Day Hiking the Santa Catalina Mountain Range, Southern Arizona – Photo’s

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The concept of capturing solar energy for charging electronic devices while hiking, in theory, is admirable. In practice, however, hiking and solar energy may not necessarily be a marriage made in trail heaven, yet.

The concept of capturing solar energy for charging electronic devices while hiking, in theory, is admirable. In practice, however, hiking and solar energy may not necessarily be a marriage made in trail heaven, yet.

The concept of capturing solar energy for charging electronic devices while hiking, in theory, is admirable. In practice, however, hiking and solar energy may not necessarily be a marriage made in trail heaven, yet.

As a quick note… I utilized the Goal Zero Guide 10/Nomad 7 Adventure kit back in April 2012. I’ve decided that my review, at this time, warrants enough value and relevance for objective consideration. My review, today, is spurred by a Goal Zero consumer display I very recently observed in a local warehouse store.

Auspiciously, the Goal Zero Guide 10/Nomad 7 concept rocks, however, my experience with this kit left me destitute. I first used it on a single night backpacking trip near Tucson, AZ, where the sun regularly shines at least 85% of the time during daylight hours. Therefore, my assumption of harnessing solar power while hiking, that is, capturing and storing solar energy for future use during the course of movement, with the solar panels strapped to the top of my backpack, in theory, is fully substantiated.

In practice, however, there is an entirely different story. Here’s the problem… unless you’re hiking due north all the time the solar rays will never strike your panels 100% of the time. Let us consider this for a moment… If you are hiking due north all the time, your solar panels would indeed capture and harness solar energy 100% of the time you are hiking. If you are hiking due east and/or west, while changing direction with your back always facing south, you’re likely to harness solar energy, conceivably, conservatively, close to 100% of the time, providing your panels are in direct sunlight. Heading south? Forget it. You’re likely, at best, to harvest 50% of the suns rays due to the nature of your bearing (unless your head is similar in size to Beetlejuice, or by uttering “Beetlejuice” three times you’re able to summon the full faith and credit of solar capacity beyond natural capability).

In all sensibility, will anyone ever really hike due north 100% of the time? Plausibly, no, unless you go your own way, off-trail, blazing heroically through the maze of morass, which, incidentally, is too much fun, heading in any direction, in Southern, AZ.

Thus, consider now, cloud cover, changing direction and encumbrances of any kind. In the event you’re not hiking due North 100% of the time, you’re likely to be hiking in any one of 359 (15 alternately possible points) alternatively possible directions. Cloud cover, changing direction, position of the Earth relative to the sun and consequently the time of day, hiking below tree canopy, cliff obscurity, etc., each presenting a serious problem. And, if any one of these particular dilemmas decide to hasten your solar collection activity, you’re essentially, laboriously, hauling equipment you would have been better off without.

This was my problem during my overnight backpacking trip in Southern, AZ where the sun shone for two whole days, and similarly for my day hike down into the Grand Canyon. There may not have been cloud cover but changing direction, position of the sun, tree and cliff cover had all presented a problem. And, considering our latitude I would expect better results than any position north of Arizona. Due, in part, to all of these obscurities I had been unable to achieve a good charge on either the battery pack or my camera, which, incidentally, was attached via USB. Considering all obscurities, my Goal Zero panels were in direct sunlight less than 50% of the time, and quite a bit less, in fact!

By simple law of solar dynamics and encumbrances, I’m making this part up, sort of, or by creating an unfamiliar, new physical natural law, it is essentially irresponsible to expect these solar panels, in this setting, to obtain a sufficient charge while in movement, considering all possible obscurities.

I, objectively, made this mistake and subjectively needed to express my results so that you may decide for yourself, with your set of circumstances, how solar panels may work for you, based on my experience. This, incidentally, is not a review against Goal Zero or solar energy as much as it is the application of using solar panels in the field while hiking.

In contrast, following my day hike in the Grand Canyon, I returned to camp on the rim and spent the next day in camp making every attempt to maintain direct sunlight on the Goal Zero. There were many trees in camp, thus, challenging me, approximately every 15 minutes, to find the best available direct sunlight. The result… I acquired a substantially greater charge, or for that matter a charge, than I did while hiking!

Conclusion… I do not recommend this product for expectations of charging the battery pack or electronic devices while in movement, hiking. If you’re going to carry the solar panel kit anyway, go ahead and strap it to the top of your pack but be prepared to be frustrated when needing to get into the top of your pack and the panels are impeding your progress. I admirably support solar energy and obtaining solar, albeit immobile, while at camp.

Thus, this review and rating of two stars is entirely based on my expectation of acquiring a solar charge while hiking. And, a rating greater than 1 star only because the potential does exist that the panels will obtain minimal charge while hiking, but not enough, in my experience, to obtain a useable amount of energy. This review is exclusive of all features associated with this unit!

Reach Your Summit!