Have you ever wanted to look like a total gadget hipster in the backcountry? Brunton has exactly what you need to charge your iPhone for late night Angry Birds tourneys and catch up on the latest celebrity rehab biographies on your Amazon Kindle. The Brunton Solaris 4 Foldable Solar Panel will keep you scoring 3 stars well into the night – batteries not needed.
- Weatherproof material, but lightweight.
- Output – 5 volts 800 mA aka. in 30 min. your dead iPhone is fully charged.
- Weight 6.3 oz.
- It’s got solar panels
Using a Solar Panel in the Backcountry
Get ready to get made fun of. Get ready for the “What do you need that for?” comment. And get ready to have the last laugh while all your junk is fully charged. Compared to the Solio models, the Brunton solar cells are definitely a lot more concentrated and have a higher output. I could tell even in overcast I was still getting a charge, not much but something.
One thing I noticed quickly is having the panel positioned correctly is crucial for a charge. Almost annoyingly crucial. While my friends were cooking breakfast, I spent at least 10 min. wrestling the solar panel and looking like a total goober doing it. But once you get the position right, the output is strong. A great accessory I snagged off eBay for a couple bucks was a AA/AAA battery USB charger. That came in handy since my Black Diamond Apollo lantern was COMPLETELY dead on my trip last week. And no, I’m not an Eagle Scout. Can’t you tell?
Improvements for the next model
I noticed quickly that all the panels had to be taking in the UV rays to get a charge. It would be great to have a combined and solitary power output in the event you can’t get strong rays to all the panels. That may sound lame but I found in the thick trees I would walk around camp like a lost dog looking for strong rays for all the panels.
Battery storage can be nice to have but does add weight. The Solaris is simple; plug in and charge, no buttons. A USB external storage would come in handy if you have strong rays to stockpile energy for later, but now we are really excelling to a higher level of nerdery. (<---- Firefox is saying 'nerdery' is spelled wrong. Nope, it's a word. I just made it up.)
Last week I backpacked with a handful of youth for 5 days. I was super glad I brought this along to keep my Kindle app replenished and healthy to avoid conversations about the latest funny YouTube video. This piece a gear is a staple for even keeping batteries charged. My Magellan GPS unit from 1974 was sucking the battery life like a Diet Coke addict.
I think two years ago solar panels were weak and still needed refinement. Brunton delivers with the Solaris. Let the backcountry Angry Birds tourneys begin!