Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Power Sources

Forget Solar Panels: These 3 New Power Sources Eliminate the Need for Sun

When you can’t count on the sunshine, these products come in handy.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All Access
40% off Season's Streamings Sale
$5/month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content from every title in the Outside network like Outside, SKI, Climbing, and more
  • Annual gear guides for backpacking, camping, skiing , climbing, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Exclusive discounts on gear, travel, and race-entry fees
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+
Backpacker

Print + Digital
50% off Holiday Sale
$2/month*

  • Annual subscription to Backpacker magazine
  • Access to all member-exclusive content and gear reviews on Backpacker.com
  • Ad-free access to Backpacker.com
Join Backpacker

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Bringing a solar panel into the backcountry to keep your devices charged is nothing new. Panels are cheap, light, and increasingly effective. But what if there’s no sun? Whether you’re suffering the bad luck of a trip in the clouds or rain, want to be able to charge at night, or you’re just headed somewhere where flowing water or wind are more plentiful than solar rays, you still have options for keeping your electronics powered. 

WaterLily Turbine
(Photo: Courtesy)

WaterLily Turbine

That stream rolling through your camp isn’t just pretty: It’s a great source of power, if you’re carrying the WaterLily. The big benefit to water power is reliability: Unlike solar panels or wind turbines, the WaterLily isn’t subjected to the whims of the weather. Water runs 24/7, so you can just drop the device in a stream and let it recharge your phone or power bank. 

To do so, look for moving water that’s at least 8 inches deep (that’s roughly how tall the circular turbine is), with water that moves about 7 mph (drop a leaf in the water and run alongside it—7 mph is a solid jog). At that speed, the WaterLily will generate 15 watts of power, though it can work in water that’s as slow as 1 mph. Once you’ve found your stream, drop the device in and suspend it in the flow using the attached cords. 

The turbine is fairly heavy (2.9 pounds) for long trips, and setup can be finicky. On our test run in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, it took some experimenting (and some wet shoes) to figure out exactly how to suspend the turbine in the stream. Bring some extra paracord and look for a spot with trees or rocks to tie it to. Note: Run the 10-foot cord leading from the turbine and 12-volt outlet well away from the water to charge your electronics. 

Shine Turbine
(Photo: Courtesy)

Shine Turbine

We’ve all hiked in places where the sun isn’t a given, but a stiff breeze almost always is. The Shine Turbine capitalizes on these wind-whipped environments. This device—which weighs under 3 pounds—sets up on an included stand, which collapses down inside the elongated football-size package when not in use. Merely extend the blades, and the Shine will spin in the breeze and recharge its onboard power bank (which you can plug your devices into).

According to the brand, the turbine can function in winds between 8 and 28 mph. In steady wind (about 18 mph) expect the Shine to put out about 40 watts—that’s enough to recharge a phone in a little over an hour. 

The Shine Turbine is expected to hit shelves next spring. 

PedalCell
(Photo: Courtesy)

 PedalCell

There’s a reason one of the metrics used to measure output on stationary bikes is watts: Your pedal power generates actual power as well. The PedalCell mounts onto the fork of your bike and places a spinning cylinder in contact with your tire so that, as your wheel spins, so goes the device. It can pump out between 15 and 20 watts, depending on how hard you’re pushing. That makes the PedalCell ideal for long bikepacking trips, during which you’ll be feeding it plenty of power.

A cable leads from the device to a handlebar-mounted hub, where you can plug in your phone, bike lights, action cameras, and more. Setting it all up is as easy as tightening a couple allen keys and running the wire so it doesn’t catch anything else on your bike (zip-ties are handy). The PedalCell hub straps on like any other handlebar accessory and, while we didn’t test it on our mountain bike, it all stayed put while riding dirt roads on our gravel bike. During a shakedown cruise around Ridgway, Colorado, we had a hard time feeling any resistance coming from the device, and we basically kept Strava open on our phone the entire ride without losing any juice. Keep an eye out for excessive mud, though: While the generator is made from high-grade aluminum and is weather-resistant, clogging it up with muck will mess with its effectiveness.