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This solar-powered lantern will light up your campsite and charge your phone

Why it matters to you

An inflatable lantern with a built-in solar panel and charging station can help serve as an important source of electricity in power-deprived areas.

LuminAID is a company that was founded on one simple idea: Provide cheap, durable, and bright lights for use in the outdoors. That philosophy led to the company’s line of inflatable lanterns, which are popular for use in developing countries, disaster zones, and remote campsites alike.

The concept behind those lights came about after company founders Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork came up with a plan that offered earthquake victims of a source of light. That simple, yet ingenious, idea has turned into a successful business, and LuminAID lanterns are now in operation in 70 countries. Those lights even earned the two a spot on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Now, LuminAID is preparing to launch its next product and it turned to Kickstarter to help. The latest big idea from the company isn’t just an affordable lantern, but a smartphone charger too.

The PackLite Max Phone Charger shares many of the same characteristics of LuminAID’s previous products. For instance, it is an inflatable lantern capable of putting out up to 150 lumens of light and it comes equipped with a built-in solar panel to help keep it charged. The lantern — which can also be charged via USB — folds down to a one-inch thickness when not in use and weighs 8.5 ounces. It is also waterproof to the point that it can be fully submerged in water.

But unlike the previous generations of LuminAID lanterns, the PackLite Max also has an embedded 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery, which not only can power the light for up to 150 hours but also provides a charge for a smartphone, tablet, or other devices. That is because the lantern is also equipped with a standard 5V, 2.4 amp USB port — a first for any LuminAID product. This combination of features makes the PackLite Max a potentially game-changing product not only for outdoor enthusiasts but people living in developing parts of the world as well, which is all part of the company’s mission to provide economical sources of light in poor parts of the world.

The Kickstarter campaign recently launched, but contributions have rocketed past the company’s $15,000 goal. That means the PackLite Max should go into production in March next month. Backers who support the crowdfunding effort can expect their lanterns to arrive in April, which is when they will be available for the public to purchase at $40. Early bird contributors can get one now at a $5 discount, however.