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Thread: Solar Chargers

  1. #1
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    Default Solar Chargers

    Hey Everyone!

    I'm headed to hike a section of this AT this summer and I'm looking for suggestions on Solar Chargers. I've been doing a lot of research, but I've seen more negative reviews/comments than positive.

    What have you used that has worked well while on your hike?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    There is a reason for the negative reviews - they don't work on the AT. In order for them to work, they have to be set in direct sun for hours and hours to get any significant charge into a battery pack. A little tiny panel bouncing around the back of the pack while you walk in the green tunnel does not get enough sun to do much of anything.

    Get a USB power pack and charge it in town. Also learn how to extend the battery life of your phone by using airplane mode and turning off apps which run in the background. That's what works well on a hike.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    There is a reason for the negative reviews - they don't work on the AT. In order for them to work, they have to be set in direct sun for hours and hours to get any significant charge into a battery pack.
    Its worth noting that light levels on/near the ground in a summertime deciduous forest in eastern North America are approximately 1% of what youd find in an adjacent open field.

    Its worth noting that most forest floor herbaceous plants do almost all of their actual growing in the short period between ground thawing and full leaf-out of the trees. Here in Southern Ontario, that period is from two to four weeks long

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    When I hiked the JMT, a Solar Charger worked well. But that was because you often spend time above tree line, and even when you're not above tree line, the forest is MUCH thinner than what you get in Appalachia.

    But even then, I had a camera that was a bit fickle... wouldn't charge unless the panel was pointed at direct sunlight. All I had to do was turn away from the sun or walk thru the shadow of a single tree, and the camera would quit charging.


    Another thing to understand is that even someplace like the JMT, you can't expect to use one of those solar charges that are about the size of your hand. You will need something that is more along the size of 1'x2' in size with specifications of 15W or more in power.

    It's possible for some place with full sun to use a solar panel that's lower in wattage than this, but if you want to have any hope of using solar power on the AT, you need a 15W+ panel. You might also find it handy to take along a small battery (like the Anker lipstick batteries) and charge the battery during the day and your phone from the battery at night. The battery will do better at charging when light is less than perfect. Even on the JMT, I would still suggest charging a battery rather than your phone directly.

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    Here you go, if you want a solar panel that MIGHT work for you along the AT try this one:
    https://www.amazon.com/Anker-Charger.../dp/B012YUJJM8

    (Anker use to have a smaller panel that was listed at 15W and cost about half the price of this, but it looks like this new panel has the same weight as the older panel with much more power... unless they screwed up and have the specs for the older panel while selling this larger panel)

  6. #6
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    I don't have any experience with Solar chargers. I did the same research before my hike last year and came to the conclusion that a battery was the best solution.

    I carry a Samsung S9, and an Inreach SE (old delorme). I kept the Inreach on, sending tracking points about 11 hours per day and sent one or two SMS's per day from it. I kept my Samsung on about 16 hours a day, most of it in Airplane mode. I ran Guthook on it (GPS) and would listen to music for about an hour each evening. I made very few calls, but sent txt's everyday. The Samsung would last 3 days on a charge the InReach about 2.5 days.

    I carried a 10000 mAh battery, which I could fully recharge either of those devices 4 times, giving me 7-8 days of juice for both devices

    The biggest challenge I found was getting everything recharged in town. Often there was high demand for outlets wherever hikers gathered. The best investment I made was a three port QC 3.0 charger that juiced up all three devices as quickly as possible.

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9CSUX4qKGg&t=310s

    the best info I've found out there for a solar setup suitable to LD hiking and backpacking in wilderness areas.

    It'll probably suck on the Appalachian Trail

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    besides the shade issues on the AT, there is just a lot less use for solar - shorter distance between towns/ charging and lots less use for electronic navigation etc

    I used solar on the pct combined with mid day breaks to get out of the hottest parts of the day - no problem to keep all electrics charged between towns, did not even carry a wall adapter

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    besides the shade issues on the AT, there is just a lot less use for solar - shorter distance between towns/ charging and lots less use for electronic navigation etc

    I used solar on the pct combined with mid day breaks to get out of the hottest parts of the day - no problem to keep all electrics charged between towns, did not even carry a wall adapter
    Yeah it makes sense on the PCT. The AT has many opportunities to charge up. Did you just bum a wall charger if you stayed in town?

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    Registered User Nolan "Guido" Jordan's Avatar
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    I just keep my phone turned off during the days. I only turn it on just to take pictures and just in case of an emergency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fastfoxengineering View Post
    Yeah it makes sense on the PCT. The AT has many opportunities to charge up. Did you just bum a wall charger if you stayed in town?
    my town stops were in and out, and was already charged

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    ????????????

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    Quote Originally Posted by Decibel View Post
    ????????????
    Yeah what's wrong with you makes perfect sense! not!

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    ..........................
    Last edited by JNI64; 01-25-2020 at 08:58.

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    To much yelling for me

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    Deleted...
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 01-25-2020 at 12:17.

  17. #17

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    Jezzum Dogwood, tell us how you really feel about gear reviews and adivce
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Th e abobve is so WORTH THE LONG READ bit nit thje long read .LOL
    I still don't understand can you elaborate further please?

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    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 01-25-2020 at 12:17.

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    Reminds of that movie carrie, remember her mother?

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