Yotka | Dreamstime.com
Credit: Yotka | Dreamstime.com

A few years back, Kickstarter gave us the Biolite CampStove—a cookstove that burns wood instead of gas, and uses the energy produced to charge batteries.

It was a great idea, and a great stove.

Now, the same company has entered the world of solar chargers. There's a lot of solar-panels out there and I’ve tried quite a few to charge the batteries for my GPS, SPOT personal locator beacon, satellite phone and especially my cameras. They all had their good and bad qualities but they all outputted enough energy from the sun to keep things going on long trips.

So, why buy another? It could be that I’m addicted to the latest and greatest camp gadgets. (Aren’t we all?) But that’s not the case with the latest Biolite Solar Panel 5+. What caught my interest—and what got my credit card out—was its ability to capture most of the sun's rays. Yes, it’s lightweight and portable. A lot of the other systems are as well. But the Biolite solar panel has an Optimal Sun System; an amalgamated sundial that aligns you to the sun to grab direct rays. A 360-degree kickstand adds a bonus to grabbing even more rays. A 2200mAh onboard battery stores extra energy to use for later, when the sun isn’t shining. It’s also priced at a moderate $80. Not bad.

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Once again, Biolite has pushed the limits and created an updated, original product that just works.

I recently returned from a one-week solo winter trek. I placed the Biolite panel on my freight toboggan throughout the day, to grab hold of the sun’s power and charge my multiple cameras. I came back without using any backup batteries. To me, that’s well worth the $80 and the extra weight of 390 grams (14 ounces). 

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