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Ultralight light power?

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Ultralight light power?
« on: November 02, 2016, 01:05:38 AM »
So, even though I'm getting old (maybe because of it) I'm planning on returning to The Bend this winter, solo again after many years of bringing my kids, to do some long-distance backpacking. In order to reduce weight and bulk, I'm considering - no promises yet - relying on my iPhone to replace several other electronic items like my GPS, camera, headlamp, maybe my PLB, and also a few non-electronic items like my journal and the slew of printed field guides I like to tote.  If I can pull this off, I won't be using any battery operated devices other than my iPhone. The rub, of course, is iPhone battery life: it sucks. Anyone out there using a solar charger on long trips? If so, which one, and how has it worked out for you? I've done a bit of research on these boards, but technology changes so fast, I thought it might be time for a hive-mind update.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 02:17:26 AM by House Made of Dawn »
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Offline Txlj

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2016, 03:10:52 AM »
Don't forget the spotty cell service in the Bend. I can and do use my phone as a, camera, light and such but rarely do I get signal in case on an emergency.

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2016, 06:50:36 AM »
Not sure about solar power but I carry a "Power Bank" by Lumsing to recharge my cell at work.  It's a bit heavier than a cell phone but roughly the same size.  I've found it will charge my cell about twice.  Charges it pretty quick too.  With my phone on airplane mode, I can get more than a day out of it and then another charge or two out of the power bank.  Maybe not as self contained as a solar charger but will give you 2-3 days of cell phone power.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2016, 07:33:09 AM »
So, even though I'm getting old (maybe because of it) I'm planning on returning to The Bend this winter, solo again after many years of bringing my kids, to do some long-distance backpacking. In order to reduce weight and bulk, I'm considering - no promises yet - relying on my iPhone to replace several other electronic items like my GPS, camera, headlamp, maybe my PLB, and also a few non-electronic items like my journal and the slew of printed field guides I like to tote.  If I can pull this off, I won't be using any battery operated devices other than my iPhone. The rub, of course, is iPhone battery life: it sucks. Anyone out there using a solar charger on long trips? If so, which one, and how has it worked out for you? I've done a bit of research on these boards, but technology changes so fast, I thought it might be time for a hive-mind update.

I've checked out the solar chargers before. The specs look pretty good, however the problem is the details. Most charging times assume an optimum orientation, (ie south at the correct elevation) to achieve the spec. Strapping a panel on your pack while hiking rarely presents the panel with optimal exposure. The real world application is disappointing. If you were camped and could set it up, your results would be much better. The alternative is bigger panels, which in itself is undesirable from a cost and logistics standpoint.

The power banks are good. If you turn your phone off when you're not using it, you probably can get days of intermittent use out of it. When I did my summer hike in the Chisos, I had a small power bank and my phone lasted 3 days. I even used it to send some photos and texts, but turned it completely off when I wasn't using it...not just airplane mode.
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Offline venchka

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2016, 07:34:12 AM »
I would never ever leave my PLB at home. My sole reason for purchasing a PLB was the full time all the time anywhere reliable SOS function.
The UL Appalachian Trail crowd who can't survive without their phones rave about the Anker 10k Mah 8 ounce battery.
After a dismal experience with my iPhone 5s in Colorado last September, I'm thinking exactly the opposite: Leave my phone in the car.
Good luck!
Wayne


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Offline elhombre

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2016, 08:36:29 AM »
There is no substitute for a head lamp.  If something happens, and you must walk at night, that phone won't get you home.

A gps is a luxury item.  BB is the best place to learn, and use a topo because if you find yourself ever "lost", climb a hill and look around.  Half the desert falls away from you, the other half gets higher.  There are tons of recognizable landmarks that can be seen all over.  Take the quad you have for backup and trust yourself.

A PLB is required if solo.  A phone won't do jack for you if your down in a creek bed.  And if you need help, a phone can't give good coordinates of where you are.

