Black Diamond Apollo Lantern Review (Bought & Tested!)

This is my Black Diamond Apollo review. I put it through many different tests, all of which you’ll find below in this post.

Quick Summary

I’ve had the Black Diamond Apollo for about 4 years now, and everything is still working fine, except for the phone charging output. It’s not the most impressive lantern I have, but it’s very high-quality and has been reliable during every camping trip, providing great tabletop lighting and cooking light.

1. In the Box

When I bought this Apollo about 4 years ago, here’s everything I got in the box:

  • Lantern

  • Charging cable

  • Instructions

The author unboxing the Black Diamond Apollo
From left to right: the Apollo, a charging cable, the instructions, and the empty box.

2. How to Use

There’s only one button to this Apollo.

The author pressing the power button of the Black Diamond Apollo
The power button is just slightly above my thumb.

To turn on and off the lantern, short-press the button.

To adjust the brightness of the Apollo, long-press the button. It’ll blink once when it hits the brightest setting, and another time when it hits the dimmest setting. The low setting is perfect for reading at night, setting a mood at a picnic table, or conserving power while camping.

It also has a memory setting. So, if you had it on the dimmest setting when you previously used it, it will turn on again on the dimmest setting.

3. Power Sources

This lantern has 2 battery sources. It can take AA batteries, and it also has an internal Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery.

For the external batteries, you can just twist and pop open the top of this lantern. It takes 3 AA batteries, which are to go in here.

The external AA battery compartment of the Black Diamond Apollo
What the battery compartment looks like.

The internal battery is the default power source. Only after the charge has run out on this internal battery, will the lantern access the external batteries.

You can change the default power source to the AA batteries by pressing on the tiny button on top of the external batteries. (You can actually see it in the picture above.)

Alternatively, a solar charger can also be used to charge the internal battery.

4. Light Modes

Here are the light modes that the Apollo has:

  • Dim Mode

  • Bright Mode (and anywhere in between Dim and Bright), which provides a powerful and brilliant bright light during the night.

  • Strobe Mode

To access the strobe mode, just hit the power button three times, very quickly. This light mode produces very bright flashes of light, at its brightest setting.

5. Lumen Output

Black Diamond says that the Apollo has a max lumen output of about 250 lumens, and a minimum lumen output of 10 lumens. However, here are my test results instead when I used my own lux meter:

  • Brightest: 362 lumens

  • Dimmest: 23 lumens

Overall, this Apollo gave off 45% more light than it should have, which is really quite impressive.

the Black Diamond Apollo on its dimmest mode
The Apollo at its dimmest.

6. Shine Radius

Using the same lux meter, the shine radius of this Black Diamond Apollo on the brightest setting came in at 7.3 feet, or 2.2 meters, which can easily illuminate a small room or tent.

The Black Diamond Apollo at its brightest mode
The Apollo at its brightest.

Note: Black Diamond says that the shine radius is 14 meters, but that’s very far off from what I tested.

7. Light Quality

The Apollo doesn’t give off a warm yellow light, it’s more of a cooler light. And for someone who prefers warm lights, I never thought the Apollo was too glaring.

Why? Because the frosted plastic diffuser globe is really high quality. It’s matte, not glossy, and the light diffusion was great.

8. Run Time

Here are my tested run times of the Apollo on the dimmest setting:

  • Fresh AA batteries: 121 hours

  • Internal battery: 68 hours

  • Total: 189 hours

And here are my tested run times on the brightest setting:

  • Fresh AA batteries: 14 hours

  • Internal battery: 6 hours

  • Total: 20 hours

9. Battery Indicator Lights

As I was running the run-time experiments, I noticed that the battery light indicator lights were actually quite helpful and quite accurate.

However, I found it hard to tell how many lights are on at any given time. The lights could have been clearer and more distinct.

The battery indicator lights of the Black Diamond Apollo
The indicator lights. It looks like 2 lights from this angle, but when I tilt it, it’ll look like only 1 light.

10. Charge Time

The Apollo comes with a USB-A to micro-USB cable. To charge it, plug the micro-USB end into the lantern, and the other end into the power socket.

When the lantern is plugged in, one out of three of the battery light indicators will start blinking. Then, the second light will blink, then the third light, and when none of the lights are blinking, that means it’s fully charged.

The Apollo is supposed to take 8 hours to charge, but mine took only about 5 hours because it’s now more than 3 years old, so the internal battery might have depleted a little bit.

11. Charging Output

I wish I could show you how this works, but mine no longer works anymore after 3-4 years. The USB output should be able to give your mobile phone anywhere from 40 to 60% charge though.

12. Hook

The Black Diamond Apollo has a really high quality top hook. It’s made of 2 separate hooks, both are three-quarters hooks, and they join together to form one full loop. The hook can also be used to hang the lantern on a smaller tree branch.

