The PowerMonkey Extreme is Better Than Your Phone Charger AND Waterproof

My phone charging from the battery.
My phone charging from the battery.

A coworker recently lent me their new PowerMonkey Extreme to try out for a camping trip. This portable solar charger and battery combo from Power Traveller is both waterproof and shockproof (waterproof for 30 minutes up to about 3 feet) making it the perfect tool for both paddlers and campers to keep electronics charged.

I have used the Goal Zero Nomad in the past and had charged my phone directly from the panels. I immediately noticed some big differences between the two, the biggest of which was the battery. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this battery is a powerhouse.

It houses a 9,000 mAh capacity Lithium Polymer battery which, in charging terms, translates to 6 iPhone charges or about 8-10 charges for my basic smartphone. I plugged my phone in on the drive home from work and found it fully charged not long after without even putting a dent in the battery’s charge. I was immediately impressed.

Swipe the pad to turn it on or off.
Swipe the pad to turn it on or off.

The battery  ‘on-off’ switch is touch operated and is best described as ‘slick’. Just swipe a finger across the friction control from left to right and up pops a neat LCD display which tells you how much charge is left in the battery. You can also activate a permanent ‘on’ feature which will negate the auto-shutoff that is programmed to occur after fully charging the device that’s connected. Ya.. this thing is smart.

 

 

So how does the battery stay charged?

The solar panel charging the battery pack.
The solar panel charging the battery pack.

To tell you the truth, for the week that I used it, I never put too large of a dent in the battery’s life. Out of the four cell phone charges, I knocked it down 2 bars out of five. I was able to return it to full charge using the solar panel after a few hours in the sun while I went out paddling. It is designed to fully charge the battery within 15 hours in optimum light conditions.

The solar panel is simple and easy to use and compared to the Goal Zero Nomad is more protected and compact, although a bit thicker as a result of the protective housing.

However, this isn’t the only way to charge the battery. It can also hook into a USB port or a universal main charger which comes standard with every kit. That’s right – the solar panel is not even close to your only option!

Charging my phone directly from the solar panels.
Charging my phone directly from the solar panels.

Solar-Ability

Let’s not forget about the solar panel after all this battery talk. The two folding panels offer 3 watts max output and can operate as a power source on it’s own as well using the same cables that are compatible with the battery.

It also comes with a Velco strap accessory that is perfect for attaching it directly to a tent or backpack which makes it perfect for hiking. Texting-addicted students might also enjoy hooking it to their backpack for portable power wherever they go…just a thought.

This video from Power Traveller demonstrates how it hooks into a hiker’s pack to charge electronics during the daylight adventures:

The many input and output ports compatible with the charger.
The many input and output ports compatible with the charger.

What Else?

The panel and battery aren’t all that the PowerMonkey includes. It comes with everything you need to get charging right out of the gate with 8 mobile device tips (I used the Micro USB to charge my cell) and four interchangeable heads for universal main charger made to fit wall outlets in the United Kingdom, USA, Europe and Australia.

It also includes a hard bodied black travel pouch which has room for all of the pieces in a nice compact size that won’t take up much room in a backpack. Yep, PowerTraveller seems to have thought of everything with their Power Monkey Extreme. It is certainly my new favorite portable charger.

Here are some more photos of me playing with it on an overnight camping trip:

 

 

In Focus: Unique Outdoor Products

ACK is a very fluid company (pun intended!) and we have new products coming in constantly. Part of my job as the company photographer is to keep the site updated with photos of our new products. I was born and raised in Texas and even though I love this place, I’ve suffered in the Texas heat enough and  I don’t even think about camping in the heat, but with cooler weather comes camping season. Now that lows are in the 60s, my mind often wanders to camping and we’ve recently added a few products that will make the trips easier for everyone.

The market is flooded with fire starters and its hard to cut through the crowds and know what to look for but InstaFire makes a solid fuel fire starter that works and it works well. I got the chance to try this stuff out because I had to photograph it in use. It was so simple. I photographed it on fire on concrete and as soon as I put a lighter to the fuel, it lit quickly and stayed lit. When I was finished taking photos, I stomped it out with my boot and it stayed out with no flare-ups. It lights and burns in the wind and is water resistant and it dries out wet wood quickly. It is made from a blend of recycled wood, paraffin wax, and inert materials, burning “green” which means it contains no harmful chemicals and can be used as a fire starter or as your solitary fuel source. We carry it in packs of three which would be good for a short trip and we also offer two and four gallon options so you can stock up.

Let’s face it: it is becoming increasingly difficult to cut the cords completely and escape from all electronic devices. While we’d like to just get away from it all and escape everyday life, that might not always be the most practical option, so where do electronics fit into the great outdoors? With Goal Zero’s line of  personal solar panel products you don’t have to leave the electronics at home when you venture out into the wilderness. The Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit is what you need if your tablet, smartphone, or e-reader is making the trip with you. Away from the world’s plugs, the 7 watt solar panel and four rechargeable batteries can handle those smaller devices you just can’t live without. I love to use the maps function on my smart phone when I’m out hiking and if I’m going on an extended trek, I’m definitely bringing the kit with me so I don’t have to constantly worry about conserving  battery life on my phone. You can charge the batteries off the solar panel and then use the battery charger to re-juice your devices OR use the 4 AA batteries in a battery powered device OR plug your device into the panel directly. The pack charges in 3-4 hours so you could charge the batteries before you go on a hike or a paddle and come back to plenty of juice. The whole thing comes with a couple of handy adapters and the panel itself folds up to about the size of a novel so it won’t take up much of that crucial pack space. We also offer several options that could accommodate more or less depending on your specific needs.

-Trent @ ACK