My promise to you in Part I of my Mountainous Challenge Series was to keep you updated with the tech gadgetry that I am planning on using when I am away on my trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.
While we are away, I hope to be able to keep family, friends and kind supporters updated with our progress. The easiest way to do this will be via Twitter and Facebook etc. As you can imagine, there are a number of obstacles which I will need to overcome in order to be able to do this.
Arguably the most important is that of power, and how I will be able to charge my tech (cameras, phones, tablet etc) while I am up a mountain. Quite obviously the usual mains power sockets that we all take for granted everyday will not be an option for us while we are thousands of feet above sea level on a barren mountain landscape in the middle of Africa.
While plug sockets might be scarce, one thing that there will be no shortage of is sunlight. It is because of this that I started to look into the possibility of solar charging. There are a number of cheap solar charging options out there, but hardly any seemed to be suitable for my requirements to charge multiple devices in somewhat hostile environments. However I did come across a number or articles that each recommended powermonkey devices, and so I decided to get in touch with the company that make them.
The kind people at PowerTraveller have been kind enough to support my trip by giving me one of their Powermonkey Extreme devices to use. It only arrived a few days ago, and so I have not had a chance to fully test it out, but I wanted to write a first impressions post ahead of taking it out and about to put it through its paces.
The Powermonkey Extreme is a waterproof rugged solar powered charger which comes with a foldable solar panel, battery pack, and a selection of charger connectors. The battery pack can be charged throughout the day by connecting up the solar panels (or through the supplied mains charger if you happen to have a plug socket handy), and then you can charge pretty much any device that charges via USB or DC.
I was slightly worried when my package arrived that it might be a bit heavy. Obviously when climbing a mountain, you must try to keep the weight of your kit as low as possible. But after getting the device out of its box, I realised that a lot of the weight was due to the packaging, and also I wouldn’t be needing to take many of the components with me (e.g. the mains adapter, the international adapters, the excess charger connectors), therefore cutting down the weight even further. Even though I may not use many of the components, I think it is fantastic that it comes with so many customisable options.
The solar panels come with a Velcro strap that will help you attach it to your ruckstack, for example. The battery pack has a handy little LCD screen that provides battery level/charging information, and you can control the battery pack using a rather nifty touch sensitive portion on the top. Sliding your finger one way or the other will turn the device on or off, and other features can be activated/deactivated by performing tapping gestures.
First impressions of the Powermonkey Extreme are very promising indeed. It seems to be the perfect charging solution for my needs. I will try to start testing it out during my day-to-day life, probably by using it in my car to start. However, I will be able to give it a proper field testing when I start having my longer training walks, and particularly on my training weekend away in the Brecon Beacons.
I will, of course, report back again on the Powermonkey Extreme with a full review once I have really put it through its paces.
If you are interested to find out more about the Powermonkey Extreme, or if you would like to buy one for yourself, then visit the PowerTraveller website at: