At times when I’m building up my various forms of disaster kits, I want to throw you hands up in frustration at how reliant I am on different forms of technology. As much as I enjoy the outdoors I’m always bending it back to my more technological side. While this may make things more fun, accurate, or whatever other benefits I get, it also makes me dependent on power.
A great example of this is my need for light outdoors. Now sure we’d like to never be reliant on non-natural light forms, but it’s a reality. Even if you just have a midnight bathroom run once and a while, there are times that you need light. Historically of course, man has relied on fire to provide this light, and now we have flashlights to give us nice, portable light whenever we want, provided we have charged batteries.
Now we’ve covered different ways to charge batteries while backpacking, before, but that’s still dependent on even more technology, and weight to provide light.
One of the more popular ways to get light without power or fuel is chemical lightsticks.
But what about an alternative. While browsing the Self-Reliance Expo in October, I received a call from Mike. While at a caving conference he had seen a new product called a “Tube Light”, and supposedly they were also at the expo I was at. Not 15 minutes later I found them. They turned out to have two products, one actually named the “ToobLite” as well as the “PaqLite“.
At first glance, it didn’t seem like much. The PaqLite was a commercial vacuum-pack bag with a thin layer of greenish granules (almost a cat-litter appearance). The TubeLite took the same granules and floated them in epoxy in a four or eight inch tube. As part of their booth there was a small tent that proved the difference with the product. The tent had theater style blackout material covering it, which you would enter and go dark. Once in you would take a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and one of the owners would pull out one of these items. Immediately there was a nice clean, green glow in the tent, just like you would get with a green chemical light stick. I was impressed, but things were about to get better. The owner prompted me to take out a flashlight, and shine it on the PaqLite for just a second, and turn my light back off. That one second turned that piece from a soft green glow, into an extremely bright spot. Walking out of the tent I was even more impressed that the “charged” area was notably brighter even in daylight.
At this point I realized I was buying some, and needed to try them out a little more “in-depth”.
Since getting home, I have not been disappointed. The PaqLite products don’t wear out, plain and simple. Compared to your chemical stick, you will get a lifetime of usage, proving a much better return on investment. In terms of durability, the ToobLite is where it’s at. The worst you will do is to break one in half. To prove a point, I wound up having to use a saw to cut one. Now because there is no power, it obviously will still work, but doing so showed that the pieces won’t fall apart even after cutting.
Even worse, one of my daughters melted half of one off. It still glows, even the melted section!
Long Lasting Light
Leaving a light out in the sun will give you a decent amount of light for a full night. Now the amount of light it returns from sun-charging is slightly less than a new green light-stick, but still notably bright. If you want more though, it’s very each to charge with an alternative light source. As in my initial demo, shining my nicer flashlight directly on it gave me an extremely bright stick. With the PaqLite it’s fun to demonstrate this by writing a letter with the light. This is bright enough that it appears even in bright sunlight. This 1 second charge seems to last approximately 10 minutes at that full strength, and another 10 fading down towards the normal charged amount. When using outside this seems to be an ideal solution as it allows me to use my batteries very sparingly and getting a very usable amount of light in return.
Both the products are great in a wet environment, as it really doesn’t matter to them. You have simple plastic, and then the reactive material itself isn’t affected by the water.
While I love these for myself, one of my now favorite usages is for my kids. I don’t have to replace batteries, worry about them wearing out, or worry about what chemicals I’m exposing them to. The granules are made up of Strontium Aluminate, mixed with Europium which is considered very safe (especially compared to old radioactive luminescent materials).
Obviously there is a correct time and place for using a PaqLite. You don’t want to use this in cases where you need to “throw” light as with a flashlight. However anytime you would want to use a chemical glowstick, these are natural replacements. The light from the PaqLite is slightly dimmer than a newer chemical stick, but is still sufficient. Also, if you require an increased amount of light, you can get larger sized PaqLite’s who’s light output scales along with the size.
As for carrying, I quickly took the opportunity to play with some paracord around the tube. As pictured above it gives a nice secure attachment and allowed me to attach a lanyard for my kids. These made for excellent stocking stuffers.
I hope the included pictures assist in understanding how much light is provided by these lights. Sadly it’s quite difficult, especially for me, to get pictures of how well a glow in the dark material works. Suffice it to say when fully running I can read some with the light, though not something I’d plan on using with a book. But as for a safety light to be seen, or for my kids to see where they are going when camping it’s absolutely effective.