UCO GEAR PUTS A NEW TWIST ON TWO CLASSIC OFFERINGS
Founded in Redmond, Washington in 1971, UCO Gear has been in the game a long time. Utility, Comfort, and Originality are summed up with the acronym UCO.
With products such as the Original Candle Lantern, which offers functionality and simplicity, or the Stormproof Matches that help you survive the elements, they have become one of the leading brands in lighting and fire-starting for the outdoors, home, and emergency preparedness needs.
Bringing more than 50 years of innovation and manufacturing expertise to the outdoor industry, each product is designed with useful features that make time outside safer and more comfortable.
NEW UCO GEAR
For several years, I’ve only had a tea candle lantern and Stormproof Matches from UCO Gear. Yes, I have seen several other products in videos and up close in outdoor group get-togethers. I didn’t know where to start; they have so many different faces, from their portable grills to lanterns, fire-starting gear, cups and utensils, portable power sources, and an array of matches.
Let’s not forget the UCO Gear Ice Cream Balls, best saved for another time. I figured that a good place to start would be their new gear.
Who doesn’t like camp cooking, or better yet, camp eating? I set my sights on a mess kit, the all-new ECO 5-Piece Mess Kit made from recovered recycled polypropylene. It features a sealed locking lid, matching spoon and bowl radius, a versatile tether, plus a locking tab on either end to keep the contents secure.
The kit also comes equipped with the clever 4-in-1 ECO Switch Spork Utensil Set, which can be used as a fork and knife/spoon set or combined to form an extra-long utensil perfect for deep-wall containers and food packages.
Another new UCO Gear product I received was the Sprout Hangout Mini Lantern, a rechargeable version of the popular Sprout lantern. This new Sprout is an ultra-compact and versatile camp, porch, and tent-lighting option, not to mention, it can really set the mood.
5-PIECE MESS KIT
I thought I was thrifty, repurposing bags and containers into camp gear. UCO Gear has taken this beyond the next level with their new recovered recycled polypropylene. The Mess Kit is made from tough polypropylene with grippy urethane pads.
UCO calls it their post-consumer, post-industrial plastic waste material that is certified FDA Food Safe and completely recyclable. All parts of the Mess Kit are dish washable and microwave safe. Locking clips keep everything securely contained and provide a place to store the utensils via the rubber tether cord.
“The UCO Gear 5-Piece Mess Kit is a lunchbox for the outdoors or the office. It can be a food storage, plate, and bowl set.”
There are many ways to use the tether to connect the Mess Kit components. The recommended way is to thread the loose end of the tether through the spork and wrap the ends around the Mess Kit handles on the opposite end. The kit also comes equipped with the clever 4-in-1 ECO Switch Spork Utensil Set, which can be used as a fork and knife/spoon set or combined to form an extra-long utensil perfect for all containers.
The spork also fits perfectly inside the Mess Kit when you finish your meal. When closed, the Mess Kit holds water and liquids thanks to the silicone gasket, which does a great job keeping moist and damp foods from seeping out.
Although the gasket is lab-tested to keep pure liquids contained, movement (such as in a backpack) may cause the seal to break momentarily. Ziploc bags can help tackle this possibility. The curvature of the bowl and spoon allows every last bite to be scooped out—less cleaning up and waste all around.
Time to Pack Up
The top of the kit is more of the plate, while the bottom is deeper and could be used as the bowl. I used the top part (plate) as a quick cutting board, first removing the elastic tether. When it was time to pack up and get going, I put some roasted garlic/olive oil hummus in a Ziploc and inside the Mess Kit.
This scenario would be a good way to test if the silicone gasket leaks. All food wrappers, the used tuna package, an extra tomato, and the ECO Switch Spork Utensil Set also went inside. I closed it and attached the tether as an extra measure of protection. When I returned and opened the Mess Kit, it was just as I thought: the olive oil from the hummus seeped out of the Ziploc bag into the Mess Kit.
The silicone gasket kept the oil inside, though, saving a massive backpack cleanup. Washing the Mess Kit was easy, and no residual oil or odors were present afterward.
