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Droid Users and The Backcountry
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Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Droid Users and The Backcountry on 06/19/2011 13:42:18 MDT Print View

From what I have read, a few of us on here have Droid phones. I plan on integrating my Droid for backcountry use. The reasons are many:
A. pictures and video of a trip
B. Maps of my route
D. Some phone signal is possible in certain area in case of an emergency.

My question to those that have used their phone. What solar charger do you use. I have been looking at this and wonder if there are others out there that are in the same price range and can do the job.

I have read that the charger has to be 850 mah in order to be usefull. Whatever that means.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 06/19/2011 13:43:15 MDT.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
850 mAH on 06/22/2011 13:14:05 MDT Print View

850 mAH = 850 milli amp hours. it is a measure of the current supplied by the charger. i have a Droid 2 and it sucks for GPS, the camera is crap, and the nature of cell technology means the further from a tower, the greater the power required to make the connection = more battery use.

the GPS is not very accurate - good enough for playing along after the fact in Google Earth using My Tracks.

the camera is not of a high quality (it's a phone) and sucks in the tunnel of trees low light environment.

i only take it along because it is my only cell phone and i have small kids that want to hear from daddy - most of the time i try to make a call i can't - it's a nice alarm clock though.

if you really want to take it along, get a solar/LI battery pack - you connect your phone via USB. small, light-ish, and can be pre-charged so you are ready when the phone dies. while you are walking in the open mid day sun, the battery recharges.

i would go with something like this over the one you listed...

Edited by asciibaron on 06/22/2011 13:31:16 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: 850 mAH on 06/22/2011 14:48:36 MDT Print View

"850 mAH = 850 milli amp hours. it is a measure of the current supplied by the charger."

Actually, 850 milli amperes is the current flow, and 850 milli ampere hours means the current flow over a period of time. Most chargers output a fixed or maximum amount of current, and they can do that for hours and hours... and then you have to leave that charging for the time period to get the Droid internal battery recharged. I don't see the charging voltage specified.

You might do 850 milli amperes for one hour, or you might be able to double that current for a half-hour, or you might be able to halve that current for two hours. However, there is an optimum (current) charge rate for each type of battery.

If you intend to operate a solar panel in some area where the sun is less than reliable, you need to increase the solar panel current rating by a factor of five or ten.


Jake Palmer
(jakep_82) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: 850 mAH on 06/22/2011 17:39:33 MDT Print View

"I don't see the charging voltage specified."

I believe every Android phone uses microUSB which is 5 volts. Regarding Backcountry Navigator on an Android phone, I found it to work very well. I used it on a recent overnight trip and found it to be very accurate with the free topo maps I downloaded. I've also used my phone for geocaching and had similar good results. For reference I'm using an HTC HD2 that's hacked to run Android.

Jesse H.
(tacedeous) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
solar on 06/25/2011 05:10:20 MDT Print View

hey ken! how ya been? (rhyming was unintentional)

A few months back I picked up one of these on sale at rei for like $89:

and so far its worked great! and it charges AAA for headlamps etc... A nice bit of engineering on the unit is the ability to charge your batteries and any USB friendly device SIMULTANEOUSLY, so you can plug it all in put it on your pack and have fully charged batteries every night (as long as there's light)...pretty slick!

lightweight however... not sooo much 18oz. w/4 AAA installed (you have to have all 4 to charge, small flaw, but its there, wish I could just charge 3 at a time)

anyways hope that helps!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: solar on 06/26/2011 18:42:35 MDT Print View

Jesse, thanks for the responese bro....sounds good but man....18 oz??? I will check it out though

alan barber
(azbarber) - F

Locale: SE
lightweight solar on 06/26/2011 20:06:58 MDT Print View

I use the Sunlinq folding panel. It's rubberized and flexible, even the panels can be flexed somewhat, unlike the goalzero which has rigid panels and thick nylon covering. According to the Sunlinq website, the panel weighs 4oz. I have not weighed it yet, but it sounds close. I've also trimmed off a great deal of the excess rubber, which provides no functionality, and should save another oz or so.

I've had good luck with the panel. It charges iPhone, iPad, nook color, Tikka core headlamp, and my Streamlight rechargeable flashlight, all in about the same amount of time as plugging them into the wall in full sun.

I had previously tried the Brunton folding panel that REI sells, and it would not charge the iPhone or nook.


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Other uses on 06/28/2011 15:24:24 MDT Print View

Other uses:
Read books/text
MP3 player/radio
Journal keeping
text messaging (often works better than a phone call)
Many useful trail apps
play games
watch movies

Get an oversized battery or extra batteries to extend life.
Keep it in airplane mode until needed.

chuck w
(kcwins) - F

Locale: WY
droid on 06/30/2011 04:55:02 MDT Print View

Get an iphone (with verizon). Anything just a phone :) Now, it's time for my c[__]

Dan Rimar

Locale: Florida
Get extra batteries. on 07/06/2011 12:28:14 MDT Print View

I have an HTC phone. Many of the HTC phones share the same battery. They are light and they are cheap. I have the HTC Evo Shift and can get 2 quality batteries for under $15 on eBay. I plan to carry 4 extra batteries on my next trip. The 4 batteries were lighter than a solar charger actually capable of charging the phone, You are also dependant on the sun. If you are in a cloudy or wooded area- good luck. One of the big advanges many Android phones have over iPhone is the ability to carry and swap extra batteries. I use Backcountry Navigator Pro for my navigation / topo map needs.

Matthew Roberts
(matthewjamesroberts) - F

Locale: San Fernando Valley
PowerFilm on 01/13/2012 01:35:29 MST Print View

I'm considering the PowerFilm USB + AA charger. It's under 5oz w/o batteries.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
tic toc, fellas on 01/13/2012 09:39:24 MST Print View

Okay, well you guys figure out which solar chargers make the most bang for the gram by Summer, 'cause that's when I'll start looking for what you come up with. :)

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
solio not so great for droid x ? on 01/13/2012 13:35:22 MST Print View

When I got my Droid X I tried out my Solio charger with it. It's been over a year now so I don't recall the precise results but my conclusion was that it wasn't worth carrying the Solio with it (to be fair I had pretty much decided for my trip last year not to carry a solar charger anyway).

If I remember correctly I fully charged the Solio battery via wall current, let the droid x drain down quite a bit, and then tried charging the phone from the solio battery, and I think it charged some but just didn't fully charge (even though the solio battery was full up).

I didn't investigate why, so my "findings" here are a bit sketchy, but just another piece of FYI data for the puzzle.

In general I'm finding myself less and less inclined to "go solar" on the trail. Living in WA state might be part of it, but in general when I'm hiking it seems that if I carry one or two spare phone batteries I'm fine until I can recharge them somewhere.