To call this a camping lantern would be like calling Kew Gardens an allotment. It’s less of a lantern and more of a lighthouse. We were camping in view of the sea last week and we had to be careful not to guide shipping in to the rocks. It is, for want of a better description, bloody bright.
In fact, 75% of us in the 4-man tent agreed that it was in fact too bright. And the other 25% just stared at it like a moth.
Kicking out 216 Lumen of light, which isn’t that much when compared to say a 60W lightbulb which chucks out 800 Lumen, these things are context sensitive. The light from the Coleman Duo is on, or off, and in the confines of a small tent is too much. This is a lantern for a big tent, or perhaps an outdoor gathering.
That fact is reinforced by its physical size. It’s bigger than you’d think, weighing in at 2kg and standing at 30cm tall it’s a very hefty piece of kit and although I have a lot of confidence in the build-quality of most modern tents, I’d be very hesitant to hang this from any tent roof – it’s a table lantern, which is perhaps why it seems so bright because it’s at eye level.
The Duo lantern runs on 4 D-cell batteries (the big ones) or on Coleman’s own 6v rechargeable battery system called CPX 6. We tested it on the D-cells.
What’s neat about the Duo LED is that each side of it (the red bits) can be detatched and taken with you if you need to venture out to the toilet, or another tent, and not leave your companions in the dark. Each side contains a small rechargeable battery which gets its energy when the main lantern is on and can last up to 2 hours on its own. A brilliant theory with the minor flaw that you need to have run the main lantern for a while before each half will work on its own. In fact, and I’m not sure if this is a lack-of-charging issue, or a fault, but one side of our test lantern never worked on its own.
When unplugged from the main body, each side lantern will kick out a more manageable 92 Lumen, which is easier on the eye at night.
The Duo is built in a tough feeling plastic with polycarbonate (impact proof) lenses. The buttons are chunky and the handles are very large, so it would be a great tool for anyone with reduced hand ability or wearing gloves. Changing the batteries is a bit harder though, requiring a bit of a squeeze to release the cells.
The Coleman Duo is far from cheap, so it is again firmly in the realm of large family camping budgets. D-cell batteries are quite expensive, so as an investment I’d look to the rechargeable CPX power unit for a further £25 (or thereabouts).
SUMMARY: If you have a large tent, or need a lot of light to see what you’re doing, then give this lantern a look. It’s a beast of a thing, but would suit some people’s needs as a catch-all solution. It’s not for those of you who like a bit of mood lighting or romance though – it’s strictly a big, brash beast of a light. It really does need a reduced-brightness mode to be more useful to more people.