accident in Dunelm Mill fabric shop, an Osram Dot-it 3 Led light. These can be found in a variety of places i more than one version. Mine is the Osram Dot-it Dimmer which unlike the standard model can be used with 1,2 or 3 LED's switched on. After a bit of messing around I ended up drilling 2 holes on the edge and threading a piece of 1.5mm guyline through it to allow me to hang it from a loop on the inner tent. This little lamp works really well, the LED's are barely visible as they're almost recessed and as they point straight down there's no shadow. It cost about £5 and weighs 56g with 3 x AAA lithium batteries. The only problem, and it's a minor one is that as you simply press the 'glass' to switch it on you need to reverse one of the batteries before packing it to avoid it being switched on accidently.

Finally I was pointed in the direction of the Silverpoint Mini Lantern which I bought from Original Outdoors Gear , £4.99 and free postage if you opt for 2nd Class. I ordered it on Sunday night and it arrived on Tuesday. The Mini Lantern uses 2 x CR2032 button cells and provides light for up to 25hrs. According to the information on the packaging it switches off automatically afer 2 hours. It's really small and only weighs 32g but unfortunately it suffers from the same problems as the Luxeon (Silverpoint) Lantern in that it's blinding to look at and it creates a shadow, much worse than the bigger model in fact. The problem with the lantern style is that light can't be directed downwards through the base so what I came up with was to cut off the top of the lantern at the hanging loop (junior hacksaw), remove the top ribbed reflector and hang the lamp upside down allowing the light to be directed downwards. This solved the shadow problem and by wrapping a piece of masking tape around the 'globe' avoided the problem of being blinded by the LED. I needed a method of suspending the light so I drilled 2 holes through the battery compartment screw cap and threaded a piece of 1.5mm guyline throught the holes, as there wasn't enough room for knots on the guyline I simply melted the ends of the guyline and flattened them into nail head shapes to prevent the cord pulling through. The Lantern now works much better, directing the light where I need it, the LED no longer blinds me and to top it all it now only weighs 20g. I could reduce this by shortening the 'globe' to half its current length.

So how bright is it? well it concentrates the light better than the much larger 3 x AA lantern which is probably better in a solo tent, is 185g lighter and about £20 cheaper, no contest in my opinion.


  1. Brilliant (!) modification. I've got one of these that I'll have a crack at before my next trip out.

  2. Great stuff. Substantially lighter than other LED camping devices I've seen, such as the 28 LED camping light: http://www.cableuniverse.co.uk/catalog/cables/28-LED-Camping-Light.html

  3. Further to my previous note, this site seems pretty much in line with your ideas on the evolution of light!


  4. That looks interesting, I wonder how much it weighs.