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Gear Review: Solar Powered Backpacking Gear

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