The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Black Diamond Apollo Review

The best all-around lantern for backpacking, camping, and power outages.
Black Diamond Apollo - new 200 lumen version.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $65 List | $59.93 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Rubber-tipped legs, dimming feature, dual metal hooks for hanging, durable
Cons:  Could be brighter for large groups, replaceable batteries run out quickly
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 12, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Brightness - 40% 6
  • Durability - 20% 8
  • Features - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Apollo earns an Editors' Choice Award because it is all-around awesome. It scores the highest in our review for its combination of comfortable brightness, ease of use and practical features. Though it is not the brightest product that we tested, it provides ample light for both small and larger groups. The opaque plastic surrounding the lamp creates a pleasant light quality as well. The Apollo is great for setting up camp, cooking, and illuminating a tent at night, as well as lighting up a room during a power outage. Its tripod-style rubber-tipped legs and dual metal hooks mean it can be comfortably positioned on a variety of surfaces. All these features make it exceptionally versatile, earning it our Editors' Choice award for the overall best option.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Black Diamond Apollo - new 200 lumen version.
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $59.93 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$39.95 at Amazon$23.25 at Amazon$129.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$19.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Rubber-tipped legs, dimming feature, dual metal hooks for hanging, durableVery long battery life, tough and durable, provides a nice soft diffused lightDurable, packed with features, water resistant, floatsTons of features, bright, 180/360 light settings, bluetooth compatibleLightweight, solar-powered, durable, inexpensive, packs flat
Cons Could be brighter for large groups, replaceable batteries run out quicklyGlow-in-the-dark doesn't work very well, hook on the bottom is not very sturdy, hard to reattach bottom after replacing batteries.Can't fully adjust the amount of light output, limited to four settings, smallSome features can be temperamental, expensiveLow lumen output, can't fit in pocket
Bottom Line The best all-around lantern for backpacking, camping, and power outages.A durable lantern with exceptional battery life.This little lantern is tough and versatile.The lantern that boosts the fun at a party and provides a single, bright light source at a campsite.A fun, durable lantern that's great for a weekend out in a tent.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Apollo 30-Day Duro Glow Streamlight The Siege BioLite BaseLantern XL Goal Zero Crush Light
Brightness (40%)
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5
Durability (20%)
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8
Features (20%)
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5
Ease Of Use (10%)
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Weight (10%)
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Specs Black Diamond Apollo 30-Day Duro Glow Streamlight The... BioLite... Goal Zero Crush...
Weight (with batteries, in ounces) 10.19 oz 29.28 oz 9.14 oz 22.88 oz 3.67 oz
Lumens 225 700 200 500 60
Size (inches) 9.5 x 3.3 x 5.3 7.2 x 3.75 2.4 x 2.4 x 5.4 5.08 x 5.0 x 1.73 4.95 x 4.95 x 4`
Number of batteries 3 3 3 1 N/a
Battery type AA D AA 12000 mAh Rechargeable Internal Battery None
Waterproof rating IPX 4 "Water resistant" IPX7 IPX4 IPX4
Manufacturer run time (hours) 24 hrs 22 hrs on high, 30 days on low 7-37 hrs 78 hrs on low, 7.5 hrs on high 3.5 hrs

Our Analysis and Test Results

This lantern has an innovative design that impressed us from sunset to sunrise. It's a fantastic all-around product; we found the Apollo to be versatile, durable, and easy to use for a range of activities. It doesn't earn the highest marks in every metric, but it is consistent across the board. This light is a reliable product that has provided us with ample illumination for many nights of quality camping.

Performance Comparison


This lantern is an all-around standout.
This lantern is an all-around standout.

Brightness


Shining at a maximum of 225 lumens, the Apollo efficiently lights an area but is still comfortable enough to look at directly. Black Diamond's unique design casts an even, comparatively warm glow for an LED lantern. The light is also surrounded by an opaque plastic cover, which improves the light quality. If you want to conserve energy or don't need it at full brightness, it is easy to dim by holding down the power button.


A 20'x15' living room (and a nine-pound pup) illuminated only by the Apollo overhead.
A 20'x15' living room (and a nine-pound pup) illuminated only by the Apollo overhead.

It can illuminate a picnic table or cooking area, providing enough light for 3 or 4 people (as long as they don't have to wander too far away from one another). It has very useful legs but it still does better when it is hanging up overhead or placed on a shelf above head height.

