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Gear talk: a minimal USB-A diffused lantern

USB light plugged into NB10000 Gen 2 powerbank
USB light plugged into NB10000 Gen2 powerbank

This cheap little USB light can be plugged directly into a powerbank and may be all that is required for night time lighting of a shelter when backpacking. They don’t come much lighter than this!

Three Points of the Compass has recently been looking at various lantern options for use when backpacking, camping, for home use and emergency power outages. When backpacking, sometimes, a wider spread of light than that supplied from a headlamp/torch/flashlight is required, or at least preferred. Especially inside a tent. There are expensive choices, there are cheap choices, there are large choices and there are small choices. There isn’t much that is cheaper, lighter or smaller than the mini USB light shown here.

It is perhaps a tad ambitious to refer to this little light as a ‘lantern’. It is made in China, unbranded, has a 5V/1A USB-A connector and a hard plastic diffuser covering an internal LED. Dimensions are 24mm diameter x 25mm with additional 12mm USB connector extending from this (total 37mm). It weighs 4.8g. So light and so small it can happily be slipped into an electronics baggie to be pulled out of a night-time. You are not going to be able to night hike with this. The spread of light is minimal, but perfectly sufficient to cook a meal, read by, study a map and write in a journal.

USB-A 'lantern' is little more than a LED with a plastic diffuser
USB-A ‘lantern’ is little more than a LED with a plastic diffuser

It is mostly plastic, very cheaply made and cost me a grand total of £1.29 with free postage. There were a couple of options available on eBay- 6500k cool white light or 3000k warm white light. I show the warmer glow here. Most of us backpackers are now carrying a powerbank on trail and this could be all that is required to give a gentle 360 degree diffused light within the confines of a small tent. It isn’t going to be of much use beyond that other than as a non-adjustable night light within the home, but can also be plugged into a laptop or wall outlet.

Three Points of the Compass has been using a tiny 3g dimmable LED light, with double-sided contacts, on backpacking trips for some years now. I’ll be trying this little LED lantern alternative this year on trail to see if I prefer the wider spread of light it provides. You can alternatively buy silicone diffusers that will slip over the end of a torch or flashlight and I show some examples of those in another blog.

Two lightweight tent light options- USB-A LED 'lantern', and 3g dimmable USB leds, about as minimal as it is possible to be, other than taking nothing!
Two lightweight tent light options- 4.8g USB-A LED ‘lantern’, and 3g dimmable USB-A LED, about as minimal as it is possible to be, other than taking nothing!

This has been part of a series of blogs looking at small lanterns suited for lightweight backpacking, or for use in the home and elsewhere:

Mini USB-A 'lantern'

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