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Suggestion for portable solar charger?
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By Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
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!

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By Trevor
From Cottonwood Heights, UT
May 10, 2014
Solo Ascent - October 21, 2008 - taken from Scout's Lookout
goal zero makes solid products

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By Tristan Higbee
From Cambodia
May 10, 2014
Me on a mixed route Crisco and I did in Rock Canyon.
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:


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By Graham Johnson
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.

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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
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.

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By doak
From boulder, co
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.

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By Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
May 10, 2014
Approach to Whitney
Went with the solarmonkey since it looks practically indestructable. thanks all!

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By SolarJunk-e
May 12, 2014
You will be sorely disappointed with the solar monkey, i can guarantee you that!

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By Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
May 12, 2014
Approach to Whitney
Uh oh, why is that?

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By J Walpole
May 13, 2014
Probably just a spammer, he signed up yesterday and that's his only post ;)

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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
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).

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By mattm
From TX
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.

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By cochiseclimbing
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.

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By mattm
From TX
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.

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By Bagging14ers
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.

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By Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
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

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