Pardon the pun, but Coleman's LED Quad Lantern presents one of the brightest ideas we've seen when it comes to lighting. It's unique because the body of the lantern has four detachable panels, each of which has six 5 mm, white LED lights. We tested the lantern during several car-camping trips and found that it was really handy when we had several people sharing a campsite. At one point, a member of one group needed a light to change clothes in the tent, while another wanted a lantern for a bathroom run. Each person plucked a panel from a central hub, and the remaining panels were left on the lantern body to provide light for another person to still wash dishes.
Our tests revealed that the Quad Lantern really added a great deal of convenience to life in camp, particularly when we didn't feel like keeping headlamps on all the time.
The lantern runs on eight D batteries, which immediately illuminate the LED light panels and quickly charge the panels when they are attached again to the lantern's main body. When the panels were away from the central hub, they lived up to claims that they will run for 90 minutes. Each panel gave off the amount of light similar to a headlamp and effectively lit the way while walking around the campground during pitch-black nights. We liked that each panel was lightweight, had its own on/off button and included a carrying handle.
A great advantage was that we could divide out the panels to serve the needs of several individuals. At night, we used cord to hang a panel in the tent's screen porch so one camper could read, while we strung up one in the tent's sleeping quarters so another camper could change clothes and remove her contact lenses. We typically left one or two panels attached to the main body, which sat on a picnic table to illuminate the campsite.
Of course, you could achieve the same thing if each person had a headlamp. But this system has its advantages. When our group wanted to sit around camp and talk at night, we placed the panels back on the main lantern body for a single light source. When all four panels are attached to the body, they turn on simultaneously by pressing a button atop the lantern body. By using this single light source, we didn't have individuals blinding each other with headlamp beams, and the resident moths and other flying creatures congregated around the lantern, rather than buzzing our heads.
If there is a drawback, it's the fact that the lantern runs on so many batteries. That's surely not the most environmentally friendly way to power something. On the other hand, a battery-powered lantern can be used in a tent more safely than some lights powered by fuel.
This is also a great item to have in your home. One tester actually had the Coleman lantern on hand when his power went out, and he said he removed three panels to place them in rooms throughout the house. That was much more convenient than fumbling around with matches and candles.
We also determined that the lantern is built well and didn't show any wear and tear after being crammed in the back of several car trunks with lots of other gear.
Aside from being a sound, high-quality product, the LED Quad fulfills the mission of any great piece of camping gear -- it makes life easier.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $69.99
For more information:www.coleman.com