I took a camping road trip last month with my family through Colorado and northern New Mexico. We explored some magical landscapes: the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the Rio Grande Gorge, Georgia O’Keeffe’s beloved Ghost Ranch. Everywhere we went, after we pitched our trusty tent and set up for the night, I would pull out my solar-powered string lights, arrange them over the surrounding sagebrush and piñon pines, and marvel at the wonderful atmosphere they added to the whole affair.
My obsession with these lights started with a recommendation from Alyssa Ravasio, the CEO of Hipcamp, the camping booking site that includes everything from public campgrounds to private ranches. Last winter, Fast Company asked her to recommend the best holiday gifts for outdoor enthusiasts. First on her list: MPOWERD’s Luci Solar String Lights. They went right into my husband’s stocking.
When I finally got to test them last month, they didn’t disappoint. The 18-foot-long cord comes with 10 light nodes that deliver a luminous punch. When set on high, they can light up an entire campground. Set to medium or low, they add a mellow, warm glow (that feels in harmony with the great outdoors) and a whole lot of ambience. According to MPOWERD, which specializes in solar devices (including these popular inflatable solar lanterns), the Luci Solar String Lights have a battery life of up to 20 hours from a single charge. You can charge them via the built-in solar panel or a USB port. We used them every night, giving them a quick top up in the sun during the day, and never saw them dim.
The 11-ounce device, which resembles an oversize hockey puck, is multifunctional. In addition to the three string-light settings, it has a flashlight function, and you can use it to charge a device, which I did with my failing iPhone a few times. It’s also durable: We dropped it and kicked it (accidentally!), and it kept working. We tangled the cord on just about everything and it unraveled with ease.
There are things that you bring to your campsite because they’re necessary. And there are items that get taken along because they make life in a tent more comfortable and enjoyable. The Luci Solar String Lights, I’ve discovered, fall into both buckets. They’ll always have a spot at my campsite.
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