Back in the day when TreeHugger started, when the pictures were small and we were all about green products, and long before Kickstarter existed, Shayne McQuade’s original Voltaic Backpack was actually launched on TreeHugger. Shayne was on our board of advisors and our many posts about the backpack always had (full disclosure: this is a friend of TreeHugger's) buried in them.
There have been many changes since then, but Shane is still a friend of TreeHugger's and is still at it. He tells TreeHugger that he has “bought in some serious design talent to start over on our backpack design and couldn't be happier with the results.”
Also changed in 12 years is the power the backpack puts out; Shayne started the company out of "the frustration of trying to keep a cell phone charged on the road"; we noted that “It charged our phones etc. as promised. It'll charge an iPod but won't charge a laptop.” Founder Graham Hill was also surprised at how many people stopped to ask about it.
Now, people are pretty blasé about solar backpacks, computers take a lot less juice, nobody has an iPod. The Array model has “an embedded 10 Watts of solar power. The Array is the only backpack capable of powering laptops, DSLR camera, and even drones. Includes a 19,800mAh external battery pack.” The OffGrid model has a bit less juice, “enough power for a smartphone, tablet, or DSLR camera. It features a 6 Watt solar panel and 4,000mAh battery (optional V44, 12,000mAh battery upgrade).”
Shane didn’t have Kickstarter to kick around on back then, which has become a great marketing tool and a way to generate pre-sales. And where the original backpack cost US $229, ( $ 487 in today’s dollars) the OffGrid has an early bid price of $ 119 and a retail expected at $ 149. So you get more power, more space, more of everything for a lot less money.
So much has changed in a dozen years, but some things just keep getting better. More on Kickstarter.