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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > Black Diamond Orbit Lantern 2010 > Test Report by Michael Williams

BLACK DIAMOND - 2010 ORBIT LANTERN
TEST SERIES BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 05, 2011

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Michael Williams
EMAIL: mlebwill@yahoo.com
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Milliken, Colorado, United States
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I was introduced to backpacking as a teenager through scouts in Colorado Springs, Colorado and fell in love with it. I continued to actively backpack through college and took a break to start a career and family. A few years ago we decided as a family to become very active in hiking, backpacking and camping. Currently my wife, son and I hike and backpack extensively in Colorado and South Dakota as a family. We continually look for the right balance of lightweight, durable, comfortable and safe gear for our family to enhance our outdoor experiences.


INITIAL REPORT

Product Information

Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com
MSRP: US$ 29.95
Listed Weight: 3 oz (85 g) without Batteries
Measured Weight: 3 oz (85 g) without Batteries
Measured Weight: 4.6 oz (130 g) with Batteries
Estimated Battery life: 10 hours (Hi setting), 24 hours (Low setting)
Stated Brightness: 45 lumens (Hi setting), 3 lumens (Low setting)

Requires 4 AAA Alkaline or Lithium Batteries
Optional NRG2 Rechargeable Battery Kit (sold separately)

Warranty: Limited Three Year Warranty

Product Details

The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern is a compact and lightweight lantern that is powered by 4 AAA batteries (alkaline or lithium) or the optional rechargeable battery kit that is sold separately. The lantern is collapsible with a frosted plastic globe that can slide down for storage. In the collapsed position, the lantern is just under 4" (9.5 cm) tall and is 5.5" (13.5 cm) tall when the globe is extended. The globe has to be extended to power the lantern on and off since the dimming switch is covered by the globe when collapsed.

IMAGE 1
The Lantern


The LED bulb is contained inside the globe, however it is covered by one of the dual reflector domes and the bulb itself is not visible. The dual reflector system consists of two mirrored domes at each end of the globe that captures and maximizes the light output. The top of the globe features the collapsible dual hook hanging loop system that allows for multiple hanging configurations. The base of the lantern, which is also the battery cap, has three rubber feet to aid in stability when the lantern is standing.

To power on the lantern, simply press the dimmer switch and the lantern turn on to the brightness setting, this is the default setting of the lantern. Once on, the brightness can be adjusted by pressing and holding the dimmer button until the desired brightness level is achieved; once achieved, the button needs to be released to set the brightness level. When the lantern is dimmed to the lowest setting, the lantern will flash indicating that the low level has been reached. If the button is not released at the low mark, the brightness will begin to increase and when the max brightness is reached the lantern will flash again and once again begin dimming if the button is not released.

Initial Impressions and Testing Strategy

I have been relatively unimpressed with LED lanterns in the past, but this is a bright lantern when set at the highest output. The frosted globe does a tremendous job at diffusing the light so the lantern does not glare very much and it offers a very pleasant light. The dimming system is great and the lantern can really produce light from 3 to 45 lumens and I can choose the setting anywhere in between.

IMAGE 2
On Hi, On Low and view of the Hanging Hooks


The lantern feels very sturdy and the weight of the batteries give it a very low center of gravity, the lantern feels like a well made piece of equipment. I am a little careful while expanding and collapsing the globe as that is the only mechanical portion of the lantern that could result in a catastrophic failure of the lantern if damaged.

I am very interested to see how well this lantern performs; battery life will be something that will be given great consideration during this test. Also, I plan on testing this lantern in winter conditions and I'm curious how severe cold temperatures will impact the lantern. I am already wondering how the dimmer switch will work while I'm wearing gloves.

Summary

I am excited to test this lantern, it is small, compact and lightweight which is everything that I am looking for in a lantern. I hate reading a book with a headlamp and the soft adjustable light that the Orbit Lantern gives may be the solution that I am looking for. I hope to put the lantern to good use this winter. This concludes my Initial Review of the Black Diamond Orbit Lantern; the Field Report which details my continued use has been appended below.


FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions and Performance

During the Field Report phase of the test I have used the Orbit Lantern on 2 overnight trips (1 car camping and 1 backpacking trip) for a total of 4 nights. Both of these trips were made in winter conditions with snow and temperatures below freezing. Since these trips were in the winter and the sun set around 5:30 pm the Orbit got quite a bit of use on these trips.

I would estimate that I used the Orbit for 12 hours on the high setting and an additional 4 hours on a dimmed setting. After 16 hours of run time, the Lithium batteries that I am using are still going strong. I have put in new batteries to see if the brightness changed with the new cells, but I can't tell a difference between the new or used batteries. I did try to change the batteries in the field with gloves on and that was very challenging, I couldn't do it with my gloves on.

