TechnologyTell

TechnologyTell Review: Blackfire Clamplight LED Lantern

Sections: Gadgets / Other, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous, Reviews

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Summer is synonymous with camping and outdoor adventure, be it casual fun in the backyard or an exciting multi-day trip in the woods. No matter which way is preferred, energy and activity tend to outlast sunlight. Solution? Bust out the LED lights and lanterns to keep the cooking, chatting, and safety going strong.

Although there are (literally) thousands of high-quality LED lanterns to choose from, few of them compare to the versatility of the Blackfire Clamplight. Whether you’re looking to replace an aging light or need a new one entirely, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Design

The Blackfire Clamplight LED Lantern reminds me of a work/trouble light with a camping lantern’s influence. I think it’s the handle shape and how the Clamplight looks when hanging upside-down. This light looks and feels well-built and rugged. The water-resistant, matte black exterior is smooth, but not slick to hold.

Blackfire Clamplight LED lantern hand

Good size without being too big

You won’t find a whole lot of metal in the Blackfire Clamplight LED Lantern. All there is consists of the top handle, button ring, battery compartment screw, and internal spring. The rest is durable plastic, which makes for a very lightweight gadget. This lantern takes only three AA batteries, so slap your favorite rechargeable batteries in it (mine are the Sanyo Eneloop kind). I really like how the battery screw has a slot wide enough to fit a coin if a screwdriver isn’t handy. Or a piece of rock, burly thumbnail, etc.

Although the lantern head has two positions to click and hold, it’s fully adjustable in a 180 degree arc. There is sufficient tension to rotate it smoothly yet have it stay angled how you want it. Combined with the versatility of its gripping feet, one can throw light practically every which way needed.

The rubber pads on the bottom of the feet turn into grips as soon as you unlock the spring to let the lantern clamp on something. The spring is powerful enough to hold the Blackfire Clamplight LED Lantern steady and secure, even perpendicular on a vertical pole. You can even set it down on it’s head on flat surface.

If you don’t necessarily need to clamp the Clamplight to hang it. The top handle pops out, making it ideal to put on hooks or carabiners. The rubber feet meet together, creating an open space to hang the Clamplight upside-down around a cable as thick and wide as two fingers. Versatile? Absolutely.

There are a series of three LED lights, which continuously show the power level through intermittent blinks. The colors of green, yellow, and red indicate high, medium, and low power, respectively. They remain lit for lantern and flashlight modes, too. Although the Blackfire Clamplight LED Lantern pulses this light every other second, the energy use is minimal. I’ve had batteries loaded in them for weeks (closer to months), and each one maxes out the green bar on my trusted battery tester. If anything, the blinking makes it easier to find the lantern in the dark when it’s off.

Performance

I find the Clamplight far more useful as a lantern than a flashlight. Duh, right? What I mean is that if I need a flashlight, I’ll grab for a flashlight first. I use the Clamplight as a flashlight only if there isn’t anything else around. The primary reasoning behind this is the way it holds in the hand. The Clamplight is a little clumsy, only when compared to a more slender flashlight. But, of course, I’m judging two completely different body profiles, too.

Blackfire Clamplight LED lantern bending

It gets nice and bendy, if needed

So, yes, the Clamplight is preferred for area-illumination duty. If you decide you want a lantern to carry while walking, hold the Clamplight upside-down. Otherwise you’ll get more light in your eyes than not. If you must hold it right-side up, keep it above eye level and you’ll be fine. Holding the Clamplight upside-down in my hand while walking, I have enough light to be able to see the surrounding area and safely navigate the terrain.

In terms of brightness, the Blackfire Clamplight is comparable to other lanterns with similar lumen output. Any quality lantern in the same performance range provides more than enough light for a 20’ x 20’ foot area. You can hunt around for an object that you dropped on the ground or floor of your tent. Compared to my Coleman Classic Personal Lantern, the Blackfire Clamplight is some brighter, yet is lighter and more portable. But a major benefit of owning the Clamplight is the utility for placement to get illumination how you need.

Blackfire Clamplight LED lantern hanging

Can hang it..

As for the flashlight performance of the Clamplight, it’s almost on par with my trusted Fenix E21 flashlight. But not quite. At short (within 6’ feet) to medium (up to 17’ feet), the Clamplight is bright, but doesn’t cast the same depth of shadows as the Fenix E21.

However, the Clamplight’s spot light is broader and gently expands out, providing light coverage that is more even. Beyond that, especially at max distances, the Fenix E21 illuminates better with a more concentrated spot focus. But for all intents and purposes, the Blackfire Clamplight is as good a flashlight as one would want to have.

The greatest strength of the Clamplight is how you can put light practically wherever you want. If you stand the Clamplight upright, it works best on even surfaces. While it can handle small rocks or debris, it will tip over easily if nudged. But that’s only half the charm. The Clamplight can attach itself to almost anything you’d have around outdoors or in a camp area. Tents, tables, branches, rope, belts, whatever.

Although the grip is tight enough to hold the Clamplight practically wherever you want, it’s not so hard that it would pinch a finger and hurt. I can let my kids play around with the Clamplight, knowing that they’ll do more damage by hitting each other with it instead of by the clamp. There’s no corners or edges that can catch skin either. It would take purposeful intent (striking) on the kids’ part to cause self-harm.

Verdict

As far as lanterns go, it’s hard to come close to the versatility that the Blackfire Clamplight offers. It’s lightweight enough to attach to a backpack for carrying, provides nearly unlimited ways to position light, and perform as a lantern or flashlight. What more could one need, especially for something that is also durable and water resistant? Crazy.

Blackfire Clamplight LED lantern bench

.. or clamp it!

I find the size to be perfect. Although it’s bigger than a typical flashlight one might carry, it’s a little leaner than other lanterns with comparable lumen output. The Blackfire Clamplight feels substantial enough to suit most needs while being reasonably packable.

It’s not quite as compact as my Coleman MicroPacker Lantern or Coleman LED Mini Lantern, but I can get more from the Clamplight than a pair of each of the Coleman lanterns all together. Of course, I’ll still bring the smaller ones with me to add light in more areas for camping.

Although the Blackfire Clamplight makes a fantastic piece of camping equipment, it’s great for everyday use too. I’ve used it for mood lighting in the backyard, for when I’m moving boxes around in the house attic, and as a flashlight to hunt for something in the garage. Because of how the Clamplight can stand, tilt, or hang, it provides the convenience of hands-free illumination without having to wear a light around around the head. If you’re in some dire situation, where you can’t make use of the versatile Blackfire Clamplight LED Lantern, then neither Science nor God can save you. But until that point, the Blackfire Clamplight is one of the best purchases you’ll make for under $40.

 

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