Power through the darkness with a PackLite Titan!

If COVID-19 was not enough, many Texas and the Mid-West people have had to deal with power outages due to inclement weather. Outside of camping trips with the Cub Scouts and spelunking trips to Carlsbad Caverns and Mammoth Cave, I have never truly needed extra lights. Those events taught me to pack extra lights and extra batteries and make sure that my family was reasonably prepared for an emergency. Without a home phone, my iPhone became my only source of communication. As I cut the cord to cable, my iPhone became my source of news/entertainment. With a built-in flashlight, the iPhone served as a backup light. With weather alerts/warnings, my iPhone became my weather alert radio. Unfortunately, without an active power grid/source of power, the trusted tool cannot perform its duties. Luckily, LuminAID, a Shark Tank success story, thought through this dilemma. Their PackLite Titan 2-in-1 can harness the sun’s power to illuminate the darkness while keeping your tech on-line.

Unboxing:

The Luminaid PackLite Titan 2-in-1 Phone Charger arrived in a colorful 8 1/4 inches wide by 9 1/4 inches tall plastic ziplock-style bag. The red-colored top section contrasted nicely with the semi-translucent lower section of the bag and white-colored font. The luminAID “Makers of Brilliant Things” title/logo was clearly visible along the top left, while the “As Seen on Shark Tank” logo was displayed along the top right. Just beneath the company name, I found information about the red/white light, the product name, a description for the 2-in-1 phone charger and portable lantern, information about the ability to power via solar and USB energy, and that the device could serve as a phone charger. I was impressed that they were able to share so much information without making the experience too busy. Along the right edge of the cover panel, you will find a colorful picture of the illuminated lantern and the compressed mode. Additionally, the panel listed that the Titan PackLite could output up to 300 Lumens of light and was IP67 Waterproof. My favorite aspect of the cover was the lower product window because of the ability to directly visualize the lantern. This marketing technique provides a more accurate representation of the device and enhances the overall packaging experience.

Turning the packaging over, the company name was again displayed along the top left. Along the top right, luminAID provided a warning that windows blocked solar charging and that you should charge the product outdoors. Beneath this section, the company provided eight labeled-icons (bilingual): 1. 300 Lumens. 2. recharges in 16-20 hours of direct sunlight. 3. Recharge via Micro-USB in 2-4 hours. 4. 100-hour max runtime per charge on the low setting. 5. Charges phones and devices 4000 mAh battery. 6. 2-years of storage life. 7. Brightness settings. 8. 300 sq foot lighting area. Beneath the red section, the company provided a large icon-heavy display toward the left and two photograph-quality images along the right. The top image showed a tent/camper actively using the light. The bottom picture showed the co-founders “seeking to make safe light” to provide power for everyone worldwide. The row of icons along the top provided information about the tech devices that could be charged with the PackLite Titan: Smartphone, Tablet, Camera, Headlamp. The six icons along the bottom provided additional information about the product: 1. No Batteries Needed. 2. Made from Sustainable Materials. 3. Tested for Extreme Conditions. 4. Perfect for Reading. 5. Powerful Impact. 6. Adjustable Strap. Lastly, along the rear panel’s bottom, you will find a product SKU barcode and warnings about the product.

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Device:

The 12.06-ounce luminAID Titan measured 5 3/4 inches wide by 5 13/16 inches tall by approximately 1-inch thick in the compressed state.  The top panel was broken into an outer white ring and an inner 4 1/16 inches wide by 4 inches tall solar panel.  Starting along the top left, you will find a 1/2 inches diameter red power button with a neon-yellow border and a 3/4 inches wide by 5/16 inches tall pill-shaped, red/white color-changing button with a neon-yellow border. Along the top right, you will find a 3/8-inch diameter battery-indicator-button with a surrounding neon-yellow border. I loved the use of the yellow on red color scheme.  The vibrant colors, similar to those used for emergency/high-visibility cues, provided an attractive visual contrast against the white background.  Adjacent to the battery-indicator-button, you will find a bank of 4 LEDs which detailed the remaining battery level: 25, 50, 75, 100%.  Along the bottom right corner, you will find the luminAID PackLite Titan 2-in-1 Phone Charger name.  Along the top left of the panel, you will find a 1 3/4 inches tall by 3/4 inches wide plastic water-resistant cap.  Beneath the cap, you will find a USB-A output port and a micro-USB input port.  It is important to note that the IP67 water-resistant status can only be achieved with the port in the closed position.  

