Most smartphones today will get you through a day, but if you use your phone to take photos and videos, are active on social media, or communicate for hours on end then you need another charging option.
Battery packas are a common portable solution and I have a few I take with me when fly fishing, hiking, or camping. However, even those can run down when you are away from a power source for an extended period of time. Thankfully, Goal Zero has solutions that capture the sun for charging up your mobile devices.
A couple weeks ago, the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel arrived and in order to test a full portable power solution a Flip 30 Recharger was also sent along. This was the first time I've tried a solar panel and I enjoyed being able to charge up on the go with just the power of the sun.
It was comforting to know that I could be out and about in the forests of Washington State and still have the ability to power up my gear when needed. GPS is essential for hiking and camping and a setup like the Nomad 7 Plus and Flip 30 is perfect for taking in your backpack.
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel is available now for $99.99. It comes in black with bright green highlights in a package that is very easy to carry with you on your trip to the mountains, beach, or other outdoor environment.
The Nomad 7 Plus weighs in at 363 grams (12.8 ounces). The solar panels are on the "inside" of the book/folio form factor so they close shut on themselves to stay protected while you carry it around.
On one of the outside panels you will find a detachable kickstand which also serves to hold the USB cable in a zippered bag. Strong magnets hold it in place, but you can take it off if you want to change the angle of the panels to fit your specific needs or want to lighten your load a bit more.
At the end of the junction box is a green highlighted USB port that you can use to plug in any USB cable in order to charge up your mobile device. The Nomad 7 Plus does not store up any solar power at all, it is just the device that captures the sun and then presents the power for you to connect your mobile device.
After positioning the Nomad 7 to capture the sun, connect your mobile device and watch it power it up. The Nomad 7 has a solar capacity of 7 Watts with a power output of 1.4 amps. Thus, it's designed to charge up your phone, GPS, or MP3 player, but not powerful enough to charge up a tablet directly. You can charge up a battery pack and then use that battery pack to charge up your tablet though.
The Nomad 7 Plus is weatherproof and should withstand most conditions, but you need to keep the junction box dry so be careful in adverse conditions. I once had to unplug and then plug back in the junction box to see the indicator lights.
I was able to charge up all of my smartphones using the sun in Washington State, while also topping off my LG 360 CAM and Bluetooth headphones.
There is no on/off switch or anything, all of the intelligence is contained in the intensity indicator and junction box. This small black box attaches to the cable coming out of the panels. Four LEDs are present on the junction box that let you know the intensity of the sun so you can quickly and easily move around the Nomad 7 to find the optimal position for charging.
While the Nomad 7 Plus cannot store up power, you can connect it to a battery pack and store up solar power to then charge up other devices with the battery pack. Goal Zero sells the Flip 30 Recharger, and others, in order to provide this power after the sun has gone away.
The Flip 30 has a 7,800 mAh capacity with 2.1 amps of output power so you can charge up your phone or tablet. The Flip 30 has an integrated USB charging tip that works perfect with the cable on the end of the Nomad 7 Plus. On the other side of the Flip 30 is a USB port to connect your cable with the battery indicator lights below that. Press in on the USB charging tip to see the indicator lights for 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent charge.
You should get three to five phone charges out of the battery pack or one tablet charge. The number of charges varies with the power needs of your selected mobile device.
The battery pack is composed of metal and plastic with two smooth grooves on each side to make it easy to hold in your hand as well. It weighs in at 193 grams.