SOLIGHT SOLAR PUFF
TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
INITIAL REPORT - June 24, 2016
FIELD REPORT - August 31, 2016
LONG TERM REPORT - November 03, 2016
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpacking trip was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Solight Design Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.solight-design.com
Listed Weight: 2.6 oz (74 g)
Measured Weight: 2.8 oz (79 g)
Packed size: 8.25 x 4.5 x 0.75 inch (21 x 11.5 x 2 cm)
Open size: 4.5 inch (11.5 cm) cube
The Solight Solar Puff is a LED lantern with solar panel.
The Solar Puff has a panel with 10 LEDs to provide general lighting. There's a plastic cube over it to disburse the light:
It collapses for storage:
On the back side is a solar panel and an on/off button:
Push the button once to turn on to low. Push again to turn on to bright. Push again to turn on to bright blinking. Push again to turn off.
There's a hole about 1/4 inch (0.7 cm) to let air in and out to expand/collapse:
The plastic cube is PET/PP plastic. There's white reinforcing inside the plastic. This reinforcing goes horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. There's a webbing strap to hold onto or to attach to the outside of my pack.
There's a lithium polymer battery. It takes 8 hours charging in sunlight to fully charge which provides 8-12 hours of lighting. 5 hours of charging provides 5-8 hours of light. There is no electrical connection - the only way to charge it is to put in the light. I assume it'll charge more slowly in less light than full sunlight.
It's water resistant. It says to store at 32-82 F (0 to 28 C). It's designed to float on the water. It can tolerate chlorinated pool water.
It's made in China.
According to their website "10% of Solight-Design.com's online sales goes to supplying lights throughout the world through our NGO partners." It seems like this would make a really good light for someone with no electricity.
From reading their website, it seems like the motivation for this product is more charity than profit - providing light to places that have no electricity.
They try to use environmentally responsible materials like PET rather than PVC. They also try to design an aesthetic product.
I tried the Solar Puff out a little. It expands and collapses, turns on and off. Seems well made for an inexpensive product.
I'll test this a little at home - see how long it takes to charge and how long the light lasts on a charge.
Then I'll test it backpacking. I'll strap it to the outside of my pack while hiking and then use it at night.
The Solight Solar Puff is an LED lantern with solar panel to charge.
The Solar Puff should make a good light for backpacking - no worry about batteries becoming discharged.
This product is more aimed at providing light to places on the globe that have no electricity.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
First, I did some testing at home - how long it takes to charge and discharge. Then I did some field testing.
June 28, 2106 - 4 night backpack and 2 night car camp on Three Sisters in central Oregon. 57 miles (92 km). 7000 feet (2100 m) elevation gain. 34 to 75 F (1 to 18 C).
July 29, 2016 - 5 night car camp on beach of Southwest Washington. 20 miles (32 km). 55 to 75 F (13 to 24 C).
8/15/2016 - 4 night car camp and 2 night backpack on Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington. 46 miles (74 km). 4600 feet (1400 m) elevation gain. 50 to 85 F (10 to 29 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Charge/Discharge testing at home:
After the puff fully charged for 2 days, I then tested it on the low setting. It ran for 15 hours before it turned itself off. I turned it back on and it was still fairly bright, and it turned itself off again after 15 minutes. That must be how it works - it runs until it thinks it's fairly low, then turns off, but there's still a little life left. This is actually pretty good functionality - it would be worse if it just ran until it completely died.
After it fully charged again, and tested it on the high setting. It ran for 7 hours before it turned itself off.
The specifications say it will provide 8 hours of light on a charge but doesn't say whether that's on the low or high setting. On the high setting, it provides close to the 8 hour spec. On the low setting, it provides a lot more.
After it charged in full sun for 4 hours it provided 4 hours of light on the high setting, which is consistent with the claim that it provides 5 - 8 hours of light for a 5 hour charge (again, not saying whether this is on low or high).
After it charged for 5 hours under cloudy skies it provided 2 hours of light on high.
I did 17 nights of field testing, 6 of them backpacking.
