While Moose hunting in northern Ontario, I had an opportunity to test out a portable solar panel from Goal Zero, the Nomad. We were way in the boondocks with no electricity and a generator that wasn’t very functional. I take a whole lot more pictures when I hunt than I do harvesting game, and this trip was no exception, so I was a bit concerned about battery life. I carry extra batteries, but they can get used up pretty quickly.
This solar panel measures nine by seventeen inches and collects about seven watts from the sun.
We had mostly sunny days while on the Moose hunt and I was back in camp each afternoon so I could shift the direction the Nomad was facing to align it to the sun.
I was very impressed with how well this little solar panel worked. I had two USB backup batteries, a Sony Action camera, and my cell phone (used to monitor and direct my Action camera). I would use the batteries each night to recharge my cell and the action camera, and then hook one of the batteries to the Nomad facing east before we sacked out for the night. When we came back in from hunting in the morning or afternoon I would change the battery and reposition the Nomad to pick up the afternoon and evening sun.
On days where it was very sunny, and even days when we only had partial sun, the batteries were always recharged when I changed them. We did have a couple of totally cloudy days and the Nomad was not able to completely charge either battery, but did charge enough that I could use them to recharge my cell and Action camera.
The Nomad comes with three output ports including a micro USB charger and a 12 volt car charger. Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to see how it would do with my laptop or my bigger video cameras, since I left the car charger 60 miles away in the truck!
Multiple Nomads can be strung together to create faster charging. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I plugged these in, but I was pleasantly surprised. I am reasonably convinced that I could have kept my video camera batteries charged as well if I had just remembered the car charger.
I will certainly be making the Nomad one of the pieces of equipment that I will be taking on all of my “boondock” hunts.