Survival Gear Review: Personal Solar Light (PSL)

There is a reason that the term “Going Dark” contains ominous overtones no matter how it’s applied. But the Best Camping Solar Lightworst is when it is literal. A majority of the human brain is dedicated to the eyes and the hands with the remaining tiny portion covering all the rest of the senses and those functions necessary for life and decoding its challenges. And in case it wasn’t obvious, eyes need light to function. So light must be a key ingredient in all aspects of your survival kit and survival plan. And everyday life for that matter.

Light The Way

I’m no stranger to the spectrum of survival lighting, and offered up solutions from large tool-battery lighting to tiny keyfob lights. From high end flashlights, to the nuances of gun lights. So I was especially happy to get a chance to the PSL or Personal Solar Light for a ride.

A major player in the lightweight expandable solar-powered area lighting solution has been something called the Luci Light. It was an inflatable cylinder that offered a mildly bright LED lantern for general camp situations and inner tent lighting. While the Luci Light has many drawbacks, its first-on-the-scene popularity made it the Kleenex of its inflatable lighting space. But being popular certainly doesn’t make it the best. As the only game in town for a while, the Luci Light was impressive, but now that the particular space the Luci Light popularized is getting crowded, we can ask for more. And more has certainly showed up in the form of the PSL or Personal Solar Light.

Covering the Bases

By crossing a flashlight and an area lighting lantern, the Personal Solar Light provides a single solution for PSL_Personal_Solar_Light_hangingmany situations. Years ago Black Diamond addressed the combination of diffuse and point light sources with its products reviewed here. But looking back, that was just a combination solutions where a directional flashlight was bolted onto an area light lantern. Compared to the PSL, the downfalls of the Black Diamonds were that the BDs took batteries, were of larger form factor, no solar options, no in-house recharging option, and they sink if you drop them in the water as if that even matters since they were only slightly water resistant to begin with.

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Further survival lighting solutions addressed the Milwaukee Tool Best Camping Solar Flashlight lightLights and their high-capacity albeit heavy batteries and worksite durability. By leveraging powerful rechargeable tool batteries, there is much to be gained if your budget for weight and price is within Milwaukee specs. And while it would be nice to have the 861 lumens of a white gas Coleman lantern at your fingertips, the cost of liquid fuel, pressurized steel tank, and dangerously hot glowing mantels is just not worth it anymore. The 107 lumens of the PSL area lighting is plenty for a localized span of geography about the size of a picnic table. By pointing the bottom of the light forward, the entire front-end power of the LED generates a smoothly lit undiffused circle of light that is plenty bright enough to jog through the woods with reasonable confidence. And that same circle scales with the size of the accordion diffusion shade. When compressed, the circle of light is about twice as big as the distance from what it’s shining on. With the shade extended, the ratio is about 1:1 meaning the diameter of the circle of light is about the same size as the distance from the illuminated surface.

A Light Light

At only 4.2 ounces, the Personal Solar Light provides four modes of lighting, three of different intensities ofPSL_Personal_Solar_Light_outdoors-camping steady output, and one of a bright SOS signaling. The big red button on the side of the PSL toggles from off through the three light descending light volumes and back off. If the button is held down for three seconds, the SOS mode kicks in blinking out the three-short, three-long, three-short distress signal. Holding the button down in the SOS mode stops the blinking signal and lands on the brightest output.

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A few hours of sunlight can be stored in the 2000 mAh battery housing up to 30 hours of lighting runtime. It turns out the PSL battery is about the same capacity as the battery in the iPhone 7. In other words, this is a serious battery in a serious light.

And also like the iPhone, you can charge the PSL with a cable and USB port. The included charging cable has aTent Solar Camping Light small circular pin connector rather than the industry-standard microUSB connector. So again like the iPhone, you will need the specific charging cable if you want to pump electrons into your PSL battery from the grid, an auto battery or a cell phone backup battery. But quite unlike the iPhone, the PSL costs less than $30.

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The onboard solar panel is about four square inches (2” x 2”) and resides on the top of the PSL under the removable strap. So a natural gravity fed hanging by the strap places the solar panel in a good to great position to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

The PSL Personal Solar Light floats, is solar powered, and can be hardwire recharged but best of all the PSL Solar Survival Flashlightprovides a very clean, white light both over a 360 degree area and a short throw spot option firing out unobstructed from the bottom of the light.

The single super bright LED creates a uniform, shadow-free flow of photons that is ultimately dependent only on the energy of the same powerplant that keeps our earth alive…the sun. Having an efficient solar charging system and large battery built into the bombproof PSL unit is what secures this performer’s place on the bug out lighting list.

Written by Doc Montana

Doc honed his survival skills through professional courses, training, and plenty of real-world situations, both intentional and not. Doc lives to mountaineer, rock climb, trail run, hunt, race mountain bikes, ski, hunt, and fish. Doc Montana holds PhD’s in both Science Education and Computer Science and currently teaches at a University in the northern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of Doc's articles.

7 thoughts on “Survival Gear Review: Personal Solar Light (PSL)”

  1. Seems very reasonable cost for a self contained light.

    I have a solar charger that charges all my batteries mostly AAA AA and 9 volt and as well others the new battery technology can last years and recharge a thousand times. I like paklite 9 volt lites because they can last without charging for a cheap one 30 bright 600hours on low the ultra 80 hours bright 1200 hours on soft white. I use silicone bracelet to hold on my wrist other ways to clip on caps vest etc.

    I choose not to use light as it is easily seen unless your in a covered cave or dugout even then a pin point is a "DEAD" giveaway as far as hunting camping this solar light is as good as can be had being rechargeable, floats 30 hours runtime and it's small foot print this might be my second clip on my pack light though.

    • Thanks for the read JCMS.

      All the time I hear folks say they "choose not to use light" for various reasons. Frankly, I don't see how that's possible unless there is another source of light. Humans cannot see in the dark no matter what, so the only thing I can assume is that those who say they don't use light are really not in a dark place to begin with. Like in a city, or near a light source of some sort.

      Around here, it does get dark. Like pitch dark. Cave dark. Real dark! So there are three choices !) Wander blindly in the dark until you fall off a cliff and die, 2) stay put until daylight arrives, or 3) utilize some form of artificial lighting like the PSL or a flashlight. There are no other choices no matter how many carrots you eat.

      So to keep my survival game in high gear, I have numerous lighting options to leverage the other half of the day. The dark side of the day, if you will.

      So opting out of light is not a real option in places where it truly does get dark. And frankly, I'm sad when I hear that people actually live where the stars don't shine, the Milky Way doesn't cause you vertigo, and where the silence of darkness is considered a danger rather than a calming force. I can escape the darkness with tools like the PSL, but I also love the darkness and cherish what it offers as a tactical advantage to those of us embracing it rather than fearing it.

  2. I actually use it for evening/night fishing by setting the light on the lowest setting and then hooking it to my bobber. It floats and it's lightweight…works perfect. Now if we could just get it to be motion-sensitive.

  3. You forgot about choose #4: night vision! When you can see but any potential opponent cannot, that's a massive tactical advantage. Thank you for this article, I had seen solar powered lights advertised before but the lumens were too little to be useful IMHO, but this gear seems like it might be the ticket, hopefully Amazon carries them! GLAHP!

  4. How can I buy this item. I was given one as a gift, over 2 years ago, amd it still works. I’d like to use them around my patio, so need about 10.

  5. Hi, this is a very good articles for whos like me that don’t find a good survival light around. A few days ago I found a program about energy, batteries and how to reconsition them for off grid travel and similar. I bought it and I found it very useful.


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