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Gear: An inflatable camp light is slight but powerful

Gear: An inflatable camp light is slight but powerful
The Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern provides up to eight hours of light on a charge. (Mpowerd)

What began as a project to bring light to communities in developing nations that lack electricity has evolved into a business that lights up the night for backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Mpowerd's Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern is a 1-inch-thick transparent, flexible plastic disk that inflates like a beach ball to become a 5-inch-high waterproof cylinder that weighs just a few ounces. Inside the bottom of the cylinder, a cluster of bright LED lights is powered by solar panels on the outside.

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Push the power button on and you have got a lantern when the LEDs point up, a flashlight when they're pointed down. To charge, push the power button off and place Luci (deflated or not) with the solar panels facing the light.

Luci provides light for six to eight hours, and retains power for months when stored.

You get a choice of styles. The original Luci has bright, brighter and flash modes, while the Luci EMRG adds an SOS function but has fewer, more concentrated LEDs.

Info: Mpowerd's Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern costs $15; the EMRG version, $10.

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