I’ve never been one to pack sooner than the night before leaving for a trip, no matter where I’m going, or for how long. A weekend at a hike-in cabin in southern Vermont? I pack the night before. Four months of wandering through South America? I pack the night before. I will though, brag (humbly) about my packing skill and efficiency. I learned this skill going on week-long canoe trips in the Adirondack Mountains as a teenager — dry bags can be spacious, but also unyielding.
My secret? Nothing remarkable beyond a self-awareness that helps me determine which items I’ll actually use on a trip. I know, for example, that I can go two weeks wearing only one t-shirt. That means I can pack less and keep my bag light, or I can pack less and free up space for items that are somewhat nonessential. Like Goal Zero’s Lighthouse Mini lantern, which has become an accessory that I bring on nearly every trip, regardless of destination or time away.
The Lighthouse Mini isn’t the primary light source that I use for backpacking and travel — I pack a headlamp for that — but the additional features it includes make it an excellent auxiliary piece of tech to have around, even if slightly unnecessary. Firstly, unlike a headlamp, the Lighthouse Mini provides group lighting and eliminates the potential for sending 500 lumens into your companion’s retinas. For its size, the amount of light it emits is impressive, and plenty to support a card game or brighten up an interior space. The amount of light is also easily dimmable with a rotating knob so that battery life doesn’t go wasted when a little light will do the trick.
The Lighthouse Mini also doubles as a backup battery pack. The device has a USB port right on its front and can supply extra juice to a phone or camera if needed. The lantern is also rechargeable via USB with a built-in cable. USB ports are easy enough to find nowadays — everyone carries phone chargers, and there’s no shame in poaching off a laptop — so recharging is a cinch.
When it comes to packing — especially in my own purist style — the Lighthouse Mini is slightly bulky, but not so much that this factor alone outweighs its potential benefits on a trip. And for that, it’s earned a semi-permanent spot in my backpack.
Right now, Goal Zero’s Lighthouse Mini is on sale at Backcountry for 40% off.
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