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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Don't waste your money...
    For my last desert hike I did lots of research on solar chargers. It was dissapointing at best.
    You will always need a solar charger that includes a battery (usually you're hiking during the daytime, when the sun is up and the solar panel exposed on top of your pack - you will not want to have your precious smartphone always plugged into the charger, thus making it difficult to use and prone to cable/plug defect.
    So you end up carrying a solar panel, a battery pack and some cables and electronic box.
    If all this stuff is made lightweight, its flimsy and will break just like that.
    If everything is made professional style it will be heavy and expensive, and still you can eaysily crack the panel or rip a plug.

    There are battery packs that include a small solar panel. Forget about these, this is maybe good for eliminating the self-discharging of the battery, but will not harvest any usable solar power.
    A guy I was hiking with had one dangling from his pack - useless stuff.

    I ended up carrying a battery pack that got the best review in a serious European computer magazin. (Varta 6000).

    BTW, I also did some tests with the Biolite woodburning stove, that claims to be able to charge your phone.
    It may be sufficient to charge an old cell phone to a level that you can make a quick call, but to stay realistic, it will not be able to charge a smartphone sufficiently, unless you are willing to stay up and nurse the stove for the whole night.

  2. #22

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    I just picked up a mophie XL and it is outstanding. 5 stars
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  3. #23
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    FWIW, you might make some good friends with the extra capacity. Being able to give someone with you extra capacity would be appreciated.

  4. #24
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    If you're the kind of person that lives and dies by your smartphone, yeah, 10,000 mAh makes some sense.

    If you use the phone rarely, and with careful power management (like Slo described) you can get by with much less.

    External battery packs are pretty cheap nowadays. They all use the same technology.

  5. #25
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    I have a 5W solar panel that works okay. It was cheap but is fairly rigid and does produce a bit of power. I will say that it does not produce much though when you're hiking even affixed to the top of the pack, and it is always a concern as I need to keep it flat and relatively unbent in my pack. It works much better if you take a midday break and have a good period of solid sun exposure. If you have a panel though you will also want a meter to keep track of how much power you're actually getting. Then you have the cables to worry about which can be a hassle. You definitely don't want to try charging devices directly from solar - the only way to use a solar panel and not be utterly frustrated is to use it to trickle charge a power bank.

    $25 for the solar panel: http://amzn.com/B00MGJXITI (130.2 grams)
    $10 for the USB power meter: http://amzn.com/B013FANC9W (26.7 grams)

    So if it doesn't work out it's only a $35 loss and not much extra weight.

  6. #26

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    Solar panels are more practical on western trails where your open to the sun much of the time. On the AT your in the Green tunnel most of the time and don't get much sun.

    As an example, I carried a cheap solar powered garden light on the back of my pack staring at Springer in early April. If it was a nice sunny day, the light would stay on most of the night. (Going NOBO, the suns to your back most of the time which helps) On cloudy days, I would be lucky to get a couple of hours out of it. By the time I got to Damascus, it wasn't getting enough sun to even stay on for a hour, due to the foliage.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenmountainguy View Post
    There are many portable power packs such as "Juice Pack" but I am looking into a solar charger. Many are available for instance in catalogs and any EMS outlet (I have even seen cheap models in big retailers. I am told they work well for a cell phone at least, but do not have wider experience. I am planning to section hike the Long Trail this summer, and I am wondering if really powerful sunlight is needed pretty much always. The power packs (I have one) basically give me one full day of power. After that, I will be down to solar. I will probably take a Sierra Stove (formerly at least called a Zip Stove) and would like to recharge a battery or two for that as well.
    From the reviews I've seen in solar panels at least, they don't seem to charge a device well while charging from the sun. Most reviewers say you will need an external batter (Anker, proprietary brand et al). So. With the amount of time between towns, a good stand alone battery should be enough.


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  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by msoult View Post
    From the reviews I've seen in solar panels at least, they don't seem to charge a device well while charging from the sun. Most reviewers say you will need an external batter (Anker, proprietary brand et al). So. With the amount of time between towns, a good stand alone battery should be enough.
    Yep - the reality is that phones and many other devices will only start charging the battery if receiving a certain baseline amount of power. If it's lower than that, they won't charge. In addition, there are fixed levels of input it can accept. Let's say 1W and 2.1W - if your panel happens to be putting out 1.9W, your device will only be accepting 1.0W and the extra 0.9W will be going to waste. In reality, the sun is moving, clouds are passing, and if the panel is attached to a moving pack things are extremely variable. A smartphone will start charging if plugged in to a solar panel sitting in the sun while it is putting out ample wattage, but let's say it is covered or disturbed for a moment then re-exposed to the sun - most phones will not start charging again unless you then unplug them and plug them back in again. This is completely impossible if you are on the go.

