Light Cap by Sol Light

A solar panel mounted in the cap of this water bottle powers handy LED lights. "Gear Up" from our June 4, 2008, /SW eNewsletter/


In the late '90s scientists were using Nalgene bottles for their superior polycarbonate strength, their tendency not to carry residue or smells from prior contents, and their function-over-form design. Campers, athletes, and outdoor enthusiasts also appreciated the bottles' usefulness. Before long, people everywhere were using carabineers to clip the translucent cylinders to their backpacks and a trend was born.

Sol Light, a design company based in Hood River, Oregon, has improved upon the standard Nalgene bottle with its Light Cap, a one-liter bottle equipped with solar-powered LED lights. Activated by a rugged, waterproof rocker switch, the LEDs receive power from a photovoltaic cell mounted in the cap. The unit charges in daylight and supplies enough juice to provide light throughout the night. The white is good for searching for the Philips head in the engine room or reading the latest issue of Sailing World. The red is perfect for looking for government marks and not wiping out your or others' night vision.

The 32-ounce bottle has a textured grip and two flat sides, which could prevent it from rolling off the nav table in high seas. A wide mouth makes for easy cleaning, and a water-tight lid gives Light Cap buoyancy. Use it as storage for the small things you must keep dry--car keys, pens, mobile phones, etc.

Light Cap seems to handle extreme conditions well. Once, I accidently left mine in the freezer attempting to chill my water. The cold doesn't seem to have damaged the solar panel, as it has continued to charge the LEDs for the eight months since.

At the inexpensive price of $24.95, your LightCap will pay for itself the first time you use it to search the charts without disturbing your mates on their off watch.