View Full Version : The solution to all electronic power issues for hikers.

12-29-2014, 21:42

I was chosen to be a beta tester. I never got a chance to actually beta test because they had unexpected changes in schedule but I've talked at length with one of the main engineers and it's supposed to be a very potent device. Charging something like an Iphone will be child's play.
After doing some calculations with him I learned that in all probability I'd be able to very easily charge something like a sherpa 50 battery from goal zero with room to spare.

12-29-2014, 22:25
When I looked at it , my immediate thought was the time we had 11 days of rain in a row ('95) and I was hiking through 10 of them.
The trail was simply a fairly large creek.
I can't imagine this thing would work in those conditions.

People tend to think there are such things as waterproof.
Not in some conditions.
There is not!

But, hey it might work for those nice days.
I hope so.

12-29-2014, 22:32
Interesting. I'd have to see specifics. The website wasn't too descriptive. Super interesting.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

12-29-2014, 22:34
They explicitly told me that it was 100% waterproof, which is not hard to believe considering it's just an insole. The way it works is it uses the mechanical energy from your foot steps to spin a motor which charges the battery. The output is powerful and reliable unlike a solar panel and other methods.

12-29-2014, 22:36
https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAUQjhw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.damngeeky.com%2F2012%2F10%2F0 6%2F5921%2Fsolepower-charges-your-mobile-phone-as-you-walk-or-run.html&ei=kQ-iVKbiLpHUoATG2oDwBw&bvm=bv.82001339,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNEpgmjXfgAFEAVtrB4wpq4LTSoDnA&ust=1419993337392928

That's a picture of an early prototype to give you an idea (obviously it looks nothing like that now).

12-30-2014, 08:43
There is real power there for the taking if they can harvest it. Not that the power is free, and such a device would increase the weight of the shoe also, but it is also using what normally goes to waste (heat). MY question would be and has been raised, how to make it durable, which includes walking through water and mud and also freezing temps.

12-30-2014, 09:30
I don't remember the exact number but they told me that it was pretty well weather proofed and that it should last some ridiculously high number of miles before wearing out. Also I think they said that the sole+the battery is a combined 6-8 ounces. I'll have to sort though my email records if I want exact information.
In any case, i talked at length with one of the developers and it SEEMS to be well rounded based on the information.
My impression was that they were trying hard to make it ideal for all types of situations. They want to use this for all types of applications like 3rd world countries and I might have saw mention of the military somewhere.
Supposedly it will be ready for release soon so we'll see. Too bad I never got a chance to beta test it.

12-30-2014, 09:54
It would add asymmetry to your gait--a little more work and weight, and a different "feel" on one foot--and that would worry me a little (I assume it's on one foot only). Not that many people have a perfectly symmetrical gait to begin with.

Generators for bicycle wheels have been around for a long time and they're getting more sophisticated for today's electronics. You can get a bike hub with a USB port. But most cyclists do not use them because of the extra drag, weight, and expense, not to mention lack of any need, really. And advances in very efficient LED lighting make battery power more attractive. But for all-day and -night electronic device use during long periods away from a power source, they work well for a few people. Hey, that sounds like the modern AT hiker. And plenty of people just like gadgets. So there's probably a market. (I never thought the Steripen would be marketable for a thru hike.)

It may be more effective than the solar panels many hikers carry.

Consider that an average AT hike requires about five million steps, and many of those steps are not in laboratory conditions as Fiddlehead and Starchild mention. I wear out a pair of Superfeet insoles on a typical thru hike, and the $40 cost is not negligible. I see they haven't set a price yet.

The Cleaner
12-30-2014, 09:55
IMO the best option is to leave them at home. A map and compass should do. Some don't even know how to use these high tech gizmos anymore.I hiked about 4000 miles in the 80s w/o any electronic devices.I will admit it is nice to post to Facebook from the trail though:eek:. Just a little humor, no offense to the OP.....

12-30-2014, 10:00
I'm not 100% sure on this so don't quote me. But the 2 things I know on that subject is that when they were planning for me to beta test. They intended for me to wear one on each foot. It doesn't make much sense to have one foot weigh more than the other so I'm going to ASSUME that they are sold in pairs.
They told me the pricing was to be at around 200$.

12-30-2014, 10:01
Wish this website would let us edit our posts for once lol.

