Folding waterproof solar charger packs a pocket-sized punch

Flextech Solar PocketPower
© Flextech Solar

Portable solar chargers keep getting lighter, smaller, and more rugged, and PocketPower promises to deliver on all three of those features at a low price.

The first portable solar charger I ever tried out was large, heavy, and relatively fragile, which meant that it wasn't nearly as portable as it should be in order to be useful beyond car trips or as part of an emergency preparedness kit. After all, who really wants to haul a briefcase-sized glass solar panel along with them to charge their small personal electronics unless they have no other choice? I certainly didn't, so that solar charger quickly became a dust-gathering curiosity, rather than an 'everyday carry' necessity.

Fast forward a few years, and we're now seeing portable solar chargers that are lightweight, flexible, efficient, and can fold up to fit into a bag (or even a pocket), which is where this latest mobile solar charger looks to shine, as it's waterproof and rugged, while also fitting into a small space for maximum portability.

The PocketPower, from the folks at Flextech Solar who brought the Powerleaf charger to market, is a 6.4W folding solar charger with an "intelligent" voltage regulator that ensures devices will auto-restart the charging process in the event of an interruption in direct sunlight hitting the unit (due to cloudy conditions or the shading of the panels). The device weighs in at less than half a pound, and measures 3.98" x 5.59" x .59" when folded up, yet when open for use, it measures 15.63" x 5.59" x .05", so it's still small enough to clip to a backpack or other location, while delivering a 5V, 1.3A output for charging mobile devices or a battery pack.

The laminated solar charger is said to be dustproof, completely waterproof, and "super durable," while the surface of the solar cells features a "deep embossing" that is said to improve the light absorption rate by adding a micro-texture that increases the solar conversion efficiency of the PocketPower.

Flextech Solar PocketPower© Flextech Solar

While most any portable solar charger can be used to directly power mobile devices, and the PocketPower is no different, it's best to pair it with a battery pack for maximum usefulness. With a battery pack, it can be charged by the solar cells during daylight hours, allowing the solar electricity it generates to be used after dark by plugging into the battery. Flextech Solar is offering a 4000 mAh battery pack as a companion to the PocketPower, with a built-in combination cable delivering a 2.1A output to either a Lightning connector or micro-USB connector. Between the PocketPower and the Powerbank, users will have the flexibility to charge both night and day.

A soon-to-end Kickstarter campaign, which has already reached and surpassed the company's crowdfunding goal, is offering the PocketPower to backers at the $45 level or the solar charger plus the Powerbank at the $61 level, with estimated delivery to backers in April of 2017. Find out more at the campaign page or the company's website.

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