Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

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CAMERONM
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Re: Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

Post by CAMERONM » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:26 pm

You can find tons of info on backpackinglight, but the short story is that outside of long stretches of thru-hiking, UL sentiment has turned against solar and more towards dependable powerbanks. A couple of overcast days and some tree time can mean no charging at all.








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Bernard
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Re: Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

Post by Bernard » Sun Oct 04, 2020 8:27 am

All of this is helpful and yes, I am trying to assess the matching of the gear to the trip. Some shorter trips, for example, permit me to bring more fishing gear than I really need ;) .... But not to change the subject, I am planning a multi-day trip that has me leaning towards a solar unit. I will be in a position that should receive ample sun. All said, I like the idea of also seeing what my team will be bringing so as to mix and match. I'll do my best to circle back with a report over the days/weeks to come. Thanks again!
- Bernard

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bobby49
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Re: Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

Post by bobby49 » Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:20 pm

For a typical backpacker with typical electronic devices (headlamp, etc.), there is little to be gained by carrying a solar panel. The issue is weight, cost, and the degree of effort it takes to keep the panel oriented toward the sun. If you were headed up to Mount Everest Base Camp to stay for three weeks, then the answer would be very different.

There is more to be gained by power conservation in the devices. Some headlamps are much more efficient than others. Some accept slide-in replacement batteries. My GPS receiver will run just about forever on one pair of batteries. Of course I do not stay up late at night in the tent reading novels by headlamp.

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ironmike
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Re: Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

Post by ironmike » Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:57 pm

I don’t really consider a headlamp an electronic device, however strange that sounds. I’m thinking more of more smart devices like phones, watches, PLB/GPS devices, etc. These are things that I’m typically using nearly non-stop during the day, but hardly at all at night. Which is another reason I prefer the no-muss no-fuss Anker brick approach.

As a reference point, I took a 24000 mAH battery for an 8-day backpacking trip last month, and kept my iPhone and Garmin watch charged for the whole trip, and still came back with about a one-third charge left in the Anker.

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bobby49
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Re: Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

Post by bobby49 » Sun Oct 04, 2020 8:52 pm

ironmike wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 7:57 pm
I don’t really consider a headlamp an electronic device, however strange that sounds.
Modern headlamps are much more than a light bulb and a switch. There is an LED which must be switched on and off with a specific duty cycle at a specific rapid rate. All of that is controlled by a tiny electronic chip. That's just a start. Some of mine have two or three levels of complexity beyond that in order to get maximum light with the minimum battery usage.

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Re: Favorite Lightweight Solar Charger?

Post by Bernard » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:19 am

I am still exploring devices but I do really appreciate this thread. I hope to circle back over time. Thus far I have very much enjoyed the suggestion of the Anker brand battery pack. For me - Relying on the sun in some instances (I love the trickle-charge while you hike idea) is a tad dicey in fall - even with clear skies. Finding one's self in the shade for much of the day can be a possibility. I crawl river gorges a lot so sometimes I am in the shade even in summer. Interestingly enough, on my most recent trip, I was reminded of the simple art(?) or philosophy(?) or question: "I am out in nature, why the heck do I need to futz with my devices?" - and I am not a hard core photographer nor do I spend time in camp playing Tetris. All said, for now, I think all would agree that having a good charge as one exits to contact family or use in an emergency is smart. You do not want to have a phone at 5%. My recent trek had us going off the grid literally moments after finding out that some family had developed Covid symptoms so we were insanely anxious to get updates upon exiting. *Everyone is ok. Being well-charged did help.
B.

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