A classic camping error is remembering to bring a torch, but forgetting to pack spare batteries to power it.

That’s not an issue with Freeplay’s Mini, a camping lantern that runs off elbow grease. It’s ideal for cooking by, lighting up a table for civilised al fresco dining or hanging from the roof of a tent.  

Not so dim

The Freeplay looks like a mini version of an old fashioned miner’s lamp. There are four LED’s around the top on a dimmer switch that goes from a gentle ‘night-light’ to an impressive glare that is more than enough to light up a tent or a night–time picnic table.

A fifth LED sits just above the switches, angled down to put a pin-point light onto a table or as a torch beam when hand held.

A wind up

Wind the handle for one minute and that will boost the battery to provide two hours of light on the lowest setting. It’s not easy, though – more like a hardcore work-out than a wind up – but could at least save you some gym fees.

There’s a small green LED that comes on when you’re turning at the right speed to charge. The handle can be wound in either direction so is ideal for both right- and left-handed people and stows neatly when not needed.

Plug-in power

Cranking the handle isn’t the only way to fire it up. The battery can be plugged into the mains to give it a full charge before a camping trip and then topped up with a handle twist if it runs low once you are under canvas.

A full battery charge takes eight hours and will give around 100 hours of ‘night light’ and nearly eight hours on brighter setting.    

Up standing

Build quality is very good, with the body constructed from a tough plastic. It’s stable when sat on a surface and there’s a wire carry handle that doubles as a hang-hook.

A big, rubber-covered button toggles the spotlight on and off, while a thumb roller switch operates the main lantern.  

Green gauge

It’s this switch that’s the clever one. As you turn it on the switch glows green – the more you roll it the more powerful the main light shines, but also the more juice you are draining from the battery.

To warn when you are sucking out more than the optimum for long battery life, that clever little roller switch glows from green, through amber to red.

Stockist: Freeplay Energy

Stuff says... 

Freeplay Wind Up Mini Lantern review

A little hard work to wind, but a great lantern that will never leave you in the dark