Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry Rechargeable Lantern Review

There's nothing like a battery powered lantern when camping to lighten up the mood and make your tent cozy.
There’s nothing like a battery-powered lantern when camping to lighten up the mood and make your tent cozy.

The Princeton Tex Helix Backcountry Rechargeable Lantern is an excellent luxury item for camping that’s lightweight enough for family or couples backpacking. It’s also a remarkably well-designed product that can be used in many ways: as a hanging lantern, a spotlight with its glow-in-the dark lampshade removed, propped up on two legs as a directional lamp, or compressed flat for easy packing.

Weighing just 6.4 ounces, it’s easy to rationalize a comfort item like this when sharing a tent because it frees you from having to wear a headlamp, and its built-in lithium battery is easily rechargeable using the USB-battery that you’re probably already carrying to keep your smartphone or Kindle charged up. Being a rah-rah ultralighter is fine when I’m backpacking alone, but when I camp with my wife, adding a few lightweight luxury items helps puts her at ease.

Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry Rechargeable Lantern
Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry Rechargeable Lantern

I also like using really well designed products and this little green Helix, also available in a wide variety of sizes, is packed with cool innovations. Just 4″ tall, the Helix fits in the palm of your hand, but can compress down to 2″, if you push down the translucent, honeycombed lite diffuser for packing. It has four legs, each with a hook, so you can hang it in multiple ways from a cord or tent gear loop, or from the hinged hang loop at the top. If you remove the light diffuser, the Helix turns into a spotlight, which you can point directionally by flipping the lantern on its side on two legs or at an angle.

The switch on the Helix is swipe operated and provides a white light, red light, with a dimmer, and flashing mode. There’s no explicit switch lock on this model however, although the larger Helix models have one.

Burn time is 6 hours on high in white mode and 18 hours on low, or 7 hours on high in red mode and 22 hours on low. To recharge, there is a USB port on the base of the lamp and lighted battery indicators which tell you the battery’s current charge status.

My favorite aspect of this LED lantern is that the translucent globe glows in the dark, a light green color, which make it very easy to find at night but doesn’t keep me awake. When the white light is fully lit, it fills our tent with a warm light, that at a max of 150 lumens, is bright enough to read by so we don’t have to wear headlamps in our tent.
Written 2017.

Disclosure: Princeton Tec provided the author with a lantern for this review. My wife has packed it as part of our standard camping gear list.

Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!


  1. Interesting, and I like the feet, but 6.4 oz? Ouch.


  2. I am as big of a gram weenie as the next guy but even I broke down and acquired one of these inflatable lanterns for an upcoming canoe trip. Keeping my companions happy makes for a happier trip

    • I have one of those inflatable ones and they’re great for certain trips. I use them on winter trips, couples/group trips, and we also take it with us when we travel for reading light in accomodations with bad light. Best of all they’re solar powered!

    • I’ve got one of the solar powered ones also. It lights up the whole tent amazingly well and keeps the grandkiddos feeling more secure at night when camping.

      Mine won’t hold a charge worth a flip so I have to remember to charge it in the sun right before a trip. It always comes out of storage with a dead battery.

  3. I got one of the Luci lamps last fall, the little one that weighs 2.4 oz, and I like it a lot. It has a little strap on the solar-panel-side that you can use to hang it from the peak in your tent and it’s plenty bright on its “dim” mode to read at night.

  4. It works like my roadeavour! Great review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *