How to Power Gadgets While in Nature

I spent three days camping and hiking in the mountains of Utah last week and used my iPhone to snap the above photo while slightly downhill from the summit of Mount Timpanogos, which has an elevation of 11,749 feet.  In preparation for this trip, I researched for a sustainable, backpacker-worthy solution to keeping my iPhone powered in order to take photos, jot notes, listen to music, and maybe communicate with family when presented with an available signal.  I don’t have an iPad, but this solution works for both iPhones and iPads, either one.  Here’s what you need:

#1: Instapark 10-watt Portable Solar Charger
Price: ~$70 on Amazon.

This foldable, 10-watt package has a pocket with the USB charging ports to keep your gadgets unexposed while the panels harvest energy from the sun.  I received a defective version, and the manufacturer immediately replaced the product.

#2: Anker Astro2 Dual-USB 8400 mAh Battery Pack
Price: ~$55 on Amazon.

A battery pack gives you the ability to store power to charge your iPhone even when there’s no available sun.  I powered the Astro2 with my solar panels and got several phone charges out of this little workhorse.

#3: Nite Ize Gear Ties 6-Inch
Price: ~$6 (2-Pack) on Amazon.

Nite Ize makes colorful gear ties that can be used to strap solar panels to your backpack, tent, or anything else.  With two sets of these ties, you can strap the solar panels to the top and bottom of your backpack and bank solar power all day.

What do you use to keep powered while in the middle of nature?

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  • James Monsen

    Check out Goal Zero. Great solutions for power outdoors or in.

    • Preston

      Yeah, I looked at their system at REI and know one of the engineers there. I read a lot of reviews that had problems with iPhone compatibility and decided against it early. I guess with the battery set-up I used, I could’ve gone with one of those systems, too. GZ looks to have a cleaner design.

  • Nick

    Great tips for people who prefer to have power on their long camping or backpacking trips!

  • Tom Mills

    Did this unit charge the phone directly? I’ve got a Solio Bolt, but it charges a battery and that charges the phone. I’ve been looking for something that goes direct sun to phone. Enjoy the blog. –Tom

    • Preston

      I didn’t try that but will give it a shot and let you know. The materials seem to indicate that a direct charge is possible.

  • SNM

    Forget the GearTie, reuse a twist tie.

  • SNM

    Forget the GearTie, reuse a twist tie.

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