Located along either side of the cover panel, you will find two neon orange carry straps.  In the compressed state, the straps can loop around to the bottom of the inflatable light.  Each end of the 1 inches wide orange strap had a section of hook and loop Velcro material. To inflate the light, separate the Velcro straps, loop the straps to the top and then reattach the Velcro to make the carry handle.  Open the 1-inch diameter air plug and blow into the opening while opening up the accordion-esque design.  If you do not wish to use this technique, you can grip the device and twist it to open/inflate the lantern. When fully inflated, the light measured 5 3/4 inches tall. To test the light’s functions, I plugged the 40-inches long red USB-A to USB-micro cable into a standard wall cube and the micro-USB port on the light.  The instruction manual noted that the Turbo mode (one press) could output 300 lumens for up to 5 hours, the High Mode (two presses) could output 150 lumens for up 8-10 hours, and in Medium Mode (three presses), 75 lumens for 14-16 hours.  I was most excited about the Low Mode (four presses) because the packaging and instruction manual promised “100-hour max” on the low setting.  The last SOS Mode (five presses) will blink at 15 lumens and will work for more than 100 hours.  After 2 hours, I took the light off of charge, I pressed the power button four times until the light was in low mode, and then I waited.  I started Sunday 2/14/21 at 5 pm and found the device unchanged by Thursday, 2/18/21, at 10 pm. The device extinguished sometime between 11 pm and 12 am.  When I pressed the power button again, the light entered into the Turbo mode and provided another 2-5 minutes of light.  When I left it in low mode, I was able to get maybe another 10 minutes of light.  However, the test provided diminishing levels of light after that point. 

Once the battery was depleted, I took it outside, placed it in a shade-free region, and allowed it to charge from dawn to dark.  To optimize the sun’s contact with the solar panels, I made sure that the handles were not blocking the solar array, and made sure no other shade sources would interfere with the light.  Instead of placing the device flat on a surface, I angled the face toward the south and attempted to tilt the panel to 30-40 degrees.  Since my home is located at 37 degrees latitude, this should have provided the most ideal conditions for light contact with the array (cedgreentech.com). We have had quite a bit of snow, ice, and cold over the past week and the snowpack provided a great way to angle the charger.  If you did not have access to snow, you could use twigs/sticks or other items to build up the back end of the sensor.  After an entire day of charging, the power indicator showed two green LED, which represented approximately 50% power or ~2000mAh.  Assuming 80% efficiency, I could use ~1600mAh of power for my iPhone 12 Pro Max (3678 mAh) or recharge my Olight Perun Mini (550mAh).  Using a Klein Tools Multimeter and a USB-Lightning cable, I found the Titan was able to output at 4.85-5.02V/1.79-2A.  At this rate, my iPhone 12 Pro Max charged at about 2% every 3 minutes, which was not bad.  Even though portable battery packs would be a better, more specialized choice, this kit will provide ~70-80% charge on even the largest phone.

In an emergency, light, and power become a highly coveted commodity.  In a pinch, I have used outdoor solar lights to provide indoor light, but I cannot charge other devices in that manner (without modification).  The PackLite Titan expands on this concept and provides so much more than just a simple light/battery:  1. With the port closed, the PackLite Titan is IP67 waterproof. 2. Enjoy a convenient carry handle. 3. The light floats thanks to the air chamber. 4. You can compress the light for portability. 5. Red light for improved dark visibility. 6. White light for improved light distance/reading.  6. A fair price/cost.  7. Nature-centric design.  Lastly, the company has taken it upon themselves to help to light the world.  With their Give Light program, people can sponsor lights for others in need (Disaster Relief, Refugee Relief, or Allocate as Needed).  Not only do they care about the environment, they care about the people who call it home.  

After testing this device, I could not find a feature that I did not like.  The output levels were well designed, the buttons had a nice click-feel, the waterproof port plug was easy to install/remove, and the weight to power ratio was quite favorable.  If I was going to design a PackLite Titan 2.0, I would suggest two upgrades/enhancements.  First, I would love to see an inclinometer and maybe a compass built into the surface panel.  This would allow you to angle the panel in the most optimal manner.  I do not think that you would need to include degrees of angle.  Instead, I would suggest using green/yellow/red zones. Second, it would be nice if there was a method to attach a power cable to the PackLite.  It is frustrating to search for a power cable or to have a battery source without a proper cable.  Without a method to attach the included cable, you would need to put it into a pocket or into a backpack pocket.  Additionally, it may make sense to move from USB-micro to USB-C as you could decrease the amount of plastic and limit the port to a single input/output.  Of course, any modification leads to increased cost and I am sure that they have considered these features. If you are going on a backpacking/hiking/water-sport/camping outing, or if you are preparing a home/car emergency kit, you need to have a PackLite Titan.  

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