Power and Light in Your Pocket: The BioLite NanoGrid

The most amazing thing about the NanoGrid is its weight. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof. This highly praised multi-purpose gadget tips the scales at a mere 7 ounces, a remarkably lightweight solution for your device-powering, camp-lighting needs.

The full NanoGrid system in action.
The NanoGrid is a combination LED lantern, flashlight, and power source for your mobile phone, helmet cam, or any other USB-compatible device.

The NanoGrid's unique design features a rechargeable battery pack at its core, which is then completely surrounded with a hemispheric panel that effectively radiates light in all directions without hotspots. Pumping out a max of 200 lumens, the lantern creates an even pool of light easily sufficient to illuminate the entirety of a picnic table or tent.

Alternatively, you can direct the lighting out the end of the device and use it as an even brighter (up to 250 lumens) flashlight. A dimming feature allows you to adjust the brightness to the level you prefer. Battery life is listed at 6.5 hours for the brightest setting, up to 72 hours on low.

Not an orange. The NanoGrid SiteLights nest together to
form a compact and protected sphere.
The battery can also be used to recharge portable devices via a USB port; it has enough juice to recharge most smart phones at least twice.

In addition, the NanoGrid comes with two "SiteLights," a set of separate small lights that can be strung overhead for additional lighting coverage. Each SiteLight weighs in at just under two ounces and puts out a max of 150 lumens. They also nest together to form a compact and protected little orange sphere, a nice design feature.

The whole package runs $99, including SiteLights. Reviews have generally been rave, even earning a Gear of the Year award from National Geographic Adventure magazine. (You can read more reviews at REI.com, Gizmodo, and Wired.)

The major concerns, however, are 1) the NanoGrid is not waterproof and not designed for use in the rain and 2) the cable attachments for SiteLights and recharging can be a bit loose and finicky. I would keep a close eye on the next iteration of the NanoGrid to see if these issues can be fixed; the vulnerability to moisture in particular is a potential deal-breaker at the moment. 

The NanoGrid is made by BioLite, whose primary mission is not to empower well-to-do campers and backpackers, but rather to help create sustainable energy solutions for the billions of people worldwide who lack access to reliable energy supplies.

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

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