The 6 Best Inflatable Lights
6. Minion Stuart
- self-inflates in seconds
- includes stakes and tethers
- may malfunction in snow
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
5. Ivation Cube
- works for 12 hours on a full charge
- flashing emergency sos mode
- battery indicator can be faulty
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
4. Aidier Lantern
- runs on solar power
- loop for easy backpack attachment
- shines upwards when hanging
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
3. MPowerd Luci
- 10 warm white leds
- two brightness settings and strobe
- may only hold its charge briefly
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
2. Iwolkon Solar Lantern
- cycles between 7 different colors
- can be charged while collapsed
- weighs just four ounces
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. LuminAid PackLite 16
- waterproof up to one meter
- size of a deck of cards when folded
- convenient carrying handle
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Inflatable Lights Versus Traditional Options
You’ve probably heard about inflatable lights, which are becoming more and more common all the time. Looking at them, you can quickly see that they are different from flashlights and lanterns, but you might wonder how they measure up against these more traditional tools. As it turns out, inflatable lights offer quite a range of benefits over standard portable lighting.
To begin with, nearly all use rechargeable solar-powered batteries instead of traditional primary batteries. This gives them the eco advantage; instead of throwing battery after battery away, you can keep recharging the device via the solar panels, thereby reducing your impact on the environment. Some of these lights can handle up to 1,000 charges, in fact, so you’ll be using them for years. You’ll find that you get a benefit over standard rechargeable batteries, too, since the batteries used in these lights are not as heavy. On a long hike, when every ounce can add to foot or back pain, this lightweight option is definitely welcome.
Of course, not all standard lanterns are battery-powered. You might use a kerosene or propane lantern, especially if you don’t have to schlep your gear too far. Consider, though, that these devices carry a risk of fire that’s not present with an inflatable light. You’ll find that these inflatables usually stand up to the weather better, as they’re designed to be waterproof, not just water resistant, like most lanterns or flashlights. And inflatable lights float, so if you drop one over the side of a water vessel, there’s no harm done.
Then, think about how much room your lighting device requires. Not only are inflatable lanterns lighter, but they pack up smaller, as well. Most collapse down nearly flat, which saves you precious space. Where you might only have room for one lantern, you could bring a handful of inflatable lights — perhaps one for every person in your party. When you’re finished, just deflate them for hassle-free storage.
Finally, inflatable lights offer a softer aesthetic presence than bulky lanterns or flashlights. Most are gently glowing cubes that can create a mood without drawing unnecessary attention. And if white light isn’t your thing, there are even inflatable lights in a variety of colors, from fun and funky reds and blues to mild off-whites.
Uses For Inflatable Lights
Along with the obvious use of inflatable lights for camping or backpacking, there are plenty of ways to employ this versatile lighting option. This is doubly true since inflatable lights are highly affordable, so investing in a range of them is relatively painless. And since they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, there’s one for every application.
For instance, you could use inflatable lights to spice up your next nighttime pool party; toss three or four in the water to contribute to both atmosphere and safety. You might use one to add to the ambiance of a hot bath or your Jacuzzi, as well.
If you’re having any kind of event that will last to dusk and beyond, then inflatable lights provide an excellent way to keep the party going. You can place them on tables or even hang them, as many have handles built in. This option is simpler than running strings of lights and safer than using candles.
Inflatable lights aren’t just about fun, however. They make a perfect addition to emergency readiness kits, including those that you keep in your car, perfectly complementing other crucial items such as water, survival foods, and a hand-crank radio. If you know anyone heading off to college, an inflatable light makes a good preparedness gift that he or she can use in the event of dorm power outages. Keep in mind that you’ll need to occasionally check the charge on your emergency solar inflatable light; many manufacturers recommend doing so every three to six months.
Inflatable lights also make great gifts for outdoor enthusiasts, whether they enjoy camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, kayaking, or whitewater rafting. You won’t even need to purchase extra batteries to go along with the gift, a hassle no one wants.
Brightening Our World
When you think about how many benefits inflatable lights offer, you can easily see why they’ve become so popular. But these nifty devices have another application, which is in disaster relief. In fact, most people became familiar with inflatable lights through the LuminAID, which was originally envisioned as just that — a way to bring light to those suffering through the aftermath of a catastrophe.
If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, you’ll probably remember the LuminAID pitch from season six, which introduced the brainchild of Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta. As graduate students, they designed their solar-powered inflatable as part of a challenge that asked them to create a product that could help in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. On the show, all the Sharks loved the product, especially since it can be deployed in a wide range of natural disasters, but Stork and Sreshta decided to accept an offer from business mogul Mark Cuban. In 2017, they announced that their sales had grown considerably since the show and that they’ve been able to visit areas in need of relief and distribute many lights.
After LuminAID captured both the Sharks' and the internet’s fancy, inflatable lights have become more and more affordable, popular, and prevalent. A range of companies, following the humanitarian lead, have begun to offer solar inflatable lights with a unique “buy one, get one” twist — when you purchase one, they send one to a location in need of aid. Some companies also let consumers buy lanterns for a reduced price to send as a charitable gift. This way, you can provide help to areas in distress, even if you personally have no need for more than one or two of the devices.