12-30-2014, 10:05
One of these days a trail club will get the brilliant idea to hook SOLAR PANELS to their new shelters then Voila electricity on the AT. but seriously all a person has to do is go into a town every now and then, fully charge all their electronic crap and the charge should last to their next town visit and if it doesn't it's not going to be the end of the world, Hikers depend way too much on electronics these days.

12-30-2014, 10:15
For the AT. Yeah I can totally see the argument against needing to keep things powered. I'm more of a fan of the CDT. I go many days between resupply, I'f I'm lazy, more than a week. I also HATE paper maps lol, I stare at gps all day and use rechargeable headlamps because I like night hiking. Feel free to laugh but I also bring my ipod and my PSP with me on my hikes. (Yes for real :P)
I usually use a 17w solar panel from voltaic (Never use goal zero panels!!!) to charge a sherpa 50 battery to power all of that. For me the extra weight is worth the vast increase in convenience however I could cut down on a lot of weight if these insoles turn out to be the real deal.

12-30-2014, 10:17
Reddog the AT already has one solar shelter. It is in a town in PA but it a start.

12-30-2014, 10:31
Reddog the AT already has one solar shelter. It is in a town in PA but it a start.

Yeah i know about that one i have actually slept their. Hikers depends WAY too much on electronics these days. but you guys do know that they are a company out their that has a BackPacking Style Solar Panel that a person can actually carry in their pack and set it up when they need too( little on the Heavy side though ), if i was a elctronic dependant hiker this would be they way i would do it.

Odd Man Out
12-30-2014, 10:44
I'm thinking of the old "one pound on your foot equals five pounds on your back" rule. So I question the wisdom of attaching a weight to your foot.


12-30-2014, 11:08
Yeah, that's been on my mind too. I think it really comes down to your power needs. The insoles are supposed to provide some serious power so for me it's worth it. Solar panels are great and all if you know which ones to get and how to properly harness their power but they will never be a reliable source of energy.

12-30-2014, 12:00
I'm in the "see it to believe it" camp. So far none of these kinetic energy devices have gotten off the ground yet. Maybe this one will.

In order to spin the motor (which has to be really thin) there has to be heel movement, the more the better. Having a squishy heel might take some getting used to. The gyroscopic action of the motor (if it has much of any mass) might be a little weird too. The other thing, it would have to use some very powerful magnets. Might be difficult to get your feet out of a car wearing a pair of those :)

12-30-2014, 14:12
I'm guessing it's some kind of solid state pressure transducer on an IC, amped up to provide the voltage. I doubt there are any moving parts or magnets. Solid state has a chance in the environment.

Good to hear they're talking about a matched pair.

Last year the gizmo was the generator that worked off stove heat.

12-30-2014, 14:34
I'm guessing it's some kind of solid state pressure transducer on an IC, amped up to provide the voltage. I doubt there are any moving parts or magnets. Solid state has a chance in the environment.

Piezo electric is very inefficient. Micro watts at best. It's good for making sparks in lighters though. To get any kind of reasonable power you need magnets and wire.

It's possible the "motor" is more like the shake and bake charging sticks. I could see the heel pushing a flat bar magnet through a coil of wire with a return spring. Hum, if that's not how their doing it, I better patent the idea quick :)

12-30-2014, 14:46
I hope they didn't tap mom and dad for financing.

Del Q
12-30-2014, 22:52
A few years back there was talk about tapping the movement of the pack. LOT of side to side movement. Like maybe 30,000 steps per day?

02-04-2015, 08:07
I have done a lot of research and found Snow Lizard iPhone cases. They are waterproof, shockproof, and have a battery in the case that over doubles your battery. Yeah they have a solar charger witch I agree is not going to that useful on the AT. It may be more useful on the PCT or anywhere you will get lots of sun. Snow Lizard also has a battery pack that store enough power to charge your phone up to 7 times. I know its a lot of extra weight but this way you carry your power with you and charge in towns. Check out this funny video I made on the electronics I will be taking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YkkepN_zKbA

02-04-2015, 08:48
Not to be a downer, but there is a rule of thumb: "One pound on your feet = 5 pounds on your back". Not sure myself of the real effective formula here, but I do know that weight on your feet is much more significant than weight on your back in terms of energy use, so 6-8 ounces is kinda like 30-40 ounces carried, call it 2 pounds equivalent on your back. Given that there are tons of batteries out there used for recharging devices, like the Anker:


8 ounces (on your back), 2 1/2 phone charges, should easily handle a week or more between stops.

Just another opinion, don't mean to pee on this gadget, just wouldn't work for me personally.