In just over two months, Kaleigh and I will depart the relative safety and security of our Hong Kong home, once again hitting the road in search of adventure.
Having recently become a paid blogger, there are a few extra gizmos I’ll need on the road ahead, to hopefully keep the paycheques rolling.
Kaleigh and I enjoy spending much of our time ‘off the grid’ which means no electricity or way of recharging my camera equipment.
After a weekend checking out the solar powered options, I’ve pieced together a list of the best gear for charging almost every device under the sun (see what I did there?) and ranked them from budget to bank breaker.
Why you should engage with our star
Not everyone wants the ability to charge their electronic devices while being out in the wild. In fact, most head out there in order to cut all connection with a stressful society.
But apart from keeping you plugged into work, there are plenty other reasons why solar chargers can come in handy outdoors.
- A fully charged phone connects you to the outside world and its emergency services. While a dead battery renders the device only useful as a signaling mirror.
- Many portable electronics have a USB charging function, so, if you choose wisely at the store, you’ll rarely have to worry about being left in the dark
- Ideally, you should have and know how to use a map/compass, however, as a backup, I strongly recommend carrying a GPS device on big adventures. Unfortunately, while communicating with satellites above, they can quickly run out of juice. But not forever – IF – you have a solar charger.
- Personally, I prefer nature’s soundtrack when I’m out in the wild alone. But when with a group of friends, it’s a different story, as I want the tunes playing all night every night. Which means charging up every day.
“I just can’t do it Captain, she does-knee have the power!”
Sure, a bright and sunny day will allow you to collect more solar energy than a cloudy one, but you certainly don’t need clear blue skies.
Even when left basking in the summer sun, all devices have a limit to the charge they can store.
Cheaper chargers are more compact but supply a lower power output – only suitable for smaller items like phones.
In order to keep the laptop and DSLR juiced on the move, I’ll have to flash some serious cash…
Best-of-the-best ranked by price
These panels can be hung from your backpack while on the move or angled against a rock for maximum exposure.
The large panels absorb enough sun to charge two USB devices at a time, but come with no storage capability, meaning you’ll also need to buy a battery or two.
This bad boy will charge your phone and go pro’s FAST or can connect to large power banks (see comments above and below) capable of supplying tablets with a charge.
Another handy feature is that the panels can link with others of the same brand, meaning you and your mates can set up a super-solar charging wall.
Recommended by outdoor digital nomad and stuntwoman, Alice Ford. This setup can pump enough rays through the wires to juice a laptop. A great option for adventure travel blogging on the go.
Enough power to send the Enterprise to warp (almost) this is the bank breaker, but current ultimate in amateur ‘off-the grid’ portable power.
You can’t expect too much from a single solar panel set up. To meet all the camp’s energy needs (lights, music, etc) from the sun, you’ll need multiple solar panels linked together.
For myself, only recharging a couple of select items, it was a toss-up between the two mid-range models. While the Nomad 20 is half the price of the next model up, it’s not going to deliver on powering my goods, especially on really cloudy days.
The Sherpa 50 is, without doubt, my chosen solar charging device for heading to South/Central America with. It’s lightweight, durable, and completely capable of powering the GoPro’s, DSLR camera, and laptop over a couple of days.
Join me on our next adventure to become dive instructors in Central/South America this July. Subscribe to Intrepidlee.com for more intrepid travel articles.