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Gear Review: The Tiny But Mighty Sprout+ Mini Lantern

Sprout+ Mini Lantern
UCO Gear

The Sprout+ Mini Lantern is an impressive little thing.

Everyone needs a good camping lantern for their outdoor adventures. Whether you camp via tent, RV or small cabin, a good light goes a long way on a dark night. However, finding one that is small, powerful and portable for trekking far into the wilderness can be a challenge.

We may have found the solution in the UCO Gear Sprout+ mini camping lantern. This small, but cheap LED high output light blew us away with its battery life and size.

For anyone looking for a compact light for backpacking or to store in a small space in a truck or boat, the Sprout mini lantern is a great deal.

Mini" is an understatement.

Sprout+ Mini Lantern
Travis Smola

When I first heard about the UCO Sprout, I admit I didn't look closely at the dimensions. It wasn't until it arrived in the mail and I saw the tiny box that I realized what the company meant by "ultra-compact." This LED lantern measures only 2.5 inches across by 1.8 inches high. The whole thing only weighs about 2.7 ounces. For through-hikers or backpackers, that's an incredible space savings. This thing is going to weigh less than your cookware, first aid kits and other gear. Of course, the real measure of usefulness is the brightness of the light. The Sprout+ puts out about 100 lumens which is more than enough to light up a one-person tent or a dark area of a camper. It's a dandy little light.

The UCO Sprout has three different light modes activated by one hold down button. Pressing it once gives you low power white light mode, pressing again gives what the company calls "soothing blue moonlight mode." The third mode requires holding down the push button control to activate the brightest setting. We like that feature. It means your battery won't get drained if it accidentally turns on via single press in your pack.

Speaking of battery life, this is the most impressive aspect of the Sprout. The Sprout+ is an improvement on the original LED light because it has not one but two options to power it. The first way is a more traditional use of AAA batteries. The second is a new addition, a tiny rechargeable LI-ION battery. It charges via a standard USB cable. It isn't included with the lantern, but it is the same kind used by most cell phones.

What impressed me the most was that rechargeable battery only took about an hour before I got a green light indicating it was ready to go. I quickly found that USO's claim the battery lasts about four hours in high light output mode to be right on, maybe even a little longer. On lower power mode, which puts out about 10 lumens of light, the battery goes even longer, for an astonishing 50 hours before needing recharged. In this mode it would also make a handy nightlight for younger children when you aren't camping with it. My testing with AAA batteries saw similar results in battery life before I saw any dimming.

One last feature of this lantern that bears mentioning is the quick attachment lanyard hanging system. This allows you to hang the lantern quickly and easily from the tent's interior. UCO built in a magnetic lanyard so you can detach the light from the lanyard and use it elsewhere. When you return, re-attaching is a snap. It's a tiny feature, but one that is appreciated.

Overall, this is a great little camping gadget that deserves a place in your tent or camp kitchen. I have a closet full of camping lights and this is one of the best camping lanterns I've ever encountered. Pretty high praise for something that only cost $25.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

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Gear Review: The Tiny But Mighty Sprout+ Mini Lantern