On the right  the Suaoki LED has a white  harsher light quality. On the left  the Black Diamond Apollo is a bit more yellow and warmer.
On the right, the Suaoki LED has a white, harsher light quality. On the left, the Black Diamond Apollo is a bit more yellow and warmer.

Durability


Overall the Apollo is sturdy and well made. After a handful of camping trips along both American coasts, our Apollo still looks brand new. We tested its splash-resistance rating by leaving it out in the rain a few times and we never had any issues. We even dunked it in a river and it still works just like it ever did. We could imagine that the plastic casing could crack if it were to fall from a high tree branch onto a rock, but it never looked any worse for wear after repeated drops on a softer dirt surface.


To get the most battery life, we recommend using the lower brightness settings whenever possible. The bottom of the base also has nice rubberized footpads that stabilize it on smooth surfaces even when the metal legs are folded up.

The Apollo  submerged with a few other top contenders. All of the lanterns shown made it out of the water unscathed.
The Apollo, submerged with a few other top contenders. All of the lanterns shown made it out of the water unscathed.

Features


The Apollo has a great combination of features that take the lantern beyond just another light. It runs off of a rechargeable internal 2600 mA battery, with a compartment for 3 AA backup batteries if you need some extra juice. This is the best of both worlds, enabling you to recharge the built-in battery via the included micro-USB cable, but without leaving you in the dark if you can't get to an outlet quickly enough. It also comes equipped with two sets of blue charge indicator lights, one for the replaceable batteries and one for the rechargeable one. At max brightness, the lantern runs for 6 hours off of the internal battery and then automatically switches to the AAs and runs for another 18 hours. Using it primarily for solo use, dimmed to its lowest setting, we were able to get almost two full days of straight runtime, which should be enough for over a week of evening and nighttime use without recharging.


It also comes with a USB charge out port to power up a phone or other small electronic device. This significantly reduces the runtime, but similarly can provide a quick boost if you need to take that one more photo or send another message. This also makes it an attractive choice as a backup power source if you find yourself in an unexpected power outage and your phone battery is running low.

A button (at top) underneath the battery cover allows you to toggle between power sources if one of them is running low.
A button (at top) underneath the battery cover allows you to toggle between power sources if one of them is running low.

This lantern is one of the few we tested that has retractable legs, which are incredibly helpful when positioning it. Each leg flexes independently meaning that the Apollo can be set down on uneven surfaces. If you don't have any trees around, it's still very possible to get the light you need.

Using the Apollo's USB charge out feature to charge an iPhone.
Using the Apollo's USB charge out feature to charge an iPhone.

Ease of Use


We love the Apollo for its thoughtful, yet simple design. Its feature set also made it easier to use than other contenders. The textured, rubber power button is the same as other Black Diamond models; one press turns it on, holding it down dims or brightens it and pressing it a second time turns it off.


The Apollo is also simple to position on a horizontal surface. Its three rubber-tipped legs create a flexible tripod, which also means it can be placed on uneven surfaces. The top of the lantern has two opposing metal hooks that flip up, enabling the light to hang on a tree branch or through a loop on the ceiling of a tent. When not in use, the Apollo can be closed up into a compact cylinder, great for traveling and storage. The external battery compartment is also very easy to access by unscrewing the top.

Plugged into USB for charging  with legs collapsed.
Plugged into USB for charging, with legs collapsed.

Weight


The Apollo weighs just over half a pound (without AA batteries) and folds up compactly into a unit a little larger than a tennis ball: 5 inches high, 3 inches in top diameter and 2 1/4 inches at the base. When opened, it is 9 1/2 inches tall, has a 3-inch diameter on the top and a 5 1/3 inch footprint. We wouldn't take it on long-haul backpacking trips, but it fits nicely in a spare water bottle pocket for a 2- or 3-day adventure.


If you want to cut down on weight  you can always leave the disposable batteries at home. This lantern still works great without them.
If you want to cut down on weight, you can always leave the disposable batteries at home. This lantern still works great without them.

Value


For everything this lantern has going for it, we think it is a little costly. We could envision folks who are just as happy with one of the smaller but much less expensive Black Diamond offerings. We think it offers a solid though value because of its versatility and quality.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Apollo is unique. Its features are innovative, but not overly complicated. Everything about it makes sense. It is compact, durable, reliable, and easy to use. It is an investment that 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.

Dual opposite and opposing hooks raised  legs deployed.
Dual opposite and opposing hooks raised, legs deployed.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch