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Suggestion for portable solar charger?
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May 10, 2014
Approach to Whitney
Hi MP,
I'm looking for a portable solar panel--something I can put on top of my backpack that's light and has a USB port, and most importantly, can charge an iphone5. I've heard mixed things about solar charger and am totally confused about this market. Outdoor Gear lab recommended the SolarMonkey Adventurer, but I'm not so sure about it based on the reviews. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
Joined Mar 25, 2012
124 points
May 10, 2014
Solo Ascent - October 21, 2008 - taken from Scout'...
goal zero makes solid products Trevor
From Cottonwood Heights, UT
Joined Jul 18, 2006
98 points
May 10, 2014
Me on a mixed route Crisco and I did in Rock Canyo...
The Suntactics sCharger-5 is what a bunch of the long-distance hikers (on the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, etc.) strap to the outside of their pack. Gets great reviews all around.

Here's a pic stolen from Amazon:

Tristan Higbee
From Cambodia
Joined Mar 9, 2008
3,128 points
May 10, 2014
I really like my solarmokey adventurer - it's shit simple and it works. Seems to be able to charge in much lower light than other panels. Graham Johnson
Joined Apr 27, 2006
1 points
May 10, 2014
When I was a bum at Frey
I've used the goal 0 nomad for a long time. It's been really durable and charges an iPhone relatively fast. Highly recommend it. Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Joined Apr 1, 2012
48 points
May 10, 2014
Drinking with Moses
Small tip, airplane mode will extend the life of the battery by a ton, especially when there is weak or no signal. The GPS can still be turned on, even in airplane mode. doak
From boulder, co
Joined Oct 1, 2007
99 points
May 10, 2014
Approach to Whitney
Went with the solarmonkey since it looks practically indestructable. thanks all! Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
Joined Mar 25, 2012
124 points
May 12, 2014
You will be sorely disappointed with the solar monkey, i can guarantee you that! SolarJunk-e
Joined May 12, 2014
0 points
May 12, 2014
Approach to Whitney
Uh oh, why is that? Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
Joined Mar 25, 2012
124 points
May 13, 2014
Probably just a spammer, he signed up yesterday and that's his only post ;) J Walpole
Joined Nov 13, 2012
86 points
Administrator
May 13, 2014
I found about 1900 possible options:

ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2...

GoalZero makes good products, but you can get the cheap knock off version on eBay for 1/4the the price and it still works fine (most of the time).
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
727 points
May 13, 2014
Grande Grotto
Try and figure out what your TRUE power needs really will be. Is this for long weekends? Thru Hiking the AT or PCT? What will your phone use be compared to an average day (and what's an average days power needs).

I say this because, as cool as solar is, a LOT of people would be better served with a simple auxiliary power pack that you charge at home. Having done a bit of home testing, take the rated outputs of the portable solar panels with a HUGE grain of salt. Their rated outputs are under lab conditions and "Generous" at that. if it says 13W panel it won't be CLOSE to that in reality, particularly hung off a pack. Solar will be your only option for longer excursions away from power sources (car, home etc) but no matter what, having a battery "Bank" is a good plan.

Solar works best, IMO, when implemented in a base camp setup. You can optimize panel placement and store everything you get in a power pack for later use. Hanging a panel off your pack will work but it's less than ideal.

Amazon has a metric ton of AA power packs which are really nice because you have multiple AA options (NiMH, Lithium etc) to work with and in a pinch, you can find AAs nearly anywhere.
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
May 13, 2014
My favorite place
Can you tell me how many mAh are needed to charge an iPad and the time it would take? I see panels from 4000-20,000mAh. cochiseclimbing
Joined Jul 21, 2008
53 points
May 13, 2014
Grande Grotto
cochiseclimbing wrote:
Can you tell me how many mAh are needed to charge an iPad and the time it would take? I see panels from 4000-20,000mAh.


I think you mean power packs?

iPads are much more power hungry. You're looking at 33WHr needs. Now you're looking at things like a GoalZero Sherpa 50/100 and a larger panel if you want it to really hum. The GZ stuff is nice and well integrated but you pay a premium for that. If you're base camping you can DIY power packs for a lot less. Not as sexy but a much better Watt/$$ ratio.

I think GZ Power Pack options are really nice, particularly in the mid-sizes as the size and build of them is hard to beat. The larger Yeti 1250 is AWESOME but expensive for what it is. I made a DIY version of it for base camping for a lot less.

GZ panel options are a bit harder to support. The smaller Nomad Series have a nice form factor but don't plan on getting near what they're rated to. The larger GZ "hard" panels are a rip off - you can DIY a framed glass panel of similar Watts for a TON less.

Also of note is the tech on the panels. There are plusses and minuses to the Mono-crystalline panels. I really want a PowerFilm foldable setup (amorphous silicon) as I think that's a better option but can't justify the $$ for how little I'd use it at this point.
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
Aug 12, 2014
I like the amorphous panels as well since they are lighter and more durable. I have a Kickr IV solar charger and Jumpr Slate 5K power bank from EnerPlex that I picked up at their kiosk in the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver. I like how small and light they are, and they seem pretty durable. I haven't seen much info on the web about them yet but they seem to work well. I use them mostly to charge my GoPro and cell phone when camping. It looks like they have some new bigger panels and power packs available now too that look pretty interesting. They are might worth looking into. Bagging14ers
Joined Aug 12, 2014
0 points
Aug 17, 2014
Approach to Whitney
I've never heard of EnerPlex, I'll have to check them out next time I'm at the mall (once in a blue moon but I'm due for a trip). How much did that setup run you? Thanks for the recommendation Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
Joined Mar 25, 2012
124 points
Sep 25, 2014
The whole setup ended up costing me about $150 but they are always running promotions. I work near that mall so I am there a lot. Bagging14ers
Joined Aug 12, 2014
0 points
Sep 25, 2014
I'm about to bearbreeder you so watch out!! (Instead of answering your question, I'll offer you another suggestion).

