A river guide puts the Goal Zero Guide 10 solar kit to the test. Is it worthy of a multi-day rafting trip? Read on…
Much as some might grumble and groan, electronics are sneaking their way onto river trips. Whether it’s a GoPro video or an iPhone photo, river rafters want to document and share their adventure. Trouble is, with the nearest electrical outlet tens (sometimes hundreds) of miles away, how to keep your electronics charged becomes quite a challenge.
Over at OARS’ headquarters, the adventure specialists have been receiving plenty of questions regarding portable solar charging units, mostly to ask if they are appropriate for a rafting trip. Because of this, we decided to take a closer look at the Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit made by Goal Zero, one of the most popular portable solar charging units available today, to see how it would fair on a whitewater adventure.
The pack comes with two main components, the Nomad 7 Solar Panel and the Guide 10 Plus Battery Pack. Also included in the package is a USB cable, 12V cigarette adapter, and four rechargeable AA batteries. The solar panel measures 6 x 9 x 1 in., and the battery pack is 2.5 x 4 x .75 in. The battery pack and cables fit nicely into a zippered pocket on the solar panel, folding closed and weighing a total of 1.2 lbs. A complete charge takes approximately 2-4 hours for the battery pack and smart phone, while only 1-3 hours for a cell phone or MP3 player.
Using the Battery Pack and Solar Panel
I found the Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit remarkably easy to use and a breeze to set up. I opened the panels and allowed it to “warm up” for about ten minutes. My cell phone battery had 60 percent power, and the first time I plugged it into the solar panel charge, I didn’t see the battery charging symbol. I waited an additional ten minutes, and then plugged it in again. Finally it started to charge and after one hour of killing time while soaking up the rays, my iPhone was up to 80 percent. Awesome. A nicely added bonus is a small LED flashlight on the battery pack, which I could see using when looking for my toothbrush on the river at night.
Fit for the River?
The Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit would be a solid option for multi-day rafting trips. For one, we almost always have bright, sunny weather (a never ending supply of energy). Secondly, when we pull into camp in the early afternoon, there’s still plenty of time to pull out the solar panels and get some good ole’ charging done. And lastly, I was impressed with the burliness of the kit. It is water-resistant and can be tossed into my dry bag without a worry.
Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit can be bought on their website for $159. It’s an investment, as any outdoor gear can be, but a worthy one for rafting trips and backpacking trips alike.