Solar battery pack allows you be a Freeloader with your gadgets (Review)
The iSIS Freeloader battery pack and Supercharger solar panel, when combined with the CamCaddy camera battery charger, make up a solid globetrotting gadget-charging bundle.
For mobile gadget charging, especially when you don't have time to wait by an outlet, or there simply isn't one, a backup battery pack can be a lifesaver. If your device battery is dying but you still need to use your phone or GPS or camera, it's really handy to be able to charge your device while it's in your bag or pocket, without being tethered to a wall outlet. And if you also have a portable solar charger with you to recharge the backup battery, then you've got a convenient method for generating your own clean power when and where you need it.
There are a lot of choices for solar chargers and batteries on the market, but one convenient solar bundle is the Globetrotter Click collection, from Solar Technology International, which includes the iSIS Freeloader solar battery, the 5W Freeloader Supercharger panel, and the CamCaddy2 attachment (for charging block-style camera batteries). As with many solar gadgets, there's almost always a compromise to be made - between having a device that's small enough to be portable, yet large enough to provide fast charging times and decent battery capacity - and this solar bundle is no exception.
© Solar Technology InternationalThe Freeloader iSIS, which was a 2014 Red Dot Design winner, measures 25mm x 76mm x 137mm (including the protective case) and weighs 240g, and has a 4000mAh lithium polymer battery inside. The iSIS (£64.99) can be charged either through the built-in 220mA solar cells, or by connecting the Supercharger 5W solar panel, or via a micro USB port. The device has two built-in charging arms, one with a Lightning connector and one with a micro USB connector, as well as a standard USB out port, so a variety of gadgets can be powered without extra adapters or connectors. According to the company, it's possible to charge two gadgets at the same time, but I'm guessing that the output would be split between the two, which might not work with bigger devices, but would be OK for smaller gadgets.
© Solar Technology InternationalCharging the iSIS with its own small solar cells can take a long time (up to 20 hours), so the device can either be charged ahead of time and topped off in the sun, or it can be connected to the Supercharger, which is a lightweight 5W 5V 1A solar panel. The Supercharger (£49.99), which is waterproof and features a rubber body that includes places for straps, weighs in at 340g, measures 176mm x 270mm x 10mm, and can directly charge a smartphone in about 3 hours. When the Supercharger is used as a booster for the iSIS, it cuts down the charge time for that battery pack to about 6 hours.
© Solar Technology InternationalThe CamCaddy2 is a block-style camera battery charger designed to work with the iSIS or Supercharger (or with a 12V input from a wall charger or other source), and can charge batteries ranging from 3v to 9v, and in different contact point locations. The body of the device adjusts to fit differently sized batteries, and the contact points can be adjusted to fit a variety of configurations found on camera batteries. CamCaddy2 (£19.99) weighs 65g and measures 55mm x 106mm x 24mm, so it's small and light enough to carry with in a camera bag.
I recently got to spend some hands-on time with all three devices in the Globetrotter Click collection, which can each be bought separately as well:
Find out more about the iSIS Freeloader solar battery, the Supercharger, or the CamCaddy2, at Power Your Adventures.
[Disclosure: I was sent a review bundle from Solar Technology International, but did not receive any other compensation, and all opinions in this post are mine.]