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Voyager's De-Light

Written by Shelly Forster

When campers long to be fully swathed in illumination, a headlamp’s harsh laser beam just isn’t going to cut it. Campers that prefer basking in an orb of light may get their fix with the Voyager LED lantern from Black Diamond.

The Voyager is a two-in-one lantern and flashlight tool, although the lantern is the real bread-and-butter of the setup. With a 75-lumen output, the lantern is bright enough for camp chores, reading, and walking a decent trail at night.

For the lone backpacker the Voyager may simply duplicate the function of a headlamp. For groups and families, however, the camping lantern eliminates the deer-in-headlights factor common to several people trying to spend time together by headlamp. On my own recent car camping trip in Oregon and California, the Voyager’s 360-degree illumination range made it much easier for my beau and I to play cards together at camp, although I did miss the satisfying revenge of searing his retinas with my headlamp when his aces trumped my jacks.

We primarily used the lantern from a tabletop, which limited the glow to a mere 18 inches in each direction. This was sufficient for one person reading or two playing cards, but would have left much of a larger group in the dark. For broad illumination, the Voyager is most effective from on high. When hung from a branch or a stand it has a reported 16-foot illumination range in each direction, which is a hefty ball of light for a lantern so small. The lantern has a clever double hook system that made it easy to hang under a tent roof and eliminated the angst that comes with positioning a hanging headlamp. For long nights reading or poring over a map inside a tent, the Voyager would provide much more steady, ambient light than a headlamp without the risk factors of a candle or gas lantern.

The Voyager has a frosted globe, and when viewed from above it glows pleasantly without blinding. However, the bright light is an eyeful to those that fall directly under its beam. This can be counterbalanced using a dimmer function. In addition, the flashlight, which shines from the bottom of the lantern, effectively illuminates a tent or other small area without blinding those below. In the hand, the flashlight beam has a twenty-foot range and is gentle enough to preserve night vision for star watching on an easy night walk. Still, for more extreme nocturnal wanderers the flashlight would be eclipsed by a headlamp on night hikes requiring scrambling or long-range vision.

Photo: The Voyager is considerably dimmer than a 60-watt bulb you'd use at home but in a dark tent or during a dark night it casts a nice, usable orb of white light.

The Voyager is collapsible, and at its smallest is about the size of an average walkie talkie. It’s small enough that it can be worn around the neck on a lanyard or attached to a belt loop, allowing the hands-free functionality of a headlamp without the coal miner mystique. Its 8-ounce heft (batteries included) may deter lightweight extremists, but the Voyager is plenty small and light enough to be carried in a jacket pocket or tossed into a pack. The lantern’s weight is a non-factor for car camping, which might prove to be the Voyager’s best use. While the Voyager doesn’t have the same soul-warming glow of a kerosene or candle lamp, it does have the advantages of being conveniently battery-powered, looking vaguely like a spaceship (instant cool!), and being much less likely to ignite a tent than its flaming lantern counterparts.

Details, Details:
  • Manufacturer: Black Diamond
  • Weight: 8 oz (with 4 AA batteries)
  • Maximum light: 75 lumens for lantern, 50 lumens for flashlight.
  • Minumum light: 10 lumens.
  • Burn time: 13 hours at 75 lumens, 100 hours at 10 lumens.
  • Length: 16 cm extended, 11 cm collapsed
  • Powered by: 4 AA batteries
  • Retails for: $40

Best uses: Car camping, backpacking with groups or families, long nights in a tent when winter camping, emergency lantern for the home or the car.

More Info: www.blackdiamondequipment.com

Photo: Some Voyager models also come equipped with rocket boosters, allowing them to probe the edges of our solar system and the interstellar medium. Voyager Golden Record not included.