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portable USB device charger for backpacking  RSS feed

 
Dustin Gebhardt
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Steven,
I know you are not typically fond of solar devices due to their many limitations. However, in seeking out more information on a portable USB device charger that I can take with me on my 9-day hike through the Appalacian Trail next spring, I am only finding solar-based solutions. These devices typically are strapped or secured to the top of your backpack and then you plug in your iDevice. Since I will be hiking in mostly wooded areas, I feel that this type of charger will be of limited use, especially while I'm on the move and my solar aspect changes. What do you think of these devices? Do you have another solution?

One idea that I'm considering: I have several dozen Eneloop batteries, and I could purchase one of the many gadgets that store power in batteries, which you can then plug into your iDevice, but the weight of this solution might be of concern.

I love your apprearances on Jack's show. As an engineer and chemist, I love your attention to detail and real-life applicability. Keep up the good work!

Dustin
 
allen lumley
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Dustin G. : Easy-peasy ! www.biolitestove.com also there are very flexible light weight Organic solar cells that can be draped over the top of your
backpack*.

Generally this type of stove is considered a closed system, it is usually permitted even where there are no open burning bans in place ! as you are
not carrying the weight of the fuel this is a good alternative, especially in the Northeast / Northwest hope this helps and is timely ! big AL


* I generally carry my maps pre-folded to fit in a gallon sized 'Zip-Lock' bag, this also just fits a light weight Fresnel Lens for ease of map reading. These
lenses can be used to concentrate the sunlight onto your solar cells ! A.L.
 
Tom OHern
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Location: Seattle, WA
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The biolite stove is not really a good option for backpackers (but great for car campers). First and foremost, it is really heavy compared to other stoves (wood burning or otherwise). Second, it puts out a max of 400mA to the USB charging port. That is less that half of what your typical low end wall wart charger puts out. And in order to even get that level of output, the stove requires that you are continually feeding it with fuel. A backpacker will typically spend 5-10 minutes boiling water for their meal. Charging your phone for that amount of time is effectively useless. You will have to keep the stove buring for 3x-6x longer than that to get any useful charge for your device, and that is a lot of work to gather and prepare that amount of fuel.

A much better option is to get a 10A-20A external battery (something like this) and just charge your phone when you need it. My battery will fully charge my phone 5 to 6 times before it is out of juice which is perfect for a week long trip (I keep my phone is Airplane Mode and only use it occasionally for the GPS, to listen to some music, or do some ebook reading before bed.)

The solar options that drape over your pack are nearly useless when you are hiking through the woods. The output ~10% of their rated output when partially shaded, which is to say the whole time you are walking through the woods and under the tree canopy. You would need around 30W-50W of solar cells to get any significant charge for your phone.
 
Steven Harris
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First of all, the biolite stove is a piece of shit when it comes to charging. It only outputs 400ma and you'd spend 4 to 7 hours feeding the baby with sticks just to charge up your iphone device. so its NOT EASY PEASY. If you got a biolite stove, you'd really be sitting on the trail feeling stupid. I DO have the Power Pot thermal electric unit that goes on top of ANY stove and it outputs a full 1000ma of USB current so it'd charge your idevice in just about 2 hours. http://www.rocketstove1234.com/power_pot.htm

Obviously I don't think this is a good application for a stick and wood stove, because again, you're feeding the baby all the time. I really like gasoline liquid fueled stoves. On / Off, high and low and simmer and any setting in between, plus, if you plan your route, you only have to carry 1 bottle of fuel, because you can refuel at any gas station along the route, and I know you do a lot of planning before doing a 9 day hike on the application trail, and I know there are side trails leading off to convenience stores and gas stations. Which of the liquid fuel stoves is best for you, well, I think you better get on a hiking forum to find out that one. I bought a coleman miniature one many years back and its not sold anymore. Well shut my mouth... I just found it on amazon. its a great one piece stove. http://tinyurl.com/kznrvtm

But I don't think a thermoelectric device is best for you. I'd just suggest a good 13,000 to 16,000maH USB powered battery pack. One that has an easy on/off on it plus a state of charge meter on it.

I own, use and travel with this one. It keeps my 7" tablet and android phone charged up when traveling on planes and such. Plus its emergency power if I loose it in the hotel. You want a good USB cable to go along with it like the amazon 'basics' cable, that way it charges at full capacity. Most people don't know this, but the smaller and cheaper cables can limit the amount of current going to the phone.

This is the battery.
http://tinyurl.com/k2k23ut

here is the link to the cable.
http://tinyurl.com/lawxufu

You did good thinking about NOT getting a damn solar panel because you're going to be under the canopy all the time.

Steve

 
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