Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Outdoor Expedition - Universal Solar Multi-Bottle

Passing by a closing-down sale at a local camping goods outlet store I wandered in and snapped up a couple of deep-discount bargains, which included a pair of the Universal Solar Multi-Bottle which I thought would make excellent camp-lanterns, specifically for Tactical Baby and Triceratops Girl.

What drew me to them was that the "bottle" component was a squishy, pliant silicone material, making it drop-bounce, trip and generally woops-prone kid proof.

We don't all get out camping together very often, but even around the Bunker, we often go on night-time expeditions. There is a Tawny Frogmouth Owl nesting in a big tree down the block, and the stroll out to listen to it's call is made much jollier (and safer for little people on the pavement) by their very own light.

The area Triceratops Girl lives in is prone to tree-fall power-outages, and the Bunker has some wiring problems, so we both experience blackouts, and having personal lights for the girls makes a possibly frightening inconvenience into a fun excuse for lanterns.

The Multi-bottle is constructed of a soft, collapsible TPE body  which can be squashed down for easy storage and transport, and has a hard plastic "cap" which houses the LED lights, the battery and the solar panel.

The solar panel is fitted to the centre of the lid, and is somewhat covered by the removable handle strap, which can be removed not only to expose the panel to sunshine for charging but also hook over any number of hanging points.

The on-off button is set into the top of the lid as well, and has a built in changing status light, saving space. When the lid is unscrewed you have access to the micro-USB changing slip, which is protected by a silicone plug.

I suspect you -could- store liquid in the bottle in a pinch, but I would worry about it getting into the charging port and shorting out. The unit is described as having a IPX7 waterproof rating, which is 30 minutes at 1m depth, but again, I suspect that is only from the outside, when sealed up. Good enough for any amount of weather or looking for your keys dropped into a pond, not for diving ...

The LED light has3 modes, controlled by the indicator-light button on the lid.: low/high/pulse. It is listed as having:
4 hour runtime at HIGH setting
10 hour runtime at LOW setting
and I infer it has ~days runtime on PULSE setting, it wasn't listed.

The outputs of the two settings weren't offered, but I didn't really notice a significant difference. If it was 75 lumen vs 100 lumen, there wasn't much in it.

Shining through the TPE bottle gave the lights a nice diffuse glow, as well as the bottle itself being a glowing ball, good for both seeing your immediate surrounds but also letting people see you, good news when the primary goal was putting it into small hands to carry around.
The handle clipped on and off at either end, and was not at all difficult for 5yo Tactical Baby to manipulate, or carry.

We don't typically genderise the kit for the kids, but as it happened, only the pink bottles were available at the sale. Green or blue are also available.

These bottles have a carry capacity of 725mL (44cu in) so you could also fit a bunch of small items in it to make a bug-out-jar type effect, although that would block out a bunch of the light the emitted, and you would want to watch out for pointy items. At the very least you can store its USB cord inside, so it's all ready to charge when you have a power-source handy.

These are neat little lights, perfect for little hands in the wilderness of the woods or suburbs.

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