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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > Eureka Glide 51 Lantern > Test Report by Kerri Larkin

EUREKA GLIDE 51 LED LANTERN
TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 09, 2010
FIELD REPORT - June 13, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 16, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kerri Larkin
EMAIL: kerrilarkin AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Sydney, Australia
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 284 lb (129.00 kg)

I've been a car-camper and bushwalker for thirty years. Mostly I do day hikes as my passion is photography, which means I walk very slowly! I've returned to walking after some years away due to injuries and I'm learning to use Ultralight gear (and my new hammock!). I've traveled most of eastern Australia, walking in landscapes as diverse as tropical rainforest, snow fields, beaches and deserts. My fortieth birthday was spent trekking in Nepal which was a truly life changing experience.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Eureka!
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: Eureka
MSRP: US$ 39.99
Listed Weight: with Batteries 3.9 oz (110 g)
Measured Weight: 3.9 oz (110 g)
Weight with Lanyard and mini carabiner: 4.1 oz (116 g)
Stated Dimensions (Flashlight Mode): 1.3 in x 4 in (33 mm x 101 mm)
Measured Dimensions (Flashlight Mode): 1.5 in x 3.9 in (37 mm x 100 mm)
Stated Dimensions (Lantern Mode): 1.3 in x 5 in (33 mm x 127 mm)
Measured Dimensions (Lantern Mode): 1.5 in x 4.9 in (37 mm x 125 mm)
Listed light output: 51 Lumens
Battery Type: 3 x AAA batteries, included
Claimed Battery Life: 12 hours

Other details:
Blister packaging includes mini carabiner and wrist lanyard
Lantern colour: Gold with black trim
Circuit regulated power control
Collimator gives a focused, square flashlight beam

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Eureka! Glide 51 is very nicely presented in blister-pack plastic. The cardboard insert contains the glossy marketing information on the front and the very brief instructions on the reverse side. Included in the pack are a mini carabiner and a wrist lanyard, which feel like nice bonuses and make the lantern seem even more suited to the rugged outdoor life. The pack also contains three name brand AAA batteries.

IMAGE 2 IMAGE 3

I've been trying to find a lantern like this for ages! I used to own a similar type from another company, but they don't make them anymore. Once I'd lost my lantern using another kind of torch/lantern when camping became a constant reminder that the Eureka!-style of lantern was missing from my kit. I know it sounds silly to grieve over a piece of gear but that's how important my old lantern had become.

I was keen to see if the Glide 51 would finally let me put the memory of my old lantern to rest.

Once I'd hacked open the blister pack, my first hold of the Glide 51 brought back all those warm fuzzy memories of great camps and a light that was always ready for action. This is a lantern worth treasuring.

The main body of the Glide 51 is made of anodized aluminum, which feels very solid in the hand, yet incredibly light (even with batteries). The black trim gives an opulent feel reminiscent of the golden days of backpacking when a lantern weighed five kilograms and one needed a team of mules to haul the fuel. I was surprised at just how solid something so light could feel. The design of the lantern means it fits very comfortably in the hand and is well balanced.

Both ends of the lantern have knurled plastic areas making it really easy to keep a tight grip on the unit with bare hands.

The tail end contains a 'C' hook in the base which can be flipped out for hanging, and also the on/off lever type switch.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Fortunately, this is no difficult piece of gear to operate as the instructions are very, very sparse. Then again, I don't need five pages of text and pictures to tell me how to turn on a house light. Sliding the telescoping "Stretch" section away from the main body reveals the lantern glass, flipping the on/off switch is pretty self explanatory, lifting the hook is easy and fitting the batteries is also self-evident. There endeth the instructions.

The one thing I would have like instructions on is how to make use of the lanyard and carabiner. This looks like the standard wrist lanyard supplied with just about every digital camera nowadays, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to attach it to the Glide 51. I tried wrapping the fine wire of the lanyard around the tail housing while I had it open to install the batteries, but I couldn't get the unit to close properly. There's no hole to thread it through, so I really have no clue how the lanyard is meant to be used. This makes that dinky little carabiner and the lanyard seem like clever marketing rather than something that's actually meant to go with this lantern, and that's a shame.

