I was recently interviewed for an article about solar chargers. Many who read this blog know that I'm not a fan of carrying them on east coast trails for one reason... Check out the article below!
Solar panels have become a popular way to charge devices on the go, whether hiking, mountain biking, or just spending time outdoors. But depending on the region you’re in, relying solely on the sun for power may not be the best option. What works in the real world? To find out, we spoke with two diehard hikers who have carried solar chargers in all conditions. Here, they share their stories about what works, what doesn’t — and how to choose the right setup for your own adventures.
Location and Climate
First, it’s important to evaluate where you’ll be using the charger. Not surprisingly, solar panels need direct sunlight. Without direct sunlight, the panel will turn on and off as it collects and doesn’t collect power.
Hiking on the East Coast typically means you’ll be in and out of direct sunlight throughout the day. Jennifer “Sprinkles” Kelley is a backpacking guide who has hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT), Long Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, and half of the Finger Lakes Trail. She’s also completed the Great Smoky Mountains 900 miles, and documents her adventures online.
Throughout her adventures, she has attempted to use a solar charger a number of times. On the AT, Kelley sent her charging system home after the first 30 miles when she realized the tree cover wouldn’t allow for enough direct sunlight.
In 2013, Kelley worked at the AT Lodge in Millinocket, Maine—the closest town to Mount Katahdin and where most AT thru-hikers start or finish their journeys.
“Solar chargers were the number one item I took out of packs during pack shakedowns. Hikers refused to believe that the AT is called the green tunnel for a reason,” Kelley tells Digital Trends. “Often, when we picked hikers back up at Jo-Mary Road (approximately 50 miles south on the trail), hikers would then mail home the chargers.”
Now she guides backpacking trips in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and she still has trouble convincing people to leave their solar chargers at home.
“I’ll tell people to leave behind the charger and they’ll sneak it back into their packs,” Kelley says. “On the last morning of a trip, I ask: ‘tell me two things you brought with you that you’ll never bring backpacking again.’ People always admit to bringing the chargers.”
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/outdoors/how-to-choose-a-solar-panel-charger-for-backpacking/#ixzz4TJkLrrIx