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Suaoki LED Review

An inexpensive, but flimsy lantern with a unique set of features, making it decent for solo use in the backcountry.
Suaoki LED Camping Lantern
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Price:  $25 List | $16.63 at Amazon
Pros:  Solar powered, dual lantern/flashlight, USB charge out
Cons:  Feels cheap, not very bright
Manufacturer:   Suaoki
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 19, 2018
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50
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness - 35% 3
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Durability - 10% 3
  • Features - 10% 3
  • Weight - 20% 8

Our Verdict

The Suaoki LED didn't wow us with its performance, but it has a unique combination of features. It comes with a handle, a solar panel, and a USB charge out port. It also doubles as a flashlight.

Unfortunately, it is not well-made and many of the features didn't live up to our expectations. If you want a lantern that is just as compact and lightweight, but a lot more durable, we would recommend the Black Diamond Moji. Similarly, if solar is your go-to energy source, the LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 is better for livening up the atmosphere at your campsite.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Suaoki LED has a unique set of features as a compact, dual lantern/flashlight, solar powered light with a USB charge out port. It's not nearly as bright as the Black Diamond Moji or as fun as the MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0, but it comes at a reasonable price.

Brightness


The Suaoki LED is one of the least bright lanterns in this review. It maxes out at 65 lumens on high (25 on low). We only measured a light radius of a few feet, and it only shines for 10 hours at full charge.


The accordion plastic light cover that expands in lantern mode doesn't do the LED any favors either; it's a little too opaque and dulls an already dimmer light. We also aren't thrilled with the light quality — it's a harsh LED white.

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.

Ease of Use


We do enjoy the intuitive and versatile configuration of this lantern. Click the power button once to turn it on low, a second time for high, a third time for flashing and a fourth time to turn it off again. That's it.


Pull the two halves apart to expand it to lantern mode, or collapse and click them together to use it as a flashlight.

Durability


This lantern leaves something to be desired regarding the durability of its components, as it looks and feels flimsy.


A prime example is the thin plastic handle, which easily detaches from the rest of the lantern. It's easy enough to snap back into place, but it's also liable to snap on you, as it did during our testing. We are also dubious of the accordion center plastic that expands to convert the LED Camping Lantern from flashlight to lantern. With expansion and contraction, within the bounds of what we would consider reasonable use, the plastic wrinkles and distorts, just making it look beat up.

On the right side of the handle  the point where it attaches to the rest of the lantern snapped off a week into our testing. We would be more into this lantern if its parts weren't so flimsy.
On the right side of the handle, the point where it attaches to the rest of the lantern snapped off a week into our testing. We would be more into this lantern if its parts weren't so flimsy.

Features


The LED Camping Lantern has a handful of features that we were pretty pleased with. There are three light modes, low, high, and flashing. Even though it's not very bright, we still found that it was enough to light up the tent at night.


It comes outfitted with a USB charge out port, but it never performed as we wanted or needed it to. In theory, it adds significant plus points for those looking for a power source deeper in the backcountry, where coincidentally, our testers didn't need a tremendous amount of light anyway. However, we found that when we plugged in a phone, it often didn't recognize the device. Even when it did, after a full day charging in the sun, we were only able to boost our phone batteries by about 20%, which is significantly less than the charge capacity offered by the LuminAID PackLite Max.

This lantern has tiny rubber nubs on the 'bottom' to keep it from sliding around on flat surfaces. The feet also provide basic protection to the solar panel, which would otherwise get scratched up immediately if the light was placed on a rough surface. It doesn't have any legs though, so if you're looking to place it on something more uneven than a countertop or picnic table, you should look elsewhere.

The Suaoki LED  expanded in lantern mode  hanging from a tree branch.
The Suaoki LED, expanded in lantern mode, hanging from a tree branch.

We enjoyed that the LED Camping Lantern also doubles as a flashlight when it's collapsed. We feel that the flashlight beam is too concentrated, and doesn't shine over a vast area, but we were still fine using it to read at night.

In flashlight  mode  the Suaoki LED Camping Lantern has a very concentrated beam of light.
In flashlight mode, the Suaoki LED Camping Lantern has a very concentrated beam of light.

The handle is a little cheap. Clip in a carabiner and the lantern creates a good-enough overhead light source.

Weight/Size


This lantern is lightweight and compact. We weighed it coming in at 4.5 oz, and folding to around 1 ¾" high x 3 ⅓" in diameter, making it comparable to the Black Diamond Moji.


Best Applications


The Suaoki LED would be a decent option for an overnight backpacking trip. It could replace a flashlight on the trail if need be, and its USB charge out port is an emergency backup if you find yourself with a drained phone battery and no outlet nearby. It's not very bright, so it would be best used for reading or playing cards in your tent.

Value


At $25, you get what you pay for, maybe less. We like the idea of the LED Camping Lantern, but it's made from cheaper parts, so in the long run, we would prefer something like the Black Diamond Moji or LuminAid PackLite Max.

Conclusion


This lantern doesn't do any one thing particularly well, but its unique combination of features makes it helpful in certain situations. It's the only lantern in this review that is both solar powered and has a USB charge out port. It isn't going to be your light-up-the-night cookout lantern. For that, we'd recommend either the Biolite BaseLantern XL, or Coleman Northstar. We also know its long-term durability is suspect. If you want something equally compact, but sturdier, go with the Black Diamond Moji, or MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0. But if you are looking for a lightweight, fuss-free, tech-friendly light to take on your next backpacking adventure, the Suaoki LED could be what you're looking for.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch