After years of ground-breaking work in the solar lighting world, the LuminAID PackLite 16 has decided to take some time off to find its inner light. The compact and durable pillow-shaped solar lantern plans to pursue solo adventures and is expected to say its farewells at LuminAID this fall. Despite being only 2.9 oz, the PackLite 16 was known as a heavyweight in the solar lighting world.
Although the PackLite 16 will be retiring, solar start-up LuminAID will continue to offer an expanding line of solar lanterns and phone chargers. The PackLite 16 is confident that the Chicago-based start-up will be in good hands, noting the role of the “millenial generation” of new solar lanterns leading the charge at LuminAID. Speaking of the PackLite Nova USB and the PackLite Spectra USB, it said “They’re sleek. They’re powerful. And that ability to stand upright on a flat surface? Hard to compete with that.”
But the hale PackLite 16 was careful to clarify that there wasn’t any bitterness—only pride in its legacy. “I was the original, you know? The first prototype Anna and Andrea built in their kitchen in 2010—that was me. I’ve had my own evolution, with better-charging indicators, improved TPU, more advanced solar panels and batteries over the years. I’ve worked with campers, backpackers, kayakers, and humanitarian aid organizations. I was the design that kick-started a company, and a vision for an accessible light for all. I don’t think anyone can discount that.”In fact, the mission for safe and accessible light is generally considered the PackLite 16’s most impactful work. According to estimates, the PackLite 16 has been distributed to over 40,000 families in need in over 100 countries. There, the PackLite 16 has been a crucial part of reduced fire risks, improved indoor air quality, extended hours for kids’ reading and studying time, alleviation of household energy costs, increased opportunities for artisans to support family incomes, and more effective after-hours medical visits in unelectrified clinics.
Despite this wide-ranging impact, the PackLite 16 remains humble about its accomplishments. “Light is a basic human resource. If I can provide safe light to families that need it, so that they can go about their lives without having to worry about exposing their children to burns and fumes...that to me is a clear success,” explained the PackLite 16.
LuminAID co-founder Andrea Sreshta reflected on the PackLite 16’s role on the LuminAID Team. “It was always a sunny disposition with PackLite 16. Always a bright presence, and was always there for you when you needed it. One time, the power went out in my apartment and the PackLite 16 was there for me for hours and hours, supporting me the whole night. You have to love that kind of dedication.”
The PackLite 16 has mentioned that it hopes its new adventures will include exploring the mountains of Patagonia or the slopes of Cotopaxi in Argentina. Nevertheless, the PackLite 16 slyly mentioned “exciting innovations” at LuminAID that might make a return to LuminAID inevitable. Some time in tough conditions may just be what’s needed to put those changes into motion. “The way I think about myself may change, sure. But I think sometimes you have to put yourself to the test in order to find what’s really within,” explained the solar lantern, gesturing to its lithium-ion battery pack.
The PackLite 16 was firm that this wasn’t a “Goodbye,” but a “See you later” for its role in the LuminAID Team. In parting, the solar lantern promised: “As long as the sun is shining and the skies are clear, there will be adventure on the horizon.”
Rajany Matthew, a peace corps volunteer in Madagascar, distributes LuminAID lights to silk weavers as part of our Give Light, Get Light campaign.