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November 2018 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Lights

Biolite SunLight



Our Rating:

At a glance

Plusses: Cheap, versatile light with long battery life, rechargeable
Minuses:  Long charge-time when using solar, USB cable not supplied

Features: A 100-lumen rechargeable light that fits in the palm of the hand and provides up to 50 hours of light on low mode and three hours on high. It can be recharged with a USB cable, which is not supplied, or the solar panel on the rear. The light has a rotatable kickstand and an attached hook to hang it from some string or to thread a pack strap through. It has three modes: white, red or party mode, where it slowly cycles through a range of colours. An integrated sundial helps align the solar panel to the sun to maximise charging time. The light can be dimmed and is operated by a single button. 

Weight: At less than 100g, it’s a barely-noticeable extra in your pack.

The SunLight’s solar panel and sundial – top left corner.

In use: The light is bright enough to light the interior of a small hut or your campsite. It’s a soft light, that doesn’t blind. The kickstand allows the light to stand at any angle from 90-degrees to horizontal. Battery life is exceptional – especially if you don’t keep it on high at all times. I used it often as a night light for my daughter, set to the lowest brightness, and it would run for four or five nights before needing recharging. Using the sun to recharge is convenient, but time-consuming – reaching full charge after about seven hours. The USB-option takes two hours.The light won’t replace a headlamp for hands-free convenience, but it does offer decent group lighting and can be a safety device when in red-light mode and strapped to your pack during a night tramp or on commute. I’d also add one to my survival pack for when the electricity is out or disaster strikes.

Value: It’s cheap and surprises with its utility and fun-factor.

Verdict: What’s not to like? Simple and reliable operation, rechargeable with a built-in solar panel, it’s a genuine ambient light source for huts and campsites.