BioLite PowerLight Mini Review

  • Car Camper
  • Day Hiker
  • Ultralight Backpacker
  • Urban Hiker
  • Wilderness Backpacker

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BioLite PowerLight Mini Overview

Think back to the last time you made it through an entire night without using a single light. Hard to recall, isn’t it? The darkness is scary. Or, at least, it can be quite boring.

The BioLite PowerLight Mini is a 135 lumen go-anywhere lantern that’ll light up your night. The whole package is smaller than your smartphone and can be taken wherever you roam. It has several different lighting modes, it can charge small electronic devices, and its unique clip stand gives it the power to attach to anything — adding light to any situation.

The brilliant versatility of this light is what makes shine. You can use it as a camp lantern, a bike light, or clip it to your pocket for enhanced vision during an evening hike. We think it’s a spectacular tool for backcountry backpackers and urban explorers alike.

BioLite PowerLight Mini Star Rating
  • Brightness
  • Battery Life
  • Knobs, Buttons, Dials
  • Stability
  • Durability
4.3

Summary

Like the Swiss Army Knife of camp lanterns, the Biolite PowerLight Mini is a versatile and practical tool that is ideal for use in a variety of applications.

While we have not given the BioLite PowerLight Mini an award for a specific Backpacker Type, it is impressively versatile. It may not be the best camp lantern, but it’s a good one. Not the best bike light, but pretty solid. Not a headlamp at all, but can serve as one. If you want a jack-of-all-trades lantern, the BioLite PowerLight Mini is ideal.

Read on to see our full review of the BioLite PowerLight Mini.

BioLite PowerLight Mini  Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 2.82 oz (80 g) Very low weight for a camp lantern. Basically the weight of a headlamp.
Lumens 135 lm Not the brightest lantern by any means, but enough to read by or use as a beacon on a bike.
Light Modes White Lantern, Red Night Vision, Red/White Strobe, White Point, Dimming A solid number of modes for different kinds of light, and you can dim for your exact setting.
Battery Life 52 LO/5 HI Not the longest battery life (4 hours when we tested on high), but pretty good for the small form factor.
Battery Type Li-On USB Rechargeable You cannot remove the battery, and it plugs in via USB.
Battery Size 1350 mAh A small battery overall, which keeps the size and weight of the PowerLight Mini very low.
Water Resistance IPX4 Basic water resistance. Will survive a drop in a puddle, not so much a long drop in a lake.
Inputs Micro USB In You recharge the PowerLight Mini with an included USB cord, like the one that goes in your computer.
Outputs USB Charge Out You can charge your phone, headlamp, or other small devices off the PowerLight Mini with a small USB cord (included).
Stand/Hanging Wire clipstand The PowerLight Mini has a wire stand and clip that allows you to hang and rest it on anything. It also comes with a bike mount.
Dimensions 3.35 x 2.01 x 0.59 in. Very small, fits in the palm of your hand.
Warranty 1 Year Limited A moderate warranty for electronics products. If anything is wonky get in touch immediately.
Retail Price $39.95 Average price for a versatile camp lantern. You’re paying for the small form factor, versatility, light modes, and brand name.

Gear Review of the BioLite PowerLight Mini

The BioLite PowerLight Mini proved to be a versatile source of ambient light in a variety of situations. All 135 lumens of LED light are emitted across a wide area through a unique lens texture that evenly disperses the light, rather than shooting it out in a beam as would a flashlight.

BioLite-PowerLight-Mini-In-a-tree
The BioLite PowerLight Mini, hanging out.

While backpacking around the Firecamp Lakes in the Oregon Cascades, I found the PowerLight Mini to be as useful and bright as a large camp lantern, though quite a bit more packable. It’s incredibly lightweight at a mere 2.8 ounces and is shaped like the perfect skipping stone — flat, easy to hold, and slightly rounded at the edges — but I wouldn’t recommend using it as such. The PowerLight Mini’s IPX4 waterproofing will shrug off any rain, but a full lake dunk is a no-go.

The adjustable clip stand enables the light to be hung on a tree branch, clipped to your pocket, or left standing on a picnic table. This feature allowed me to prop it up perfectly as a night light while I read a book in my hammock, cooked dinner by the campfire, and got my dogs settled in the tent for the night.

