One of my current favorite outdoor gadgets is Uco’s eco-friendly, versatile, techy Rhody Hang-Out LED Lantern.

I love that I can plug the light’s USB cord into my laptop when I work at night, and fully charge the lantern’s 400mAH lithium ion battery in a couple of hours, so it’s ready to travel the next day. When I forget, I can charge en route to the campground in the car. The Rhody Hang-Out Lantern has five tiny blue lights that blink when the battery needs charging and light up one by one to indicate powering progress when charging.

The Rhody Hang-Out Lantern is designed to operate on high beam for 12 hours, and I’ve found that claim to be accurate. I tend to use it for three or four hours a night over a few days, without recharging. I love the strong, white light the Rhody emits. The LED light is clear and consistent with no flickering. I never feel like it’s “less” of a light source than a household lamp. When used on low-light setting, the battery is designed to last for 120 hours. While I like the option of dimming or increasing the light, I rarely use the light on low; I like the full-on blast of white light.

There’s also a blue light setting, called “moonlight mode,” for gentle illumination that’s nice when you need a bit of light to see items around camp but want to enjoy the darkness at the end of a long day. I don’t know if Uco intended the lantern to be used for animal tracking (seems like a blue-beam flashlight would be handier) but blue light can be used to see blood. So, if you’re hunting or just want to do a CSI scan of your site at night, the lantern might be helpful for more than lighting a tent or camper.
I like the simple design of the compact, self-contained lantern. It’s not small, and it’s fairly squat, so it does take up some room in a bag or pack. The base, which has a textured surface that makes gripping the lantern easy, takes up about two-thirds of the volume, leaving the top third of the sides and the top of the lantern for illumination. I can turn the lantern on and off, as well as dim or increase the light, with a single dial. There’s a removable bottom on the lantern where I store the  USB cord. Finally, the Rhody Hang-Out Lantern has a removable magnetic plate on the bottom that makes it easy to move and to share the light. If I want to light up the tent, I just clip the loop of cord attached to the magnetic plate to a tent pole. If I want to have the light next to me, I just release the magnetic plate and place the lantern wherever I want.

The Rhody Hang-Out Lantern is so handy for home use, too, as well as for car trips. I live in a tiny one-room apartment with a lofted bed. It’s impossible to get enough light to read when I’m in the loft, so I’ve been using the lantern every night for weeks now. It’s perfect for reading in bed, and the dimmer comes in handy if you have a partner on the other side of the bed who wants to sleep.

As a battery charger, the Rhody Hang-Out Lantern works best on small devices. I tried charging my iPad mini, but the power drained out in less than 15 minutes without adding significant power to the iPad mini. It takes about two hours to charge my iPhone.

Available in black and in tan.

Bottom Line: A powerful LED lantern that’s ideal for camping, other outdoor activities, and any place you want light.

Manufacturer’s site: www.ucogear.com

$49.99 at Amazon.com