Lighting options for outdoor adventure and travel continue to get more sophisticated and useful. Recently, I was sent to great new lanterns for use while camping, and I briefly flirted with the idea of reviewing them together in one blog post, but after using both of them for a bit, I’ve come to realize that both products are unique, useful, and worthy of their own individual reviews. The first of those products is the Tetra lantern from UCO, a lighting option that has some great tricks up its sleeve.
Out of the box, the first thing that impressed me about the Tetra is just how incredibly lightweight it is. The lantern tips the scales at just 4.3 ounces (124 grams), and yet it still manages to put out a considerable amount of light. On its highest setting, the Tetra can put off an impressive 170 lumens, which is a surprising amount of light for use in a tent or around a campsite. Holding the power button acts as a dimmer switching, bringing the brightness down in smooth increments. Holding it for eight seconds will switch into a flashing strobe mode used for emergency purposes.
Powered by a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, the Tetra is capable of up to five hours of light on its highest setting, and as much as 120 hours on its lowest output level, which is 6 lumens. That’s a solid amount of burn time, particularly since you’re likely to actually get closer to 80-100 hours depending on the level of brightness that is most suitable for you. The built-in battery can be recharged via USB, which means the Tetra can be recharged via a laptop, or a portable solar panel. The light also has an extra USB port, that allows you to attach other devices, and charge them up as well. This is a feature that comes in handy when traveling in particular, as you never know when you may need to top off the charge on your smartphone, a camera, or some other small device.
The Tetra’s list of features doesn’t end there however, as it has few other tricks up tis sleeve. This lantern can also convert to a flashlight simply by pushing its outer opaque covering up into an extended position. When that cover is down, it diffuses the light like a lantern, but when slid into the up position, it focuses it into a beam. This is turns what could have been a simple, but handy, lantern into a far more versatile piece of gear.
UCO has put a lot of thought into the design of the Tetra, with some features that travelers and outdoor enthusiasts are sure to appreciate. For instance, a D-ring is incorporated across the top, making it easy to hang the light in a tent. The dimming switch and the base also give off a slight glow, making it easy to locate and operate in the dark, while the power button serves as an indicator of how low the current charge is, alerting you when it needs to be connected to a USB port for charging.
I love how small and lightweight the Tetra is. It can be easily tossed into your backpack, and used in a tent, mountain hut, hotel room, or just about anywhere else you might need it. It has long battery life for use on an extended trip, and it is easy to recharge when necessary. On top of that, it provides plenty of light, and is versatile enough to be used both as a lantern and a flashlight. Throw in the ability to recharge other devices, and you have a real winner. This is exactly the kind of gear I like to have with me when I’m traveling, and I think you will too.
The Tetra retails for $49.99, and considering how much functionally it packs into such a small package, I feel that’s a great price. This is one of those pieces of gear that you don’t realize you need until you start using it, and I’m glad to have it my gear closet for future adventures.