Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit

5 reviews
5-star:   2
4-star:   2
3-star:   0
2-star:   1
1-star:   0

Reviews

3

The concept of capturing solar energy for charging…

Rating: rated 2 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Full Retail Price

Summary

The concept of capturing solar energy for charging electronic devices WHILE HIKING, in theory, is admirable. In practice, however, hiking and solar energy may not necessarily be a marriage made in trail heaven.

Pros

  • Harnesses the sun's solar power

Cons

  • Objectively heavy in weight
  • Works ONLY in direct sun

The concept of capturing solar energy for charging electronic devices WHILE HIKING, in theory, is admirable. In practice, however, hiking and solar energy may not necessarily be a marriage made in trail heaven, yet.

As a quick note… I utilized the Goal Zero Guide 10/Nomad 7 Adventure kit back in April 2012. I've decided that my review, at this time, warrants enough value and relevance for objective consideration. My review, today, is spurred by a Goal Zero consumer display I very recently observed in a local warehouse store.

Auspiciously, the Goal Zero Guide 10/Nomad 7 concept rocks. However, my experience with this kit left me destitute. I first used it on a single night backpacking trip near Tucson, AZ, where the sun regularly shines at least 85% of the time during daylight hours. Therefore, my assumption of harnessing solar power while hiking, that is, capturing and storing solar energy for future use during the course of movement, with the solar panels strapped to the top of my backpack, in theory, is fully substantiated. 

In practice, however, there is an entirely different story. Here's the problem… unless you're hiking due north all the time the solar rays will never strike your panels 100% of the time. Let us consider this for a moment… If you are hiking due north all the time, your solar panels would indeed capture and harness solar energy 100% of the time you are hiking. If you are hiking due east and/or west, while changing direction with your back always facing south, you're likely to harness solar energy, conceivably, conservatively, close to 100% of the time, providing your panels are in direct sunlight.

Heading south? Forget it. You're likely, at best, to harvest 50% of the suns rays due to the nature of your bearing (unless your head is similar in size to Beetlejuice, or by uttering "Beetlejuice" three times you're able to summon the full faith and credit of solar capacity beyond natural capability).

In all sensibility, will anyone ever really hike due north 100% of the time? Plausibly, no, unless you go your own way, off-trail, blazing heroically through the maze of morass, which, incidentally, is too much fun, heading in any direction, in Southern, AZ.

Thus, consider now, cloud cover, changing direction and encumbrances of any kind. In the event you're not hiking due North 100% of the time, you're likely to be hiking in any one of 359 (15 alternately possible points) alternatively possible directions. Cloud cover, changing direction, position of the Earth relative to the sun and consequently the time of day, hiking below tree canopy, cliff obscurity, etc., each presenting a serious problem. And, if any one of these particular dilemmas decide to hasten your solar collection activity, you're essentially, laboriously, hauling equipment you would have been better off without.

This was my problem during my overnight backpacking trip in Southern, AZ where the sun shone for two whole days, and similarly for my day hike down into the Grand Canyon. There may not have been cloud cover but changing direction, position of the sun, tree and cliff cover had all presented a problem. And, considering our latitude I would expect better results than any position north of Arizona.

Due, in part, to all of these obscurities I had been unable to achieve a good charge on either the battery pack or my camera, which, incidentally, was attached via USB. Considering all obscurities, my Goal Zero panels were in direct sunlight less than 50% of the time, and quite a bit less, in fact!

By simple law of solar dynamics and encumbrances, I'm making this part up, sort of, or by creating an unfamiliar, new physical natural law, it is essentially irresponsible to expect these solar panels, in this setting, to obtain a sufficient charge while in movement, considering all possible obscurities.

I, objectively, made this mistake and subjectively needed to express my results so that you may decide for yourself, with your set of circumstances, how solar panels may work for you, based on my experience. This, incidentally, is not a review against Goal Zero or solar energy as much as it is the application of using solar panels in the field while hiking.

In contrast, following my day hike in the Grand Canyon, I returned to camp on the rim and spent the next day in camp making every attempt to maintain direct sunlight on the Goal Zero. There were many trees in camp, thus, challenging me, approximately every 15 minutes, to find the best available direct sunlight. The result… I acquired a substantially greater charge, or for that matter a charge, than I did while hiking!

Conclusion… I do not recommend this product for expectations of charging the battery pack or electronic devices while in movement, hiking. If you're going to carry the solar panel kit anyway, go ahead and strap it to the top of your pack but be prepared to be frustrated when needing to get into the top of your pack and the panels are impeding your progress. I admirably support solar energy and obtaining solar, albeit immobile, while at camp.

Thus, this review and rating of two stars is entirely based on my expectation of acquiring a solar charge while hiking. And, a rating greater than 1 star only because the potential does exist that the panels will obtain minimal charge while hiking, but not enough, in my experience, to obtain a useable amount of energy. This review is exclusive of all features associated with this unit!