A point and shoot camera is light and lasts a long time.  I took 4 videos and 150 pictures over 7 days, and the camara still showed one bar below fully charged when I got back.

Paper and pencil is light, and your not staring a blue screen trying to type out some inspirational message on letter at a time with auto correct ruining your words.

In my opinion, taking a guide book on the trip is like watching a fishing show when your down at the coast.  The books are to get you excited about going on the trip.  Not to have someone interpret what you are seeing while you are looking at it.  Another luxury item.

Guess it comes down to your main reason for consolidation.  Do you want to drop weight?  Head lamp, compass and back up topo are required.  Camera doesn't weigh much for what you get.  I would encourage you to move the other way, and leave as much technology behind.  But as I always tell my friends when getting them into backpacking, "Hey, what does it matter to me, Your carrying it".   :eusa_hand:



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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2016, 11:46:05 AM »
I carry an Anker battery to recharge my phone. I'm not an AT hiker. I just found it and it works great. Turn my phone on airplane mode and it lasts a long time. I use my phone as a camera, map, mp3 player, etc. I still carry a headlamp though. The Petzl e+lite weighs less than 1 ounce and is about $30. The Anker battery I got on amazon for like $15 - $20. Would fully charge my phone over twice.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2016, 11:52:50 AM »
HMoD, I tried earlier to link a current thread over at Backpacking Light by a guy working on a solar array that was around 3 ounces, can't get this phone to copy the whole link, go to the forums there and look for it.

As to head lamp that's super light I have been using a Petzel E-light for several years now, 1 ounce, works well

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2016, 02:41:01 PM »
Thanks, guys. This is all good info/advice. I'm grateful.

A few clarifications. 1) I won't be depending upon cell service. The GPS chip in my iPhone is satellite-based. And I've already given everyone here on BBC full permission to shoot me first and ask questions later if I'm ever found using my phone to make an actual call while in the wilderness. 2) I know the iPhone will be less accurate than a dedicated GPS unit, but I won't be depending upon it for navigation. I depend solely on paper topos, compass, and instinct. 3) I'll be using the GPS function to tag things I want to remember, like some route data, spring locations or other natural features, and also to geotag the photos I take with the phone. Gaia GPS is the app I'm leaning toward. 3) The nice thing about a smartphone is not the phone but the smart: it's a really useful little computer, meaning I can load and easily access all kinds of naturalists' field guides like mammals, birds, butterflies, herps, plants, geology - more stuff than I could possibly carry in my graying gray matter. But I often don't take the phone with me because I just don't want to fiddle with ONE MORE THING. But if the phone is meeting a whole bunch of needs and allowing me to leave other stuff behind, then it's worth taking. 4) As for converting my phone to a PLB, I'm not there yet - I'm just starting to investigate the possibilities. Seems unlikely with the current state of technology, but I suspect it will get there soon. Meanwhile my family will kill me if they think I'm going out into the wilderness without a reliable PLB.

Elhombre, you are right: the difference between putting pen to paper at the end of the day vs. tapping on a backlit screen is....well, what was I thinking? The journal comes with me. I guess I was just trying to cut down on the amount of STUFF I'm carrying. The older I get the less I want to fiddle with anything while I'm out in the wilderness. Clearly I'm torn: I like toys and I hate toys. 

And the headlamp...maybe. I dunno. I always carry a tiny Princeton Tec light on one of my belt loops for emergencies. Once I had to use it to hike a couple of hours through the Bandelier Wilderness after a bear family separated me from my pack at dusk. It was the 1/4 ounce Pulsar model and the worst part was having to keep the damned squeeze button depressed the entire time. After that I replaced it with the 1/2 ounce Impulse, and once again, through a comedy of errors, i found myself unexpectedly hiking all night, this time through the Andean foothills. At least the Impulse has a locking button, and a clip to fit onto my hat.  A third time, I returned to my basecamp in the Lincoln National Forest at dusk after a day of biosurveying and discovered that some SOB's on an ATV had stolen my pack and everything in it. All i had was the contents of my hip pack, including that tiny Impulse. I made it through the night and through the majorly pissed-off hike out to civilization the next day. But the point is, the tiny backups got me through those nights. I figure if I need a lot of light for a little bit of time, I can always use the flashlight function of the iPhone...as long as I can keep it charged. And there's the rub....

