I was sitting on the top of the counter in the bathroom at Seminole Canyon State Park in Texas writing a blog post using my Droid phone. I was in the bathroom mostly to get out of the maddening wind I had been battling all day but also so I could use the electrical outlet to charge the Droid. My phone just doesn’t hold a charge very long especially when using the internet or GPS functions. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for a way to keep my phone charged while I’m on the bike. “When it rains it pours” and “if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need” etc.
The Camelbak All Clear
Obviously not actually a charging device, this is a 750 ml bottle with a cap which incorporates a USB rechargeable ultra-violet light bulb to purify water. I “discovered” this product at summer Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City earlier this year. It takes about 60 seconds to purify a bottle of water and one charge of the light is good for about 80 cycles. There is an LCD display screen on top of the cap which counts down the 60 seconds once the light is turned on so you know the cycle is finished and the water is potable. And it displays the remaining battery charge. 80 cycles will purify about 60 liters of water so this bottle will last the duration of most trips with one charge. But if you are in the middle of say, the Chihuahuan Desert and out of charge then one of the other pictured devices will come in handy.
The Bushnell Solar Wrap Mini
Basically a lithium-ion battery wrapped in a flexible solar panel. Unwrapping the panel and hanging it facing the sun charges the battery. The battery can also be charged using the included USB cable. This little unit is light and simple with an output port on one end of the battery and an input port at the other. An indicator light on one end glows red when charging and green when fully charged.
The Solio Bolt.
I actually first saw the Camelbak All Clear at the Solio booth at OR. Solio devices use lithium ion polymer batteries charged from rigid solar panels which fold together when stored and can be fanned out and arranged as a sundial. The on off switch indicates the amount of remaining charge by blinking when turned on….one blink indicates 20% charge so 5 blinks means the battery is fully charged. The discharge has two modes, one for Apple devices and one for others. These can be charged via via USB cable as well.
Bright-Bike Sinewave Cycles Revolution
For bikes equipped with hub or bottle dynamos this little gem will convert the current from the dynamo to USB output. Any device can be plugged in to recharge while riding, including your Solio Bolt or Bushnell Solar Wrap batteries. This converter plugs directly into the output from the generator and can be installed with piggyback plugs onto which the leads from the headlights can be attached in parallel, so theoretically a device can be charged while riding with the generator powered headlight on. Simply zip-tie the unit onto the bike and plug in your phone, camera, GPS, head light, Camelbak bottle cap etc. How neat is that?
Some Neo-Luddites will cry “I go on a bike tour to get away from technology”
But thus sayeth the Bike Hermit; “If it makes life on the road easier or more comfortable and even safer, then why not use it”?
Some might even say “Why do you need the dynamo hub charger AND the solar batteries?” Well, even on cloudy days I may need to top off the Droid or tablet using the
Bright-Bike Sinewave Cycles Revolution and on other, sunny days I may not be riding and I can charge the batteries in the sun or using a wall outlet.
Personally I think this stuff is pretty neat and I can’t wait for my ride across Nevada on Highway 50 next month and the challenges that will present with lack of services or water for stretches of 80 miles and more on successive days. There probably won’t be any surface water to purify and cell phone coverage is going to be questionable too but lack of charge to my electronic devices will not be a limiting factor! I will do a report after the ride and will also be posting a video showing the final setup and use.