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Brunton Solaris USB 4 - Solar Power

Posted in Product Reviews on April 1, 2012
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Photographers: Courtesy of the Manufacturer

It's always good to have back-up, especially when you're in the backcountry. When we're 'wheeling on the trails, we have a spare and an air tank. When we're camping, we bring extra supplies and water. And when we want to indulge in some creature comforts without an electrical outlet in sight, we use the Brunton Solaris USB 4.

This handy device features four foldable solar panels and a USB output, making it an ideal portable power unit for a variety of outdoor situations. Imagine a four-wheeler who wants to snap a cool photo of his buddy's rig in action, but his camera's run out of batteries. Or picture a hiker whose handheld GPS unit just lost its juice.

Here's a closer look at the Solaris.

Solaris USB 4
Dimensions: 9x25 inches
Weight: 6.3 ounces
MSRP: $252

The Solaris USB 4 is compact. At 6.3 ounces and 9x25 inches, it's lighter than a box of batteries and barely wider than this opened magazine spread. Plus, you can fold up the Solaris for easy storage and carry.

Contaminants Free
Being solar powered, Solaris is environmentally friendly. No need for disposable batteries or keeping your rig's engine running just to charge your electronics.

The Solaris can charge almost any electronic device so long as it has a USB cord. It can be used for everything from enhancing your outdoor fun (like charging a campsite's MP3 player) to ensuring your safety (powering up a mobile phone to make a 911 call during an off-road or roadside emergency).

april 2012 Gear Brunton Solaris Usb 4 panel Photo 36124033

Only long-term testing will truly determine how durable these solar panels are, but so far we've been impressed by Solaris' materials and by how it can operate in all kinds of weather. Brunton claims it'll work anywhere — the desert, the tropics, even the arctic.

Obviously, you can't use this when it's dark out—though we've used it on cloudy days and it still worked. But nighttime usage is out. Also, the Solaris's strength is limited by the number of solar panels and its USB technology. Its maximum output is 5 volts/800 milliamperes. Don't expect any instant recharges. Oh, and it'll cost you a pretty penny, so shop around online for bargains.

The Solaris USB 4 can provide an outdoor enthusiast with electrical back-up when there isn't a wall socket within miles—but the key word is "back-up." Don't rely on the unit as a primary power source. Instead, focus on 'wheeling, fishing, or camping while the Solaris does it thing in the sun.

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