Based out of their headquarters in Riverton, Wyoming, outdoor retailer Brunton has been a leader in professional-grade outdoor products since their inception in 1894. Starting with the Pocket Transit, a precision compass created by founder D.W. Brunton, they have been consistently ahead of the curve in the innovation of outdoor products. Their creative design teams have developed some truly impressive products for those adventurers seeking high technology gear, including the Solaris 4 USB Solar Panel and the Inspire Portable Power Device.
Solaris 4 USB Solar Panel
There are many solar panels on the market. Even Brunton carries several different versions, but for small electronics that can be charged by USB, this one stands out for it’s added output capacity from previous versions combined with its compact size and built in USB port.
The Solaris 4 USB is incredibly thin and light. Weighing in at only 6.3 ounces it made no noticeable weight difference when I was carrying it around in my backpack. Since Brunton also used thin-film CIGS solar cells instead of the less malleable, heavier Silicon cells used by some other companies, the 4 panels in the Solaris are very flexible and it easily folds up almost completely flat into the included carry bag. Its fully extended footprint is a generous 9” X 25” yet it takes up less room in your pack than a netbook.
I purposely let my phone die before heading out the door so I could put the Solaris to the test. I was impressed by the fact that it starts charging devices instantly and can get them from zero battery to partially charged in a matter of minutes. A full charge takes a couple hours, but that isn’t too much different from a regular wall charger. It does work on slightly overcast days, albeit much more slowly. It is definitely more effective on those (rare in Seattle) days when the sun is out in full force.
Designed by a creative team passionate about the outdoors, the Solaris is well thought out. The USB port is on the back, meaning you can easily keep your small electronics underneath it while charging them to prevent them from overheating in the sun. Moreover, they installed grommets in all four corners of the panel making it easy to attach to just about anything whether you are trying to keep it from blowing away on the beach or hanging it off of your backpack while hiking, climbing or just going out to roam around a new city.
Overall, the Solaris 4 USB is a versatile, useful product for anyone who spends much time outdoors or on the road and needs a quick way to charge small electronics.
Inspire Portable Power Device
The perfect mate to the Solaris 4 USB Solar Panel is Brunton’s Inspire Portable Power Device. It is easily charged by the Solaris, a wall charger or a car charger and can be used to charge your small electronics from anywhere.
It charges any device that can be charged by USB, mini-USB or micro-USB. in case of an overcast day it’s particularly useful as a companion to the Solaris since Inspire’s Lithium Polymer battery is fully charged by it in just a couple of hours.
Like the Solaris, it’s very light at only 5.5 ounces. However, despite the fact that it’s light and fits in my purse (sorry guys), it has a rugged, durable rubber shell that makes it perfect for even the toughest of outdoor activities.
It’s really simple to use which is nice. It only has two ports, so it’s pretty difficult to be confused by how to connect your devices. Similarly, it only has one button, used to light up a series of blue LED lights to tell you how much charge it has left. It boasts both USB and mini-USB ports to charge your devices plus it has the added benefit of being waterproof, again for those overcast days. It comes with a conveniently short USB to mini-USB cable that tucks neatly into a groove built around the outside edge for a sleek, compact design; as well as a micro-USB adapter and car charger.
Taken alone, either of these Brunton products is worth purchasing as a portable, light weight, power supply. I really liked the fact that they were perfect for both my daily “oops, I forgot to charge that”’s, as well as my global adventure power needs. I would highly recommend the combination for road warriors or for anyone spending a lot of time away from traditional power options.