Photo via Maplin
RedFerret fairly bashes this bag, saying it's simply ugly and useless. They have a point - it's pretty simple, and that bitty little solar cell isn't likely to gather much energy, though they claim 5 hours in the sun will charge up a cell phone. But, after recently calling upon designers to quit dreaming up ugly solar clothing, we're thinking that this bag, with it's understated integration of solar cells, might just be going in the right direction, even if it hasn't yet arrived. Let's look at a few of the other solar bag ideas out there, and then see if this simple design is actually a good thing.
Images via Voltaic
There are a variety of bag styles from Voltaic that are certainly edgier than the plain messenger bag. But you'll have to be comfortable making a statement with solar cells. If you like the idea of getting an actual charge for your gear, and are willing to answer the random question from a passing person, then these are definitely more functional versions of solar bags.
Images via Noon Solar
These bags from Noon Solar are also more functional, but aren't quite as stand-out-ish thanks to their larger solar panel built into the back of the bag. This way you can show off the solar cell, or not - your choice depending on how you feel that day about sporting your geek side. The more understated look is likely appealing to a broader audience, helping to get gadgets off grid a little easier.
Image via Solarjo
Of course, for those who want a really edgy designer look along with their solar - or because of their solar - they have the Power Purse. This thing has been on our radar for years, though, and has yet to come out on the market despite the site that promises a product release.
With this diversity of style already out there, is it a bad thing to have a super simple option for people like the solar powered travel bag bashed by RedFerret? Well, yes, if it doesn't function. And at £14.99 with a teensy solar cell on the front flap, it probably won't do much to keep your gadget batteries charged. However, we like the idea of having understated but useful solar power, and this bag leans towards that. It just goes to show that if we want to have this, then we need far more efficient solar cells so that small installations go far for utility and style.