“The silicone gasket kept the oil inside, though, saving a massive backpack cleanup.”
The UCO Gear 5-Piece Mess Kit is a lunchbox for the outdoors or the office. It can be a food storage, plate, and bowl set. Whatever you want to call it, versatile should be one of the terms. The light weight and toughness of the materials balance out the functionality, bulk, and durability. This Mess Kit got my vote.
The Sprout Hangout Mini Lantern is a compact light that packs a punch and can light up your tent, picnic table, hotel room, or campsite. The easy-to-use push-button control allows you to quickly dim or boost your light (up to 100 lumens) or switch to a soothing blue Moonlight Mode.
The patented MAGNA-LOOP magnetic lanyard hanging system easily elevates the light to a tent, tree, or camper. It can be placed on a table, nightstand, or the ground for traditional use as a small lantern. Powered by an included lithium rechargeable battery pack or three AAA batteries (not included), this little Sprout can stay on the go for hours. Compact at 1.8-inches tall with a base width of 2.5 inches, it weighs 2.75 ounces (with a lithium rechargeable battery pack).
The Sprout Mini Lantern has a water-resistant IP rating of X4, which is great. IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and measures how well a device is protected from solid objects (dust and dirt) and liquids. An IP rating is only officially given to a product that undergoes special testing by a certified, independent company.
IPX1 can resist water that drips vertically onto the product. At IPX2, an item can resist water that hits the product at a 15-degree angle or less. IPX3 means it can take water sprays of up to a 60-degree angle. IPX4 means it is resistant to water splashes from any direction!
Battery life is an expected four hours on high and 50 hours on low. Note that the button needs to be held down in the regular white mode to experience maximum brightness. To dim the light, hold until it gets softer.
I enjoy the blue Moonlight Mode, as it offers something different and suits most occasions. After testing the claims of four hours on high, I found it to be two hours realistically on high. On the low setting, it lasted 17 hours and 30 minutes.
This is the perfect light to keep on the picnic table or bring to a cabin as a nightlight in unfamiliar places.
TRY UCO GEAR
I was pleased with both products from UCO Gear and I’m excited that I found two great pieces to add to the camp arsenal. Even better, there is more UCO Gear to explore, and I will.
RECHARGEABLE ARC LIGHTER & LED FLASHLIGHT
The Arc Lighter & Flashlight features two functions in one. The 100-lumen flashlight features high, low, and emergency strobe features. Rechargeable via micro-USB, the Arc Lighter & Flashlight features a 340mAh internal lithium-ion battery which also powers the dual-arc plasma lighter.
Unlike traditional flame-driven lighters, the Arc uses electricity as its ignition source by passing an electrical current between electrodes on the device’s tip, creating a 1,400-degree burn. This also provides for efficient, windproof lighting.
The same power button operates the flashlight and the plasma lighter; the power button cycles between high, low, and strobe modes in flashlight mode. In lighter mode, you hold the button to keep the torch lit. The Arc’s spring-loaded lid makes it easy to use, and a locking bail keeps the lid from coming open in a pack, pocket, or container. MSRP: $24.99
Sprout Hangout Mini Lantern
» MAGNA-LOOP magnetic lanyard hanging system
» LI-ION DUAL-POWER System lets you choose a rechargeable pack or AAA batteries
» Moonlight blue and white light modes
» IPX4 Water Resistance
» Lumens: 100
» Battery: Li-Ion Rechargeable (included) or 3 x AAA (not included)
» Micro-USB cord not included
» Battery Life: 4 hours on high; 50 hours on low
» Weight: 2.7 ounces
» Size: 1.8 inches x 2.5 inches
» Colors: Black, Blue
» MSRP: $25.99
ECO 5-Piece Mess Kit
Recovered recycled polypropylene that meets FDA-Food Safe requirements
» 1 ECO bowl/container
» 1 ECO lid/plate
» ECO Switch Spork (2 pieces: fork, spoon, and knife)
» 1 tether
» Locking lid with silicone gasket ensures leak-proof seal when closed
» FDA Food Safe, BPA-free, phthalate-free, dishwasher safe