Reach Your Summit!

G00SE MODERATOR

LOL! David, I logged in this morning to post my review of the Guide 10 Plus Battery pack and saw this review. I gave it 2-stars as well. (See my review regarding amperage issues that seem to be more important than the amount of sunlight.)


6 months ago
David Drake

Your review is perfect, G00SE! My theory of how poorly solar panels work while hiking, which I thought may have been entirely a movement/obscurities issue and not necessarily related at all to Goal Zero's kit, in conjunction with your review now makes sense. I was having such a difficult time thinking that after using this kit twice with the same return on results, there must be some underlying issue other than the position of the sun, cloud cover, cliff cover, etc. Very nice job, G00SE!


6 months ago
steven

Bummer to hear you had such bad usage out of this product. I have used a powerfilm solar panel for a couple of years now and have had excellent service from it. I bought the one that charges AA batteries since my headlight and Steripen both use that size. I attached it to the lid of my pack for maximum exposure and it has performed as advertised with usage primarily in Arkansas and Texas.


6 months ago
David Drake

This sounds like good news, steven! I'll look in to Powerfilm. It sure would be nice to have solar power that actually works.


6 months ago
Joseph Renow

David...I understand your frustration with solar-charging while hiking (I feel like this myth started with Rawlins in the Complete Walker). Also...great review...here's an up-vote! On the other hand...I can't help but wonder if it is completely fair to judge this product based on its limitations while hiking only? If the manufacturer specifically says that it is intended for hiking then have at it (I don't know that they do or don't)...but if not? I will say that I have never used this product while hiking (the idea is ridiculous given the tree cover where I live and play)...but this product has performed well for me when used while canoeing and kayaking...so I thought I'd get your thoughts on the matter.


6 months ago
David Drake

Hi Joseph… Thanks for the up-vote!! Yes, after returning to base camp following my day hike in the GC, the next day, as noted, I did indeed acquire a charge. Thus, my conclusion was confirmed that hiking while attempting to capture solar power is futile. Consider, also, that I did attempt to capture solar during my overnight prior to my day hike in the GC with no success. Laudably speaking, solar does work, no question here. The defining question is whether or not a charge may be obtained whence the panels find themselves obstructed and whether or not they're able to hold a charge in inconsistent direct sunlight. Unfortunately, in my experience, obtaining a solar charge with even abbreviated obstruction is not the case. Most unfortunate would be the scenario in which I was wrong. I encourage everyone to challenge my conclusion, however, the extra couple of pounds assimilated into an already strenuous pack may not be for everyone, particularly in areas such as where I reside in southern, AZ. The need for a lighter backpack and or weight conserved for water is indispensable in the Sonoran desert where finding water is particularly difficult and the majority of weight in my backpack is, in fact, water weight. On average, when I leave for an outing I carry no less than 6 liters of water and have often arrived home with less than a liter to spare. Summer months force an average closer to 10 liters… I love to hike and I love the miles!!! Carrying an additional 2 pounds of unnecessary weight could spell disaster. And, even the GC has been known to shut off well water due to line breakage leaving only the Colorado to bear fruit, although, without surprise, we are usually aware of water significance before hand. In any case, I do infallibly believe in solar power and the resourcefulness it provides at base camp… it works and I did acquire a charge at base camp on my Goal Zero… hope this answers your question… and, very many thanks, Joseph, for turning me on to a book I have not read… The Complete Walker by Rawlins. Huge up-votes for a new book to sink my teeth into!


6 months ago
Joseph Renow

No problem David...your review was well done (though some photos of it in use would send it over the top...but as one who doesn't take photos of their gear [strange?] I completely understand). I've concluded at this juncture that solar power is not a viable option for backpacking (for many of the reasons you cited)...personally I'd just rather carry a few extra batteries...or have batteries mail-dropped (bounce-boxed) to me. However...for kayaking and canoeing where sun exposure is often full and intense...and you're not carrying the weight of the device on your back...solar power works well as long as the sky is clear (which is another problem with solar power)...particularly since resupply is less common in kayaking and canoeing adventures. I completely agree with you about solar-power and backpacking...I just questioned whether it was fair to judge the device so harshly based on a single use...only one of several that the manufacturer recommends (if it actually recommend it for backpacking?). In regards to the book "The Complete Walker" is considered the "Bible" by many backpackers (including myself)...and hands-down my favorite backpacking book of all-time (their personal anecdotes make reading about gear entertaining). Chip Rawlins is only a contributing author in the latest edition (IV) as far as I know...and he only discusses solar-power in a small section of the book where he hypothesizes a zero fossil-fuel excursion (though he admits he isn't going to give up his synthetic clothing anytime soon). Since I first read last edition I have seen many attempts at solar backpacking (including my own)...and all I know of turned out to be impractical...if not all-around failures. As a person who tries to produce as small a foot-print as possible everyday...the idea is worth continuing...but as of yet I do not believe we have the right technology to make it possible.


