Truck Camping 101 | Part 1 | Portable Lighting – Goal Zero Light-A-Life 350
Once and a while, you just need to leave the daily grind in the rear view mirror and unwind. For some, strapping a pack full of lightweight gear on your back and hiking into the wilderness will do the trick. For others, a road trip across the country is just what’s needed. My family of four decided to compromise by combining the two and go Truck Camping. In the next few articles, I will highlight some of the gear we packed on our adventure to the Porcupine Mountains located on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigans Upper Peninsula.
Living in Northern Michigan, we decided to load up the trusty Toyota Tundra and head 6 hours further northwest to the Porcupine Mountains. Two adventurous teenage boys and a wife with minor reservations about camping. What could go wrong? Fortunately, both my wife and I are type A list makers. She covered the meal plan and everything food related. While I made sure our gear was good-to-go. To top it off, we had no campsite reservations on a busy weekend. This meant we would have to maintain self sufficiency while spending the night. And with the sun setting earlier and earlier each day, power and lights were a high priority. Goal Zero came through with a complete solution tailored to what we needed. One of those items was a pair of Light-A-Life 350 lights.
These compact multi-purpose LEDs offer several configurations for different purposes. Featuring an adjustable shade, the Light-A-Life can provide a focused light or a lantern effect. Just by twisting off the plastic shade. With 2 lights, we chose to use a single lantern inside the roof-top-tent and one focused light hanging from the awning over the tailgate. Because the Light-A-Life 350 is not battery powered, an external source of power like the Goal Zero Yeti 150 is required. Additionally, up to 8 LAL350’s can be daisy chained together for total campsite illumination. Only 1 light needs to be plugged into the Yeti 150 with additional lights plugging into each other down the line.
Each Light-A-Life 350 includes 8 feet of power cord that neatly wraps around the light base. This allows the user to extend each light to the desired height or distance from each other. An old school toggle switch located on the top of the light provides two different power settings (High & Low). Mounting the light is about as easy as it gets. And the Goal Zero engineers get an A+ for providing three different mounting options. First is a built-in carabiner that slides along the power cord. Second, a powerful magnet located on top of the carabiner. Finally, three magnets built into the top of the light housing allow the user to easily secure the light to anything metallic.
After 4 days living like a vagabond, the Light-A-Life 350 from Goal Zero became one of my favorite pieces of kit for Truck Camping. Robust in construction coupled with versatility and ease of use, the LAL350 is a must for your loadout. A single Light-A-Life 350 adequately lit our Tepui Kukenam Sky 3 person tent. In the next Truck Camping 101 article, I will discuss one of many power source options from Goal Zero for these little lanterns.
Light-A-Life 350 specs courtesy of goal zero.com
Run Times With Power Packs
- Sherpa 50: 50 Hours (low), 10 Hours (high)
- Goal Zero Yeti 150: 150 Hours (low), 30 Hours (high)
- Goal Zero Yeti 1250: 1200 Hours (low), 250 Hours (high)
- LED (output): 5W warm white Cree LED
- High Brightness: 4.5W, 350 Lumens
- Low Brightness: 1W, 100 Lumens
- 6mm barrel jack (input): 12V, 0.4A (4.5W max)
- Cord Length: 8 feet