We Tried This: Biolite BaseLantern

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It’s a Tuesday afternoon. I’m dressed in a billowy shirt and a still-soaked bathing suit and jean shorts that probably show off too much butt cheek. When in Baja, right?

My friends are laying out taco cooking supplies on the tailgate of a Tacoma, making inappropriate jokes and throwing sticks for a dog who is covered in desert burs but oblivious about it. My leg is bleeding a little from where it was punctured by a cactus. My feet are caked in pale-brown Mexican dirt and swollen with a burn procured from a big ball of fire that’s more than 92-million miles away.

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This isn’t a backpacking trip. It’s the type of trip that calls for more than a headlamp to light the way. This is a trip that calls for ambiance and relaxation and conversation, for lazy naps on the beach and surfing in the morning (but only once you’ve had some coffee and a behind-the-bushes poop). This is a trip that offers the time it takes to string up a set of lights that will make our campsite something memorable and special, not just a place to crash at the end of the day.

I’ve been slowly learning the value of relaxation, and my friends —all fans of high-energy moments and big days — have been, too. I think all of us needed a trip where we didn’t feel obligated to fill every moment with “doing,” but could instead enjoy just “being.”

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That’s where Biolite’s BaseLantern came in.  The BaseLantern is part of the NanoGrid, a modular system of lanterns and string lights that you can customize for whatever setup you have outdoors (or indoors, for that matter). The BaseLantern is your power source, a 500-lumen lantern with a rechargeable internal battery you can juice up at home or using your SolarPanel 5+.

From there, you have a lot of options. You can stand the BaseLantern up on its legs or hang it from a tree branch or hook. You can charge your camera or phone using the USB charge-out ports. You can plug in a system of SiteLights and string them up around your tent or truck. You can use the Bluetooth capabilities to turn your base camp into a party — the BioLite app lets you set timers and alarms, ask the light to turn on when you get close to your tent to light your way, and sync up your lantern to your music so it pulses, strobes and changes color.

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Basically, a piece of gear I never thought I would use quickly became something I started imagining myself using over and over in myriad ways. To leave the NanoGrid set up at camp and come “home” to beautiful ambient lighting would extend my group’s time together by hours instead of the usual brush-teeth-and-crash routine. It’s not always a backpacking trip, after all.

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