Gear Watch: Luci Solar-Powered Inflatable Lantern

It's an innovative, 4-ounce rethink of ambient lighting technology. Developed by MPOWERD, this compact lantern features 10 white LEDs powered by a solar-rechargeable battery that provides enough light to illuminate 15 square feet for six to twelve hours.

According to the product specs, it takes six hours to charge the lantern, which can be done either with direct sunlight or incandescent light. The lantern will hold the charge for up to three months.

Constructed from water-resistant PVC, the lantern collapses down to a 1-inch by 5-inch diameter disc. When ready for use it expands upwards to a height of 5 inches.

Even more remarkable is its extremely low cost. You can purchase the lantern for only $14.95. This is in keeping with the company's mission: "MPOWERD is committed to sending light to those living in energy poverty through the most cost-effective means possible." (The term "energy poverty" refers to the billions of people around the world who have limited to no access to electricity or reliable lighting, which is often pointed to as a major barrier to development in the poorer regions of the world.)

While this is the driving motivation behind the Luci Lantern, it has obvious potential uses for camping and hiking in the backcountry; being better prepared for emergencies, disasters, and long-term power outages; and reducing the need to generate electricity from carbon-intensive energy sources such as coal.

For more on Luci—and MPOWRD's mission—check out the video below:

“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.