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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Solar Powered Backpacking Gear

Five of our favorite solar items to make your next trip brighter, safer, and less stinky

by: Joel Nyquist

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

Zeal Reliant Backpack
Keep your mobile devices juiced

If you bring electronic devices into the backcountry or on your travels, you need a way to keep them powered. Otherwise you’re just hauling a brick. The Reliant backpack from Zeal has a detachable high capacity lithium polymer battery that’s charged from a totally recyclable flexible solar panel. The battery has a USB output, so just plug whatever cable came with your device (iPhone, Blackberry, GPS, etc.) into the battery pack and start recharging. It is perfect, of course, for charging Zeal’s Transcend GPS goggles, but worked just as well for an iPhone running the free Backpacker GPS Trails app. The top-loading 21-liter pack is big enough for dayhikes or a full day of skiing at the resort or sidecountry. Features include a mesh trampoline back for ventilation, hipbelt pockets, and rubberized waterproof bottom that resists scuffing. The 6 compression straps ensured a tight, stable load, even when the pack was mostly empty as I wore all my layers and had eaten lunch while making hard turns at Colorado’s Copper Mountain. Unfortunately, it only comes in one size and as you can see from the photo, the pack is too short for me and the top of the pack came far short from reaching the top of my shoulders. It will be a better fit for people with torso under 18 inches.

The Specs:
3 lbs. 7 oz.

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Star Star
May 10, 2014

The website that you supplied with this post does not in any way lead me to the specific product that you have just reviewed. It does lead me to a sight that has steri-pens, but not the one mentioned above, with the solar panel, battery charging case. Could you provide the exact link to that product, Mr. Nyquist?

May 04, 2011

it didnt switch on for me...took it back to the store, tried 3 more reutrns, still didnt work....

Joel N
Mar 16, 2011

Backpackerzac- The manufacturer doesn't recommend water over 120 for the cap, and over 150 for the BPA-free bottle (included with the Lightcap 300 model). They said the plastic *may* deform slightly.
As for freezing temps (I'm assuming that's the root of your temp question), what happens with any bottle is the moisture freezes between the threads, which can make the cap be frozen on, or can sometimes deform the cap and make a small gap, but that can happen with any bottle. It's not any more or less likely with the Lightcap.

Joel N
Mar 16, 2011

Steve- The shower head is threaded/screw-on. I actually carried it about 1/2 mile inside my pack (loaded with water) and none leaked out.

Mar 16, 2011

Does the shower head on the solar shower have a good shut off valve? I own a different brand that has a leaking problem with the push/pull valve.

Mar 16, 2011

Will the lightcap withstand boiling temperatures and is it leakproof in all temps?

Mar 15, 2011, maybe not for through hiking, but perhaps for surfing.

Mar 15, 2011

This I like. As a throat cancer survivor with radiation fried salivary glands and no spit I will be able to find my W/B at night without fumbleing around the tent.


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