Solar Power for Camping, Hiking and Photo GearI live simply, and when camping do the same. I'm not one to watch TV at night at home or while traveling. I tend to watch the night sky and do a bit of reading or art-making while camping. I do watch movies at home, but prefer the quiet of camping and my connection to the land and universe. On a cold night I light a fire and enjoy friends and family at camp.
When dry camping, I like to keep my 12V house battery charged for lights and to run the water pump and toilet. I bought a 50 watt and a 35 watt solar panel. The 50 watt panel came with a kit that includes a 12V backup battery for traveling and to charge AC devices. I have not needed the 50 watt for my limited power needs in my Saturn. All of my interior and exterior lights are LEDs so they use very little juice. I turn off the water pump when not in use.
|At Wahweap campground, a 35 Watt Solar Panel is hooked up |
to trickle charge my rig when dry camping. It's often sunny out here
in the Southwest, so solar is the way to go.
|Boondocking in Utah, my solar panel has kept my 18 footer fully charged |
for a week of camping. When I unhook and go for a backcountry 4WD,
I disconnect the panel and take it with me, for emergency power.
Since taking this photo in the fall, I've removed the awning as it was torn, and had a lot of mold when unrolled. I will replace it.
|While dry camping (boon docking) in Colorado, I kept my battery charged |
by solar trickle charge.
Solar Power for Hiking and Backpacking
I am a photographer, and carry lots of camera gear while hiking. Digital cameras eat batteries for lunch, so it's important to be able to keep the batteries charged in the field. On a recent 5 day backpack, I tested a few solutions to battery use. One solution was to carry 3 dedicated Nikon batteries for my D5100 (my lightest weight camera body); another idea was to use the Goal Zero to charge the AA batteries for use in my point and shoot over the 5 day trip. Here are some suggestions to increase the battery power when recharging at home is not an option.
- Try to limit the amount of "chimping", reviewing every photo. (any monkey can do that)
- When shooting video, which requires the use of the LCD, don't review when finished recording
- Weigh the difference between carrying extra batteries for your cameras, or re-charging in the field
|The battery pack has inputs for the solar panels and USB devices.|
It includes an LED light that runs for 120 hours.
|The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit, weighs just 1.2 lbs and sells for around $80. at Amazon|
Here's how it works, hang the Goal Zero Panel on your daypack or camera bag, and hook up
the battery pack. The panel will charge the battery pack in 2 hours.
Connect your USB device to the battery pack and charge
your iPhone, iPad or digital camera.
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