Gear Review – Dorcy Lantern

As you all know I like to camp.  A lot.  Over the years I’ve tried just about every type of lighting you can imagine.  Firelight, candle light, home made lamps made from bacon grease and clam shells, electric lights, gas lights, right on up to nuclear lights.  Ok, I’m just kidding about the nuclear lights, but you get the idea.   There’s a lot of different ways to light up your life.

There are many types of lanterns you can get for camping.  Some people are happy with just a headlamp or a flashlight while others like kerosene or other types of liquid fuel lanterns.  I’ve run the gamut and finally settled on a Dorcy lantern.

Of course, lanterns are nice when the power goes out too.  A bright light like the Dorcy can really light up the room making a power outage a little easier to deal with.

There are several cool features about this particular lantern that I like:

  • It can be used with one LED light or both
  • It has a night light, which is great for getting up at night without waking up your tent mates
  • It has a hook on the top so you can hang it from a branch or loop in the tent (very cool)
  • It’s waterproof
  • It runs on batteries
  • This lantern is bright!  It provides a clean white light that gets into even the dimmest corner of my five man tent

What I’ve figured out about lighting is that every method or device has it’s ups and downs.  Liquid filled lanterns need wicks and fuel, propane lanterns need gas and mantles, electric lamps need batteries and bulbs – it just comes down to which you prefer.

In the end I look for the least amount of fuss and that would be the battery operated lanterns.  The way I usually work it is when I look for firewood in the forest I wear my headlamp or use an LED Flashlight.  When I get it back to camp I cut it up and split it by lamp light.  When I’m done I turn it all out and just do things by firelight, which conserves fuel and batteries and is also a great way to relax.

This particular lantern has a permanent spot in my winter tent.  I’ve used it many times and I’ve also found it useful to hang  it outside when I’m around the fire pit.  It’s great for when I want to split wood and if I walk away in the dark for more wood it’s a great beacon for getting back to camp.

When I’m backpacking a long distance I just use a headlamp, but in my big camps I like to have a better light situation.

I still keep oil lamps and other types available as backup, but my main lamp is the Dorcy.

What do you use for light when you go camping or the power goes out?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor


17 comments… add one
  • irishdutchuncle January 16, 2013, 8:42 am

    Dorcy seems to make a good product. (I haven’t tried any of their LED stuff yet)

    generally, I like the idea of trying to preserve my night vision, at night. (but I can stare for hours at a camp fire)
    We use a combination of flourescent lanterns, and LED lanterns here, when the power is off. plus I have at least four head mount flashlights. I think they’re great for being able to see stuff you’re trying to fix.
    A two mantle coleman lantern (gas or propane) makes lots of light too, but they’re a bit fragile, and I’m afraid to use them indoors. I keep a few spare mantles, plus a small stock of flashlight bulbs on hand.
    I haven’t saved up enough money to retire my four cell Maglight, in favor of a fancy “tactical” LED light yet. (I’ll probably just get an LED bulb for it)

    • Brandon January 16, 2013, 10:10 am


      Check out Amazon for “Tacti-cool” LED lights. If you search for the lumen output and aren’t hung-up on brand names you can get a really bright light ( 250 – 1200 Lumens) for around $30. I was surprised to find this out when I was searching for a new bike headlight.

      Here is one example for $16 that is 1000 Lumen. The output may not be accurate to 1000 but I bet it is bright still!

      • irishdutchuncle January 16, 2013, 4:26 pm

        Thank You, Brandon.

        …and that reminds me, I would like to get headlights for my bicycles too. I’m not “hung -up” on brand names, it just has to work. a better shotgun just moved to the top of my priorities list. (tied for first place with a more affordable housing situation) I will need a bright light to go with that too.
        (mag light is a bit too heavy)

        • Pineslayer January 20, 2013, 12:11 am

          irishuncledutchhybrid, You can get some cheap pieces at the hardware store that can convert your pocket flashlight into a bike light. Think conduit holders.

          • irishdutchuncle January 21, 2013, 9:21 pm

            Thanks, Pineslayer.

            I’ll have a look-see.

  • Jason January 16, 2013, 9:36 am

    I love to camp too. My parents took us at a very young age & I really took to it. Of course back in those dark ages (pardon the pun) we had Coleman white gas lanterns that weighed about 100 lbs each, made of real metal …. maybe that’s a wee bit of an exaggeration.

