Nifty camping gadget alert! Industrial Revolution’s Arka USB Lantern does triple-duty around the campsite, working as a flashlight, stand-up lantern, and charger with rechargeable batteries. When I saw it, I put the Arka lantern in the ‘this is really cool in the outdoors store, but will I ever actually use it?’ category. In a surprise twist, the answer is actually yes! Finally, a gadgety camping accessory my husband doesn’t roll his eyes about. Actually, he did roll his eyes, but only until he wanted to change his phone.
You get 6-8 hours of light on high beam with the Arka, and over 100 hours on low. It comes with a USB cable and 100-240V charger, which you can use to either recharge the lantern’s own batteries or charge any device that connects via USB. We took it on a six night desert car camping trip during which we were completely without power other than occasional moments in the car. Generally speaking, we camp without electronics, but this particular trip was combined with a road trip, so all three of our kids had iPods in hand. My husband had his afore-mentioned phone, and I had mine. As you can imagine, the few times we rode in the car, the single car charger was in hot demand.
Each evening, I turned on the Arka lantern and set it in lantern mode (in which it stands solo) while we played board games or cards. During this time, I used the USB cord to charge someone’s iThing. Sometimes the lucky person will have earned the right to a full battery with good behavior; sometimes, I just played favorites. Usually, I charged my own phone. When we were ready to turn in for the night, it was easy to detach the phone, slide the lantern into flashlight mode, and use it for that last trip to the bathroom or to the teeth brushing station. We also hung the lantern from the interior roof of our tent.
You get a red indicator light to tell you when you’re almost out of power in the lantern, and no fewer than five lighting modes, from various brightness levels to red LED light to SOS mode. The Arka isn’t terribly big, so when in lantern mode, it’s not the brightest light you can get, but it served us just fine for simple tasks and general ambient lighting. We will definitely be using it on future trips. I’m sure the Arka would also be a useful gadget for hunters who need to keep their cell phone alive, and short-term backpackers who want to use their phones for GPS. When we’re not traveling, the Arka sits in our glovebox of our car for emergency use.
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updated: April 29 2014 by pitstopsforkids