Please accept my application to test the Bushnell SolarWrap Mini
I have read Chapter Five of the BackpackGearTest Survival Guide, Version 0609, and the annotated sections on the BGT.org Website. I will follow and meet the test requirements: I agree to post all three reports using the BGT Report Writer within the allotted time and to meet or exceed the required number of backpacking days/nights during the test period. I will supply photographs along with my text. My tester agreement is on file.
Applicant: Rick Dreher
Location: Northern Calif.
Years backpacking experience: 40+
General skill level: mid to advanced
Hiking Style and Experience
I backpack the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade ranges and my trips range from day hikes to a week. I often solo and my overnight pack weight ranges from 20 pounds to 35 pounds (9 to 16 kg), depending on trip length and expected weather. My favorite hiking spots are alpine and I like trips that include some off-trail hiking to remote locales. My maximum daily range is about 15 miles (24 km) with a full pack in easy terrain. In winter, the snowshoes come out and I head out into the white stuff.
Contra my efforts to lighten my backpack load, over the last decade I've accumulated gobs of backcountry electronic gear, gear that requires an array of batteries with sadly little sharing among gizmos. During a weekend trip there's little concern about carrying spare batteries or recharging but after more than a couple nights, some of the batteries are waning or even exhausted. A way to coax them back to life on the go is quite liberating!
For two seasons I've carried a photovoltaic (PV) recharger-battery device that can keep my headlamp and ipod topped off indefinitely. Its limitations are a small solar array and low-capacity battery that can't, for example, fully charge a smartphone. It also doesn't connect to any camera battery I own and can't charge common AA or AAA NiMH cells (without a third-party charging bay).
The Bushnell SolarWrap Mini has a much larger PV array than my Solio charger. I can't find a battery capacity value, so cannot compare that spec with what I have now. I also don't see whether the Mini is a "smart" charger or simply an external power source, nor what adapters it might ship with.
For the test duration, I propose using the SolarWrap Mini for my summer and fall backpacking and day hikes. I have fourteen backpacking days in the Sierra Nevada planned at this time (the first trip is soon). Should any car camping trips arise, I'll bring it along. I'll bench-test it at home and in the car with other electronics that can use its capabilities and flexibility.
Key Test Questions:
* Design and constructionhow is the SolarWrap Mini built? How does it set up, break down and stow?
* Ease of charginghow easy is it to deploy and charge? Does it indicate charging is occurring, and when the batteries are fully charged?
* In camp/on the gocan I recharge the mini while hiking, simply by attaching it to my backpack? Will it charge in overcast or under forest cover? How easy is it to set up in camp to get maximum collection?
* Charging deviceswhat can I connect, how long does it take, does the Mini auto-sense when charging is complete and shut off?
* Multitasking will the Mini charge and recharge simultaneously?
* Wear and tearhow does the array (and any accessories) hold up as the test goes on?
Items to Charge while Backpacking:
* Petzl Core Li-ion headlamp battery
* Smartphone (very large battery)
* Camera Li-ion batteries (if feasible)
* NiMH AA cells (if feasible, for GPS and InReach) and AAA cell (for backup flashlight)
Household Electronics to Charge
My house is chock-a-block with electronics--including tablets, e-readers, gaming devices, Bluetooth ear pieces, bike lights and other phones--that charge via USB.
Test Area Description and Conditions
Backpack trips will be in the Sierra Nevada (and possibly southern Cascades) between 7k and 11k ft (1.8 km-3.1 km) elevation, the terrain ranging from heavy forest to treeless alpine. July through October temperatures might range from 20 to 90 degrees F (-17 to +32 C). Some clouds and rain are likely, but sun prevails in the Sierra. As we get to fall, sun angles become shallower and days shorter, so less light power is available for PV systems.
Current Test Obligations; Outstanding Applications
Am awaiting IR edits for the Adidas Terrex GTX shoe test. I have no other tests or applications at this time.
My test links can found here.
I've posted no O.R.s in the last year and have no other BGT duties.
Thanks for considering my application!