My nerdy solar powered backpack


Originally published at:


I was told by my professor in a basic pre-req business law class that many municipalities need a warrant to get into locked bags. He recommended we put a padlock of some sort on our packs if we were expecting to run into the police or were carrying anything we didn’t want rifled. Your mileage may vary, of course, but maybe that’s why there’s a computer area lock.


Yeah, articles like this on BoingBoing make me less likely to buy a product…
The well has been thoroughly poisoned.


Drain the well and build a wall around it?


But what about the seepage? Better to just cover the state in concrete, and move to another continent.


It’s missing an anti-theft feature: When it goes out of Bluetooth range of your phone, with the alarm active, the speaker plays something appropriate and loud.

Stop in the Name of Love?
Band on the Run?
A Criminal Mind?


includes bottle opener?!


Looks great but seems a bit fishy. It lists CNET, Engadget etc, but searching their sites it’s not listed. Shame it’s being deceptive, seems to be packed with features


I’m on the third iteration of my own, home-made solar backpack. I use the solar for my bike lights and now have two on my pack, one red flasher (about $5 or less) and another steady white light with a mini-USB power take-off so I could use it to charge my iPod or (dumb) cell phone (about $10) . It fits my purposes and is considerably more affordable than the Solgaard design.

This is an earlier version of my backpack from back in 2007:

That one cost about $45 and worked well too. I’ve had solar power on my backpack for over a decade at a fraction of the cost for the models being advertised. When is the rest of the world gonna catch up?


That tiny panel isn’t going to do anything useful.

Solar power is roughly 1kw per square meter, and what can collected by a real solar panel is about 15%, so 150W per square meter. From there we deduce that if we want to collect 5 watts, we need 33cm^2 = ~6x6cm. This is assuming an optimally positioned panel, in the blistering, cloudless sun, producing only enough power to function as a low end USB charger that would struggle to charge at all something like a Samsung Note, let alone a tablet, and ignoring any conversion and charging inefficiency.

From that we see that for any useful performance we need a panel several times larger, making the minimum size that would be useful somewhere around the size of the entire back of the backpack, rather than a tiny bit of it.



To be fair, it seems to be compulsory for every piece of camping/preparedness/Every Day Carry equipment I’ve ever ownedseen to have a bottle opener built into it somewhere. I think it’s a law, or something. :wink:

(I tinker a lot, and like gadgets. It’s not a problem until I say it it.)


Or you could get a phone with a big enough battery… mine has 5Ah.


I dunno. $270 seems pricey for a backpack, but how much for the cat skin rug in the 2nd photo? It’s very nice.


I stopped reading at 269$ … I am still rocking a Kenneth Cole computer backpack which I scored at Century21 / NYC back in 2000 for less than 50$ … after 17 years it still shows zero wear & tear! Now, THAT’s quality! (And I travel quite a bit)


And yet there’s never a bottle opener close by when you need one.


I… usually have five within reach. Is this bad?


I think that I hate this backpack.


I paid about $200 for a Tom Bihn brainbag on advice of the BBS commentariat. I recommend them to anyone who needs to rely on their backpack. No solar gimmicks, but a solid bag.

Here’s the thing about solar charging gadgets that gets me: If you’ve experimented at all with the prospect, you realize very quickly that it’s a pipe dream. Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about low power stuff like calculators that last for centuries or high power home installations to heat water or whatever, but all of these doodads that are basically peddling supposedly free, portable electricity on the go are all horseshit. At the price point, it’s better to buy a high quality bag and a portable battery power supply from Anker or Ravpower.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of solar power for all kinds of things, but it’s way overhyped as a gimmick. If you really want to try it, there are some stupid simple projects you can attempt at a fraction of the price.

Advice: Amorphous solar cells for low light applications, and crystalline solar cells for direct sunlight.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.