Something that may seem relatively trivial upon first thought, but an item that is often difficult to get right when camping and backpacking is a good lantern. As it happens; lighting options are plentiful – but how many tick every box in terms of brightness, packability, weight and battery life? Well, so far, one such lamp had not been found. Perhaps until now? Luminaid is a brand that has been around for a little while now and known for a relatively large, inflatable lantern. Their range has now been expanded though, with the addition of two smaller versions. On a recent multiday trip to the Lake District, the Luminaid Packlite 12 was put to the test.
As has been mentioned; there are three four things that you need from your lighting choice when backpacking. The first element, is the brightness. The Luminaid Packlite 12 has four settings that are cycled through and selected by the power switch on the top of the lantern itself. ‘Extra bright’ puts out 45 lumens, while ‘high’ projects 35 lumens, and ‘low’ gives out 20. The fourth setting is a flash at 20 lumens. These ratings of brightness may seem low, but in fact – the light is diffused extremely well through the translucent walls of the lantern and was ample for the Tarptent Scarp 1. Having different light settings makes it easy to perform different tasks while being economical with battery life too. Using on ‘extra bright’ for tasks such as organising the inside of a tent or porch, ‘high’ perhaps for use while cooking, ‘low’ while reading, and so on. The Luminaid Packlite also acts well as an ambient light between two tents when sat around outside, before retiring for the evening. It has been mentioned that it could be used as a torch, to light the way when walking in the dark, but is certainly not bright enough to be a first choice option for that use.
Packability & Weight
In terms pack size and weight, the Luminaid Packlite continues to stand out. Generally speaking with camping lanterns you would assume that the less it weighs, the smaller it must be. As the lantern is inflatable, most of the size of the Luminad Packlite is achieved with air, meaning that the weight is a mere 99g. When not in use; it is around the size of a coaster/beer mat and thinner than a pack of cards. This surpasses even extendable lanterns that have proved to be popular recently, such as the Alpkit Glowe for example. The small size allows for the lantern be be tucked away in a rucksack without impacting the ease of packing other essentials, even more so as it folds down relatively flat and in a uniform shape – not creating difficulty in fitting organised stuff sacks or dry bags around it and eliminating the potential of creating dead space within the rucksack.
The worst thing that can happen when relying on batteries, especially when on a multiday trip, is for them to run out of power or for you to run out of fresh replacements. You could go to the lengths of carrying rechargeable batteries and a means of charging them, but that would all add up in terms of weight and space. The Luminaid Packlite 12 is solar powered, and so avoids all the hassles of light sources powered by traditional batteries. The length of time taken to charge the Packlite from 0-100% is 7 hours. The same strap that enables you to hang it from the inner of your tent, also allows you to have the Luminaid Packlite strapped to the outside of a rucksack – meaning that the batteries are recharging as you move on to your next pitch. Even better is the fact that it is waterproof to a depth of 1m (IPX-7 rated), so charging can go on regardless of inclement weather. Using a lithium ion battery means that it will hold charge well, and stand up to hundreds of recharge cycles. Battery life is; 6 hours on extra bright, 8 hours on high, 12 hours on low and 32 hours on flashing. Considered power useage and charging during the day means that the Luminaid Packlite 12 is ideal for backpacking and wild camping.
The perfect combination of brightness, packability, weight and battery life means that the Luminaid Packlite 12 is very difficult to pick fault with. It is easily the best solution for lighting options when backpacking and wild camping or site camping that we have come across.
You can read more here: luminaid.com