Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini – $99
Now here’s an idea. Forget about paying hundreds of dollars for top of the line head torches and strap a lighthouse to your head instead.
Of course, it would have to be a mini lighthouse. And if you’re mad enough to go down that route you might want to consider the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini lantern. To be fair, you can’t actually stick this remarkable little device to your head. Or at least not according to the manual. That actually surprises me, because there are so many ways you can hang, mount, place, attach, charge, and otherwise derive distraction from this lime-coloured, blue-light blinking light source that you’d think attaching it to your head would be an option.
Before we get to the specifics let me say I love this little lantern. I love its otherworldly Star Wars shape, its fold-away transformation abilities, its hooks and half-hooks and magnets and flashing lights, its mouth-like USB input. This is truly the lamp for our times.
The Lighthouse Mini stands tall on thin but sturdy silver legs and casts a formidable glare. It looks like it’s about to march off down the table and fire laser beams at all AAA-invading imposters. It’s certainly capable of blinding anything in its path, with 210 lumens of pure LED luminosity. It’s the perfect lantern to take camping, or to have sitting in the car for when you turn up to a BBQ and there’s no outside light, or to add some extra glow to your workshop. Would you take it hiking? That’s the 227-gram question. It would certainly be handy, especially when you consider it lasts 500 hours on the lowest setting.
So how much light do you actually get from this thing? Well, it varies considerably depending on much light you use. If you use it with both side lit, at high power you can except around four hours of light. But by using only one side (180 degrees) at low power that goes up to a whopping 500 hours. It’s quite a difference. I found that low power was usually sufficient to light, say, a game of cards. But it’s easy to accidently slide it to high, as it’s a gradually adjusted dial. So if you’re sitting outside singing the Smiths song ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, you may get an unpleasant surprise, especially if you’re not diligently monitoring the blue LED battery indicator lights. And there’s no gradual dimness into obscurity with this lantern. When the battery goes it’s like a power cut, from blazing light to total darkness. Savage.
The battery in the Lighthouse Mini can be recharged many different ways, and you can also use the lantern to power and charge other devices if you really get stuck. It comes with a USB charging cable (neatly coiled and tucked away with a magnet) that you can plug into your computer or other power charging device, such as your phone charger. It’ll take about four hours from fully flat to fully charged. Or you can buy a Goal Zero solar charger, which is probably not a bad investment if you’re planning on using it for camping and you won’t have a reliable power source. There’s also a USB slot where you can plug in an ailing phone or anything else for a quick recharge, using the power stored in the Lighthouse.
We took the Lighthouse Mini on a camping trip and it went flat on the fourth night, which was earlier than I was expecting, but we may have been careless with the settings. It’s easy to get greedy and dial up the brightness, forgetting about how much extra battery power this chews through.
The myriad of places you can put the Lighthouse Mini is undoubtedly a great selling point. The fold-out legs set the light off the table, spreading its beam more effectively, then tuck away neatly, forming a compact package. The folded legs also serve to protect the casing around the light. It’s a smart design, requiring no manipulation of screws, levers or buttons. You can also hang it through either of two hooks on the top, or even use the powerful magnet underneath to stick it the metal object of your choice.
There’s certainly a lot to love about this lantern. I probably wouldn’t take it hiking, but for camping or anywhere you need a compact, versatile, stylish and bright light it’s a more than handy innovation, and incredibly easy to love. It’s the lantern for creatures of the modern era, comfortable around USBs, with a need to be comfortable in the outdoors.
Goal Zero Nomad 7: 4-6 hours
USB Source: 4 Hours
One side lit: 500+ hours (low), 7 hours (high)
Both sides lit: 400+ hours (low), 4 hours (high)
LED (output): 5W max, 210 Lumens, 3500K LED’s
Cell Type: Li-NMC, 18650 by LG chem/Samsung
Cell Capacity: 11.1 Wh (3.7V, 3000mAh)
Lifecycles: 300+ with recommended use
Shelf Life: Charge every 3-6 months
USB port (output): 5V, up to 1A (5W max)
USB port (input): 5V, up to 1A (5W max)
Product SKU: 32003
Weight: 8oz (226.8g)
Dimensions: 2.91 Dia x 4.15 in (73.8 Dia x 105.5mm)
Warranty: 12 months