Sacrilegious as it might seem, electronic devices – including cameras, phones, GPS, speakers, iPads and more -- are almost a given anymore on river and other paddling trips. But you only have one shot at them until your batteries eddy out. All that’s changed with a new breed of solar chargers designed to keep electrons flowing like the river. PL puts the new SunJack portable solar charger by GigaWatt to the test on the Colorado River’s Westwater Canyon…
While our review didn’t require re-charging do-or-die items like GPS units or sat phones, it did for something almost as important: devices brought by teens. Take a river trip with teens and you know that being able to re-charge electronic devices helps ensure they’ll want to return. On our, we had seven teens in tow, all busily taking photos to insta-share afterward. But it was no problem for the SunJack portable solar charger, which had them snapping and chatting all the way to the take-out of the multi-day outing.
“This thing’s awesome,” said Brooke, after powering-up her iPhone 5. “I might even use it at home.” After her, two other kids lined up to re-charge their cameras.
Indeed, it’s about as easy as an outlet. Designed to re-charge cameras, phones, GPS systems and more, the four-panel Sunjack can charge any USB device, from phones and tablets to GPS, cameras, speakers and more, making it easy keep memories, music and more coming throughout the entire trip. Just bring your usual charging cord and let it do the rest.
It works two ways. Spread out its four solar panels so they’re basking in the sun and the SunJack harnesses solar energy for direct charging. Simply plug in your device and charge away. But it also stores power in a removable UltraSlim battery for use later anytime you need it, even in the dead of night. Simply plug into the battery source and you can charge away.
After five hours of direct sunlight, the 14-watt device has the capacity to power four iPhones. It also comes with LED SunJack USB CampLight that can run off the juice for nine hours. Better still, the kit’s batteries also let you simultaneously power four to six USB devices at a rate equal to an on-grid charge speed of 2 Amps – twice as fast as most other solar charger batteries on the market.
All this means that a power source is always right at your fingertips, even in the boonies of canyon country, for reading books on your Kindle, keeping your camera’s shutter clicking and more.
Plus, you’re supporting a good cause with the charging. For every 20W SunJack sold, GigaWatt donates a 14W SunJack with LED light to a rural village in Papua New Guinea to provide energy independence.
Info: ($149.95); www.thesunjack.com