TRYING IT OUT

Now comes the fun! It's a simple matter to unscrew the tail end of the lantern (about half a turn) which then gives access to the battery compartment. This is where my only problem with this lantern can be found. I'm approaching seniority and I find my arms aren't long enough to be able to read fine print anymore, so the diagrams of which way the batteries need to be installed had me reaching for both my glasses and a bright light. I'm realizing this would not be a torch I'd want to have to change the batteries on after dark. Still once my seeing-eye dog had deciphered the graphics, I loaded the batteries and screwed the tail cap back on.

IMAGE 4
Magnifying glasses needed to read the graphics!



I'm not sure why but the switch to turn the lantern 'on' is flat and moves in a horizontal arc across the base of the tail. Whether there's some deep mystical reason or not, it looks cool and would be very easy to operate with gloved fingers. I have a minor concern that the switch sits a little proud from the diameter of the base (i.e. protrudes slightly on the side of the lantern), and may snag on clothing or in a pack causing the lantern to be unintentionally turned on. This is something I will be watching closely as the test series unfolds.

The tail end of the body also includes a retractible hook; stand it up to hang the lantern from a tent apex or hammock ridgeline or press it flat to stand the torch on its end.

IMAGE 5
Hanging hook and switch are both on the tail cap



When the lantern is in its non-extended position turning the switch 'on' results in a quite bright hand torch. Although the quoted brightness is 51 Lumens, I have no way of testing that. Well, I did accidentally come up with one; I shone the torch in my eyes and saw nothing but stars for the next few minutes until my retinas stopped complaining. Not a quantitative test I know, but effective anyway! When I pointed the Lantern at a wall, I did notice the light pattern has that familiar concentric circles of many torches although the central, focused beam, is square. I probably wouldn't want to do a night hike relying on this kind of light as it makes assessing shadows, holes, dips and other trail bumps a bit harder. Still, for general campsite duties and getting to the toilet block and back I think it'll be more than adequate.

Pulling the bulb end of the torch causes extension of that end to reveal the lantern section. I was fascinated to see the bulb apparently retracting away back into the body, but the illusion is quickly broken when the "glass" section of the lantern is visible. Although I can't find anything to tell me what this "glass" is made of, I believe it to be some kind of plastic.

Standing the Glide 51 on its tail is easy and it feels quite secure, well balanced and unlikely to overbalance too easily. Using it in this configuration will be perfect for sitting around playing cards, reading, or preparing meals. It's a very bright light.

IMAGE 6
The Glide 51 is nice and bright



Alternatively, using the hook will get the lantern up nice and high to spread an even light around the campsite.

I can't wait to get out in the bush to try the Glide 51 out in real-life situations. With winter coming on, it'll be interesting to see how the Glide 51 copes with cold weather and condensation. From what I've seen so far, this lantern is definitely not waterproof: there's a small hole in the tail which could allow water entry.

SUMMARY

Perhaps my biggest questions with any torch are about practicality. How does it cope with every day use and abuse? How easy is it to physically manipulate, and how easy is it to get the light were I need it? And, most importantly, how comfortable is it to use?

So that wraps up my initial impressions of the Eureka! Glide 51 Lantern. So far, I like what I see and look forward to more thorough testing. I've always loved multifunctional gear, and this is no exception. I think this will be more functional than a number of torches/headlamps/lanterns that I've used previously.

IMAGE 7



I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Eureka! and BackPackGearTest.org for giving me the chance to test the Glide 51 Lantern.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the past few months I've had the privilege of using the Eureka! Glide 51 Lantern on many nights. I managed a surprise three week visit to Central Australia where I used the lantern as my primary light source each night. During this trip temperatures averaged around 35 C (95F) during the day, with lows of around 5 C (40 F) overnight. As you'd expect the landscape was very dry with minimal condensation overnight.

I've also used the lantern on two other overnight trips much closer to home in dry gum tree forests. Both trips resulted in very wet nights and my camp was dripping with condensation in the mornings. Overnight temperatures were 18 C (64 F) and 7C (45 F) respectively. The warmer night resulted in a heavy mist, but things stayed clear and cold on the cooler night.

IMAGE 1
Cold night, beautiful day!

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

So how did the Eureka! perform? Flawlessly! As I said in my Initial Report, I'd been searching for a lantern like this to replace one that I'd lost, so I knew what to expect from this light. Although produced by a different company, I'm pleased to say this light is every bit as good as my old one and met my every expectation. I love it!

Since I've been converted to lightweight camping I've attempted to rationalise my kit into only pieces of gear which are light, robust, and preferably cover multiple functions. The Glide 51 ticks most of the boxes; while perhaps not the lightest light (now, there was a pun just waiting to be had!) it more than makes up for any additional weight with added functionality.

