Camping trips on a folding bike are always a constant juggling game with what gear works best. Lighting up your camp is very important not just for comfort but also for safety.
For the last couple of years I’ve used the pull apart “Summit” mini cob lanterns from Argos which come in at around two for £10 (they’re a Chinese made product which comes under many different brands, it just so happens that mine are the Argos variety) which are great, but the problem is that they take batteries, and they’re very bright if you have to turn your light on at night for any reason. Particularly if you’re trying to wild camp and your tent lights up super bright at 2am!
Step up to the four then, Quechua, with their wind up lantern. Kicking out a claimed 10, 20 and 50 lumens and chargeable using a winder is this the answer?
A dumpy little solid feeling lantern, less than 10cm in height and width. On the bottom is a winder and a hanger. Sadly the hanger is of the handle variety rather than the hook type so you’ll need a bit of string or a clip on hook if you’re tying it into a hanging loop in your tent.
The lantern has three modes of operation, but unlike most similar lamps these seem to have been designed by someone who actually understands the needs to campers.
A single press brings on a red LED which is claimed at about 10 lumens, and using my light level meter I can pretty much agree with that. It’s a gentle cosy red and if turned on in the middle of the night if doesn’t immediately blind you.
Pressing the button again switches us to a white LED with a claimed brightness of 20 lumens. I measured it at 22 so I’ll give them that one.
A third press takes us to the brightest setting which is claimed at 50 lumens. I measured 45 which isn’t quite as bright as claimed, but it is certainly bright enough to work by, and due to the muted diffuse nature of the light it feels quite cosy.
The best feature about this lantern though is that it doesn’t “cycle” the modes like so many lanterns do, so if you turn it on dim red, you don’t have to go through two super bright modes before turning it off. After you turn it on and choose your mode, after a few seconds the single button becomes an off switch; so if you set it to red, leave it a few seconds, and press the button again the lantern turns off.
Also the lantern always comes on in the dimmest setting. Good for dark adapted eyes, and with the dimmest setting being red it’s the gentlest colour for when your pupils are fully dilated at night.
The other USP of this device, though, is that it’s wind up. There’s a handle on the bottom which pops in fully flat and can be clicked out to give it a top up. A minute of winding on my tests gave about 7 minutes of light. Not too bad in an emergency and great for preppers. The other main charging method is via a standard micro USB connector.
Charging either way illuminates a smaller, dimmer red LED inside the lamp.
Fully charged I found it to last approximately 3 hours on the brightest mode and 11 hours on the dimmest mode. Not enough for a site light, but good for getting yourself into bed at the end of the night. A full charge from empty came up in just about 2 hours on USB and the red charge light goes green when this is complete. The battery is claimed at 500mAH which does seem to correlate with the longevity of the lamp based on my knowledge of LED current draw.
So in conclusion it’s a great little light and the not blinding you feature is definitely a huge bonus point. I would suggest you keep a brighter work torch for detail stuff, but for nighttime trips to the toilet and lighting up a small tent or tarp shelter with an all round gentle light it’s absolutely spot on.
Quechua BL-50 Dynamo
£12.99 at Decathlon