Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review - UCO Original Candle Lantern

For this post, let's step back into an era before the modern LED emitter. Actually, let's go back to a time before the incandescent light bulb was invented, before batteries became commonplace and even before flashlights were mass-produced. During this time, people relied on candles and lanterns for light after the sun went down. They weren't as nifty as the modern conveniences that we currently have, but they worked. Since the dawn of mankind, fire was the main source of illumination for thousands of years.

Fast forward to today. Electricity is commonplace, and unless you're out in the middle of nowhere, chances are that the vast majority of your light is provided by incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, or LEDs. Does out-dated technology such as candles and lanterns have a place in the modern world?

The UCO Original Candle Lantern comes in a variety of colors.
The answer may surprised you. I would argue that yes they do, which is why I am reviewing the Original Candle Lantern from UCO.

The UCO Original Candle Lantern has one thing going for it: It is an extremely simple device. There isn't much that can go wrong with it. You light it, and it works until it burns out. Modern flashlights are great, don't get me wrong, but they are much more complex, and with complexity comes the chance that they may break during the time that you need them most. (Murphy's Law anyone?)

If you are ever in a situation where having a light source may be critical to your survival, you need backups. Having another flashlight is a good idea, but I would argue that it's even a better idea to have a backup that is dead-simple, one that will work no matter what. When facing an emergency, it's good to follow the principle of "3 is 2, 2 is 1 and 1 is none", meaning that for critical applications, you need backups to your backups because Murphy likes to visit during times when it's least convenient.

For those who don't understand what I mean, let me explain. During critical situations, things tend to break. If you only have one light source and it breaks, you now have none. You are much better off having a backup, just in case.

The Candle Lantern is great for up-close light in a tent.
While a candle doesn't have as much of a light output as your 900+ Lumen Pocket Powerhouse Flashlight, you'd be surprised how little light you need to function in up-close lighting situations. The 20 lumens provided by the Original Candle Lantern can be more than adequate for reading a book, or working in a tent. Having a candle in a tent also heats up your tent and limits condensation, both things that your LED light will not do.

Did I mention firestarting? As long as you have a lit candle, you do not have to worry about starting a fire, since you have a fire contained within the lantern whenever it is in use. This can be great in a survival situation, where a fire provides not only light, but needed warmth and the ability to cook food.

The Original Candle Lantern is meant to house the UCO 9-Hour Candles. These candles are 3.5" long and burn for 9 hours, hence the name. You can use these candles by themselves, but without some sort of housing to contain the candle, you have the risk of something catching fire.

The Candle Lantern houses a 3.5" candle,
for 9 hours of continuous light.
The Candle Lantern is constructed out of lightweight aluminum and only weighs 6.4 ounces with a candle. It also comes in a variety of colors, with either a painted or an anodized finish. It is compact when closed; at 4.24", it is only a bit larger than the candle. When opened up for use, it is 6.5" tall. Opening the Candle Lantern reveals a window through which you can see the candle flame. A spring pushes up on the bottom of the candle, making sure that it is always up near the top where the flame can be seen.

For use, the Candle Lantern has a flat base which can be placed on a table or any flat surface. There is also a carry handle with a hanging bail which allows you to easily hang the lantern, should you choose to use it in such a way.

While it is larger than your standard LED light, and may be a bit heavier, having a backup light source like a UCO Original Candle Lantern is definitely a good idea. Who knows, you may even enjoy using it more than your flashlight, if only for the cool-factor of having soothing candlelight in your tent at night.

Have any of you used the UCO Original Candle Lantern? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.


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  2. The UCO Original Candle Lantern has been my favorite camping and thru-hiking lantern in the recent past. It is lightweight, durable, and remarkably inexpensive. Hiking enthusiasts, check out more ultralight gear here: http://hikingmastery.com/top-pick/ultralight-hiking-gear.html