In the full interest of transparency and honesty to my readers, I was given a single Packlite by the folks at luminaid.com, for testing. After using the PackLite on a handful of outings and during a very oddly-timed power outage at home I was able to gather my thoughts and notes and put together a review.
To be really really transparent, I probably should also tell you that I was so impressed that I purchased a second one.
The LuminAid PackLite 16 is an inflatable lamp. It provides up to 16 hours of LED light and is recharged via light itself (like the sun). It folds up into a compact size that makes it easy to clip to your backpack for recharging on-the-go.
I’ve used this to light up my camp site and for hanging from my ridgeline, above my hammock at bed time. It has never failed me. It provides sufficient light to perform all the task of setting up and breaking camp, for finding items in my pack and to read by, after crawling into my hammock or sleeping bag. It has held up to billowy wind, surprise storms and unexpected immersion in water without any ill effects. I also had the opportunity to use it during a power outage, to navigate my home and provide light to my family.
Because it proved itself reliable and very hand in nasty conditions in the field, I now make sure that I take one of these family trips, especially if we’ll be staying in a hotel. If the power goes out, or there’s an emergency, this lantern will light the darkness for us!
Inflate, then turn it on. The PackLight has four modes: high, medium, low, and blinking. All of which are activated by pressing the red power button. Repeated pressing will cycle through the modes, in that order.
The LuminAID’s inflatable body feels like its a high quality vinyl, which feels less like plastic and more like rubber. The vinyl is very pliable and should prove to be resistant to cracking or splitting.
It uses a single LED paired with a high quality battery. The battery charges pretty quickly (average time around 7 hours in direct sunlight). The LuminAID can shine for between 5 – 6 hours on its brightest setting, and did not dim noticeably during that time. On the low setting it ran for more than 12 hours, before I gave up, shut it off and went to sleep.
The Packlite 16 has features that indicate a high standard of quality and design.
- It has a small flap that snaps shut to fold the lantern into a compact package.
- It has a LED light that indicates charging status – Charging (red) or Fully Charged (green).
- Waterproof design. The electronics (solar cell, charge controller and battery) is completely sealed in vinyl. As long as the inflation valve is closed securely, no water should get in to the LED light. It floats when inflated and being in the rain for hours caused it no problems.
Through Luminaid’s “Get Light, Give Light” program, they distributes these lights to individuals around the world who a source of inexpensive light or don’t have access to electricity You can help them support this effort with your purchase!
If you’re looking for a reliable, lightweight lantern to use as a camp light or for an emergency light, this is a great choice. I recommend this lantern for anyone who needs to cut the weight and bulk of a traditional lantern and its batteries from their pack weight!