Gear Review: WakaWaka Solar Lamp and Charger

Many of us in the United States have dealt with storm-related power outages lately, and the WakaWaka (Swahalil for "shine bright") solar-powered LED lamp and charger can come in handy. I recently heard about this little product and immediately recognized its value for anglers and hunters.

Eight hours of soaking up sunlight will yield over 40 hours of light and a full charge for a smart phone. Set it on a pop bottle and it becomes a desk lamp or a cooking light, so you can spin up flies at night or make dinner in camp without the need for a kerosene lantern. And unlike most headlamps, it doesn't require batteries. You can also use it to charge an iPod so you can listen to tunes as you drift off at night. When you're ready to come out of the backcountry, you can charge up your phone in less than two hours.

A WakaWaka unit retails for $69 and performs as advertised. Though I would warn that it is not waterproof or shockproof, so keep that in mind when you're handling it around camp. Functionality and price aside, the WakaWaka's biggest selling point, in my mind, is the company's positive global impact.

WakaWaka represents a social enterprise that directly helps fight energy poverty on a worldwide scale. According to the manufacturer, indoor pollution from kerosene kills more people than AIDS and malaria combined in developing nations. This product provides a safe, clean alternative that gives light to many. And when you buy a WakaWaka unit, another is automatically sent to people in need, like refugees from Syria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

If I can buy a charger that works for my backcountry trips (I will definitely take one on my next trip to the jungle or the Alaskan bush, and plan to leave some behind), and, in doing so, literally shine a little light elsewhere in the world where it is desperately needed, that seems more than reasonable to me.