By Jason Heaton
on 4.16.09

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It’s ironic that when most people go into the wilderness, they don’t think much about the environmental impact of the gear they use. Well, the engineers at Altus Lumen have thought about it. A lot. They say that this, the PAD-L, is the world’s first sustainable portable LED light. While that claim didn’t surprise me much, it is impressive nonetheless.

Backing up this claim are the facts that the PAD-L housing is made of recycled and recyclable aluminum and polycarbonate and that the whole unit is 75% recyclable at the end of its useful life. Also “green” is its use of LEDs, which are far more powerful, durable, and efficient than fluorescent lighting.

OK, so enough of the Al Gore routine. How does the thing work? In a word, brilliantly (pun intended). The flat case is slightly larger and heavier than an iPod and has a tough aluminum housing, which is also water resistant to protect against splashes and soggy campsites. Included is a handy woven nylon carry case that has a belt attachment as well as a keying for clipping to a pack or jacket for evening hikes. The case itself has a swiveling faceplate that acts as a stand, which allows the PAD-L to be set on surfaces for optimum hands-free task lighting.

The LEDs are predictably bright and white, providing a sharp focused area of lighting, more suited for specific tasks like whittling a stick or reading a book than for campsite ambiance. The light has four power settings (long-life, low, medium, and high) and a “flash” setting for alerting the search and rescue helicopter to your whereabouts. Another intelligent design feature is a battery life indicator on the side of the case, which alerts you when it’s time to change batteries. Or pull out your solar charger to be really green.

Cost: $40

Know of other great “green” or outdoor gear? Tell us about it and submit an article.

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