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Black Diamond Apollo Review

Black Diamond Apollo - new 200 lumen version.
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $60 List | $59.92 at Amazon
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Pros:  Built in battery plus AA backup, USB charge out, dimming feature, dual metal hooks for hanging, durable, easy to use.
Cons:  Expensive
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

After a nice update in 2017, the Apollo remains our Editors' Choice Award for being the best overall lantern for a range of activities. The Apollo scored highest due to its ease of use, durability, and practical features. Though not the brightest product we tested, it provides ample light without blinding you. The clouded plastic surrounding the lamp provides pleasant light quality as well. The Apollo was fantastic for setting up camp at night, cooking, lighting up a tent, or lighting up a room during a power outage. Its tripod-style rubber-tipped legs and two-sided metal hooks on top allow it to be easily positioned in a variety of places. All these features make this product very versatile.

Product Update
This product was updated in 2017 with more lumens, USB out charging capabilities and a built-in battery. Make sure you are getting the most recent version if you are paying full price. Alternatively, you might find the pre-2017 model at a big discount. We don't like the pre-2017 model as much, but it's still a great lantern.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Lantern For Camping and Power Outages


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Valentine Cullen and Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Monday
October 23, 2017

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The innovative design blew us away. Its appearance is more reminiscent of a NASA space contraption than classic lanterns of the past. It's a fantastic all-around product; we found the Apollo to be the most versatile, durable, and easy to use for a range of activities.

Performance Comparison


2017 Apollo
2017 Apollo

Brightness


Coming in at 250 lumens, the Black Diamond Apollo is excellent for efficiently lighting up an area without being overpowering as was the case with some of the other models tested. BD's unique design reflects an LED light off the inner roof of the lantern. This evenly disperses the light, preventing direct eye contact with the LED light bulb as well as radiating a very nice non-glaring light. Surrounding the light is clouded plastic, which improves the light quality as well. If you want the light to be less bright for battery conservation for activities like reading, you are able to dim the light to your desired brightness level.

Looking for the stadium light effect? Check out the Coleman Northstar

Ease of Use


We gave the Black Diamond Apollo a 10/10 in this category for its outstanding yet simple design. All of its amazing features also made it easier to use than other contenders. Pulling up on the top exposes the on/off button, which when pushed once turns it on, and when held down it dims. Using lanterns in areas without tree coverage can be frustrating. Your options are to place them on the ground or balance them on a rock, table, or car. Black Diamond solves this problem by creating a design with legs. The Apollo's three rubber-tipped legs create a flexible tripod, great for uneven surfaces (particularly rocks) and they are very easy to put down. When closing it back up the legs snap securely into place, are not loose, and don't fall open accidentally. On the top small metal, hooks flip up and allow it to be hung onto branches or through loops inside of your tent. Because it features two opposing hooks instead of just one, a piece of cord or webbing can be put through the clasps like a small handle, allowing it to be securely hung on just about anything. When not in use, the Apollo can be compressed into a compact cylinder, great for traveling and storage.

2017 Apollo plugged into USB for charging and collapsed.
2017 Apollo plugged into USB for charging and collapsed.

Durability


Despite multiple camping trips along the West Coast, our Apollo still looks brand new. After years of use we could foresee the sliding mechanism that opens it up getting a bit sticky, but overall the Apollo is sturdy and well made. The metal hooks and metal legs feel strong although over time their springiness will probably decrease. To get the most battery life, we recommend using the lower brightness settings whenever possible. The bottom of the base has nice rubberized foot pads that make it stable on smooth surfaces even when the metal legs are up.

2017 Apollo
2017 Apollo

Features


For 2017, BD added an internal 2600 mA battery. This lets you charge your phone or other small electronics by a USB out port. It also lets you run the lantern off the internal battery, and only run off the AA batteries once you run out. At max brightness, the lantern runs for 6 hours off an internal battery and then automatically switches to the AA batteries and runs for another 18 hours. This is the best of all worlds as, if diligent charging, you will likely not have to use the AA batteries much. But they are there in case you need them.

Using the 2017 Apollo's USB charge out feature to charge an iPhone.
Using the 2017 Apollo's USB charge out feature to charge an iPhone.

The Apollo also features three small LED lights that disclose the remaining battery life of both the internal battery and the AA batteries. This lantern is also the only one of those we tested that has legs, which help a lot when positioning it. The hooks on the top are probably the best of all the models we tested as well.

Weight / Size


The Apollo weighs less than a half pound (without AA batteries) and folds up nice and compactly. When compacted it is 5" high, 3" in diameter at the top and the base is 2 1/4". When open it is 9.5" tall, has a 3" diameter on the top and a 5.3" footprint.

Best Applications


The Apollo is great at just about everything, but we would recommend it for camping endeavors more than for emergency situations. It does a great job of lighting up any campsite for groups of fewer than 10 people. It's light enough to also take backpacking.

2017 Apollo
2017 Apollo

Value


This lantern is listed at $50 but can usually be found on sale for $10 less. There are many $10-20 lanterns that have great performance, but are not quite as refined or easy to use as the Apollo. It's for someone who is willing to pay a little more to get the best.

If you're on a budget, check out the MPOWERD Luci Original. It's light and there's no need for batteries because it's solar powered — it's the Best Buy Award winner.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Apollo is unlike any other lantern we have seen/used, and that is what sets it apart. While its features are innovative, they are not overly complicated. Everything about it just makes sense. It is light and compact, durable, reliable, and extraordinarily easy to use. For $50, it is a worthy investment and may quickly find itself among your outdoor essentials. Of all the lanterns we tested, the Apollo is the one we tended to reach for first.
Valentine Cullen and Chris McNamara


Where to Buy?

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 23, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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Create an Account to Write a Review

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   Jun 27, 2014 - 09:25pm
Uberfiend · Camper · Corona, CA
This is a great lantern for car camping, and maybe for a base camp, but for a backpacking trip, I'd look to something lighter. It produces plenty of light and can be bright if you look directly at it, but isn't too bad with the frosted shade. Battery life is amazing. It's also light enough that you can use it from most hang points in a tent without issues though it isn't my first choice for that.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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   Mar 1, 2014 - 10:47pm
C.Houston · Backpacker · Greenwich, CT
I wouldn't use it backpacking, but for car camping or when the power goes out this is a great lantern. I find it amazingly bright, but the frosted shade keeps it from being blinding. The control is easy to use and offers a wide range of brightness. Battery life is excellent.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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