This summer I tested the Bushnell SolarWrap Mini USB solar charger on backpacking and road trips.
Small solar panels are attached to a thin, flexible material that rolls into a plastic housing when not in use to easily stow in a jacket or backpack pocket.
During the day I unrolled the SolarWrap and charged my phone using the sun’s rays. At night, the charger is still useful; a lithium-ion battery stores energy for later use and boosted my camera battery in a matter of minutes.
The Gear: Bushnell SolarWrap Mini
Where To Test It: Unroll the solar panel anywhere there’s sunlight. Or use the built-in battery to charge USB devices at night.
Who’s It For: Anyone who wants a lightweight option for charging cellphones or other small USB-powered devices off the grid.
Boring But Important: You can charge the internal battery by connecting to a computer or wall outlet. This process took me about three hours. Or, you can charge the battery using its solar panel, which takes about 10 hours.
Important Specs:The brand states the SolarWrap packs one amp of power, which is enough to charge a smart phone once or a smaller device like GPS unit twice.
Made In: China
Killer! Super lightweight at 3.1 ounces, it rolls up to about the size of a candy bar when not in use. A grommet hole allows the panel to attach to a tent, tree, or backpack.
Flaw: There’s no way to tell how much power is left in the internal battery. The only indicators are a red LED (indicates that the battery is charging) or a green LED when fully charged. Small protective caps — which keep debris and moisture out of the USB portal — are easy to lose.
First Impressions: The Mini is easy to use and ultra portable. Unroll the panel in the sun to charge the battery, or plug your device into the USB port to begin charging automatically. The built-in battery is a convenient option for charging devices at night. It’s light, so make sure to stake the panel down before leaving it unattended in the wind.
Who Should Buy It: Anyone who might be looking for an ultralight way to re-charge in the backcountry.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Bushnell
—Amy Oberbroeckling is an assistant editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC