Two things are fairly scarce when you’re in the wilderness or at a campground–light and power. The HybridLight Solar Lantern is a great all-in-one that works as a flashlight, expands to a lantern, and can even charge your phone or other USB powered device.
CellularOutfitter.com recently sent me their HybridLight Solar Lantern to try out, and, luckily, I received it the day before we left for our camping trip this past weekend. What makes this lantern a hybrid is that there is both a traditional rechargeable backup battery and the primary battery that stores solar power. When using the light, you can tell the lantern which source to use, but what isn’t clear is which it uses when charging a device.
The device has a red LED that lets you know if it is getting enough sun to charge. I had no problem getting the LED to light up, indicating it was charging, even when we didn’t have direct sunlight. But in the event you can’t get enough sun or just want a faster charge, you can also charge the light via a micro USB cable.
I wanted to test out the phone charging while it was still sunny out–so I could recharge the batteries via the sun and still make sure we’d have enough juice to use the light through the night if we needed it. I plugged my iPhone 6 into the HybridLight and left it for about 30 minutes. When I disconnected it, my phone had gained 30% of its charge. 1% per minute seems fairly in line with all of the external batteries I’ve tried, so I was pretty happy with the results.
We didn’t need to use the Solar Lantern at all the first night, but I did do a couple of tests running it off of both the stored solar energy and the backup battery. The top and bottom halves are given a one-quarter twist and the device expands with a translucent plastic bellows (think giant bendy straw). Although the light was slightly brighter when running off of the backup battery, it certainly wasn’t enough of a difference to warrant draining the backup.
Finally, when collapsed, turning on the light focuses the output through the top of the device, and it can be used as a handheld flashlight. This came in handy a couple of times when it was dark and we were looking for things.
The second night we were camping, the HybridLight Solar Lantern really saved the day. It had rained a little bit off and on throughout the day, and somehow we had managed to leave our box of matches out enough that they got damp. As night approached, we discovered to our dismay that we couldn’t light our lantern! Thankfully we had the Solar Lantern, and it did its job perfectly, allowing us to hang out well past dark.
If you’re a frequent outdoorsperson and are looking for a compact travel lantern that doesn’t require any fuel other than the sun, then look no further. I highly recommend the Hybrid Light Solar Lantern for anyone who goes camping or on long hikes.