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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > UCO Original Candle Lantern LED > Test Report by Rick Allnutt
Industrial Revolution UCO
Over the last several years, I have become an ultralight camper with a three-season base pack weight of about 8 lb (3.5 kg) and skin out weight of 17 lb (8 kg). I have completed many section hikes on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in all four seasons, and many trips to state parks, with a total mileage of about 1550 miles (2500 km). I am a gearhead, a hammock or tarp camper, and I make much of my own equipment.
Trail Name: Risk
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Industrial Revolution UCO
INITIAL IMPRESSIONSThe glow of a candle at my campsite on a lonely mountain is a luxury I have enjoyed since I began hiking. Especially on long winter nights lasting 12 and more hours, having a friendly and warm light makes the difference between pleasure and loneliness. The UCO candle lantern promises to be a wind resistant way to have a candle flame glow for hours at a time.
I was excited to open the package and see how all the parts work together. First and foremost, the lantern is a way to hold a candle so that it does not blow out in a gentle breeze. The lantern is constructed of lightweight aluminum and holds a glass chimney which allows the candle flame to shine out without allowing wind to get at the flame. The chimney portion of the lantern can be slipped inside the lower portion of the lantern for transport. This protects it from breakage and make the lantern half as long as it is when in use.
The candle itself is contained in an aluminum holder in which the wax candle can slip upward until the wick sticks out of the holder. The candle is advanced through this holder by a spring and a metalic base plate. This works in such a way so that as the candle burns shorter, the candle moves upward and the burning wick remains at the same level in the lantern. There is a slot in the side of the aluminum tube candle holder allowing me to visualize how much of the candle remains. This slot can is also visible in the bottom portion of the outer lantern.
The top of the chimney portion of the lantern has a stainless steel diffuser (a flat, circular, horizontal metalic piece) which keeps the hot column of air from traveling straight up and melting anything directly above the lantern. Above that is a wire bail and several links of metal chain, surmounted by a metallic hook. Both the diffuser and the bail with its hardware act to keep the hanging point safely cool. This is especially important when the hanger is a nylon loop in a tent.
One feature which makes this lantern remarkable is the small LED light which is inserted into the base of the candle holder. The two cell light runs on '2032' wafer batteries. It is a natural feeling for me to hold the candle lantern in the closed position and aim the light as though I were holding a flashlight.
In the bluish photo here, the light is lying on leaves and grass near a camping spot. It illuminates the area as I am working to move materials so that I can make camp in a secluded spot in the woods. The light actually shines much whiter than the photograph here portrays.
The LED light can also be removed from the lantern. It has a small wire bail on its back side. This can be used to prop the LED light up on a table, or it can be hung from a pocket or string around my neck. In one of the photos I show this portion of the light hanging from my shirt pocket. This is a good hands-free light for quick use around camp.
According to package instructions, candles are designed to last for up to 9 hours of burn time. The LED's batteries are meant to last 40 hours. That is a lot of time for the summer camping season which is coming up. But I will do my best to do night-time reading by candle light and explore the uses of the LED light during camping and hiking.
The Candle Lantern plus LED combines candle light and LED light into one package. For some uses, candles feel much more friendly to me. They can also be useful in starting campfires. For rooting around in the middle of the night in my pack, a quick to turn on LED light makes much more sense than a candle. Both lights may be useful for night time reading.
The things I really like about this package are:
- both candle and LED lights are available and are compactly stowed together
- construction is robust while remaining reasonably light weight
- burn time for the candle as well as for the LED is more than adequate for my camping needs
The things which I have questions about at the beginning of the test series includes the source of replacement candles, replacement batteries, and the function of the spring advanced candle. I thank Industrial Revolution UCO and BackpackGearTest.org for selecting me for this test.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Thus far, I have used the UCO candle on four backpacking trips which included 6 nights.
April 17-20 2008 – Great Smoky Mountains – This was a four-day, three-night backpacking trip into the portion of the park north of Cade’s Cove. It was a hammock camping trip with 4-7 mi (6-11 km) of hiking per day and long lazy afternoons and evenings in camp. One morning it began raining before sun up and continued with wind and driving rain until just after noon. The whole trip was cool, with lows about 45 F (7 C) and highs of about 60 F (16 C). The elevation varied between 1400 ft (400 m) and 3600 ft (1100 m).April 25 – This was a short backpack down the Padre Island beach on the gulf coast of Texas. I walked about 3 mi (5 km) down the beach which had recently taken a beating by a storm. There were debris all around. After finding a calm spot out of the wind, I spent a very nice night enjoying the sound of the booming surf and dealing with sand that was filtering through the noseeum netting on my tent. About dawn, I was hit by a strong thunderstorm which leveled my tent around me. As I was sitting on my closed cell foam praying that I did not fry up in the rapid fire lightening, I got chilly, silly me, soaked to the bone. Of course, with the passage of the storm, an hour later the sky was sunny and the breeze warm again.
May 23, 2008 – Government Canyon State Natural Area (Texas), Altitude about 1000 ft (300 m). The Afternoon temperature was 99 F (37 C). Clear skies with just a little breeze. I hammock camped with the tarp off, since the sky was so clear. 3 Mi (5 km) hike in, with a 4 mi (6 km) hike out.
May 30, 2008 – Another trip to Government Canyon. Afternoon temperature was 96 F (36 C). The night cooled off to 72 F (22 C). This was a windy dry night. The hiking spot was the same as the previous trip, though I reversed the walk in and the walk out, putting the longer hike in the heat of the afternoon. That made me thirsty!
