Looking for a light source on your next camping trip?
The Cairn lantern from Lander could be what you’re looking for. It’s a lightweight lantern with the added bonus of being able to charge your phone or a USB device whilst doubling as your light source. Did I mention it’s bright, and as a bonus, it looks good too?
Design & Durability (Rating: 90%)
The Cairn lantern is a lightweight (161 grams) lantern which does double duty as a small battery pack. It has a built-in 3300 mAh battery which powers the lantern and can also be used to charge a device, such as a phone.
The device is pretty basic to operate with a single push button switch on one side to operate the lighting functions. Additionally, a small covered section on the opposite side which can be opened to reveal the two USB sockets. One plug (a micro USB) is used to plug in the supplied charge cable and charge the internal battery of the lantern. The other is a standard USB plug output and charges the device you choose to plug into it. The output charger is rated at 2.1amps so should technically charge a tablet and fast charge a smartphone. The internal battery size really is the limiting factor on what you can charge.
Under the plug cover on the side is a series of tiny blue LED lights which light up to indicate the state of charge of the internal battery when you switch the light on. The lights basically indicate the battery level in 25% increments and when the single bottom light is light up on its own it indicates that less than 5% battery remains. The LED lights will also flash when the lantern is being charged, or when it’s charging a device to indicate charge level. It’s a basic system but it works well and makes it easy to keep track of remaining battery power.
The lantern is rated as IP65 so it’s dust proof and water proof and will operate between -10 degrees celsius and +55 degrees Celsius, so it’s possible to use it in most environments you’re likely to take it. The packaging also states that it’s expedition grade tested.
One of the main features which I found to really be a stand out feature is the anchor or tether system attached to the lantern. It’s basically a loop of bungee cord (which also has a reflective trace in it for night time visibility) that runs through the lantern and has a loop one end and a toggle on the other. It’s quite a basic idea but seriously works so well. You can wrap it around anything you want and by wrapping an object and placing the toggle through the loop it stays put. I’ve used it attached to the veranda post on a houseboat, my car roof racks and a tree branch so far. You could easily attach it in the same way to the loop inside a tent, under a tarp or inside a swag and it would just hang in place. Simple, yet very effective.
As far as light output goes it’s rated at 300 lumens on high and has a claimed run time of 2.5 hours on that setting. On high it’s really bright and I doubt there would be many occasions where you would need it on high for a long period of time. The low setting is rated at 10 lumens and has a claimed run time of 150+ hours which is great. This obviously depends on if you use it to charge a phone as that will reduce the battery and in turn reduce the lantern’s run time.
The good thing is you can dim the light between high and low which will increase run time and allow you to adjust the light’s brightness according to your needs. The light is nicely diffused no matter what the setting so it’s a nice light to use. Lastly, if you found yourself in a worst-case scenario it also has a strobe function. Hopefully, that’s not something too many people will ever need to use out in the field.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)
Overall, the lantern is quite simple to use and works really well. To turn the light on you push the button once and to turn the light off you push the button again. The light when turned back on will light up at the same setting it was turned off at. To operate the dimming function when the light is on you press and hold the button down and the light will gradually increase to full brightness. Once at full brightness, if you press and hold the button again and the light resets to low and will then slowly increase as you continue to hold the button down. Its the reverse to what I thought it would be so that threw me off initially but once you are aware of how it works (might pay me to occasionally read some instructions) it’s easy to operate and get the perfect amount of light.
Lastly to operate the strobe function you push the on/off button twice quickly and the strobe light starts up. To turn it off it’s a simple one push of the button. The strobe doesn’t operate at the full 300 lumens setting but more like halfway between that and the low setting. I’m assuming that’s to extend battery life should you ever find yourself in a situation where you need it. The single operating button is quite slim and slightly recessed into the side of the lantern so you need to push on it quite firmly to operate it. This may become easier with use but I think it would be hard to operate wearing heavy gloves or mittens. Not a deal breaker but something to consider if your main use will be in the snow or a freezing environment where heavy gloves are a must.
The charging function is also pretty simple to use. Once the cover is open one plug is used to charge the lantern and when charging the LED lights flash to indicate the state of battery charge. The other plug is the output for charging a device. When you plug in a device the LED lights will illuminate so you can see how much juice you have so it’s easy to keep track of the battery status.
One thing I found in use is the cover for the plugs is really tight and requires nails or something thin or pointy to pry it open. This would be required at a guess to maintain the IP65 rating so it’s not a big deal but something to be aware of if you chew your nails down to the bone or are planning on wearing some really heavy gloves in cold weather. It’s possible this will become easier with use but it’s unlikely as it would compromise the IP rating of the lantern.
I started using the lantern as a phone charger to see what sort of life you could expect out of the 3300Mah battery. I was using it to charge a new Samsung S8 which has a 3000Mah battery. I assumed given the above that I would get at least one charge out of the Lantern and still be able to use the light function at least on low for a short time. This was however not the case.
To test the battery charging feature I charged the lantern fully using a wall socket, then charged the phone using the lantern recording the battery % of the phone and time the charge started. I then left it charging until the lantern went flat and recorded the time and battery charge again. From the multiple tests I completed, I found that the maximum charge I got into my phone was 73% before the lantern went flat. The average across all my tests was 65.75% charge which took pretty close to 90 minutes each charge. I found this a little disappointing as this was running the lantern until it was completely flat and it was then unable to be used as a light source.
What I Like
- The Lantern is really bright on full power
- Ability to dim light which maximises battery life and allows you to fine tune the light required
- Battery life when used as a lantern is good
- Anchor or Tether system works really well and is extremely useful
- Build quality – The lantern looks really well made, I have no doubt this will stand up to some punishment
- IP65 rating means you can use it in all conditions without worrying too much.
What I Don’t Like
- Battery life isn’t as good as I was hoping from a charger perspective and doesn’t give my smartphone a full charge before going flat.
Disclaimer: Lander has provided a Cairn Lantern for review. The above links to Wild Earth and Amazon are affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission from any sales via my links but you don’t pay a cent more. None of this has any influence on the opinions presented in my review.
Have you tried the Lantern Cairn? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.