I've been told I've got a big mouth, surprisingly often now I think about it, but the Glide 51 can easily be held in my mouth to use as a handsfree torch while cooking. It also has a more than adequate beam for walking around at night. Best of all, the hook on the end allows it to easily be slung from a tree branch or from the ridgeline of my hammock so I can read in bed.

Battery life has been great; I played with the lantern quite a lot before my trip, and only had to change the batteries once on the three week trip. I would've used it on average a couple of hours each night, so I'm fairly pleased with that.

Condensation hasn't seemed to worry the lantern and although I didn't leave it outside on purpose, the one night I did caused no ill effects. I'm guessing that cold temperatures will shorten battery life, but they haven't been an issue so far. I'll let you know more as winter progresses...

Surprisingly, even though the on/off switch seems to sit a bit proud of the edge of the case, I never found the light accidentally turned on after being thrown in my bag. I certainly didn't pack it carefully, so that seems very positive to me. After all, there's nothing worse than arriving at a remote camp only to find the light gasping its last after being switched on in a kit bag for a whole day.

Speaking of positives, the casing seems quite rugged and has, so far, exceeded my expectations. Although it looks like it's made of plastic, it's actually aluminium. I've also found the octagonal shape far more comfortable in the hand than I'd expected. It seems easy to grip both with and without gloves on, and the switch is also easy to operate with gloves. The only difficulty is in finding the switch. Even though it sits a little proud of the casing it can be very hard to locate at times.

I was concerned that the lantern part of the unit would telescope closed if left standing on a table but so far, this has not been the case. Again, hanging the lantern above my head resolved the question by allowing gravity to keep the lantern glass extended.

I still have absolutely no idea how to attach the lanyard or carabiner, so I'm guessing they are merely decorative additions to the packaging rather than functional accessories for the lantern.

As far as brightness goes, the Eureka! has been bright enough to prove a workable solution to lighting a camp at night. When hung from above my head, it proved bright enough to be able to sit around a table and chairs and prepare food or read when in a base camp. In my hammock, it provides ample light for reading. I usually slide it up the ridgeline so it's behind my head, thus giving me a great light on my book. As a hand torch, the Glide 51 is capable of giving plenty of light on a path, and in some ways, I prefer using this kind of light rather than a headlight as it seems to wobble less and makes me less dizzy than some headlights do.

The questions I asked in my Initial Report were mostly around durability and practicality of use. Both seem to have positive outcomes so far with no major concerns about durability and the Glide 51 is proving itself very easy to use in the field. It's comfortable to hold, easy to grip, and easy to reconfigure from lantern to torch and back again.

IMAGE 2
Kookaburras love ridgelines!

SUMMARY

So far, there have been no surprises with the Eureka! Glide 51 lantern: it's every bit as good as I expected. This is a type of light which offers so many ways of using it that it meets almost every need. For my style of camping (a mixture of car-based camping and lightweight backpacking) this is pretty much the only light I need.

Things I Like:
* Simple conversion from a hand torch to a lantern
* Good battery life
* Ease of handling with and without gloves
* Good, bright, area lantern
* Ease of hanging

Things Not So Liked:
* That silly lanyard and carabiner
* Perhaps a bit heavy for an ultralighter
* Difficult to read battery orientation instructions inside the case


IMAGE 3
Things that go bump in the night: up close with a wombat




This concludes my Field Report on the Eureka Glide 51 LED Lantern. Thanks to Eureka! and BackPackGear Test.org for the opportunity to test the Glide 51. Please check back in about two months for my Long Term Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

It's a fact: life gets in the way of the best laid plans, and I had all manner of plans for continued testing of the Eureka Glide 51 LED Lantern. An unexpected house move put rather a large hole in my plans, but I've still enjoyed another two outdoor sessions using this wonderful lantern, and a number of nights at home.

Firstly, I have an annual midwinter Solstice trip every year to a nearby park, overlooking the Parramatta River. About a dozen of us brave the cold to watch the sun set, by which time enough alcohol has been imbibed to keep the talk going well into the evening. It's about then that I pull out my lantern to light the scene. This year the honour fell to the Glide 51 and it didn't disappoint. Placed up in the rafters of the picnic shed we'd commandeered, the lantern threw a soft, yet adequate light on the proceedings.

