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Review: BioLite AlpenGlow 500 Lantern

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
 

A very bright, tough, versatile and colourful lantern for camping, outdoor parties and indoor use

It’s innovative, funky, super fun and offers a load of cool, warm, colourful and wild light modes to complement any setting and occasion. The BioLite AlpenGlow 500 is also a bit of a bright beastie that is as functional as it is fun. It’s a one light fits all kinda lantern. But is it worth the relatively hefty price tag? Read on to find out.

NOTE: This is a review of the AlpenGlow 500 which I’ve been using alongside the 250. The AlpenGlow 250 is smaller, less powerful, more portable and has a few different light settings. Aside from that, I feel I love the 250 just as much as the 500 and feel the they offer slightly different things but also complement each other when used together.

BioLite AlpenGlow 500: The stats

Lumens:500
Battery type:6400 mAh rechargeable
Battery life:5-200 hours
Weight:13.4 oz (380 g)
Size:5.4 x 3.8 in (14 x 10cm)
Water resistance:IPX4 (Protects from splashing water coming from any direction)
Overall rating:

Features of the BioLite AlpenGlow 500

Light control button

Lantern on off buttonControlling the lantern is very simple. There is a large single button on the top with a light symbol on it, in case you’re unsure! This turns the light on and off as well as dimming and brightening the light. It also enables you to move through the light modes.

Battery indicator

Lantern battery indicatorAlong the front of the panel are four small lights. When you turn the lantern on or off these light up to indicate how full the battery is. Four lights on equates to a full battery. The AlpenGlow runs on an internal rechargeable battery.

Hang loop

Lantern hang loopOn the base of the lantern is a discrete little fold away hook. This sits flush into the base when not in use and easily hooks onto hang loops in the top of a tent. The base also features a slightly rubber ring around the hook. This works effectively at preventing the lantern from slipping on surfaces when sitting the right way up.

Inputs and outputs

USB output ports on lanternTo recharge the internal battery the lantern should be connected to a power source via the Micro USB input. You can also recharge your devices off the lantern battery via the Micro USB input. The included cable enables lantern recharging.


BioLite AlpenGlow 500 review

There are ways to light up a space and then there are ways to create ambiance. In our house we call it GL (Girl Lighting). GL is the art of placing lamps, with the appropriate amount of warmth and brightness, in key spots and combining them with other lamps used in the same way to create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere. It’s not just lighting that enables you to see what you’re doing. It’s a feel. And that’s not to say the menfolk in my house aren’t capable of applying GL. They most certainly are. They love and appreciate it when I swoop in and alter BL to GL. They just don’t have the need or thought to do it in the first place! Complex stuff, this lighting thing.

Aaaanyway, the point is that getting lighting right is important. And the more evenings I spend socialising out on the patio, at camp or tucked into a nook on the sand dunes (sheltering from the wind!), the more I yearn for some good old GL to set the appropriate ambiance.

Now, ’appropriate’ ambiance obviously greatly varies, depending on the occasion, setting, company and need. And until now this required multiple light vessels to really nail it. String fairy lights, a bright spot light, an old-fashioned oil lamp or a hanging lantern all bring their own benefits to a darkened setting. But that requires multiple vessels in your life!

Which is where the BioLite AlpenGlow lantern really comes into its own. Sure, the modern globular design is never going to win the hearts of the storm lamp lighters out there. But the candle flicker setting may just swing things for those sitting on the fence. And that’s just one of many cool, warm, bright and wild light settings that the AplenGlow boasts.

Lanterns and playing cards

Brightness

If you’re looking for a lantern to provide a bright and consistent light to play camping card games next to or light up your camp kitchen then you may be expecting the AlpenGlow not to measure up. I was. With so many other light modes and fun options to choose from I thought that it couldn’t possibly offer efficient brightness too. But I was very wrong! The lantern puts out 500 lumens on its brightest setting and provides excellent coverage to read by either standing on a table top or when hung up high. The warm white is equally bright, just a little less retina burning than the cold white! Both have their place, but I certainly favour the warm white if GL lighting is needed.

Light settings and usability

There’s only one button, which you would think should make things really simple. However, with so many light combinations and settings to choose from, using the lantern can take a little getting used to. It’s definitely worth watching the below video before you try to figure it out on your own, although that’s actually pretty fun to do!

Essentially, there are four different light modes:

  • Cold white

  • Warm white
  • Colour
  • Multicolour

Just click the button to move through these four options. Once you’ve settled on your chosen option you can then hold down the button to dim or brighten the white settings or change the colours of the other two settings.

But the best part is that you can alter each of the four light modes by shaking the lantern. By shaking lantern you can turn:

  • Cold white to single sided

  • Warm white to candle flicker
  • Single colour to cycle through all the colours
  • Multicolour to cycle through all the multicoloured combinations
  • You can also shake the multicoloured cycle again and it turns into fireworks mode
coloured Lanterns on a table
I hope I’ve not given too much away? It was so much fun getting to know all the different combos, and kids love it, too!

A nice touch is that the lantern remains on the last setting you used when you turn it off. So when you come to turn it on again it will kick straight back into that fireworks mode you were digging without cycling through all the settings.

Once you’ve got your head around the possible light options there’s very little else to comment on in terms of usability. It’s actually dead simple.

People playing cards by lantern light

What I love the most about the BioLite AlpenGlow 500

Predictably, I love the ambient warmth of the candlelight flicker. It offers the most natural and cosy light of all the options. I also love the shaking function to change the settings.

It’s also incredibly versatile and tough and has already been used in multiple scenarios outdoors as well as a little added GL indoors or as a night light for visiting nephews!

What I don’t love so much about the BioLite AlpenGlow 500

It takes a bit of getting your head around the settings. But easy enough once you know how. Try explaining it to someone else is always fun and makes for an entertaining camping activity in itself!
It’s also a little on the expensive side.


Lantern in tent

Verdict

Yes, it is a little on the pricey side for a camping lantern. And if you use it as just that then you won’t get value for money. However, the BioLite AlpenGlow 500 is way more than just a camp lantern offering versatility, fun, ambiance and ease of use in a ton of scenarios both outdoors and indoors. It’s also a pretty tough little cookie with very few breakable components and a water resistant rating of IPX4. So if you’re big on spending a little more to get high quality, functional gear that you can use in everyday life as well as camp, then this is for sure a great buy.

Two big thumbs up from me!

Find the latest price at:
BioLite

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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