The operation of the lantern was very easy with a glove which was something that surprised me. I had expectations that the gloves would make it difficult to turn the lantern on and off or adjust the dimmer and I found that I did not have a problem with that. In fact the hardest thing to do with gloves on was to lift the hanging loops into position which took some practice but now isn't an issue.

The lantern was very easy to use and we used it for everything from cooking to going to the latrine. The lantern is bright and with all of the snow that was around us it was all that we needed. The dimming function was very useful once we were in the tent, I found that the high setting was just a bit too bright to read from, and it created a lot of shadows. Once dimmed, the light the lantern provided was perfect for me to read by.

Summary

So far I'm impressed with the lantern, I expected the batteries to be somewhat impacted by the use as well as the cold environment but I haven't seen anything yet. I'm really pleased with how easy the lantern is to use; I find it packable, sturdy and so far dependable. What I'm really pleased with this the dimming function. If the lantern only had a high setting, the light would have been too harsh for me to read by and I would have gotten a headache.

I only have two critiques about the design so far. First, the lantern does not have a battery life indicator that I think would be very handy. I have used the lantern quite a bit so far and I have no idea how long this set of batteries will last and since changing the batteries in winter is very difficult with gloves on I'll probably put in a new set before each trip just to make sure I don't have to deal with it. My second critique is in the base. I think the base is very sturdy and it works great on flat surfaces but on uneven surfaces it got knocked over a lot. We even went so far as to stick the base in the snow and it held up fine, but once we were in the tent it got knocked over every couple of minutes when someone was moving around so we ended up hanging the lantern.

All in all I like this little thing. This concludes my Field Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

Field Conditions and Performance

IMAGE 1
Picture in an igloo without a flash (lantern set to high)
During the Long Term phase of the test series I was able to use the Black Diamond Orbit Lantern on 3 overnight trips totaling 4 nights and 7 days. Two of these trips were winter backpacking trips in Rocky Mountain National Park where the weather conditions ranged from 15 F (-9.5 C) to 35 F (2 C). One of the trips was in an igloo while the other was in a tent; both trips were single night trips. The other trip was a 2 night backpacking trip into Canyonlands National Park where there was spring desert conditions that ranged from 75 F (24 C) in the day to 35 F (2 C) at night.

Throughout the test series I have probably used the lantern about 30 - 40 total hours on various settings and I have just changed the batteries for the second time. I do think that I error on the cautious side and change the batteries a little sooner than really needed, but that is a personal thing. I think I mentioned before that this is a bright lantern on the high setting and I don't often use the lantern on that setting; the brightness is a bit overkill at that setting. So the battery life could really be managed if the setting was kept on the dimmer side, which I feel is a bit more pleasant of a lighting setting anyway.

On the winter overnight trips I did notice that the lantern was a little dimmer than normal which I believe is a result of cold batteries rather than lantern performance. On both of these trips the lantern was hung in the middle of the shelter and the light shown down and it really illuminated everything especially in the igloo where the light reflected off of the ice blocks. One interesting item I found while using this lantern in the winter was that the globe had a lot of condensation in it in the morning.

During these trips the lantern performed great; the button was easy to use and locate in the dark and the hanging loops were very functional. I found that the lantern performed equally well during our trip to Canyonlands National Park. While there wasn't a cloud in the sky during that trip, the moon wasn't out either and the area was pitch black, the lantern came in very handy. During a middle of the night bathroom trip with my son we took the lantern instead of headlamps and it was really all that we needed.

Final Conclusion

IMAGE 2
The best place to hang the lantern is in the middle
I like this lantern so much that I bought another one just because it was on sale. Having two of the lanterns also helped me see what happens to the lantern when the batteries start to get low. I noticed that the batteries that were pretty well used did not give the same brightness on the high setting as fresh batteries gave the second lantern. I think this is to be expected, but I have been using the brightness level as my battery life indicator rather than waiting for the lantern to flicker and turn itself off. This could be one reason why I have changed the batteries as frequently as I have because I change them with a little life left in them.

From a functional stand point I find the lantern to be very user friendly with the various brightness settings as well as the versatility of hook rings. I prefer to hang the lantern rather than stand it on the ground or on something else and I think it shines better and is more stable that way. The button is easy to locate and use but it really can't be operated with heavy gloves or mittens which wasn't an issue for me, just something that I wanted to test.

This concludes the Long Term Report as well as testing of the Black Diamond Orbit Lantern. I would like to thank Black Diamond and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the opportunity to test this lantern.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > Black Diamond Orbit Lantern 2010 > Test Report by Michael Williams



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