I was able to hang my Apollo in just about every single camping tent I’ve ever used.

The top hook, which is made of two 3/4 hooks.

13. Adjustable Legs

I also really liked the three adjustable legs at the bottom so that I could stand it up just about everywhere, even on uneven terrain.

The Black Diamond Apollo on a slope.
The Apollo balanced on a slope.

14. Lock Mode

Sometimes when I dump my Apollo into my bag, I notice that something hits the power button and drains my entire lantern during transport. So, I like to use the lock mode to counter this.

Make sure the Apollo is off, and then long-press the power button for about three seconds. The light will turn on for a bit, and then go off, and the battery indicator lights will start flashing. After they flash, that means your Apollo is now locked.

To unlock the Apollo, just press and hold the power button again for three seconds, until the lantern light flashes.

15. Portability

It has a packed size of about 3.25 by 3.25 by 4.5 inches. That’s about 8.3 by 8.3 by 11.4 centimeters., so a decently compact lantern.

The packed size of the Black Diamond Apollo
Measuring the packed size.

And it weighs about 10.23 ounces or 290 grams without the AA batteries. With the 3 AA batteries, its weight comes up to 369 grams, or about 13 ounces.

15. IPX Rating

The Apollo has a rating of IPX-4, which means that it’s splashproof, but should not be immersed in water.

I’ve tested the Apollo against tons of light rain and some heavy rain, and it’s always held up fine.

After one of my heavy rain tests, I noticed that water had seeped into the 2 ports of the Apollo. The seals aren’t the most watertight, so hence why it can’t be submerged in water.

Water in the ports of the Black Diamond Apollo
Notice water inside the ports?

16. Drop Testing

I’ve actually dropped this more times than I can count in the past, from about my hand height.

Every single time, it’s held up totally fine.

17. Warranty

The Apollo has a warranty length of about 3 years, which is not very long. Mine is now more than 3 years old, and that’s why I can’t do anything about the faulty charge-out function anymore.

Pros, Cons, Recommendations

Pro 1: Feature Rich

For pros, I found the Apollo to be quite a feature-rich lantern. It doesn’t have the most features, but the ones it has are very useful.

The top hook is one of the best ones I’ve seen, very few camping lanterns have these hooks here that overlap each other, so that your Apollo will never fall off your tent’s lantern hook.

And also, the adjustable legs makes it a very useful feature for camping. Again, not a very common feature to have in lanterns.

Pro 2: Two Battery Sources

And my favorite feature is easily the 2 battery sources, an internal rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and also external batteries. This is not very common in most camping lanterns I’ve seen, and the Apollo is one of the few that takes internal and external batteries.

I think this makes the Apollo a great lantern for emergencies, because you will have an unlimited supply of light, as long as you have loads of these AA batteries.

Pro 3: Great Lumen Output

The next pro is the great lumen output. I really like that it actually has 100 lumens more than the output that Black Diamond says it has.

It’s also bright enough to light up a 6-person tent completely, and dim enough with a minimum of 23 lumens, to be able to use as a night light on the ground.

How much light the Black Diamond Apollo gives a 6-person tent
This is a 6-person Coleman tent, and that’s the Apollo at its brightest (lighting up the entire tent, and then some, as you can see from the light that’s spilled out of the tent.)

Just take note that it doesn’t have a bright enough output for huge area lighting, like to light up an entire campsite. However, it is perfect for use during camping trips, providing ample light inside tents.

Pro 4: Impressive Run Time

I was also very impressed by the run-time of this lantern on the brightest setting. It has 20 hours (including both internal and external batteries) on the brightest lumen output, which is way higher than most other rechargeable lanterns I have.

Pro 5: Intuitive, Easy to Use

And of course, I found the Apollo very easy to use and very intuitive, and I liked it very much.

Con 1: Not a Lot of Light Modes

But here’s where we get into the cons, and the Apollo is very intuitive because it doesn’t have a lot of light modes. Here are all the modes it doesn’t have:

  • No different colors

  • No SOS

  • No red light

  • No warm light

But to be fair, the light quality is good and it never looks too glaring even though it’s more of a white light.

Con 2: Phone charging not as reliable

And I’m quite disappointed that my charge-out function died after like 3 plus years, I kind of didn’t think it would, and maybe it’s because I don’t use it very much.


But overall, I really liked the Apollo for being very high-quality and my reliable camping lantern for the last few years, with, of course, the exception of the phone charging function.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely yes, if you’re looking for a reliable, hardy, simple camping light. It’s also a great choice for car camping.

If you prefer having more light modes and more functions though, then you may want to check out this blog post where I compare 11 other rechargeable lanterns.

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