When you think of camping lanterns, you’re probably imagining some kind of gas-powered Coleman monstrosity your dad used to fire up on weekends. But this is 2016, and lanterns are battery-powered, charge your phone when needed, and will even power up when you get near to help you find your tent in the darkness.
BioLite first made news for its camping stove that uses a wood-burning chamber to boil water and also heat your phone. Since then, the company has branched out into a range of solid stoves, lights and solar panels. Its latest idea is a camping lantern with extra USB ports to charge your stuff, and a Bluetooth connection to your phone.
Lamps with USB connections aren’t anything new, but the Bluetooth connection here is intriguing. When you get back from a hike (or a late-night trip to the outhouse), the lamp detects your smartphone’s Bluetooth signal, and turns on. It’s a simple feature, but practically invaluable for anyone who has ever tripped over a tent guyline at 2AM. It’s not the intended purpose, but I also think it could make for a pretty great bedside light: illumination, two phone-charging ports, and no need to turn the lights on when you come home.
Most of the usual qualms with Kickstarter don’t apply here: Biolite is a reasonably big company with experience manufacturing these kinds of products, so this isn’t a scam, and it might even stick to the production schedule. Crowdfunding is mostly thought of as a tool for clever inventors to get funding, but bigger manufacturers have turned to it in recent years as a way to take pre-orders, gauge interest, and use Kickstarter’s formidable following to market itself.
If the BaseLantern has piqued your interest, you can pre-order for $80, a little less than the eventual RRP. Shipping is expected for October this year.