Solar Powered

Power assisted walking
On my recent trip to Nepal, particularly on the Mera Peak trip and the long nights in the tent, my iPhone was my top gadget.    I used it to read books, (using the Kindle app), listened to a huge variety of podcasts, audiobooks and music,  to watch films and of course to write my blog. My iPhone told me how high I had got on Mera Peak and once I got within range I was able to SMS home to tell everyone I was OK.   I still used a separate camera for taking pictures but suspect that if I practised a bit more I would get equivalent or perhaps better results with the iPhone particularly if I could work out how to use some of the amazing editing apps which are now available.

The trouble with the iPhone is that it gobbles up power and particularly when your using the GPS and it's impossible to get more than a few hours use from the battery.  On my trip across Europe on the E4, I had three supplementary batteries (Trent) and got these recharged each night at whatever hotel or refuge I was staying. Although there are some recharging opportunities in Nepal, at the tea houses, these are fairly expensive and unreliable particularly as you get higher up.  In Nepal, if you're going to use an iPhone or other electrical devices in an intensive way than you might need to think about your own power generation solution.

Solar Panel, battery and adapter
I first came across Matt Aloise and Euro-Solar when I was planning the E4 trip and contacted him again when before setting off to Nepal.  He was knows his stuff and knew exactly what I needed to keep by my iPhone and camera (a Panasonic TZ18) fully charged for the whole trip.  He recommended an Aurora 4 Solar Panel - a four linked panels which fold up and fitted easily into the top pocket of my rucksack - a hyperjuice mini, a battery which you can recharge from the panel and then use to recharge your devices when your not using them - and a Pico C-USB Universal Battery Charger which, as the name suggests can be used to recharge any battery. The whole lot weighed in at 408 grams.

As well as being light the panel is also very sensitive and doesn't need full sunlight to generate a charge - it even generated some charge from inside the tent.  What I tended to do was attach it to my ruck-sack and have the panel connected to the battery which I kept in the rucksack top pocket.  Unless the weather was really bad the battery was charged up after each day's walking and then had more than enough juice to recharge both my iPhone and camera battery.  Blessed with surplus power I ended up providing a recharging service to just about the whole group which made me particularly popular. If it wasn't for the fact that the altitude meant that none of us were drinking alcohol,  I would have been in free beer for the whole trip.


  1. Looks very iteresting, any idea how it works in less-sunny places like the UK? Given the last few months, it'd have to be very water-proof too...

    I assume this is the solar panel, isn't it?

    1. That's the right solar panel and have used it in the UK and it works well.

      It doesn't need to be in direct sunlight to generate a charge but it gets more charge, I think when it is. Pretty sure it's waterproof but it folders up small and instantly so I just put it in the top pocket of the rucksack when conditions were not helpful.

      By the way I'm sure Matt at Solar would take your questions -

      Thanks for the comment


  2. If it wasn't for the fact that the altitude meant that none of us were drinking alcohol, I would have been in free beer for the whole trip.