WHAT IS IT AND DO I NEED IT? Finding reliable, portable solar power is something that plagues minimalist outdoorsmen. I’m talking kayakers, motorbike riders, hunters and fisherman. Most of the market’s current offerings are either too big, too flimsy or just too weak to efficiently charge delicate, power-hungry electronics.
Goal Zero has released the Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit, which is essentially a rechargeable battery pack, the Guide 10, powered by four rechargeable AA batteries and a small, folding monocrystalline solar panel, the Nomad 7. Weighing in at just under 550 grams, this could be the answer for on-the-go adventurers.
DOES IT WORK?
Yes it does, and pretty damn well. There are a few ways to use the system. You can charge a device directly from the Nomad 7 solar panel although you’ll need to be sitting in one sunny place for a while. If you’re on the move, then it’s best to get the Guide 10 charged up, either in the car, at home, or via the Nomad 7 beforehand and use the battery bank to hammer a quick charge into the device while on the move.
IS IT FAST?
Not really, but it’s not slow either. Charging direct from the solar panel is really dependant on good sun light and the device in question. The system is in its prime with devices like smartphones, headtorches, MP3 players, smaller cameras and handheld GPS units. One feature I really like with the Nomad is the zip up net pocket at the back for storing leads and other device accessories.
HOW'S THE BUILD QUALITY?
In my opinion both the Nomad and Guide are built very well, however, I did feel that the Guide 10 battery pack could do with some armour as a standard inclusion in the kit. A silicone outer sleeve is currently available as a separate purchase only. In several trips away, relying on the Nomad and Guide I’ve yet to notice any faults in its performance (Oh, I may have sent the panel overboard off a kayak too). I did however, notice a little dust ingress into the guide 10 – again, I’d like to see an outer sleeve as a standard inclusion.
Is it for you? Well, if you frequently live out of a backpack, tackle box or pair of panniers then yes – absolutely. If, however, you’re generally traveling in a 4WD, modern motorcycle with 12v sockets or generally only duck out for a day trip, then it’s likely not something you’ll need. All in all this is a gadget made for adventurers from all walks, and I’m certainly going to be relying on mine for some time.