IMO, keeping an iphone charged on a trip is a waste. Camera? you probably have a better one that isn't a phone. MP app? Do a little printing at home. Ability to call emergency? Have the phone charged and turned off in your pack. Facebooking and connectivity? Relish the opportunity to disconnect once in a while.

All that said, you can find spare batteries on ebay for camera's dirt cheap. I paid $1 for batteries and $7 each to ship on my camera. They are identical to what came with the camera. You can carry 3-4 of these charged lighter, easier, and cheaper than any solar charger out there.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion
From Denver
Joined Oct 29, 2012
7 points
Sep 25, 2014
lol ... heres the REAL thing about to drift your thread even more =P

Exactly how many charges do you need to get out of your iphone or other devices

- figure that out in watt hours (iphone 5 is ~ 6 watt hours or so)

- now go figure out the weight of an 18650 power bank and enough 18650 batteries for that much power (the best panasonic 18650 bats have ~12 watt hours) ... remember to account for some loss due to transfer from one source to another (say ~20%)

- figure out if you can recharge the bats from any USB source (figure 3-6 hours per single 18650 bat depending on the input amperage)

- now see if spending the moolah on a panel is worth it

note that 18650 bats are very useful on flashlights as well, and are used as a power source for the best and brightest (for the weight) headlamps currently ... the petzl nao uses em in its battery pack

dont bother with NiMH AA/AAA bats for power ... it takes 4 AA eneloop pros to give the same watt hours as a 3400 mAh 18650 bat ...

now THATs drift

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
2,153 points
Sep 25, 2014
Aiding. Photo by Locker.
Get the Goal Zero Nomad 7 along with the Guide 10 battery pack.

For cragging, the Guide 10 is a battery pack you can charge at home and throw in your pack: it will give you 1-2 recharges of a smartphone, no solar panel required.

For camping, you can pair the Guide 10 with the Nomad 7 and use a smartphone more or less indefinitely by charging it from the sun.

iPads are a much tougher proposition: take one apart, and you'll see it's pretty much all battery.
teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Joined Dec 16, 2012
636 points
Sep 25, 2014
nicelegs wrote:
I'm about to bearbreeder you so watch out!! (Instead of answering your question, I'll offer you another suggestion).


bearbreeder wrote:
lol ... heres the REAL thing about to drift your thread even more =P


& We have the real bearbreeder bearbreedering the thread right after legs. Can't make this shit up...
reboot
From Westminster, CO
Joined Jul 17, 2006
143 points
Sep 25, 2014
Grande Grotto
bearbreader is spot on - for small and light, I roll with 2x18650s and an XTAR VP2 charger.$70 and a RELIABLE 4+ full charges plus many other uses at home.



Xtar VP2

LOTS of 18650 options out there.
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
Sep 25, 2014
I've got to agree with those posting above - I looked at solar, then looked at the option of taking a couple of power packs that I'd charge at home. No question which was cheaper, easier, and more reliable. If you do really need solar because you're talking about proper long trips them I am no help at all. If you're talking trips of a week or so, then a couple of cheap power packs may be an option to look into. Stephen Minchin
Joined Sep 7, 2014
10 points
Sep 29, 2014
There are a lot of solar chargers out on the market right now. I personally had trouble finding the best one for me too. Eventually after doing a lot of research I found this one review and bought an Anker 14W solar charger. I have been using it for around 4 months and I have to say I love it so far. It charges all my USB powered devices in around the same time as a standard wall outlet. I have taken it hiking and camping and it has withstand my abuse lol. The only thing I wish it had is an internal battery. If you are looking for one with a battery then the website that helped me has some promising looking ones. Anyways I hope this helps!
portablesolargadgets.com/5-bes...
JoshuaPCornwell
Joined Sep 29, 2014
0 points
Sep 29, 2014
Myself pulling out of the hueco on Supafly.
teece303 wrote:
Get the Goal Zero Nomad 7 along with the Guide 10 battery pack. For cragging, the Guide 10 is a battery pack you can charge at home and throw in your pack: it will give you 1-2 recharges of a smartphone, no solar panel required. For camping, you can pair the Guide 10 with the Nomad 7 and use a smartphone more or less indefinitely by charging it from the sun.


I'm on a long term climbing trip right now, and I use the Nomad 7 and the Guide 10 to keep my phone, gps and headlamp batteries charged. It's super versatile and durable. The solar panel + battery charger is a game changer.
Dylan Pike
From Indianapolis, IN
Joined Sep 23, 2013
31 points
Administrator
Sep 29, 2014
A Very Not Snowy Christmas...
nicelegs wrote:
I'm about to bearbreeder you


hahahahahahahaha
Morgan Patterson
Joined Oct 13, 2009
8,422 points


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