We're in the midst of winter in the Northern Hemisphere right now, but that doesn't mean that you can't start making plans for summer fun in the great outdoors. Today I'm reviewing two products that will keep your gizmos going. The first is designed to let you charge up anywhere, as long as the sun's out: the RAVPower 15W Dual-Port Solar Charger (List price US$99.99, available for $56.99). The second is targeted more for day-to-day use: the RAVPower RP-PB18 Savior External Battery Pack ($99.99, available for $49.99).
RAVPower 15W Dual-Port Solar Charger
I'm a fan of photovoltaic solar energy, so much so that my house here in sunny Colorado has a 9 kilowatt array on the roof. The RAVPower 15W Dual-Port Solar Charger is a lot smaller, both in size and capacity, but you don't need all that much power to charge your devices.
The design is wonderful. You have a 24 ounce fabric folio covered with polyester canvas on the exterior that folds out revealing three separate panels. Located at four locations around the folio are metal-line eyeholes; these are used with carabiners (four are included) to attach the array to your backpack or a tent, or hang it from tree branches.
There are two USB ports available, one with a 2A output, the other with a 1A output. Both, of course, send out that current at the USB standard 5 volts. RAVPower uses what they call "iSmart Technology" to match the maximum charging current with the device so that it is charged in the least amount of time.
To test the review device, I unfolded the Solar Charger and put it on an outside table next to my iPhone 6 Plus to see how much of a charge it would pick up in just ten minutes. Of course, the charging time is going to depend on a variety of factors - cloud cover, angle of the sun, time of day, and so on.