We test literally dozens upon dozens of headlamps and flashlights each year, all with claims to be the next greatest advancement in luminescence. Many are indeed great, but how many headlamps, flashlights or area lights does one household need? OK, don't answer that…. We don't always jump up and down when it comes to testing lights; however, after testing the Mini EverLite, we did perform a subtle little jig for joy, and as a result we've added one more light to our arsenal of illumination options. Why? Because the 5-ounce EverLite is a well-thought-out, very functional, very compact and a very lightweight solar-powered light, which means less batteries and that's a great thing.
The Mini EverLite features three ultra-bright white LEDs clustered in a silvered reflector. We found the beam more than adequate for around camp and even wandering around on trails and over rough terrain where seeing where you place your feet can mean the difference between a happy little step and a stupefying stumble.
The casing -- which houses the lamp and the rechargeable battery -- is made of impact-resistant plastic, which can become slippery when wet or if the hands get a bit greasy, which they can following an application of lotion or sunscreen. Although one tester liked the smooth and supple feel, we'd still like to see a textured surface to aid in gripping the light.
The mono crystalline silicon solar panel attaches easily to the light casing via a three-foot cord. (There are optional attachments we did not test that will charge cell phones, cameras and PDAs with the solar panel too, which could add to the unit's versatility.)
There is an on-off switch that is easily accessed on the front of the lamp which, when combined with the photo-sensor, serves to activate the light or turn if off when it's dark. The photo sensor provides a practical function since you can leave the light on during the day inside your tent, and know it will illuminate when dark -- making for a nifty location beacon when returning to camp. The light also works nicely as a soft nightlight for those campouts where young children are still getting used to the bumps and squeaks of a night without street lights -- and it turns off automatically when the sun comes up. Very cool.
We found the lamp runs continuously with an effective light for up to 15 hours with approximately six hours of charging under a bright sun. Performance drops off considerably under partly cloudy skies, as one might expect.
It comes with six hook-and-loop stick-on pads -- fuzzy side only. The pad with the male hooks are attached to the back of the lamp. What this means is the light can be moved around from place to place easily enough. All you have to do is decide what the six most likely locations will be -- or you can always purchase more hook-and-loop if you think you'll get slap-happy with your light. For us, we attached the light to the inside back cab of our truck (super), the inside of our roof-top storage box (fantastic), the inside of our tent roof (excellent reading light), the front door of our tent (great entrance light and suitable for night-time cooking just outside the tent), and we tried it on a hat as suggested for a workable headlamp -- OK, that just didn't work since the light didn't point anywhere useful at all.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $43
For more information: www.newlight.com