While backpacking, I carried the Puff on the top of my pack, with a webbing strap on my pack through the webbing of the Puff:
I didn't use the Puff a lot during the Field Report period, because it was summer, so when it was dark, I was sleeping. I didn't come anywhere close to discharging it on any trip. I'll use it more during the Long Term Report period.
On my backpacking trips, first I used it by just setting it next to me and letting it illuminate everything. This wasn't real effective. The LEDs are much brighter than the area around it so my eyes got sort of blinded by the light and didn't see the surrounding area so well.
Then I tried setting the Solar Puff on its side so it pointed away from me, towards the side of my tent. Then, the light was reflected over the general area. This worked better. I didn't see the LEDs directly so my eyes didn't get blinded.
Finally, I set the Solar Puff above the ground, wedged between two trees, pointing down. This worked much better. It provided plenty of light to see my stuff:
I used the Solar Puff for walking around a little. I just held it in my hand like a flash light. This didn't work real well. Normally, I use a headlamp which I much prefer, because it frees up my hands and the light is always directed where I want it.
The Solight Solar Puff is a handy, lightweight, LED light with built in solar panel to recharge.
The good thing is that for me, it gets charged enough during the day to provide all the light I need at night. The batteries never have to be replaced. The Solar Puff provides a good amount of general illumination. This would be good for a thru-hike if I did many nights.
The bad thing is that it doesn't provide good illumination just sitting on the ground. The direct light from the LEDs blinds my eyes.
If there was some way to hang the light from up above it would be much better. I'll have to try improvising something.
For walking, I much prefer a headlamp. Again, if there was some way to attach the Solar Puff from me, or from my head, it would be much better. I'll have to try improvising.
I'll have to play with this a little more during the Long Term Test period. There will be longer nights which will provide more opportunity.
I think a better application for this product would be for someone that didn't have electricity. They could charge it during the day and have many hours of light at night.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
September 1, 2016 - 5 night backpack and 1 night car camp going around Mt Hood in north central Oregon. 45 miles (72 km). 9200 feet (2800 m) elevation gain. 34 to 60 F (1 to 16 C).
September 21, 2016 - 3 night backpack and 3 night car camp in Goat Rocks in south central Washington. 32 miles (52 km). 2300 feet (700 m) elevation gain. 40 to 65 F (4 to 18 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Mostly, for the Long Term Report test period I just re-affirmed what I found during the Field Report period.
On the Mt Hood trip, one day it rained steady all day, maybe 1 inch (2.5 cm). I left the light on the outside of the pack, charging as much as possible under the cloudy sky, and at the end of the day it worked fine. This light is pretty waterproof.
In the Field Report Test period I determined the Solight worked better when suspended from above providing general illumination down to the ground. I found one of those plastic bag ties on the ground, twisted it around the webbing on the Solight, and then hooked it over the bark on a tree:
Then, at night, it shined down on my sleeping bag:
The instructions said I can float this in a pool. Yup, that works:
I cut the bag tie in half and put it through a hole in the plastic on both sides, made a hook on one piece, and tied a nylon line between the two. This offered two methods to suspend from above with LEDs pointing down. This worked much better:
I found some good things about the Solight:
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
* The Solight provides a lot of light without ever worrying about the batteries dying. It provides enough light to read by.
* The Solight is very waterproof.
* It's kind of a cool product.
I found some bad things about the Solight:
* I much prefer a headlamp for walking because it's hands free.
* Just setting the Solight on the ground didn't provide very good illumination - the LEDs are brighter than the surrounding area so I couldn't see very good. It helped if I pointed it away from me, towards the tent walls, and then the reflected light worked pretty good for general illumination.
* It provided very good illumination when suspended from above, but the strap is on the wrong side so I had to jury rig something. The other model Solight has has the strap on the correct side, so that would be better.
I think in the future I'll just take a headlamp backpacking. I'll set the Solight somewhere with the solar cell exposed to the light so it's always charged, and if I ever need some light it'll be ready. Maybe I'll give it to some relative that would appreciate its coolness.
Like I said in the Field Report, I think the best application for this product would be for someone that doesn't have electricity so they could read at night.
Thanks to Solight and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test this.
Read more reviews of Solight Design gear
Read more gear reviews by jerry adams