Backpacking with Luci® lights

The author with his solar-powered light. For a short video extolling the light's many uses check out MPowerd.com.

The author with his solar-powered light. For a short video extolling the light’s many uses check out MPowerd.com.

Technology continues to bloom in the backcountry, but one of the best and simplest I discovered this summer is the Luci solar-powered light.

LED lights are nothing new on the trail. LED light output and reliability is used in headlamps and even strip-lights to illuminate tent interiors. The only drawback is the same as with most technology, playing with batteries and, sometimes, weight.

Along comes Luci by MPowerd, an innovative, inflatable, solar light that can be used in your tent at night, as a flashlight en route to the outhouse, a bedroom nightlight or an emergency light when the power goes out at home.

I’ve owned two of these lights for several months now, and they’ve never failed to light up when I push the “on” button. This seemingly comes with only one original charge in the sunlight (the mini-solar panels can also recharge under incandescent light). I’ve had the lantern-styled light outside for several hours in freezing temperatures, sitting in a dark basement, tossed onto the floor of the car, etc.

Luci only weighs 107g (4oz) and folds down to the thickness of a large oatmeal cookie. I use a small carabiner to attach the deflated cylinder to my pack, where it can recharge as I meander down the trail. In camp, a couple puffs inflates the cylinder.  Push the “on” button once for moderate light, twice for bright, and a third time to activate it as an emergency flasher.

MPowerd obviously saw a market with backcountry campers and homeowners looking for decorative patio illumination or a reliable emergency light during power outages. But their vision has spread into third-world countries where people live off the grid. Inspiration!

While many U.S. outdoor outfitters are selling Luci solar lights, distribution still seems limited in Canada. I picked up my lights at Lee Valley, but Luci is also available at amazon.ca.

A deflated Luci is clipped to the top of my pack, where its solar panels gather the sun's energy during the day. The inflated Luci provides lots of light around the camp with its 10 bright LEDs. Brian Patton photos.

A deflated Luci is clipped to the top of my pack, where its solar panels gather the sun’s energy during the day. The inflated Luci provides lots of light around the camp with its 10 bright LEDs. Brian Patton photos.