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Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Apollo Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Lantern

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: March 31, 2016
Price:   $50 List | Varies from $33 - $50 online
Compare prices at 8 resellers
Pros:  Rubber-tipped legs, dimming feature, dual metal hooks for hanging, cool design, durable, easy to use.
Cons:  Could be brighter, batteries wear out kind of fast.
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Valentine Cullen ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ March 31, 2016  
Overview
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 lAward.

New Version Update - March 2015
The Apollo has slightly changed; it is now available in new colors and a higher total number of lumens. Keep reading to find out more.

RELATED: Our complete review of lanterns

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The Latest Model of the Apollo vs. The Older Version of the Apollo


The Apollo's colors have slightly changed for the latest model. In addition to the change in colors, the Apollo now boasts a total of 200 lumens from its single LED, which can be great for cooking in the dark at your camp kitchen. The following reflects information given directly to us by Black Diamond.

"The changes are mainly increased lumens. This was done by moving the LED position within the housing and changing the globe to have better refraction." --Black Diamond, Director of Lighting

To be sure you're getting the latest version, purchase the Apollo lantern that has a total of 200 lumens. Below you can see the older model on the left in black and the newer model on the right.
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Old 80 lumen version on left and 200 lumen version on the right.
Credit: Black Diamond


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.

Performance Comparison


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Apollo
Credit: Valentine Cullen

Brightness


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
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down it dims. Using lanterns in areas without tree coverage can be frustrating. Your options are to place them on the ground or balance them on a rock, table, or car. Black Diamond solves this problem by creating a design with legs. The Apollo's three rubber-tipped legs create a flexible tripod, great for uneven surfaces (particularly rocks) and they are very easy to put down.
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When closing it back up the legs snap securely into place, are not loose, and don't fall open accidentally. On the top small metal hooks flip up and allow it to be hung onto branches or through loops inside of your tent. Because it features two opposing hooks instead of just one, a piece of cord or webbing can be put through the clasps like a small handle, allowing it to be securely hung on just about anything. When not in use, the Apollo can be compressed into a compact cylinder, great for traveling and storage.

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Apollo
Credit: Valentine Cullen

Durability


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.

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Apollo
Credit: Valentine Cullen

Features


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.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

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Credit: Valentine Cullen

Other Versions and Accessories


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Black Diamond Orbit
  • 105 Lumens
  • Available NRG recharge kit
  • Super Lightweight
  • 50 Lumen flashlight mode on bottom of lantern
  • Flashlight allows for greater light around and below the lantern when hanging

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Black Diamond Voyager
  • 140 Lumens
  • Great for a brighter backcountry light that is still lightweight
  • Excellent runtime (100 hours)
  • Easy to hang

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Black Diamond Titan
  • 250 Lumen
  • Brightest Black Diamond Lantern
  • Power Meter
  • runs on 4 D Batteries

Watch a Video of the Apollo from Black Diamond



Valentine Cullen


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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 31, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jun 27, 2014 - 09:25pm
Uberfiend · Camper · Corona, CA
This is a great lantern for car camping, and maybe for a base camp, but for a backpacking trip, I'd look to something lighter. It produces plenty of light and can be bright if you look directly at it, but isn't too bad with the frosted shade. Battery life is amazing. It's also light enough that you can use it from most hang points in a tent without issues though it isn't my first choice for that.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 1, 2014 - 10:47pm
C.Houston · Backpacker · Greenwich, CT
I wouldn't use it backpacking, but for car camping or when the power goes out this is a great lantern. I find it amazingly bright, but the frosted shade keeps it from being blinding. The control is easy to use and offers a wide range of brightness. Battery life is excellent.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Click to enlarge
Black Diamond Apollo - new 200 lumen version.
Credit: Black Diamond
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by Valentine Cullen