Temperatures were in the high single digits (Celsius, or low forties Fahrenheit), but this didn't seem to affect performance at all. The lantern gave a good three hours of continuous use. While it was not really bright enough to read by (it was 2 metres or 6'6" above us), it was certainly enough to be able to tell the hummus from the gazpacho dips, or the corn chips from the potato chips.

My second trip was to the very scenic Moonee Beach area where I braved a couple of cold nights in the name of testing. Temps were near freezing both nights, so I was tucked in my hammock very early. The Glide 51 gave plenty of light to read by but also worked well as a torch to find the nearby shrubbery to answer the call of nature a couple of times. As mentioned previously, the Glide 51 is just the right size to hold in my mouth when I need both hands free, and casts more than enough light in torch-mode to let me see what I need to.

In total, I used the lantern for another five hours, on a fresh set of batteries, with no dramas at all.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Overall, I've been enormously impressed by this lantern. Although it's not the lightest camping light available, it more than makes up for the weight penalty with its versatility. Sitting on a table, it's great when preparing and cooking food, for reading with, or for short trips to the lavatory. This is not a lantern I'd want to do a night hike with as I like to have both hands free when walking, but it's more than adequate for roaming a campsite or finding my hammock in the dark.

I've found the lantern works best when raised above eye height when working around the campsite as this reduces the glare in the eyes and gives a broader, more even light to work by. The hook built into the base works great for this. One of the simple beauties of this hook is that it makes the lantern so easy to hang. A couple of my other lights use tiny carabiner systems, which can be difficult to use in the dark or when wearing gloves. The Glide 51 has no such problem. Although I initially thought the hook would not hold the lantern in anything more than a gentle breeze, I'm pleased to say I've been proved wrong. The lantern seems very well balanced about the hook and it's difficult to get it to fall. I've proved that with my tossing and turning in the hammock: I leave the lantern hanging from the ridgeline so I can easily find it at night, and it's never once landed on my head! It's also easy to detach the lantern from the ridgeline, making it my first choice for hammock hanging.

I did find the switch a little fiddly, especially with gloves on: sometimes I had to go around the tail edge of the lantern a couple of times to find the switch, which can be a bit tedious in the dead of night when I'm still two-thirds asleep and need to pee. My brain can barely register that I'm in a hammock, let alone that I need to find a tiny switch in order to see anything!

Initially, I suggested that I was concerned that the telescopic lantern fitting seemed like it would collapse back down into torch-mode too easily, and although it still seems like a possibility as the lantern wears, so far it hasn't collapsed more than a small amount. It certainly has not been enough to hinder the function of the light. Hanging the lantern and letting gravity assist eliminated the problem.

I'm fairly careful with all my gear but I'm pleased to report that so far there has been no scratching of the aluminium outer casing or of the 'glass' protecting the bulb.

Battery life has been quite good too. Although my practice is to swap out the batteries before each trip I'm certain I could have left the same batteries in for a couple of trips without any concern. As the batteries become flat, the light output dims, giving plenty of warning that a change is imminent. This is much better than having the light suddenly quit.

SUMMARY

All in all, the Glide 51 is a very fine piece of equipment. It will most certainly remain in my basic camping kit and will accompany me on all my trips. In fact, I love it so much I've bought another two for use at home as emergency lanterns. Yes, there is a weight penalty which may make this lantern unattractive to some, but for me, the benefits far outweigh that. Perhaps it would be nice if the unit ran on two batteries instead of three, but I guess there must be practical reasons why that is not feasible

I love the flexibility of this lantern, and multiuse equipment certainly makes more sense than carrying a whole bunch of different lights to do the things the Glide 51 does. There are only a couple of minor quibbles: the switch can be hard to find, and the glass section telescoping closed, as discussed above. Otherwise, this is a solid and dependable LED lantern that will suit many purposes.

CONTINUED USE

So will I keep using the Eureka! Glide 51 LED Lantern? You bet I will! It's a fairly unique design in the world of lighting, and it does its job very well. I've owned torches, I've owned lanterns, but having the two roles combined is such an obvious idea I'm surprised more companies don't do it. While there must inevitably be compromises - The Glide 51 doesn't throw as much light as a dedicated torch - this lantern shines at what it does.

This is one piece of gear I won't be leaving home without.

This concludes my testing of the Eureka! Glide 51 LED Lantern and I'd like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to BackPackGearTest.org, and Eureka! for the opportunity to test this product.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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