6 months ago
David Drake

Thanks again, Joseph!!! I now carry many batteries (all of which incidentally weigh less than the solar kit) and have had a difficult time standardizing my electronics, as much as I'd like to. For example, I have a small video camera and a GoPro that do not utilize the same type of battery and neither of them are the AA size, which is the size required in my GPS. I'm sure I'll never find a phone that uses AA's and it's quite possible I'll have a satellite phone in the future that may or may not use AA's. With that said, I would love the capability of charging all devices via USB. In addition, I have commented on the BioLite stove in the forum section stating that I would benefit from an electrical energy stove with a smaller pot stand because my cook pots, mugs, etc. all have a diameter smaller than the BioLite's 5" diameter pot stand (hoping BioLite will take note). In any case, we are an electronically dependent society and we need our camera's, phone's, iPad's, etc. Solar is the commendable and most fascinating way to go! I'm pulling for a solar device that universally charges all devices and will not lose any percentage of charge while obstructed. I have not been canoeing in a very long time and I have never been kayaking… water travel and camping just seems to make sense. One of these days I'll need to get off the mountain and put some Ore's in the water...


6 months ago
Joseph Renow

The summers here are miserable for hiking...I do not hike in the warmest parts of summer...at those times I escape to the spring-fed rivers of the Ozarks...and the small rivers around here...and at least a few National Scenic Riverways every year. Though I began my outdoor days as a backpacker...it is rivers where I truly learned the art...so I highly recommend you throw an ore in the water when you get the chance:-) In regards to batteries and devices...I have worked hard to standardize all my electronic devices to AA batteries (due to how commonplace they are). I have a small lantern (Coleman Max) that uses 4 AA batteries which I only use for group camping (usually canoeing...but I've backpacked with it). I also have a small (5oz.) Sony AM/FM radio (ICF-S10MK2) that uses two AA batteries and gets amazing reception. I use the radio primarily for weather when out of cell range and camping in exposed areas (my camp was once hit by a tornado at night...it was easily the worst experience I have had sleeping outdoors...so I cannot sleep without some reassurance that there is no tornado warning or watch when the weather turns South). My headlamp is the Fenix HL21 which uses a single AA battery. I simply love my Fenix...and have a review of it here on TS: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/fenix/hl21/#review29529. My camera (though I broke it recently when I backed over my loaded backpack with my car!) was the Canon PowerShot A1400...it took amazing pictures and video (HD) for what I paid for it...fairly good audio....and it was powered by two AA batteries. At the moment the only electronic device I have that doesn't use AA batteries is my phone (which serves as entertainment + GPS + phone + flashlight + journal + and presently my camera). I wish they had a quality cell-phone that used AA batteries (hard enough to find a camera)...but for now I use the Guide 10 which you and Goose have been underwhelmed by...but has performed well for me. With the Guide 10 all of my power storage can be in the form of AA batteries...which not only allows me to carry less batteries overall...but also provides a lot of confidence that I will never want for power because I know that I can easily pick up additional AA batteries anywhere the trail hits a bit of civilization...as most gas-stations carry them.


6 months ago
0

Great for hiking. And I use it all the time. This…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $55

Summary

Great for hiking. And I use it all the time.

Pros

  • Good to have fresh batteries on hand
  • Simple and rugged
  • Can use any rechargeable aa or aaabatteries
  • Infinite power limited only by how many batteries you carry

Cons

  • Didn't include batteries

This is a great piece of equipment to have if you use a lot of batteries and rechargeable toys. Will also work with any store bought rechargeable batteries. So you are only limited to the amount of energy you can store by how many batteries you choose to carry. The charger itself can also be used to charge devices and other rechargeables via USB.

I am very pleased with this product and have also had no issues with it charging in low light conditions.

0

Latest and greatest version. As long as the sun shines…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $119

Summary

Latest and greatest version. As long as the sun shines you got power! Great way to power up naturally, while enjoying the sun. Each one gets better and better.

Pros

  • Powered by the sun
  • Can add panels to it
  • Still charges on cloudy days
  • Cables now attached to unit
  • Can wear it on your pack
  • Charges a good variety of items

Cons

  • Powered by the sun
  • Charging block still bulky

I purchased the latest and greatest model of the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus.

The  minor changes: The Velcro seal has now been changed to a magnetic closure. The charging port for all you cords has been updated from the square block to a triangle shape rounded at bottom where the cords are now attached, so you don't lose them. The usb connection is the only one which can be removed so you can use your own based on what product your trying to charge.

