When we decided to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail, we wanted to share our experience. Keeping a live journal, and uploading pictures was fine and dandy, but what we really wanted was to film it... all. So, with the help of Mountain Hardwear, we were able to buy the camera equipment needed for the trail.
Sweet. Camera gear taken care of. However, we soon realized that is a lot of electricity needed to charge two GoPro's one Canon Rebel t2i, and a cell phone (to update our site). I did my research and all paths lead to Brunton. After some talk with them folks over at Brunton, they offered to not only recommend the equipment needed, but also give us a sponsorship! We are very excited to have the Brunton team on board, and after testing out their SolarRolls and Sustain battery pack, I know we will have plenty of juice on the trail.
The Folks at Brunton sent us two SolarRoll 9's and two Sustain battery packs. To get the techy stuff out of the way, the SolarRoll puts out a max of 12 volts / 600 mA. That alone is enough to power a single camera in a few hours. Weighing in at 9.2 ounces, it is well worth the weight. Now, pair that with the Sustain, and you can get up to 6,000 mA of storage! To put that into perspective, 600 mA will charge a GoPro camera. The Sustain weighs in at a hefty 1lb 6 oz, but it is a much needed piece of gear. Some may prefer to trickle charge all their electronics, but this way we can charge up the battery pack, and continuously use the electronics, and just charge them in camp at night when there is no sun! Perfect for rainy days too.
The Sustain can also be charged by a wall outlet, so when we get into towns we can juice them up and not worry about the sun for a couple days. When testing this out, the battery pack was charged fully charged in a couple hours (although I do admit it came partially charged, I'd say 4-5 hours of good sunlight to charge each Sustain), but what was really impressive was that it charged my cell phone more than 4 times on a single charge. This means the pair can charge my cell phone more than 8 times on a single charge! Perfect. That will definitely keep my cameras charged.
My favorite thing about the SolarRoll's are just that -- they roll. This is no flat, stiff, super-fragile solar panel. In fact it's waterproof (up to the cable plug) durable, and rolls up super small. They will be stored on the top of our packs, and when the sun is out hang off the back to charge up, and when it's rainy, just roll them back into the top of the pack. With a little jerry rigging, we will be able to waterproof the cable plug and put them on our tents when we are in camp to get every minute of the sun in the morning.
With a huge grab bag of plugs and way of charging, there is a way to charge anything. Worst case scenario, you plug in a USB directly into the Sustain, and charge all the gadgets from there, no adapters required. The SolarRoll also comes with jumper-esque cables to charge small vehicle batteries which is pretty nifty.
Each of the two set-ups totals around 2lbs. While putting a decent amount of weight on our shoulders, the benefit outweighs the downfall ten to one. Plus, with net pack weights at 18lbs, we are just breaking 20lbs with these bad boys (a light pack any day!)
I knew these would be great, but after testing them out, they are even better than I had anticipated. While solar technology is still in it's infancy, these Brunton goodies will give us what we need to successfully film and maintain our website on the Pacific Crest Trail.