These portable power sources will keep your gadgets going while you’re afield
A primer on solar stuff for anglers and hunters.
As they head off the grid, more anglers and hunters than ever are now bringing along electronic gadgets such as smartphones, digital cameras and GPS units. But there’s a power problem—even the best devices run out of juice in just a few days. Luckily, today’s solar technology has advanced to the point that it now offers realistic options for powering up in the backcountry. Before you select a solar power system, however, first determine which type best suits your needs.
The simplest option is a stand-alone solar panel that collects sunlight and converts it into electricity. You can charge gadgets directly from the panel, but once the sun disappears, so does the electricity. Then there are solar panels that come with integrated batteries. Known as solar chargers, these all-in-one units both generate electricity and store it for later use.
A final option is an independent battery pack that can be charged via any compatible solar panel. You can also charge these packs from wall outlets, and use the sun while afield to keep them topped up. Some batteries store enough power for a few smartphone charges, while the largest ones have multiple outlets and enough juice to power a cabin.
Here’s a look at some of today’s various solar power systems, all designed for keeping your wilderness adventures on full charge.
BIOLITE SOLARPANEL 5
This ultra-slim, five-watt solar panel directly charges small devices such as cellphones and tablets via USB and micro USB ports. The 360-degree kickstand lets you keep it facing the sun, and it has tie points on each corner for attaching it to a pack or tent. It can also be paired with an external battery for storing power.
Learn more: www.bioliteenergy.com
COLEMAN 40W FOLDING SOLAR PANEL KIT
With its maximum power output of 40 watts, seven-amp charge controller and fold-out stand, this portable, weatherproof solar panel is ideal for charging 12-volt vehicle batteries, as well as for powering multiple appliances in your cabin. You can even link several panels together to generate even more power.
Learn more: www.sunforceproducts.com
BUSHNELL SOLARWRAP MINI
This charger features dual lithium-ion batteries and flexible solar panels that roll up into a compact, lightweight package. The battery charge time is 10 hours with the solar panels or four hours from a wall outlet. On a single charge, the five-watt unit can juice up one smartphone, two MP3 players, or two and a half cameras or GPS units.
Learn more: www.bushnell.com
ANKER POWERPORT SOLAR
Measuring 11.1" x 6.3" when folded up, or 26.4" x 11.1" when open, this compact, three-panel solar charger has two USB outputs and enough punch to charge tablets or laptops. The panels are sewn into a tough polyester canvas case that can be easily attached to a backpack or tent. The entire unit weighs in at just 14.7 ounces.
Learn more: www.anker.com
SOLIO XCELLERATOR + HUB
Smaller than a paperback, the Xcellerator solar panel is designed to quickly charge the accompanying Hub battery pack, even in low-light conditions. With optimized modes for both Apple iPhones and standard USB-powered devices, the Hub’s lithium-ion polymer battery can charge most units in 90 minutes.
Learn more: www.solio.com
GOAL ZERO YETI 400 SOLAR GENERATOR
About the size and weight of a car battery, the Yeti 400 has 12-volt, AC and USB outputs for powering cabin appliances and recharging electronic devices. Charge up the generator through a wall outlet or your vehicle’s 12-volt adaptor before heading out, or bring along Goal Zero’s portable Nomad 20 solar panel to keep it topped up.
Learn more: www.goalzero.com