BioLite PowerLight Mini Gear Review



This month BioLite released it’s new wearable lantern, weighing in at just 80 grams.

It’s not just a lantern though, it’s a multi-tool:  it’s a portable lantern, bike light and USB charger in one. BioLIte is the first company that’s challenging how outdoor lights should be used, and designing lighting from a multi-tool perspective. The item is quite innovative.

biolite powerlight mini1

This compact lighting accessory is designed for both outdoor and in-city applications.

It’s a nightlight that’s good anywhere and everywhere, not just for the outdoors. Of course, the obvious usability at camp is the best feature, and what the unit was initially designed for given the first products Biolite designed and introduced were camp stoves.

biolite powerlight mini2

This handy unit also doubles as a bike light and even includes a bike mount.

The lantern dims by button and easily switches from blinking white to red light settings. The red light is of course very nice to have for safety while riding your bike, but also preserves your night vision when you are outdoors in the dark.

What is in the box

The lantern comes nicely packaged with a bike mount, a charging cable, instructions, warranty information and a user guide.

box biolite powerlight mini

How it works

The unit works by pushing the top power button to select different lighting settings. There are four lighting modes:

  1. White lantern: dimmable by pressing down on the power button
  2. Red night
  3. Red and white strobe
  4. Point light for focusing and maximum visibility
Red light mode on the Biolite PowerLight Mini.

Great ambient lighting on the red light mode on the Biolite PowerLight Mini.

The unit includes a USB cable and can be connected to your laptop or plug for charging.  There are four lights on the side indicating battery life, to let you know when your battery is fully charged.biolite powerlight mini charging

The lamp is incredibly portable -it’s very small at only 15 mm thick and 85 mm high.  It’s a hands-free headlamp alternative that isn’t as blinding as a headlamp – this means no more blinding your camp mates.  Given it’s size, there is really no reason not to carry this light around with you when camping.

Use the PowerLight Mini to charge your cell phone.

Use the PowerLight Mini to charge your cell phone.

If you’re getting up early, you can clip the lantern to your tent for ambient lighting while packing up camp or getting ready. This is similar to the concept of the ambient lighting of the Big Agnes mtnGLO tent series. It’s easier to keep track of and locate your gear with ambient lighting.

The charging is an additional extra added bonus. We usually carry a small charger with us in the backcountry, to charge our cell phones which we store our maps that we use for navigation. This handy unit does the double task of a light, without adding much extra size or weight.

Battery life

The LED light is rechargeable and has a battery life of over 52 hours on the low setting and 5 hours on high.  It also has the ability to recharge other electronics, like cell phones.

biolite powerlight mini in teal

The PowerLight Mini comes with an attached wire hanger which is used to prop or hang the lantern.

It comes with a posable wire stand that allows you to set up the light at different angles. you can prop the lamp upright, or clip it to a pocket, strap, or even hang it around your neck when reading.  Of course, you can use it on your bike with the included bike mount.

The brightness of the lantern is comparable to most headlamps, at 135 lumens. Of course it’s not just the amount of lumens but quality of light that is important, but you can read about that here. Though the lantern has a spot (focus) setting, it’s made to be a lantern first, so the light is naturally more dispersed than you would find in a headlamp.

Applications

It can be propped, hung off a tree or tent.

The light has a very white bright surface and can be used as a general lantern, but the light can also be focused to use for reading or more precise lighting needs, like if you’re setting up your tent in the dark.

biolite powerlight mini on tree

The strobe mode is best used on the bike.

The battery is good for a maximum of about 52 hours, and is USB rechargeable. You can also use it to recharge your electronics, giving your phone a power boost.  Charge it using your laptop or a wall plug with the included USB cable.

The lantern is also clippable, small enough to slip into your pocket and resilient enough to withstand some nasty weather. You can use it hands free: clip it to your shirt while reading and charge your phone at the same time.

It’s very durable, performing well in the cold. It has a soft, even glow, and is way smaller than most camping lanterns. Even dedicated headlamp users will find this unit useful beyond a headlamp. The fact that you can clip this lantern to a tree, to your shirt or inside your tent, means you can have soft ambient lighting at camp without blinding your campmates and without the strong focused beam light of headlamps.

The lantern is also clippable, which means you can wear without blinding people like you would with a headlamp.

The lantern is also clippable, which means you can wear without blinding people like you would with a headlamp.

Advantages

  • Portable
  • Durable in inclement weather
  • Thanks to the wire hanger, you can use the lamp hands free, hanging it from your tent, on a tree or around your neck
  • Soft ambient lighting
  • Charging capability
  • No need to worry about bringing batteries, this unit is rechargeable
  • Better ambient lighting than a headlamp
  • Even if you have a headlamp, you will find this unit useful at camp

Disadvantages

We are a little hard pressed to find anything we don’t like about this lantern.  The wire stand opens very wide when propped, causing the light to be focused upward.  If the clippable stand had two settings for propping this would be useful.

The item itself is not a replacement for headlamp, but a nice complement to one. The spot focused lighting is still quite a bit more dispersed and not very comparable to the spot lighting available on a headlamp.

biolite powerlight mini lantern and usb charger

The wire backing allows you to prop the unit. The angle is a bit wide and a narrow setting, or two settings would be useful.

The bottom line

This is a great little unit, and at under $50, is really worth the investment. It comes in four different colours: teal, red, gray and yellow.

Where to buy

The PowerLight Mini is available from the Biolite store and it’s priced at $44.95.  If it’s your first purchase at Biolite, you can even get a coupon for $10 off your purchase.

Check out other smartphone accessories available for outdoor use.

Alicja

Alicja

Alicja is an economist, enjoys climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, cycling and gets out into the backcountry as much as possible. See all of Alicja's Blog Posts
Alicja
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