I have tried all my gadgets and toys and 90% of them can be charged with this solar panel! My only failures were my JBL Flip due to its weird proprietary plug which is not usb for some reason, and of course my Bose soundlink for the same reason. No problems with my iPhone 4s, iPod Touch, Garmin hiking gps (but must use their usb only), and my Contour helmet cam.

I did not have any trouble charging even in cloudy settings. Yes, it does still take a little longer to charge, but still
love this little thing.

My only suggestion to Goal Zero would be to somehow shrink down the plug port as it makes it bulky still on one side. It's only 1/2" thick but it's still bulky. The weight is 1.20 lbs with all cables connected including the cigarette attachment but not including your own usb.

It's a ridged unit, very solid which probably adds to its weight vs. the roll up models available, but I'd expect more durable and better charging from it as well. I had no problems charging through my car windshield worked great for me, they do say your uv protectant in your windshield can reduce charging abilities, just for your FYI.

I also purchased backup rechargeable batteries from Duracell, as some quality questions have been voiced on other reviews, but so far no trouble for me, but nice to have extra batteries depending on where you're lugging them too!

This was purchased from Ebay as Amazon does not have the latest version yet as it just came out a few weeks ago. There does seem to be improvement in the panels' ability to hang on to the sun, so to speak, as it was very easy to get a charge and for me, the times were lower for charging my phone and iPod.

The customer service from them is top of the line! But also as others have noted, be very diligent in checking to see if box was previously opened. As my first one was, it was re-closed with another clear GZ sticker, the first unit was terribly damaged, but they let me use it until they shipped out a new one, now that's customer service. They put the burden on themselves rather than the customer! The second unit I got was great! So just inspect the unit the day you get it. I've included a couple of photo's check them out! Happy travels!

David Drake

I purchased this kit quite a while back and used it strapped to the top of my backpack for a two-day backpacking trip in Southern, AZ, with no luck. I had the same experience at the Grand Canyon… I spent one evening in the canyon and hiked both days with no positive results. Once I made my way up to the rim I stayed another two days car camping. Here's the problem I had... Hiking with the panels strapped to the top of my backpack left me, at best, with the sun directly on the panels less than half time. Either I was in the shade or changing direction too often and I simply didn't have enough sun exposure to sufficiently charge the system. At camp, I focused my attention on the panels so much it became a nuisance. Like a sun dial, I was changing the position of the panels, setting them on this rock, that log, avoiding tree cover, etc. just to charge the silly thing. Finally, I realized that it was not going to work for me hiking. At camp, with a bit of tenacious direction I could make it work but I never really want to remain at camp just to tend to the solar panels. I therefore returned the system and purchased extra batteries for my electronic gear, which was what I was trying to avoid in the first place, and found that this was indeed the better choice.


6 months ago
0

I would recommend this for anyone with small devices…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $99.99

Summary

I would recommend this for anyone with small devices to charge. It worked quickly with direct sunlight. It's my "if I could bring one luxury item backpacking.."

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Quick and efficient

Cons

  • Adds more weight than I would like

With gear we often "buy and try" only to buy another type. This is one piece you don't have to do that with. I took my Garmin 910 on a 4-day trip in Glacier National. We were with a guide so I didn't need my GPS navigation. I just wanted my track for later and monitor the distance as we hiked, so the Garmin was all I needed.

I drained from 25%-50% of the Garmin's "50 hour" battery each day. Each morning, I took out the Goal Zero, plugged in the watch and 10-30 minutes later while we ate it was fully charged.

We had sun every day and no rain, so I did not get to see how inclement weather would effect the charger. I did not get a quick charge without direct sunlight, but since I had sunlight I did not try without it.

I didn't need the Guide 10 (although I brought it), the solar panels were enough. I only had the one device to charge.

I only wish it was lighter. It adds more weight than a backpacker looking to shed ounces will probably want. But if you are going into the back country or will be without power and either need small electronics for a particular purpose or just really want them like me, this is a must have.

I used to select cameras, watches, etc. with regular batteries and make sure I had enough spares for the entire trip. With the Goal Zero I can use re-chargeable batteries and devices.

0

Excellent state-of-the-art portable solar power generator…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $90

Summary

Excellent state-of-the-art portable solar power generator for hand-held devices, up to and including the new iPad from Apple.

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Various charging options

Cons

  • Cables + Guide 10 pack don't fit in storage pouch together

This is a great product and has proven itself (to me) by charging my new iPad (iPad 3). It has several charging options and can be used while hiking or backpacking by attaching it to your backpack/back.

I like the Guide 10 charger pack and a huge plus was the included AAA battery adapter; however, 4 AAA batteries aren't included. The Guide 10 comes with 4 AA batteries so why not include the AAA batteries as well?

All around great product and does what it says.

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