If you’re going off the grid for a while or just want to have a reliable power source when outlets are scarce, this Goal Zero solar charging kit really delivers.
I’ve reviewed a lot of different solar chargers over the years, from the good to the almost useless. This is the best kit I’ve tried for people who want outlet-strength charging for their gadgets that won’t require two days in the sun. You get a ray-catching fold-out solar panel, a 4-AA battery pack (batteries included), and various cords for different scenarios.
When I tried this out for the first time, I was amazed how fast it worked. Accustomed to small panels that take 6-8 hours to charge up in full sunlight, this Goal Zero Nomad 7 panel charged up my smartphone from 20% to full in 2.5 hours. It took less than four to charge up the battery pack of dead batteries, whether using theirs or four of my own rechargeables.
That Guide 10 battery pack is one of the key benefits of this Guide 10 Plus kit. You can charge up the ones that came with it and use those to power up other devices later when you need to, like in the middle of the night or early morning on the move. Or you can use those batteries or others in your super-zoom camera, lantern powered with AA batteries, travel flashlight, etc. Bring enough spares with you and you’ve got days of ready power at the ready—just put the AAs into this Goal Zero pack and you’ve got an instant charger.
The battery pack even has its own built-in LED flashlight to help you find what you need in the dark. It also charges up AAA batteries.
Without it you can charge directly from the solar panel. I did this with two smartphones, and iPod Touch, and a Windows Asus Vivo tablet. I would plug them into the USB port in the morning and be fully charged up before I was done with lunch. There’s a netted pouch in the back of the panel that holds these items (keeping them shaded from the sun) and all the accessory cords.
One cord is USB to micro USB, another is a car adapter that will charge up the battery pack. Yes, you can charge the batteries with good ole electric power and use this as a regular travel charger as well, for trans-Pacific flights on the way perhaps.
With continual improvements in the design over the years, all of this together weighs less than 1.5 pounds and since the panel fold up, it all takes up very little space in your backpack. Heck you can even strap the the panel to your pack as you’re hiking and charge up the batteries on the move.
The Goal Zero Guide 10 Solar Adventure Kit lists for $120, which is a fair price for a solar panel set-up with this output plus the battery pack and cords. Get it direct from Goal Zero, at many retail stores, or online at Summit Hut, Backcountry, or Amazon.
(See Ramsey’s take from two years ago on an earlier version of the Guide 10 Adventure Kit.)