Name: Infinit Solar Charger Bag
Type: Backback with solar-powered gadget charging technology
Price: £89.99 (Infinit)
As the Summer sun slowly begins to peek through the ever-present layer of British cloud-cover, you're probably looking to head on out, tastelessly displaying your milk bottle legs in a pair of shorts, beer in hand, ready to catch some rays. You'll probably want to bring an MP3 player with you for a few tunes and your mobile to call your mates on too. But what if a technophile's worst nightmare comes true and you suddenly find yourself without any battery power for your many gadgets? Enter the Infinit Solar Charger Bag to save the day.
The bag features a 2.4w photovoltaic solar panel on its outside to harvest the sun's rays ,which it then stores in a high capacity 2000mAH Li-ion battery, safely stored away in a pouch inside. Detach the battery from the solar panel and you're then free to use its stored energy to power hundreds and hundreds of devices using the myriad included connections. These include anything from a Nintendo DS to an iPhone or TomTom GPS device (click here to view the full list of compatible devices). You can even plug the battery into both the solar panel and the gadget to be charged at the same time, giving you continuous power providing you stay in quite strong sunlight. The battery can also be pre-charged from a mains supply if you want ready portable energy before you leave the house.
It's a great, green way to stay charged while on the go, and requires very little fuss to attach the many compatible devices it's capable of powering. The battery itself has a great capacity, offering roughly enough power to charge an iPhone twice-over when it has maximum solar power stored. Charging the battery is not always a smooth process though; the length of time it takes to fully power up the battery is very dependant on the amount of sunlight you expose the solar panel to. On a day of bright weather it hit maximum capacity within a reasonable 8 hours, but on a dark, wet, overcast day it was closer to 11 or 12 hours, give or take. It's also worth noting that the Infinit Solar Charger Bags currently don't support charging abilities for laptops or netbooks, though Infinit have suggested this will be on the way in later designs.
As a rucksack, the Inifinit Solar Charger Bag can't be knocked. It's a little weighty at 1.4kg, thanks to the built-in solar panel, but it seems more spacious than its 25 litre capacity would suggest. There are copious amounts of pockets and pouches, including an elasticated spot for laptops up to 15 inches in size. Straps are heavily padded and adjustable, and there's a clever mesh air-flow system for keeping your back cool while the bag is being carried. All in, it's a well built bag that should easily see you through some rugged usage.
How useful you'll find the Infinit Solar Charger Bag is, quite obviously, down to how much time you spend in the sun. It's a great rucksack by conventional standards, with plenty of space and useful pockets, and it is very comfortable on the back, even during prolonged, intensive journeys. But if you live in a dreary corner of the world weather-wise, you may feel that the extra premium you pay for the solar tech wont be worth it. On the other hand, if you're an outdoors type who is always out hiking, is looking to do a bit of globe-trotting or are even planning on attending a couple of music festivals this year then it really comes into its own, providing on-the-go power from Mother Nature herself. Expect to see Ray Mears sporting one of these bags very soon.
By Gerald Lynch