For the outdoor enthusiast, battery life on most electronics lags behind the increasing desire to stay connected. For long hikes, treks, expeditions, kayaking trips and simply camping, many adventurers are turning to solar power to compensate. The UK’s Powertraveller has designed a range of solar powered products to meet this need.
Powertraveller, founded in 2005, started with three main product lines aimed at different size electronics. Each was nicknamed after a type of Primate – Chimp, Monkey, and Gorilla – that helped distinguish the sizes. The smaller versions could power up rechargeable batteries, your iPhone, Smartphone, iPod or GPS Sat-Nav. The larger versions could recharge tablets, e-readers and laptops. Powertraveller has since broadened their range extensively, with updates on the original products, as well as numerous accessories.
I’ve been using the Solarmonkey Adventurer for nearly 6 months now. The Adventurer is an upgrade from the original Solarmonkey, which didn’t hold a charge in its 2-panel, clamshell design, instead feeding a separate storage unit. The Adventurer has improved this by incorporating an internal 2500mAh lithium-ion polymer battery under one of the solar panels. It also contains MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking), which optimizes the output efficiency of the solar cells, allowing devices to be charged in low light. While it takes up to 12 hours in optimal light to fully charge the internal battery, you can still charge your devices at the same time. I got a much needed emergency charge to my iPhone right out the box, long before I’d even begun to fully charge the internal battery.
I’ve met the Powertraveller team twice at Trade Shows in Australia and the US, and will do so again in late January. What most impresses me, beyond the product performance, is their innovation and R&D effort. This applies to new products, as well as new technologies, such as wind power and hydrogen fuel cells. Even the packaging and accessories to the Solarmonkey Adventurer are well thought out. It comes with 5 mobile device tips, an Apple charging cable, a USB/DC charging cable that plugs into any 5V USB output device, a carabiner and protective storage case. The box itself is also designed to store all of this efficiently.
In Australia, Powertraveller is distributed by Sea-to-Summit, who has made Powertraveller products available at many Paddy Pallin, Mountain Design and Snowgum stores across the country, as well as a number of other specialist outdoor retailers. The Solarmonkey Adventurer RRP’s for A$149.95, though I’ve seen it online for as low as A$129.95 at Wild Earth. In New Zealand, you’ll need to search a little harder, though Napier-based Tight Lines, the local distributor, is working to get the product into the marketplace.
Featured Photos: Powertraveller Media Images