Primus Micron Review
Cons: Fuel required, cannot use in the rain, expensive
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|Pros||Lightweight, small, gives off heat, same canisters as other backpacking accessories||Bright, USB charge port, no disposable batteries||Very long battery life, tough and durable, provides a nice soft diffused light||Affordable, several light tone settings, 360-degree kickstand, clever sundial||Compact and lightweight, charges other devices, versatile for individual use|
|Cons||Fuel required, cannot use in the rain, expensive||Durability concerns, hard to look at||Glow-in-the-dark doesn't work very well, hook on the bottom is not very sturdy, hard to reattach bottom after replacing batteries||Not submersible, no USB output||Difficult to hang, need outlet or battery pack to charge|
|Bottom Line||For those in the market for a highly transportable fuel canister model, this is the one||This powerful lantern with a rechargeable battery (via electricity or a hand crank) is our top choice for camping trips and power outages||A durable lantern with exceptional battery life for extended use that you can rely on when the lights go out||A lightweight, compact, and versatile lantern that is not rough on your bank account||This pocket-sized dual-use flashlight/lantern is a great option for personal use while car camping|
|Rating Categories||Primus Micron||Goal Zero Lighthous...||Ultimate Survival T...||BioLite SunLight||Goal Zero Lighthous...|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Primus Micron||Goal Zero Lighthous...||Ultimate Survival T...||BioLite SunLight||Goal Zero Lighthous...|
|Weight (with batteries)||4 oz||19.79 oz||29.28 oz||3.4 oz||3.10 oz|
|Manufacturer run time (hours)||12-24 hrs||Low, one side: 320 hrs
Low, both sides: 180 hrs
High, one side: 5 hrs
High, both sides: 2.5 hrs
|Low: 30 days
High: 12 hrs
|Low: 50 hrs
High: 3 hrs + 4 hrs reserve mode
|Low: 170 hrs
High: 7 hrs
|Size (inches)||2.4 x 2.6 x 4.2||4.5 x 5 x 6.5in||7.2 x 3.75||3.35 x 3.39 x .91||4 x 1.75 x 1.2|
|Number of batteries||0||1||3||1||1|
|Battery type||None||Rechargable||D||Rechargable Li-Ion||Rechargeable|
|Waterproof rating||Not specified||Not specified||IPX4||IPX4||IPX6|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Primarily designed for backpacking, the Primus Micron runs on the same propane/isobutane blend canisters that used to fuel packable stoves. This model has a runtime of 12 to 24 hours, so if you’re going on a shorter trip, you may be able to get away with only taking one fuel canister for both your cooking and your camp lighting. One of our favorite elements of the Micron is that it gives off heat, making it the ideal accessory for those crispy fall nights in areas where open fires are not allowed.
We kicked off our review process by considering the amount of light emitted by each lantern. With a maximum light output of 235 lumens, the Primus Micron isn’t the brightest lantern on the market. However, we’ve found that the ultra-bright 1000-lumen models are way overkill for camping and are more suited for a power outage or illuminating a workspace.
The amount of light emitted by the Micron is more than enough for cooking or playing a card game in the dark, and the light tone is mellow on the eyes. The gas regulator dial allows you to turn the lantern down to a dull glow if you so desire. The length of time the fuel canister will last while using this lantern entirely depends on the canister size used and brightness level you choose. According to Primus, the Micron will burn for 24 hours on low and 12 hours on high using a standard-sized canister.
The sturdiness of a lantern is an important factor to consider. If you’re looking for an emergency power outage light source that will sit in your closet until it’s needed, then you probably don’t need to worry about waterproof ratings. If you know that you might be facing inclement weather or getting wet, a water-resistant or even submersible model is the way to go. In either case, you’re likely going to want a model that can withstand an accidental drop or two.
Because it is constructed of stainless steel, the Primus Micron is pretty much bombproof. During our drop test assessment, our team almost felt silly dropping it from a height of eight feet, because it clearly was not going to damage the lantern. As if the Micron isn’t strong enough on its own, it also comes with a water-resistant dry bag-style carrying case that offers even more protection and allows you to clip it wherever you’d like.
Although the Micron can certainly be submerged in water and still operate once it dries out, the mantle must be dry. If you know you’re going to get wet, be sure to have a couple of spare mantles stored in a dry place if you purchase this model. Also, unlike several battery-powered models in our review, this lantern cannot operate in the rain. We docked the Micron a few points in this metric for these reasons.
Ease of Use
For this section, we discuss how intuitive each lantern is to use. We considered how hard they are to turn on, how intuitive the controls are, and whether or not we could figure out how to ignite them without instructions or even in the dark.
The Primus Micron is incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is turn the dial and press the igniter lever and it fires right up. The two reasons why we didn’t give this model a higher score for this section are that it takes a minute or two to install the mantle before the lantern’s first use and that it takes a few seconds to screw the lantern and a fuel canister together.
Lanterns can have quite a list of bells and whistles. Some have integrated solar panels, some have the capability to charge phones, and some have a variety of brightness or color settings. Certain models include magnets for attaching them to the underside of car engine hoods while others have feet or tripod that fold out to elevate them off a table to illuminate more of the area.
Because it is powered by fuel, the list of extra features offered by the Primus Micron is fairly short. However, some of the elements offered by this model are what we consider to be the most important. First and foremost, the Micron puts off heat. If you’ve ever been camping on a chilly night, you know how hard it is to get up and get going in the morning. With the Micron, you’ll be warming your hands up in a matter of seconds to make tasks such as brewing coffee or tearing down camp a lot more enjoyable. Unlike many fuel-powered models, the Micron has a Piezoelectric igniter that allows you to start the lantern without a lighter or matches. Lastly, it has a metal cable to allow you to hang the lantern without risk of the flame igniting a branch or your valuable paracord.
For the last portion of our overall score, we consider each model’s weight. If you’re shopping for a lantern to store in the basement for emergency power outages or a large version that will be used near a vehicle to illuminate a campsite, weight might not be much of a concern to you. Heavier models tend to have a longer runtime and are often the brightest options. On the other hand, if you’re shopping for a backpacking lantern, weight is a critical factor to consider. As the old saying goes, “every ounce counts.”
The Primus Micron is one of the lightest lanterns in our review. Weighing a mere 4 ounces without its case, you’ll hardly notice this model is in your pack. If you decide to use the case, it still only weighs 5.4 ounces. The weight of the fuel canister will depend on the size that you decide to haul along, but if your trip is only a night or two, you can use the same canister for your camping stove as well as your lantern, in which case it wouldn’t add any extra weight at all.
Should You Buy the Primus Micron?
This model an awesome choice if you’re looking for an ultra-light, ultra-compact model that uses the same fuel canisters as your packable stove. It starts in an instant and is plenty bright enough for activities around a small camp. One of our favorite features is that the Micron emits heat, making it an accessory that can both light camp up as well as keep you warm on a cold night.
What Other Lanterns Should You Consider?
In comparison to other lanterns, the Primus Micron has some strengths but also some shortcomings. Many people may prefer a battery-powered model that can also charge a phone, such as the Black Diamond Apollo. If you like the idea of your lantern charging in the sun while you hike, the BioLite SunLight is a solid option. Lastly, if you love gas-powered lanterns and you want a large version that will light up the whole campsite, check out the Coleman Deluxe Propane.
— Ross Patton
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