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
For the first three day trip above, I carried the UCO candle lantern and a head lamp. I found that I really did not use the head lamp for anything except reading, and the LED lamp worked fine for that purpose when I hung it from my shirt breast pocket, as in the photo above. For the last three of the trips above, I left the head lamp home and my primary light was the UCO candle. I used the candle for a general light around the camp as the sun went down and then used the LCD as my light for detail work in the middle of the night. Even hammock camping, I found that the small LCD light fits flat in a pants pocket and is easy to reach for those tasks that require a little more than moonlight. I did carry a back-up LCD pinch light on my key chain, but did not need to use it at all on these trips.
I found that it was very home-like to have a candle at the campsite, hanging from a tree branch. It made my little alcove in the trees my own private world. Like other lights, when I went wandering at night, it was reassuring to be able to look back and see the light at the campsite. The candle lantern worked very well even with the gusty winds I had around the campsite on two of the nights. Only one time did the flame get blown out by a particularly strong wind gust. Yet I found that when I wanted to put the candle out to go to bed, I could easily blow into the top of the lantern and the flame would promptly go out.
I found that it was important to not knock the candle about when the wax had melted near the wick. Anything more than a slight jostle was enough to drip some wax over on the glass lantern chimney or down the candle holder. When I hung the candle lantern from the center of a tent, I knocked it with my head more than once. When hammock camping, I hung the candle from a nearby tree and had no more of that problem.
I discovered that it is easy to remove the chimney and clean wax off of it with a handkerchief. Putting the mantle back in with the three small prongs of the chimney holder all on the outside of the chimney took some patience. It would have been nice to have three hands. At no time did I need to clean soot off the chimney because the candle did not soot up the glass chimney.
After burning the candle for a number of hours, the candle had been pushed up the inside of the candle holder by about half its length by the spring. This worked out just fine, but in the nights with considerable heat, I found that the candle wax tended to build up in the slot on either side of the candle holder. This was especially true if I put a stick in the slot and pushed up on the candle base to get the wick to ride a little higher in the candle holder. When I did this, I merely needed to trim the excess wax from the candle with my knife after it cooled. I did not need to take the candle out of the candle holder to do that.
My first candle seemed to be nearly at its useful end when there was about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) of candle left. I replaced the candle at that time. By then I had gotten about 8 hours of burn time on that candle. I bought a set of replacement candles at a neighborhood camping store and the replacement candles fit just fine. I also had some standard plumbers candles at home and these fit well after trimming about a third of their length. I did some experimenting at pouring my own candles using a mold made from a short piece of PVC plumbing. This also worked well when I put granular and shaved pieces of candle in the mold and then poured melted wax over the candle bits. Putting the candle bits in seemed to reduce the amount of candle shrinking I have sometimes gotten when pouring candles. I would only recommend experimenting with pouring candles if a ready supply of UCO candles is not available, as they are not very expensive -- about one US dollar apiece.
The UCO candle has been a bright light for my camping thus far. It does all that I expected of it, and I find the LCD light is very useful on its own.
What I really like:
It is a light in the darkness to lead me back home.
It is practical and lightweight.
It works even when there is wind.
The LED is just the right size to put in a pocket for a little more light in the middle of the night.
The LED works as a reading light when perched on my shirt pocket.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
July 19, 2008 – Overnight in Government Canyon State Natural Area (Texas), altitude about 1000 ft (300 m). Afternoon high was 98 F (37 C) and overnight low about 72 F (22 C). Bright moon beginning after I went to bed. Hammock hanging, nice quiet night. The candle lantern added a nice glow to the campsite after dark.
June 28, 2008 – Overnight in Government Canyon SNA. Afternoon high was 100 F (38 C) and the overnight low about 77 F (25 C). Lots of coyote yipping in the middle of the night. Clear night skies, no rain. I enjoyed sitting on the outside of the hammock and reading as the night drew in. One factor that increases my enjoyment is having another light at my campsite other than my headlamp. It helps to make this little piece of the woods my home.
On 21 June, I hiked about 4 mi (6 km) in Carlsbad Caverns, including a descent of 800 ft (250 m). During this hike, I used the LED light to look into dark holes and see places that were not lit by the installed lighting in the cave.
Total nights using the candle lantern over the four-month testing period was eight overnights in various conditions.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELDDuring the long term period, I used the candle for an hour or so each of the nights I was out. I also used the LED light as my walk-around light to avoid fire ant mounds in the middle of the night. For this, I continued to learn how to hold the light in my palm, so that the light shone forward. Using it this way, the light did not shine back into my eyes through the back of the disk. I continued to use the disk as a light that could easily be carried in my pocket.
The use I gave the lantern did not use up another candle. The battery for the LED lantern never got close to getting dim and needing to be replaced. The lantern fared well in my pack with no damage and no mechanical issues from being stored along with my tent stakes, compass, and other loose items.
All my questions were answered in the testing period. Replacement candles are easily available. The candle burns for many hours before the replacement. If the estimate of how long the LED operates is accurate, it will last through many candles.
I am looking forward to using the candle across the next winter camping season. For winter camping, there are many more hours of darkness and having a nice home-like atmosphere is a nice luxury in the long darkness of a winter evening.
I have little more to say than what I said above. And the three-fold mantra almost makes a little poem:
The candle works even when there is wind,
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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > UCO Original Candle Lantern LED > Test Report by Rick Allnutt
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