Gear Review #1: Luci Outdoor 2.0
Over the last year or two, I've been using Luci inflatable solar lanterns while car camping and backpacking. These little lightweight beauties are great for tent and picnic table illumination, and run $15-18. When my original lantern's components fried after being left on Charlie's dashboard for too long in Wyoming, the manufacturer MPOWERD was kind enough to send me a sample of their new product "Luci Outdoor 2.0".
I love this little guy. The 2.0 has three brightness settings, plus a blinking emergency mode. I tested the lowest setting, and the light lasted for 27.75 hours. Amazing. The medium setting is rated to last up to 18 hours, and it can definitely light up a medium-sized room during a blackout. It's bright enough that when collapsed you can even use it like a shield-shaped flashlight.
Besides the improved battery and brightness, the 2.0 has a snapping plastic strap that makes it easier to attach to a tent ceiling. But the best new feature is a charge level indicator, so you know when the battery needs more sunlight.
The 2.0 version weighs in at 4.4oz. If you prefer a lighter model for backpacking, consider the smaller 2.4oz "Luci EMRG". I picked up one of these from a Big 5 Sporting Goods this summer for $12 and had no problems with tent illumination.
Like dogs and small babies, beware of leaving Luci lanterns in vehicles where summer temperatures can cook them. Direct sun exposure is best, but they can also charge while dangling from a backpack on the trail.
On the sustainability side, MPOWERD has partnered with NGOs to help bring these lights to many in the developing world without electricity, which increases productivity, saves money on kerosene and reduces CO2 emissions. I appreciate every bit of that.
I fully recommend these for the renegade camper. The Luci Outdoor 2.0 runs for $19.99, and you can find it at mpowerd.com along with other models. You can also pick up the original light or the EMRG at Amazon.com.