GearTools & Tech

The Best Lights of 2017

Don’t get left in the dark

Renewable power sources make it easier than ever to walk away from our outlets at home. (Photo: Inga Hendrickson)
outside buyers guide

We’re experiencing a renaissance in camp lighting. Renewable power sources are adding versatility, LEDs continue to push efficiency to new levels, and materials are getting lighter, making it easier than ever to walk away from our outlets at home.


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Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 (Photo: Courtesy of Goal Zero)

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 ($80)

The trend toward lanterns that integrate other features, like backup power, extends to two beautiful new pieces of green tech. Goal Zero’s Lighthouse 400 (400 lumens) can be juiced with solar panels like the Nomad 7 ($89), by USB, or, in a sunless pinch, with a hand crank. We got 15 hours at medium brightness, and some of that power can be diverted to charge other USB devices.

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BioLite BaseLantern XL. (Photo: BioLite)

BioLite BaseLantern XL ($130)

Slightly more compact, the BioLite BaseLantern XL (500 lumens) connects to your phone by Bluetooth to display remaining burn time and to let you choose brightness and colors, so you can make your campsite a love nest or a party pad. The BaseLantern also includes a couple of USB ports and can be recharged using the company’s SolarPanel 10+ ($130) or via wood and biomass with the CampStove 2 ($130).

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Gear Aid Flux light. (Photo: Gear Aid)

Gear Aid Flux ($150)

The raw power of blazing-white light is most evident in the new Gear Aid Flux (600 lumens). Packed with 82 bright LEDs, it’s a bomber, water-resistant light spewer with multiple color settings and device-charging capability. It’s also ultra versatile: the Flux can illuminate your entire base camp and works with an array of clamp, magnet, and suction-cup mounts ($10 to $55) to affix to nearly any surface.

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LuminAid PackLite Max light cube. (Photo: LuminAid)

LuminAid PackLite Max ($30)

Easily the most portable option of the bunch is LuminAid’s PackLite Max (150 lumens), which inflates with a couple of breaths to a six-inch cube and collapses to less than an inch. You can strap the seven-ounce lantern to your pack all day and the built-in solar panel will recharge it, ensuring you have plenty of light come evening.

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Black Diamond ReVolt headlamp. (Photo: Black Diamond)

Black Diamond ReVolt ($60)

And headlamps have gotten smarter. The Black Diamond ReVolt (130 lumens) runs on rechargeable AAAs that are replenished by USB. Pair it with one of the base stations above and you’ve reduced cost and waste. It’s a compact unit with a powerful beam that can project up to 230 feet.

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Petzl Reactik+ headlamp. (Photo: Petzl)

Petzl Reactik+ ($110)

Not to be outdone, the rechargeable Petzl Reactik+ (300 lumens) has a max distance of 360 feet and can be programmed via Bluetooth. The accompanying app regulates the lamp’s brightness based on how long you need it to run and lets you choose activity profiles for optimum beam strength.

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