    An external battery, however, will accept whatever amount it is given, as intermittent as it may be. External batteries can generally charge and be charged at the same time, so you can have your panel plugged into your battery plugged into your phone, while on the go with intermittent light, have your phone fully charged, and your battery less drained than it would otherwise be. If you barely use your device(s) and keep them turned off most of the time, the solar panel will provide plenty of power and keep your backup battery full, but if you are using your gadgets and rechargeable batteries all the time, it won't work out so well. Either way, carry a small USB wall plug to fully recharge your battery and other stuff when you do go into town. Solar can be a helpful supplement, but it is difficult to rely exclusively on as conditions are unpredictable.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubblehead View Post
    I will be carrying my i phone 6s and kindle paperwhite with me while hiking springer to HF this coming April....I've been researching how to keep my devices charged in between my trail town stops...I'm looking at the Anker Powercore 20100mAh power bank. Does anyone have experience with this item; or any recommendations on a better device....something that works better or is a little lighter? Thanks....
    I have the Powercore 20100. I like it but have yet to take it out on an extended hike. It's a beast at 12 oz and may be overkill for you. I would suggest practicing good power management unless you're oaky with luggin it along. Also, it won't charge your device while IT'S being charged.
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep."

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey & Gina View Post
    ..... There is ample time to read most days, unless you are really striving for big miles and hiking from the moment you wake up until setting up camp and going straight to bed (which I doubt most bodies can endure for too long).....
    While I am only a section hiker, I have found I read about 1 book every 7-10 days on the trail. I like to wind down spending an hour or two reading each evening - sometimes more on a light day; however, I love to read!

  11. #31
    Registered User Huli's Avatar
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    I am still torn between a battery pack and a panel. I am considering this gizmo because it will charge my headlamp batteries as well as my camera.

    Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DD6B9IK..._rM.QwbZ583C6J

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huli View Post
    I am still torn between a battery pack and a panel. I am considering this gizmo because it will charge my headlamp batteries as well as my camera.

    Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DD6B9IK..._rM.QwbZ583C6J
    I got this to use with my battery for recharging headlamp batteries:
    http://amzn.com/B00PZ6V99U

  13. #33
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Don't waste your money. You will never be in the sun long enough to have it do any good. You need like 12 hours of noon time sun unless you have a panel bigger then your pack. A ZIP stove will run almost forever on one set of batteries.
    CLEARLY YOU DO NOT OWN A GOOD ONE. That being said - I understand... There are light large panels that can charge a phone in two hours. The Military use them,,,, So do I.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

  14. #34
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    And which is that ??


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  15. #35
    Registered User Huli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    CLEARLY YOU DO NOT OWN A GOOD ONE. That being said - I understand... There are light large panels that can charge a phone in two hours. The Military use them,,,, So do I.
    Please, don't leave us hanging. What do you use?

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huli View Post
    Please, don't leave us hanging. What do you use?
    If he told us, he'd have to kill us.

  17. #37
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    If he told us, he'd have to kill us.
    No, if he told us he'd have to admit that the model he's referring to is not "light". There is no way a reasonably light (well less than a pound) solar charger will do the job on the AT. Perhaps on the PCT. I tried a small light one (8 ounces) here in sunny Colorado for my phone. No-go. A one-pound panel would probably work (here in CO).

    "military grade" stuff is limited by the same laws of physics as "civilian" stuff. Don't waste your money or time.

    I say "well less than a pound" being light for a solar panel because as already stated many times, you can get good external battery chargers for 8-9 ounces that will charge a phone many times. I think the sweet spot for on-trail phone charging is about 10,000 mAH, good for 3 full charges (assuming some efficiency losses). 20,000 mAH is overkill and too heavy. All only in my opinion, of course (except the laws of physics thing about "light" solar panels).

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    No, if he told us he'd have to admit that the model he's referring to is not "light". There is no way a reasonably light (well less than a pound) solar charger will do the job on the AT. Perhaps on the PCT. I tried a small light one (8 ounces) here in sunny Colorado for my phone. No-go. A one-pound panel would probably work (here in CO).

    "military grade" stuff is limited by the same laws of physics as "civilian" stuff. Don't waste your money or time.

    I say "well less than a pound" being light for a solar panel because as already stated many times, you can get good external battery chargers for 8-9 ounces that will charge a phone many times. I think the sweet spot for on-trail phone charging is about 10,000 mAH, good for 3 full charges (assuming some efficiency losses). 20,000 mAH is overkill and too heavy. All only in my opinion, of course (except the laws of physics thing about "light" solar panels).
    Agreed. My actual thought was that he was doing a hasty web search to find something that met those requirements, and that he failed to, and that's why there will be no link forthcoming. But, I decided to go the humor route instead.

  19. #39
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    My experience with "military grade" stuff is it usually weighs 40 pounds more than anything else and doesn't work as well as one bought from Amazon/Walmart/etc... Lol

  20. #40

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    After 23 years in the military, "military grade" is often an oxymoron and emits a chuckle. It's like when soap companies say their herbs are a "secret Swiss formula", it makes us think it's better than the stuff sold at Walgreens but really isn't.

    I'll also agree that a 20,000mAh is a little too much. 10,000 is about good for your phone and Kindle. I have a 6S as well and when in airplane mode and using it for pics and vid, I use about 50%-60% power each day. With 4 full charges this gives me enough power until my next resupply/town stop.

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