It’s been over a year since I’ve visited the Cumbrian fells. My last trip – for the other half’s 40th birthday – was a wonderful week of friends, campfires, canoes, great food and liberal imbibing.
During that trip I managed to squeeze in a couple of classic Lakeland walks – the Coldedale Round and Blencathra via Sharp Edge – although the card on my camera corrupted so those excursions didn’t make the pages of this blog sadly.
Last week we returned. A number of motivational factors aligned: we needed an escape, we had a new tent to ‘test’ and the forecast looked OK. I booked the Friday off work and we trundled up the M6 amid seemingly endless road works to Keswick. Continue reading →
Just before I headed to Scotland I had an email from a company in the United States asking about distributors for their inflatable solar lantern. I duly responded and the company sent me a sample to try.
The MPOWERD Luci inflatable lantern is intended for outdoor leisure users including hikers, campers, anglers, kayakers, cyclists… you get the picture. It is constructed from soft clear transparent plastic, is waterproof and features a square solar panel in the base charging a slim 3.7V DC lithium polymer battery. This is sealed in the base with no facility for replacement.
Light is provided by 10 led lights arranged in a circle in the base providing a maximum of 65 lumens. In the top of the cylindrical lantern is a flexible reflective disc that helps distribute the light to a claimed area of a square metre. The top disc also features a mouthpiece with stop valve for inflation/deflation while plastic handles are located at the top and base allowing the lantern to be suspended.
A switch at the centre of the solar panel toggles the lantern between ‘bright’, ‘super bright’, and ‘flashing/beacon’ settings and powers the unit down.
The manufacturers claim 12 hours on the bright setting and this seems plausible in summer temperatures. I left the unit on all night on the hearth and it was still emitting good light in the morning after nine hours. Charge time is eight hours and the unit will still provide four hours of light if not used for a year from full charge.
Inflation and deflation can be a little tricky, though. The mouthpiece features a stiff valve making it quite difficult to inflate by blowing straight from the lungs (as if you were inflating a Thermarest). Musicians familiar with the embouchure technique will have an advantage!
I found it easier to inflate the lantern by opening it gently like an accordion (forgive the musical references) while holding the valve open with the point of a pencil or other pointed (but not sharp) implement. The lantern can then be topped up by blowing air in the mouthpiece.
This is a well-designed and well-made lantern that performs well based on early use. It may be a luxury for lightweight backpackers given that it weighs a little over 110g but I will find room for it in my cycle panniers as it illuminates the inner of my Vaude Hogan XT perfectly. It has particular practical benefits for anglers fishing at night and those who love messing around in boats.
It has the most heavenly loos and showers, too, eagerly used by folk keen to wash off the effort of climbing the fine, neighbouring fells. The heating is so effective in the shower block that my better half was convinced the loo seats had heating elements of their own.
Our journey to Torridon marked a change in the weather.
Plans had been made in a pub in Ullapool amid the drunken revelers losing a weekend at the Loopallu. A map and guidebook were purchased for the old Torridon mountains – I would walk and the other half would kick back for a couple of days. Continue reading →
It was getting late and we hadn’t really decided where we were staying for the night.
The day had been superb… again. We had traveled slowly west and, as the road became single track, we entered mountainous terrain quite unlike any I had seen before. Expanses of rough moorland were punctured by solid, rocky peaks… quite wonderful. Continue reading →