User Review: Brunton Restore
Source: I work at Modern Outpost, and try each product in order to be able to consult to trekkers & expedition groups
The Restore is a compact, extremely rugged solar charger and back-up battery designed for small USB electronics like iPhones, androids, iPods, media devices, GPS, and even small cameras & iPads/tablets. It holds a full GPS or smart phone charge in reserve, and the solar will replace this in two summer days (practical experience). A great charger for day trippers and geocachers.
- Built tough
- Integrated cables
- Compact size
- Well-balanced solar vs battery storage
- Attachment points
- Status meter
- A little under-powered on the solar side, but better than most chargers in this class
The Restore is one of my favourite solar chargers. Brunton did a great job in the design of this product, but as with all solar chargers, it is a tool that is designed for a specific purpose, and should be kept to this to avoid frustration.
The Solar Charger...
The Restore provides a 1-Watt built-in solar panel. Sensitivity is decent in low-light, and in most locales, you can expect to get between 3 and 5 Watt-Hours per day of power generated. This equates to 50-80% of the power needed to recharge an iPhone for example. So, if you drain your GPS or iPhone at a rate of 50% or less per day, the Restore will be able to keep up (in summer months of course).
The Storage Battery...
The Restore holds 8 Watt-Hours on board in a lithium battery. At any time, you can use this power to top-off your phone, GPS, PS camera, etc. You can expect the solar panel to be able to replace the power in this on-board battery in approx 2 summer days, so budget accordingly. The advantage of the on-board battery of course, is that you are not at the mercy of the sun from moment-to-moment when you want to recharge your USB devices... they will charge at full speed as if they were connected to any other USB port.
The Restore comes with an integrated cable for charging it from a USB source, and for providing a mini-USB & Micro-USB output connection. The full-size USB port, along with the Mini and Micro connections, are all Apple-friendly, so consider them universally compatible with all USB devices. The one note is iPads & tablets: the Restore can 'power' an iPad as an external battery, but it will not 'charge' an iPad due to the fact that it is not a 2.1A USB port.
Brunton got the design of the restore right in other ways too: rugged, rubberized casing, spring-loaded door to protect the panel face, attachment points for backpacks, practical storage battery metering, and the integrated power cable helps to seal and protect the USB ports when not in use. Name another small solar charger (besides the Brunton Freedom) that could be thrown across the yard with no ill-effects.
As always with solar gadgets, it becomes a trade-off between size and power. Brunton made the decision to build the Restore to cover the small electronics, and it does this very well. As devices get more power hungry, it would be nice to have a 1.5W or 2W Restore so that it could do a little more, and keep-up in more than just the summer months.