In a world where we constantly need to stay connected, going hiking isn’t as easy as it once was. You still need to be reachable. You still need to know where you are using GPS. Even when we’re out in nature, we still need ways to power our devices. Solar panels in conjunction with a good solid backpack are a great way to power your devices in a natural, eco-friendly way.
Picking a Solar Charger
So what you should you think about when choosing a solar charger for your backpack? Solar panels are super light and efficient, but there are a few things to think bout before buying one. The first is voltage. Voltage is where your power comes from, so in order to power your devices, you need a good power source providing plenty of voltage. For desert hikers, picking a solar charger is a great idea because you’ll be using your direct source of sunlight to power any devices you’re carrying.
It’s critical to make sure your solar panels and backpack’s battery will be able to store enough power to fully charge the device. To figure that out, first discharge your device fully, then time how long it takes charging to full from a normal grid-based power source. Then, divide the charger wattage by voltage, and multiply the wattage/voltage by the number of hours it takes to fully charge the device. This way, you can make sure your solar bag can store five to ten percent more than maximum power needs, ensuring it will be fully charged.
Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel is one great way to keep a steady supply of power to your devices while you’re on the go. You can power up the GPS using your smartphone or send messages wherever you want. Or you can connect the panel to your portable speaker and dance right there in the wilderness.. This little panel is a great device to attach to your backpack. Because it is so lightweight, it can easily be packed away if you need to stow it during a storm. You can also easily hang it up on a tree to soak up some sun during the day and fully store power.
The panel is made of durable mono-crystalline, plastic, and nylon. It directly charges any USB or 12V device you have using USB solar and mini ports, simultaneously charging from each port. It will get your smartphone or USB camera up and running in just 2 to 4 hours of charge time. Keep in mind this unit isn’t able to power tablets, though, so you’ll need to upgrade to the Nomad 13 to power a small computer.
However, if it’s backpacking you’re wanting to do, this panel is a must-have. You can use your iPhone to GPS navigate, as a compass, for music, and to take pictures. That much usage will suck your power quickly, but adding the nomad 7 panels to a flip phone charger is a great way to keep the phone charge on the go — and all you need to do is be outside to do so.
Goal Zero Nomad 13 Review
The Goal Zero Nomad 13 solar panel provides a bit more punch to off-the grid traveling. Campers and backpackers will love the joy of using the sun’s own power to charge your cell phone, GPS, lights, or laptop. Yes, this unit will charge a laptop and its reflective nylon loops make it super easy to hang right from your backpack or car window. In addition, this version includes 2 durable solar panels that are weather and impact resistant, fully folding. You can just hang it on a tree and leave it for a while to soak up the sun. For medium trips, this is a good charging source for small electronics.
Goal Zero Nomad 20W
Finally, for a bit more price and weight, the Goal Zero Nomad 20W solar panel is a great choice. This is a 3-fold unit, containing the same folding units its smaller counterparts have at a slightly higher weight and size. It weighs in at 2.5 pounds and costs $161. In addition to direct powering, the goal zero will pair with power packs to provide even more power — and will work in conjunction with solar generators such as the Goal Zero Yeti 150 for a bit more power. You can spread it out in the sunlight and allow it to get plenty of sunlight exposure, and then fold it down once you’re ready to stow it in your pack.
Solid Quality, Reliability, and Powerful Battery Life
Goal Zero chargers provide good looking, rugged solar chargers and batteries. They’ll work great for portability, and these solar panels not only look great but are also extremely durable. If you get caught in a storm, simply fold up the panel and stow it in your backpack. You can charge your phone, your laptop, or your tablet depending on which version you buy, and you can build your kits up one piece at a time. With just a few hours of daylight, these panels will be charged. Just be sure to allow for a direct source of light to keep the phone charged up to the top.
Orientation and Adjustability
In addition to choosing power sources with plenty of battery power, think about orientation and adjustability as well. Being able to turn your solar panels so that they face the sun is key. If you’re hiking south, the panels will point north — which would be away from the sun if you’re hiking in the northern hemisphere. So be sure to choose a backpack or carrying source that will allow you to face the southern sun. This is why orientation is crucial for choosing a good solar panel combo.
All in all, backpacking devices such as the Goal Zero solar panels are a great way to provide lots of power to your units while you’re on the go. Portable modules are important for when you’re going to be out in really remote areas. Your iPhone will thank you for providing it with plenty of power. In addition, knowing you’re using the natural sunlight to power your devices is a great, eco-friendly way to give back to the environment. You’ll be using clean, sustainable power and can rest assured that each panel you add to your collection will be durable, reliable, and reusable.