A lot of thoughtful design has gone into the small but handy Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry rechargeable LED camping lantern. This clever little outdoor lantern is rechargeable, can be hung from, or perched on, multiple surfaces, and is adjustable and dimmable to suit camping life both inside and outside your tent. It has a relatively high price point, but it's amongst the very best camping lanterns we've used.
There are a few Helix lanterns in the range. Along with the Helix Backcountry rechargeable (reviewed here), there's also a standard battery-powered Helix Backcountry and a Helix Basecamp (which is also battery-powered). So if it's rechargeable you're after do double check you have the right one in your basket. Read on for our full Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry camping lantern review.
Helix Backcountry lantern review: design and features
Helix Backcountry lantern: specs
Power type: USB rechargeable
Max brightness: 150 lumens
Camping lanterns need to be tough, and the Helix Backcountry really can take on the elements – it's water resistant, and the concertina-style light section is flexible rubber, so it's pretty hard to damage even if you're chucking it about in your backpack. At 155g and packing down to about the size of a coffee cup, this light is also portable enough to work for wild camping.
The Backcountry lantern is charged via USB, which is better for the environment than batteries but means you can't take it away from an electric source for more than 24 hours of use, which is a downside for wilderness trips, and makes it better suited for weekend camps, festivals and car camping. PrincetonTec also makes a battery-powered version of this lamp, as well as a Basecamp variant that also takes batteries, so packing one of those and spare batteries might work better for longer adventures in the wild.
Helix Backcountry lantern review: performance
It's a pleasure to use the Helix lantern, which will hang or sit pretty much anywhere you want it to – extend its tripod-style legs to place it on bumpy surfaces or even grip tree branches, or hang the lantern up by its top hook. Once in place, there's a swipe pad rather than buttons to turn the light on and off and dim it from its brightest 150 lumens setting, which is bright enough to work or read by, to a softer 30 lumens, or to set it to flashing or red mode. You can even detach the lantern section to use the light as a torch. The fact that you can stick the Helix in so many locations makes it brilliant for cooking or hanging out around a campfire, then bringing inside your tent when you're reading or getting ready to sleep.
Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry lantern review: verdict
The clever Helix Backcountry lantern is a very versatile camping pick – it will perch nigh-on anywhere, is adjustable and easily rechargeable, and will fit in a small backpack. We think it's well worth the spend for regular campers, who will enjoy using it wherever they set up their tent in the great outdoors.