Tested: Ledlenser ML4 rechargeable lantern
Camp lighting choice is always a tricky one and is often \ influenced by the type of camping you do, whether that is primarily car-based or hike/paddle/bike-based. With the last three – and most notably, with multi-day hiking – weight and size are heavy influences on light-source selection.
Regardless of activity, it is head torches that are probably the most popular light source. Often, though, you may need a less direct light source for illumination of things like tent interiors, cooking areas, camp tables, car interiors, etc., and this is where a compact, portable but powerful light source comes in handy.
The Ledlenser ML4’s light output belies its diminutive size (97mm long and a paltry 71g with battery included), thanks to micro-prism technology that provides glare-free – and targeted – lighting. The ML4 has nine Power LEDs and three light output options – Power, Mid Power, and Low Power – that, respectively, offer 150 lumens for 2.5 hours, 50 lumens for eight hours and 5 lumens for 45 hours. Add in the fact you can not only recharge the rechargeable Li-ion 14,500 3.7V battery (full charge takes 150 minutes via its magnetic charger), you can also use an AA battery (either Alkaline 1.5V or NiMH 1.2V) for additional light hours. Battery life can be checked via the three-tier energy status indicator (Green means full; Yellow means half; Red means it needs recharging). There’s also a red night light, too; accessed by pushing the light button down for three seconds.
We’ve used the ML4 for both an overnight hiking adventure and also a family camping trip, with the light’s ‘cute’ size and appearance meaning it resides in the kids’ part of the family tent and also on the camp table when eating dinner at night. The Low Power mode’s output also means it makes a great night-light for them. There’s minimal fear of it being damaged; it is rated to IP66 so is dust-proof and can withstand ‘powerful jets of water’. It can also cope with a drop of up to 2 metres and temperatures ranging from -20 to +40 degrees Celsius. So yeah, it’s tough.
A very handy feature of the ML4 – not always present in outdoor lighting – is a Transportation Lock, ensuring it can’t be accidentally turned on when in transit. And even if you forget to grab it before nightfall, the single phosphorous ring encircling the base and top of the light make it easy to find.
We have other camping light sources for our adventures but the ML4 has joined them as a staple of our essential gear; the compact size alone makes adding this additional light source a no-brainer; it takes up stuff-all space in the camp box. Add in the bonus of two power sources if needed (or you forget to charge it before leaving), the robust construction and the excellent warranty (seven years) in the off chance something does happen, and it definitely punches above its weight and size.
RRP: $69 Available from Led Lenser Australia