First Impressions

LEDs radically changed the world of camp lighting. The old Coleman lantern left the scene a long time ago. Now a tiny LED lamp generates nearly as much light as those heavy metal monsters. Case in point, the new Lander Cairn XL smart lantern and power bank. At less than 10% of the size of a propane lantern, the Cairn XL produces nearly half the lumens. In other words, that little guy punches well above its weight, as they say in the United Kingdom.


The Lander Cairn packs a lot into a compact package. It measures 3.5 inches square and 1.5 inches in thickness. The back panel is a rugged metal, wrapped in a thick rubber siding. The plexi lens is opaque but allow plenty of that 350 lumen light through to brighten your campsite and tent.

Controlling the Lander Cairn XL is pretty simple using the single side button. Press once to turn on, hold to cycle through the brightness settings. Press twice to enter LED color mode, press and hold a second time to cycle through colors. Press three times to enter strobe mode.

Charging is via a standard micro USB and Lander includes a cable. If you need USB to Lightning or USB to USB C for newer devices, you’ll need to provide that cable yourself.

Lander includes a built-in elastic shock cord strap and toggle for attaching the Cairn XL to your tent, above the camp table or wherever.

Brightness: 350 lumens
Weight: 285g
Run Time: 300 hours on lower power mode
Water Resistance: IP65
Modes: Dim/Bright, Strobe, Color, Color Cycling

One of the cool features promised by the Lander Cairn is that the device can be controlled by an app on your smartphone. The app allows you to access several unique-to-the-app features like a sleep timer, a proximity sensor which can turn off the Cairn XL when you’re out of range, a special power save mode, a Find My Cairn function, and the ability to control multiple Cairns at once. Great options but ones hobbled by poor instructions, app incompatibility and terrible App Store and Google Play Store experiences.

Here’s my rant. First, Lander refers to the app as both the Lander mobile app and the Cairn XL app. Which is it? Well, after much searching and playing with filters, I found it on the App Store as “Lander” in and amongst dozens, maybe hundreds of Moon Lander and other unrelated games and general app store distractions. Similar experience on Google Play. I realize this isn’t all Lander’s fault, the App Store has become a heap of ad-riddled garbage despite Apple’s efforts. But Lander, you need to find a more unique name and tagging scheme.

Pairing your device to the Cairn is also an issue. I found it impossible on my Android phone. It did finally work on an Apple iPad but only after numerous attempts. Honestly, I’m not sure what finally got the Cairn to pair but the “follow the on-screen instructions” guidance in the manual didn’t work. That’s probably because pairing instructions never really appeared on screen.

Finally, I really question the usefulness of the app. When I’m off the grid and away from an electrical outlet, the last thing I want is a juice-draining app running in the background. Like most, I turn off my devices to preserve the battery or turn off Bluetooth and other radios that don’t have much utility. The Lander Cairn works well without the app. Sure you don’t get the sleep timer but do you really need it? I don’t.

Final Verdict

Despite my rant about the mobile app, the Lander Cairn XL is a great little product. The device packs a lot of function into a small package. The 350 lumens does the trick in most campsites and tents. Plenty of light and plenty of battery power for a weekend. At $99 retail, it’s a tad spendy, but definitely has utility well beyond its compact size.

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide.And thanks to Lander for providing a sample for this review.