FR - Black Diamond Orbit Lantern - mike williams
Attached is my FR for the orbit lantern. I wasn't able to get any pictures, it was too cold for my camera batteries.
the Test HTML can be found
Field Conditions and Performance
During the Field Report phase of the test I have used the Orbit Lantern on 2 overnight trips (1 car camping and 1 backpacking trip) for a total of 4 nights. Both of these trips were made in winter conditions with snow and temperatures below freezing. Since these trips were in the winter and the sun set around 5:30 pm the Orbit got quite a bit of use on these trips.
I would estimate that I used the Orbit for 12 hours on the high setting and an additional 4 hours on a dimmed setting. After 16 hours of run time, the Lithium batteries that I am using are still going strong. I have put in new batteries to see if the brightness changed with the new cells, but I can't tell a difference between the new or used batteries. I did try to change the batteries in the field with gloves on and that was very challenging, I couldn't do it with my gloves on.
The operation of the lantern was very easy with a glove which was something that surprised me. I had expectations that the gloves would make it difficult to turn the lantern on and off or adjust the dimmer and I found that I did not have a problem with that. In fact the hardest thing to do with gloves on was to lift the hanging loops into position which took some practice but now isn't an issue.
The lantern was very easy to use and we used it for everything from cooking to going to the latrine. The lantern is bright and with all of the snow that was around us it was all that we needed. The dimming function was very useful once we were in the tent, I found that the high setting was just a bit too bright to read from, and it created a lot of shadows. Once dimmed, the light the lantern provided was perfect for me to read by.
So far I'm impressed with the lantern, I expected the batteries to be somewhat impacted by the use as well as the cold environment but I haven't seen anything yet. I'm really pleased with how easy the lantern is to use; I find it packable sturdy and so far dependable. What I'm really pleased with this the dimming function, if the lantern only had a high setting, the light would have been too harsh for me to read by and I would have gotten a headache.
I only have two critiques about the design so far. First, the lantern does not have a battery life indicator that I think would be very handy. I have used the lantern quite a bit so far and I have no idea how long this set of batteries will last and since changing the batteries in winter is very difficult with gloves on I'll probably put in a new set before each trip just to make sure I don't have to deal with it. My second critique is in the base. I think the base is very sturdy and it works great on flat surfaces but on uneven surfaces it got knocked over a lot. We even went so far as to stick the base in the snow and it held up fine, but once we were in the tent it got knocked over every couple of minutes when someone was moving around so we ended up hanging the lantern.
All in all I like this little thing. This concludes my Field Report. I give my thanks to Black Diamond and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. Please check back for the Long Term Report to be available in April, 2011.