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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Apollo Review
Cons: Could be brighter, batteries wear out kind of fast.
The Black Diamond Apollo won our Editors' Choice Award for being the best overall lantern for a range of activities. The Apollo scored highest due to its ease of use, durability, and practical features. Though not the brightest product we tested, it provides ample light without blinding you. The clouded plastic surrounding the lamp provides pleasant light quality as well. The Apollo was fantastic for setting up camp at night, cooking, lighting up a tent, or lighting up a room during a power outage. Its tripod-style rubber-tipped legs and two-sided metal hooks on top allow it to be easily positioned in a variety of places. All these features make this product very versatile, and that is why it won the Editors' Choice Award.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Meet the Black Diamond Apollo. Though its appearance is more reminiscent of a NASA space contraption than classic lanterns of the past, the innovative design blew us away. It's a fantastic all-around product; we found the Apollo to be the most versatile, durable, and easy to use for a range of activities.
Coming in at 200 lumens, the Black Diamond Apollo is excellent for efficiently lighting up an area without being overpowering as was the case with some of the other models tested. Black Diamond's unique design reflects an LED light off the inner roof of the lantern. This evenly disperses the light, preventing direct eye contact with the LED light bulb as well as radiating a very nice non-glaring light. Surrounding the light is clouded plastic, which improves the light quality as well. If you want the light to be less bright for battery conservation for activities like reading, you are able to dim the light to your desired brightness level.
Looking for the stadium light effect? Check out the Coleman Northstar
Ease of Use
We gave the Black Diamond Apollo a 10/10 in this category for its outstanding yet simple design. All of its amazing features also made it easier to use than other contenders. Pulling up on the top exposes the on/off button, which when pushed once turns it on, and when held
Despite multiple camping trips along the West Coast, our Apollo still looks brand new. After years of use we could foresee the sliding mechanism that opens it up getting a bit sticky, but overall the Apollo is sturdy and well made. The metal hooks and metal legs feel strong although over time their springiness will probably decrease. To get the most battery life, we recommend using the lower brightness settings whenever possible. There are also reviews online that say that using the Black Diamond NRG Rechargeable Battery Kit extends the battery life/run time. You can then add the Black Diamond NRG / NRG2 Car Charger Kit to power and recharge the lantern from your car. The battery pack can easily be accessed by unscrewing the bottom. The bottom of the base has nice rubberized foot pads that make it stable on smooth surfaces even when the metal legs are up.
As we mentioned, the Apollo can easily be dimmed to the desired brightness by holding down the main button. A creative feature that we loved on all of the Black Diamond products is how the globe slides down over the body, greatly reducing the overall size and conveniently covering the on/off button. This keeps it cleaner and also eliminates that awful moment when you realize it was jostled to the on position and was that way in your backpack the whole time. The Apollo also features three small LED lights that disclose the remaining battery life with three colors: Green, orange/yellow, and red. This lantern is also the only one of those we tested that has legs, which help a lot when positioning it. The hooks on the top are probably the best of all the models we tested as well.
The Apollo also contains a charging port on the front for those who have purchased the NRG Rechargeable Battery Kit.
Weight / Size
The Apollo weighs less than one pound and folds up nice and compactly. When compacted it is 5" high, 3" in diameter at the top and the base is 2 1/4". When open it is 9.5" tall, has a 3" diameter on the top and a 5.3" footprint. It weighs .71 lbs /11.4 oz/ 323.2 g.
The Apollo is great at just about everything, but we would recommend it for camping endeavors more than for emergency situations. It does a great job of lighting up any campsite for groups of fewer than 10 people. With the recharge kit, it would be an excellent choice for extended backcountry travel as well, especially base camp situations.
This lantern is listed at $50 but can usually be found on sale for $10 less, making it a great deal either way. You get high quality light, versatility, and a durable product that will last you for years of use. Another plus is the fact the Apollo uses AA batteries, which are definitely cheaper over time than AAA and D batteries.
If you're on a budget and are still looking to get a great bright products, check out the MPOWERD Luci Original. It's light and there's no need for batteries because it's solar powered — it's the Best Buy Award winner.
The Black Diamond Apollo is unlike any other lantern we have seen/used, and that is what sets it apart. While its features are innovative, they are not overly complicated. Everything about it just makes sense. It is light and compact, durable, reliable, and extraordinarily easy to use. For $50, it is a worthy investment and may quickly find itself among your outdoor essentials. Of all the lanterns we tested, the Apollo is the one we tended to reach for first.
Other Versions and Accessories
Black Diamond Orbit
Black Diamond Voyager
Watch a Video of the Apollo from Black Diamond
— Valentine Cullen
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 31, 2016
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