d.light Solar Lighting - Rugged, Lightweight, and Affordable - Gear Review
In June of 2014, after reading a review, I purchased the d.light LED Solar Rechargeable #S20 Area Lantern. The lantern was designed as an alternative to kerosene lamps for developing countries, where, in many cases, productivity that requires lighting ceases at sunset.
The S20 has a built in solar panel and sheds quite a bit of light. It is very rugged and weighs in at 7 ounces. I gave it to my daughter as a lantern she could play with around the house and something that could be 'hers' when we go camping and backpacking. It even has a glow-in-the-dark button for turning it on when it's really dark.
In August, we had our chance to try it out on a backpacking trip to the Arroyo Seco Campground in Cuyamaca. We clipped it to the outside of the her backpack and it was light enough where she didn't even notice it. We arrived at our campsite after sunset. The d.light S20 gave us plenty of light to eat our backpacking dinner of peanut and jelly sandwiches and then settle our sleeping bags into the tent.
In September, I received an email from d.light, asking if I wanted to try out their lighting systems. I let them know that I already purchased and was happy with the d.light S20, but would be interested in trying their d.light S300 lantern.
They immediately sent one over and I was once again impressed with the build and the design. This unit provided about three times the light of the S20, at the highest setting, and included a solar panel and a connection to charge mobile devices. Again, this was designed with developing countries in mind, but would work great in the outdoors. This unit is a little bulky for backpacking, but could still lash easily to the outside of a backpack. For car camping, it's a no-brainer. It's weather, impact, and dust resistant. I like the fact that it has different brightness settings, which can lengthen the time between charges. It still pretty light at 10.6 ounces, including the solar panel and the included cable adapter.
In November, several of us fathers were able to take our daughters out to the Green Valley Campground in Cuyamaca for an overnight car camping trip. Since we arrived well after dark, the d.light S300 was a great way to help set up our large tents and get dinner ready. The kids ended up taking it into one of the tents and illuminated the games they played. I felt fine about it, since it feels nearly indestructible.
I haven't been camping as much lately, since I've been hard at work opening a new burger restaurant, but I use the S300 several times a week. It sits in my office, which is next to my bedroom. Sometimes I stay up late at night reading on my tablet. I don't need a lot of light to read, since I am reading on a device, but I would like some light to move around (and reach for my glass of wine). I reach over and turn on the S300 to its lowest setting. The lantern gets charged every day by the sun that shines on the solar panel placed outside our blinds. It's the perfect brightness and I know I am not using any electricity from the grid.
I have to say, these two products from d.light are solidly made and are at a fair price. My only minor nit with the S20 was that the handle doesn't have a built in clip. I wasn't able to hang it from the top of the tent on our trip. A carabiner would do the trick, which we didn't have, but we made do with tucking it into a pocket of my Big Agnes Gear Loft. It worked just fine.