Gear Review: The Luci Solar Lantern Original

Luci Solar Lantern Original 1

Background

The Luci Solar Lantern Original is the first inflatable solar lantern create by MPowered, a NYC based company with the mission to make “affordable clean energy product(s) that people could use in any situation”.  MPowered is a B-Corporation, which means that it is a for-profit company, certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The Luci was first released in 2012 and while MPowered has tweaked their design and released some other inflatable lighting options, I still like the Luci Original the best. With their Give Luci Program, which allows customers to gift a Luci Solar Lantern to someone in the developing world, MPowered claims to have impacted over a million peoples lives in 105 different countries who lived without electric light previously. Very cool stuff. 


Efficiency

The solar panels used on the Luci Solar Lantern Original has proved to be highly efficient, even charging up fine in the cloudy, rainstorm laden hills of Glencoe, Scotland. If the battery is drained it takes 12 hours to fully charge. (Note: I have been testing a earlier generation of the Luci Original, that does not include a charging indicator. All Luci Originals now include carrying indicator lights, a nice improvement.)

Luci Solar Lantern Original 3

The 10 LEDs used are very bright and feature 3 settings, Bright, Super Bright, and One Second Flash. I felt that most of the time the “Bright” (read: low) setting was plenty light for most camp tasks, but it is nice to have the brighter setting on standby. I don’t use the flashing setting but I haven’t found myself lost and signaling for help (*knock on wood) so otherwise it has only been needed for the occasional backcountry dance party.

Luci Solar Lantern Original 4Luci Solar Lantern Original 5

Weight and Packability

The Luci Solar Lantern Original is packable as any lantern can be. Deflated it is only 2.5cm thick and takes up very little space in your pack as a result. When you need some light, it inflates in seconds and  with very little effort. Some balloons require more lung power to inflate than the Luci Original.

Super lightweight weighing in at only 4.4 oz, the Luci is ultra-light friendly, and an even bigger plus is that you don’t need to carry any batteries or fuel to power it since it is powered by the ever available resource, sunlight.Luci Solar Lantern Original 2

Durability

So for a plastic lantern that inflates, it is pretty damn durable. I had my first Luci for 2 years before I broke it, and it was totally my fault. I dropped my Luci, rolled it, and scrapped it on rocks and other unforgiving surfaces. Nothing. It wasn’t until I got cocky and tossed it onto concrete from about 20 feet up that it cracked. LEDs worked, solar panel fine but it’s seal was broken, so it wouldn’t stay inflated. READ: Still. Works.

Cost

The Luci Solar Lantern Original is a super affordable lantern even as far as backups go. On MPowered’s website you can purchase it for $17.95, but you can often find it on Amazon or other retailers for as little as 

Verdict


There are certainly brighter, more powerful lanterns available on the market. But few that pack down as small, give off as much light and do not require batteries like the Luci Solar Lantern Original. Temperature limitations will depend on the severity of the expedition. The Luci is better suited as a back-up light source rather than your sole light source. This is the case only for the most serous trips. (High-Altitude Mountaineering, Arctic Exploration, you get the idea)Luci Solar Lantern Original 6

The Luci Solar Lantern Original has become one of my absolute favorite pieces of gear. A constant in my EDC pack no matter the situation. Why do I love the Luci? It is a great example of the beauty of simplicity in design How can you make a lantern more packable, lightweight, self sustaining and durable. Make it a inflatable, plastic, solar powered LED lantern. Simple.

The Specs:

Dimensions

-Height: 10.8 cm (2.5 cm thick when collapsed)

-Diameter: 12.7 cm

-Weight: 4.4 oz (125g)

Features

-3 Modes:

Bright (low)

Super Bright (High)

1 Sec Flashing (Beacon)

-12 Hour runtime on low setting

-7 Hours till fully charged when drained empty

-Waterproof IP67 Rating (Insert What This Rating Means)

-$17.95 MSRP 

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