Personal electronics are an integrated part of our lives. Everyone has either a smartphone, tablet or some other small device on them at all times. Personal and small electronics have always been available for camping and hunting, but have been limited by the battery life and tend to get left behind because of that.
Solar power is the best way to keep devices charged in almost any environment. Solar is free and usually available. The obvious downside is that solar panels only can be used during the day, and optimally, in sunny conditions.
Although with the advancement of devices, the power needs have advanced as well. Rechargeable batteries have a hard time keeping up with the power needs. This has created a demand for portable power cells, to store extra power when other sources are not available.
Also, now that smartphones, tablets and wearable devices have become so common, there has been in increase for on the go recharging of these device. This demand, of course, also comes from campers and hunters. Enerplex is fulfilling that demand with a line of solar panels and portable power cells to keep devices charged in the field.
In terms of battery and power, in field devices fall into three categories: cell phone battery, tablet/laptop battery and 110 ac. EnerPlex has several lines of solar panels and battery packs to accommodate each of the battery and power needs.
EnerPlex provided me with their Kickr II, Kickr IV and the Jumpr Slate 5K to test. These solar panels and battery cells are intended for cell phone batteries and tablet/laptops.
The Kickr II is EnerPlex’s smaller and most durable solar panel. It is designed to be lightweight, flexible and simple. The Kickr II comes with a USB cable that has a micro-USB, mini-USB and 30-pin adapter; a strap and buckle for attaching to your backpack, bike or tent; and a pouch to store the cable and your device.
The Kickr II is made with flexible solar panels that allow this thing to take a beating. The panel can be twisted and bent without damaging the panels.
The Kickr II is rated for 3.5 watts in ideal sunlight. In testing, the panel was able to max out at 3.5 watts, but due to the inconsistency of the sunlight, the wattage would vary. It is also rated at 0.6 amps. Again, in testing, the panel was able to hit the 0.6 amps, but was not able to maintain it due to changes in the sunlight.
To charge an iPhone 5s (1560 mAh battery) it would take 2.6 hours at the full 0.6 amps. Of course, since the change is not a constant 0.6 amps, charge time will vary.
This is where the Jumpr Slate 5K becomes handy. The Jumpr Slate 5K is a 5100 mAh battery pack with a 2.4 amps output. The 2.4 amps output is where the Jumpr Slate 5K really excels. Apple devices have a tendency to not accept power sources that are too low. The Jumpr Slate 5K was able to provide a charge to the iPad Air with no issue, even with a mostly cloudy sky.
The Jumpr Slate 5K comes with an integrated micro-USB cable for easy charging. It also has a standard USB port for other connection types (i.e. Lightning connector). The Jumpr Slate 5K is also very thin and lightweight, you’ll never realize it’s in your pack.
When you need more power for your devices or battery packs, EnerPlex has the Kickr IV. The Kickr IV is the big brother of the Kickr II, with double the panels and double the power output. The Kickr IV is made of the same durable and flexible material as he Kickr II, but due to its increased size, is not nearly as portable. The Kickr IV is more of basecamp solar panel to charge larger devices and battery packs.
The Kickr IV also comes with a USB cable with a micro-USB, mini-USB and 30-pin adapter. It also comes with several elastic bands to hang, mount and suspend the panels as needed to face the sun.
The Kickr IV is rated for 6.5 watts in ideal sunlight. In testing, the panel was able to max out at 6.5 watts, but due to the inconsistency of the sunlight, the wattage would vary. It is also rated at 1.2 amps. Again, in testing, the panel was able to hit the 1.2 amps, but was not able to maintain it due to changes in the sunlight.
To charge an iPhone 5s (1560 mAh) it would take 1.3 hours at the full 1.2 amps. Of course, since the change is not a constant 1.2 amps, charge time will vary.
The Enerplex line of solar panels and battery packs performed exceptionally well. Even when the clouds moved overhead, the panels were able to generate some amount of power. The only downside was that the current line of solar panels need to include a Lightning adapter for the latest line of iOS devices, although that is solved with the USB port on each panel and battery pack. Just bring your own cable. Final verdict: with the mix of low weight, high durability and remarkable performance make these panels and battery packs a must for anyone out in the field.
Enerplex is debuting their new line of products at the 2014 Outdoor Retailer on August 6–9, including a line electric battery generators. If you’re at the convention, be sure to stop by and check out how flexible the panels are; you’ll be surprised.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Photo (top): Inner Fidelity