REVIEW – Do you like seeing things in the dark? Harnessing the power of the sun? Supporting a company with an amazing mission? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be interested in this review of the PackLite Titan and Bloomio Twist solar lanterns made by LuminAID.
What is it?
The LuminAID PackLite Titan and Bloomio Twist are portable, solar or USB charged, LED lanterns. The Titan has a large capacity battery to allow it to charge other devices, while the Twist has multiple LED color options to set the mood at camp.
LuminAID might sound familiar. In the sixth season of the ABC show Shark Tank in 2015, LuminAID drew offers from all five sharks and ultimately walked away with a deal with Mark Cuban. The LuminAID episode was one of the most viewed episodes of Shark Tank, and LuminAID has since been recognized as a Shark Tank company making a significant impact.
The LuminAID design was inspired by the tent city conditions in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010 with the goal of creating a safe lighting solution. Each LuminAID lantern can be recharged by the sun, is inflatable, and packs flat for easy transport.
What’s in the box?
Both the Titan and Twist contain the same items.
- LuminAID Lantern
- Charging cable
|PackLite Titan||Bloomio Twist|
|Light Modes||White and Red||Customizable Colors|
|Brightness Levels||Five Modes||Customizable|
|Powered By||Solar and Micro USB||Solar and Micro USB|
|Max Brightness||300 Lumens||40 Lumens|
|Max Runtime||100 Hours||6 Hours|
|Solar Recharge Time||16-20 Hours||12 Hours|
|Bluetooth||No||Yes, LuminAID App|
|Weight||12.5 oz||7.3 oz|
|Dimensions – flat||6″ x 6″ x 1″||5.5″ x 5.75″ x 1″|
|Dimensions – inflated||6″ x 6″ x 6″||5.5″ x 5.75″ x 5.5″|
Run Time Breakdown for the Titan based on mode:
|Setting||Lumens||Run Time (hours)|
Design and features
The LuminAID lantern design is generally utilitarian, and most of their models are in a similar form factor. The PackLite Titan is the standard cube design, made from a durable TPU with the solar panel and control center at the top. The handle for the Titan is non-removeable, and offers the option of securing with Velcro or through carabiner hooks. The large battery on the Titan gives it the ability to charge another device via USB-A connection. Using the charger feature chews up the same battery that the LEDs run on, so there is a trade to be made when using one over the other. In addition to a typical white LED, the Titan also offers a red light mode for comfortable use through the evening.
The LuminAID Bloomio Twist lantern is a smaller form factor than the LuminAID Titan lantern and is in a hexagon shape. It is apparent that the Twist has a different intended use from the Titan, as the former includes Bluetooth functionality and the ability to change the colors. One design element I don’t love on the Twist lantern is the implementation of the carry handle. It is fully removable, but the anchor points aren’t really secure as not much force is needed to uncouple the handle from the lantern.
I purchased a LuminAID Firefly a few years ago to bring with me when bike packing, and found just one annoyance with it. The earlier LuminAID designs came with a bite valve and required a few breaths to top off. Both the PackLite Titan and Bloomio Twist have a new valve design that works wonderfully. The larger valve design allows for increased airflow when the lantern is twisted open, and easily closes without needing to add any additional air into the lantern.
As lights, the LuminAID lanterns perform exactly as you’d expect. I captured a comparison of the light output of the Titan between the low and turbo modes in our three season room. LuminAID advertises the Titan’s output as capable of 300 sq ft of coverage in Turbo mode which I would judge as accurate. I wouldn’t try reading in one of the far corners, but you’ll be able to see the space comfortably enough.
Cycling through the lighting options is as simple as pressing the power button. While the interface is simple, hitting the power button once immediately puts you in the highest output setting which is bright. It would be nice to have a button interface similar to a flashlight where it turns on where you last set it.
The LuminAID Titan lantern’s ability to charge a device also works well. You won’t get fast charge speeds, but it took my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra from around 15% to 65%. Charging from the Titan is as simple as plugging in and pressing the battery button. The light continues to work as normal while charging.
As the days are getting shorter here in NY, I wasn’t able to get the Titan up to a full charge in the daytime. The long runtime doesn’t require a full charge to keep the lights on all night, but it does question the ability for the Titan to handle the sole responsibility for keeping your devices charged off the grid.
LuminAID Bloomio Twist lantern
The Twist is designed more as an ambiance lantern, so the performance here is a bit different from the Titan.
Off the bat, I was immediately impressed with the ease of use from the app. Once I installed the LuminAID app, the connection to the Twist was almost instantaneous via Bluetooth. The app gives you the ability to set schedules, group lights, and set lighting effects.
The Twist lantern has a lower lumen output than the Titan so you shouldn’t expect to light up the world with it, but it works for ambient lighting or for use in the tent. In that context, it performs fine, but you’d need several to properly light a larger space – and at $50 each these aren’t exactly a cheap option. LuminAID does not recommend leaving these outside as permanent fixtures, either.
I suppose if you’re looking for a non-permanent, solar powered, Bluetooth connected lighting solution for occasional outdoor events, this fits the bill. I’m just not entirely convinced that the trade offs in runtime, lumens, or setup convenience are worth it.
What I like
- Titan has a wide range of versatility
- New valve design is fantastic
- LuminAID app is super simple, and just works
- The LuminAID company has a great purpose and mission
What I’d change
- Light mode interface on the Titan
- Twist lantern isn’t designed for long term use outside, and the handle easily detaches
- USB-C would be ideal for the USB charging interface
Without a doubt, LuminAID makes a solid solar lantern that is designed to be ready when you need it. The functionality provided by the Titan makes it an obvious addition to my bike packing loadout, and I’ll likely be picking up a few more to have on hand in the event of an emergency.
The Twist lantern is an interesting product to me. LuminAID’s roots are in utilitarian, disaster focused products – which is where their original designs were born from. It’s great to see them explore different aspects of the market, but I feel that this form factor that they are known for may be a hindrance in the party/recreational light space. I think if they can harden the design to allow for the lighting to be better secured, more resilient to the outdoors, and with longer run times, they may have a winner here. As it is, it is difficult to recommend at this price point.
Price: Titan – $75 / Twist – $50
Where to buy: luminaid.com and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by LuminAID.
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Hey companies (all of you), in 2022, no USB-C = no purchase.