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The Green Life: How to Pick a Portable Solar Charger

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August 25, 2011

How to Pick a Portable Solar Charger

Do you love heading into the backcountry but have a hard time disconnecting from work, kids, pets, and green-lifestyle blogs? For better or worse, the outdoors world and the electronic one are no longer mutually exclusive. And solar energy has gone portable: Affordable, efficient solar-powered chargers are making their way to stores. But how do you know which to pick? There are an overwhelming amount of different charger choices and, until now, not much of a metric to judge good from bad.

To rectify that situation, OutdoorGearLab, a gear-review company, took eight bestselling solar panels from GoalZero, Brunton, Sunforce, and PowerFilm, and lugged them into various California wildernesses to see which products hold up best. The GoalZero products categorically swept the contest — they're longlasting, versatile, and can charge multiple devices at once. Their prices range from big money ($600) to somewhat more affordable ($80). This range seems a little steep in comparison to the super-cheap models available from other companies, but in this case, you'll know you're getting what you pay for. And before you ask: OutdoorGearLab has no affiliation with GoalZero and paid for all of the panels it tested.

OutdoorGearLab posted a video review of these products, which you can watch above, perhaps on the laptop you're powering from the middle of Yosemite . . . if that's the case, though, shut this thing off and go for a hike!

--Mimi Dwyer

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