When I first saw the "Hozuki" candle lantern from Snow Peak, I had two immediate thoughts: 1) Well that's pretty cool, and 2) But it's kinda big for backpacking.
When I took it into the backcountry on a recent float trip through Dinosaur National Monument, it did prove to be cool, and when I attended this summer's Outdoor Retailer Show, I saw Snow Peak has come up with a smaller option that is more packable for backcountry travel.
The original Hozuki (MSRP: $89.95) comes in three parts: the "light body," which houses the batteries, the power switch, and has a string with a hook on the end for hanging; the lamp shade, which is made out of a translucent silicon rubber; and the LED unit.
You put these together by screwing the LED unit into the light body, with a lip of the lamp shade sandwiched between the two.
The lantern, which takes four AA batteries, casts a nice light when set on high (100 lumens). It has three levels of brightness, along with a "candle" mode.
That candle mode is interesting -- the light flickers as if it's a candle in the breeze when the housing is tapped or in response to noise, such as the wind in the trees. It's a nice novelty, but not particularly helpful if you're trying to read.
The lantern is a tad heavy, at 6 ounces, for backpacking, and a bit bulky, at 4 inches wide. Screwing the two housings together also can be tricky if you don't correctly line up the threads, but you'll improve with practice. Another problem you might encounter during the learning curve is that the two openings on the lamp shade are slightly different sizes, and if you have the wrong end up when screwing the housings together it just won't fit properly. Again, something quickly overcome during the learning curve, which is miniscule.
The lantern is a nice addition for car campers, or even backyard campouts, and youngsters might get a kick out of the candle mode. As a plus, the lantern can be cradled on its hook for standing it up on a table top or other flat surface, and it even has a USB port that can be used to power the lantern.
The lantern reportedly will glow for eight hours on high, 20 hours at mid-level, and 80 hours on low.
A Miniature Option
The new "mini" Hozuki lanterns (MSRP $39.95) that will be in the marketplace in mid-October are much lighter, weighing in at just 2.4 ounces, and small enough to fit in your pocket.
The lanterns are made of the same materials as the larger unit.
The minis have an interesting feature: The top handle has a magnet tip (the roundish orange bulb in the photo to the right), so you can either hook it through a loop in your tent, or pinch a piece of fabric between the handle and the top of the lantern to station it where you like.
The minis cast 60 lumens of light on high, and take three AAA batteries. On high, they are said to burn for 40 hours, while on low they should last 70 hours.
Like its bigger brother, it also has a candle mode.
The Hozuki lanterns definitely are interesting, and can offer some ambience that a headlamp or small flashlight can't. But they likely won't replace either of those two in your pack, either.