BioLite-PowerLight-Mini-hammock
Chilling under the light of the BioLite PowerLight Mini.

Back at home, I also tested the PowerLight Mini as a bike light. The light comes packaged with a handy bicycle mount that makes installing and removing the PowerLight Mini a cinch.

It felt firmly attached during all of my rides, and the multiple light modes were useful for modulating the type and strength of light I needed depending on whether I was on the street, a dimly lit bicycle path, or a dark trail.

1-BioLite-PowerLight-Mini-bike-front-close
Clip the PowerLight Mini easily to your bike for front illumination or backside visibility with the included bike mount.

Finally, the BioLite PowerLight Mini proved to be an excellent headlamp replacement during my evening dog walks. I simply clipped the light to my belt and it provided a suitable wash of ambient light that gave us great vision of our immediate area and acted as a highly-visible beacon for oncoming vehicles.

Pro Tip: Need extra lighting during your at-home video conference meetings? The PowerLight Mini can light up your beautiful face so that you look less like a troll hiding in a dark cave.

Brightness – 4.5 Stars

Learn from my mistake and do not look directly at the BioLite PowerLight Mini the first time you hit the power button. Its rounded rectangle silhouette was burned into my vision for hours. The brightness level is controllable, which is great, and it certainly outputs a high level of ambient light that can brighten up an entire picnic table.

BioLite-PowerLight-Mini-tent3
The BioLite PowerLight is decently bright, and casts a wide, even stream of light. Hang it in the tent at night to read.

The maximum lumens are 135, which is enough to see at night by, and easily read in a tent. That said, it’s not a far-reaching light like a headlamp –and it wasn’t designed to be.

Battery Life – 3.5 Stars

The 1350 mAh is advertised to last approximately 52 hours when using low light and five hours when set to maximum brightness. In my testing, the battery lasted closer to four hours on high brightness, which is the setting I most preferred to use (typically when you need light, you need a decent amount of it). While I didn’t test the full 52 hours on low, I find it’s rare in real-world scenarios that you’ll use a light at such low lumens for so long.

The fact that you can charge your phone is handy, though the PowerLight Mini has about half the capacity of modern phone batteries, which makes it useful for an emergency top up, but not a real charge.

Knobs, Buttons, Dials – 4 Stars

A single button is used to cycle through the different light modes and to dim the light. It’s a functional and simple design. However, I would prefer a way to select each different light mode individually, rather than go through the whole cycle every time. I often found myself clicking through each mode too fast and had to repeat the cycle several times, unintentionally turning my tentsite into a secret forest rave. Party on dudes!

3-BioLite-PowerLight-Mini-charging
The BioLite PowerLight Mini recharges via USB (included), and can dole out charge via another port. The clip stand allows to attach to nearly anything.

Stability – 4.5 Stars

The adjustable clip stand is the highlight of the PowerLight Mini. It’s what makes this such a versatile tool. You can hang, clip, or stand this light anywhere and rest assured that it will stay in place. It’d be perfect if the clip stand could lock at different angles so that you could always achieve the exact angle of light that you desire.

Durability – 5 Stars

The BioLite PowerLight Mini is made with a stainless steel housing and silicone seals which are strong and robust. The IPX4 water resistance ensures that it will shrug off foul weather, and the USB ports are well protected from both moisture and dust.

2-BioLite-PowerLight-Mini-campfire
You want a durable lantern for outdoor use. The PowerLight Mini does well, even near the campfire.

Overall it’s a highly durable light with a rechargeable, non-removable battery. Don’t skip it into the center of a lake and it should last for years.

Grievances

Honestly, there’s very little to complain about. It fits anywhere, is light enough for most camp and urban activities, and is simple to operate. I would like to see BioLite increase the battery capacity in future versions for a longer burn time, and for a full smartphone charge.

Where to Buy BioLite PowerLight Mini

We tested the only current version of the BioLite PowerLight Mini in blue, and it comes in three other colors.

Compare BioLite PowerLight Mini prices below.

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures and stories at betterhiker.com and on Instagram.

Backpackers.com Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review.

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