    Now I am a person of extreme patience but the fragility of those damn ash mantels drove me nuts! I became fast at changing them out but hated the lack durability of those pesky things. Later for us came the screw on propane bottle fuel source but the mantels remain ….

    Friends had the battery operated types with the florescence bulbs but I hate that type of light so I never got one. I am glad you brought this one up because I never knew one like this existed & the LED light would be far more preferable to me & $50 seems like a reasonable price. I read the attached link & the light output is great & they seem to last a long time on the battery supply.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 16, 2013, 11:18 am

      I’ve had good luck with this one so far. I actually knocked it off the tent pole and when I went to pick it up I kicked up against the cot. I did some creative cursing, but when I picked it up it worked fine.

  • Joe Dirt January 16, 2013, 9:41 am

    I still use propane lanterns and one old flourescent lamp along with flashlights to camp. I just checked the flourescent and it requires 6 D cells so as long as times are good its usable but when the shtf it will become useless pretty fast. I guess its really time to retire it :(
    That gives me an excuse to buy a good tactical light though :)

    • Jarhead Survivor January 16, 2013, 11:20 am

      A friend of mine had a propane lantern that was super bright, but it seems to me it was noisy too. A great light though. We had it in my backyard and it was like someone had the headlights on their car out there.

  • Waterboy January 16, 2013, 10:25 am

    I like the amount of light you get from the Dorcy lantern, but I wish they could make it not so stark white. Needs a little yellow in it to soften it up some. IMHO.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 16, 2013, 11:16 am

      @ Waterboy – I thought about that too, but I find that a yellower light makes it harder to see in my tent. This bright white light (alliteration anyone?) makes it easier to see in the tent. I’ve got a yellow(er) light that just doesn’t work as well. Maybe a touch of yellow might be ok as I agree that it’s, well, white!

  • smokechecktim January 16, 2013, 11:49 am

    I use a ledlenser headlamp and a ledlenser m5 for moving around. In camp or the tent I use a soldyne(have 2) solar lantern. You can charge it with the sun, hand crank or a 12volt adapter. you can charge you cellphone off of it. You can use either 6 leds or cut it down to 3 to save your charge or have a little less light. Only flaw is that they are plastic like most things these days.

  • Michael January 16, 2013, 4:55 pm

    I use two Apollo battery powered lanterns from Black Diamond. They’re built quite durably and have a good amount of light and fairly good battery life. I used two so I can get rid of shadows or have one that stays stationary to provide general lighting while using the other one for task lighting.

    I, also, have a small Coleman lantern that runs off off Isobutane, but it’s hard to find mantles for it and kinda a pain to use, so it mostly stays packed away.

  • John Brown January 16, 2013, 8:10 pm

    I like the Star the best, it is the brightest, makes a good flash light to be used with your hand gun. Being square, you can set it down to illuminate an area, and then step far off to the side in you are worried about incoming, such as in a hallway and you expect a door to be opened. You can easily use it to blind someone. Has an effective range about 70 yards.

    The Lantern is “okay”, not really bright enough for a flash light, bright enough for a local lamp and lasts a long time.

    A nice feature is the automatic off and you can now use all those spare 9v batteries from your smoke detectors.

    If you carry spare batteries, they can be used to start a fire with sparks with a bit of effort, especially lighting a gas swab.

    The green LED works okay with a NVS with the limiting testing I have done, it will not white out the 1st generation type. You can use it to illuminate a target instead of the IR or to help boost it. I can’t tell if animals react to the green or not, as it is not very bright.

    I have a battery powered black light, I still can’t believe how much scorpions light up with it. Good to have in a desert setting I guess, or Georgia at night.

    I can tell you the HF LED spot lights with the crank handles are pieces of junk, I took mine apart to find out why it was not working, main reason = Chinese junk. I might check out Dorcy for one if made in USA or Taiwan.

    I would like to see a drop test of the Dorcy before dropping $50 on it, I approach my SHTF flash lights and lamps that way now, can they survive a 4 foot drop on concrete and still work.

  • riverrider January 17, 2013, 10:26 am

    js, maybe i missed long does it run, what kind of batts, can it be run/charged on ac/dc cord? i found some okay lanterns at harbor frieght, about 20 bucks: solar,battery,or ac/dc charged, run about 8 hours. not bright enough to read by, but good enough to see everything in the room, wash dishes etc… for the house i ran rv light fixtures with led lamps all around the basement hooked into my small solar array. very bright, runs about forever.


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