This solar charger will keep your devices powered up on the trail

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“the trail” being your dashboard, and “your devices” being an iPhone, and “charge” meaning it will register that a charging device has attached - then surely this is a modest product description. I have a very similar device, and it would absolutely be able to power a USB calculator.


This is just a battery. There is nothing solar about it.

Reality check: Here is a solar panel that delivers 5 watts of power, about what you’d need to charge a phone. It’s about the same size as a sheet of A4 paper. The teeny solar panels on this pocket size device being peddled here today will never be adequate to charge a phone, let alone fill the built in backup battery.

You know, the boing boing shop could be a place for curated products that are actually good. Instead, it seems to be a dumping ground for useless crap at fire sale prices. Such a pity.


I have a slightly smaller version of something like that. After leaving it in the sun all day it could charge like 20% of my phone battery.

Of course, I’m not sure how you’re going to leave it in the sun all day when you’re on the trail.


See also the comments from this device’s 2017 appearance in the store.

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The one I was given (came free with something else I actually wanted) has a carabiner. So you can attach it to the back of your pack and let it charge when you hike. If you want it flopping against you each step. Thousands and thousands of times. Or maybe for the first 50 steps and then “something happens”, and you feel bad because you just threw trash in the C&O canal, but for some reason nothing is bugging you with each step you take anymore…

(or at least that is my theory)

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I think the use case is that you charge the battery before you leave and let it top off 1/2 of an actual phone charge by being taped to the top of your backpack (presumably you are hiking in the high desert) so the battery lasts for 3 charges instead of 2.

On the other hand, you’re hiking through the woods why is your phone even on? Are you even getting signal? Just turn the damn thing off and it will last a long time on a charge. Or leave it on so you can use the camera but put it into airplane mode to save battery. Just try to avoid walking through the woods if you intend to charge with the solar panel.

Actually, you can’t charge it if the battery is full. And you can’t fully charge the battery on solar. (25% at best).

Still, if you need 10% phone battery (at least on my 1000mAH phone) for an emergency, it’s here. Just don’t be surprised you need three days to get them.

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It’s on in airplane mode. With the screen dimmed, and the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off. But the GPS is running all the time, because I’m recording tracks so that the club can update trail maps. I generally don’'t do more than 5-6 days at a go, and my 16 Ah IP68 external battery lasts about that long. Alas, it’s nearly the form factor and mass of a brick. But it sure beats needing a four-person crew with plane table, sighting rod, and chain or measuring wheel, which is how we used to do it.

On a long trip, after 5-6 days it’s time for a town stop anyway. Spend a night in a motel, reprovision, do laundry, charge batteries, mend gear if needed, and the body needs a rest too.

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GPS is a battery hog on cellphones, it’s no surprise you need that boat anchor of a battery.

Since I still would carry my phone in order to have it in the next town, I compare the mass of phone+big battery versus phone+dedicated GPS+smaller batteries and it’s about a wash.

Most GPS apps, though are really pigs. They keep chatting on the cell data connection, leave the display backlight on all the time, and are constantly rerendering the map. With some of them, the phone actually gets hot to the touch and the charging cable can’t keep up with the power burden. Apps that are desgned for the purpose, like Backcountry Navigator or Gaia, are a lot more parsimonious.

The other thing is that I navigate with a paper map, a compass, and a barometric altimeter and bring the phone up only once or twice an hour to make sure that it’s still recording and to cross-check my navigation. Using it that way, I can dispense with the big battery on day trips or overnights, and bring it only on longer sections.

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