BioLite SunLight

Kind of Obsessed: This Tiny Square Lantern Just Earned a Permanent Spot in My Camping Pack


BioLite is best known for its stick-powered cookstoves, but I’ll confess that I’ve had more of a thing for the Brooklyn-based energy company’s camp lighting. This infatuation started with the PowerLight Mini, a simple, rectangular lantern equipped with a metal clip that can hang onto pockets or act as a kickstand. It was only a matter of time before I added the larger BaseLantern XL to my collection. That thing can light up an entire cabin, and even emits a full spectrum of colorful light (which I can control from an app on my phone — nice).

I got my hands on BioLite’s newest lantern, the SunLight, as soon as I could. It’s a mashed-up middle ground between its two predecessors: the SunLight comes with a handy kickstand that now sports a clip that can be used to hang it from a cord and it offers two colorful light modes in addition to its dimmable white light setting. It’s a lighter, smaller — roughly 3.5-inch by 3.5-inch — square that fits into the top of my pack a little more neatly than its chunkier sibling. BioLite’s rectangular light shapes threw me when I first saw them, but they really do make packing effortless. Show me a fully-packed bag, and I’ll find a way to sneak a SunLight in there.

Perhaps the coolest feature on the SunLight is a built-in solar panel that can charge the light to full in seven hours — which is quick enough to get the job done during the day when lights aren’t needed (there’s a micro-USB input too). BioLite has always positioned itself as an energy company, and it does make great solar gear, so it’s nice to see that technology integrated across product lines.

No, the SunLight won’t replace my headlamp as a backpacking essential, but hiking and camping aren’t just about essentials (I’ll probably continue to trek my BaseLantern XL into the woods too). It’s nice to have a lantern transitioning from purple to blue to green to yellow while you’re playing cards in a tent, or hanging in a cabin. Camping should be fun, and the SunLight, while it does serve an important function through an innovative design, is also exactly that: fun.

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