The question of solar charger vs. portable battery pack reminds me of the debate between canister stoves and alcohol stoves. The answer may depend upon trip length and backpacking style. In my case, since I want to use my iPhone for so many different purposes, I'll probably drain the batteries quickly and have to recharge every day. On a long trip, that might add up to a lot of backup battery weight. The Anker set-up, both battery back-up and solar charger, sounds like it would do the trick, but it's a bit heavy. I've also looked at Powerfilm, SunTactic, and the Solio Bolt. Badknees, you raise a good point about the ideal vs. the actual. Given that I'll be mostly on the move most of the time, sun angle could be tricky with a solar set-up, even on the brightest of days. I read conflicting reports from users. ME, I'd love to see that link from Backpacking LIght. I wonder if it's from Bob Gross. I've read some of his solar charger stuff. He's brilliant, but he wades into the deep end of the pool pretty fast for a non-brilliant non-engineer like me.   :icon_eek:

If you'd told me ten years ago that I'd be seriously thinking of taking this much high-tech electronics into the wilderness, I'd have called you crazy. And I'm still up in the air on this whole question of iPhone and energy. I've got a few more weeks to figure it out. Thanks for the input. It's all good. And I appreciate the discussion.



« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 04:12:17 PM by House Made of Dawn »
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2016, 04:23:59 PM »
OK, I just took a closer look at the Petzl E+lite. it's pretty amazing. At .95oz, I think I can justify carrying it in place of my .5oz Princeton Tec Impulse.  A couple of features swayed me: 1) the option of red light - always better for night reading. 2) Actually has a headband (a tiny retractable cord), which gives it more options for deployment than my Impulse. 3) At $29, it's pretty darned cheap for what you get.

Thanks, guys!
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Offline mule ears

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2016, 06:30:50 AM »
Quote
The question of solar charger vs. portable battery pack reminds me of the debate between canister stoves and alcohol stoves. The answer may depend upon trip length and backpacking style. In my case, since I want to use my iPhone for so many different purposes, I'll probably drain the batteries quickly and have to recharge every day. On a long trip, that might add up to a lot of backup battery weight. The Anker set-up, both battery back-up and solar charger, sounds like it would do the trick, but it's a bit heavy. I've also looked at Powerfilm, SunTactic, and the Solio Bolt. Badknees, you raise a good point about the ideal vs. the actual. Given that I'll be mostly on the move most of the time, sun angle could be tricky with a solar set-up, even on the brightest of days. I read conflicting reports from users. ME, I'd love to see that link from Backpacking LIght. I wonder if it's from Bob Gross. I've read some of his solar charger stuff. He's brilliant, but he wades into the deep end of the pool pretty fast for a non-brilliant non-engineer like me.

OK HMoD I am back in country and you have maybe already seen this by now but here is the thread on Experiments in ultralight solar from the Backpacking Light forums, it seems specifically aimed at I-phone recharging too.  Bob Gross and Richard Nisley and the other big minds all chime in.  Very detailed and interesting (I have not read the whole thing closely).

At roughly 3 oz., depending on how much power it produces, you might could realistically cut out a number of items like you are thinking about and come out ahead weight wise.  It would be an interesting experiment but I would also want some redundancy in case of some failure until proven to take field abuse but of course you know that.
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Offline nopainnogain

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2016, 09:25:28 AM »
So, even though I'm getting old (maybe because of it) I'm planning on returning to The Bend this winter, solo again after many years of bringing my kids, to do some long-distance backpacking.

Long distance backpacking in BB...like a thru hike?
Where?


« Last Edit: November 08, 2016, 09:45:52 AM by nopainnogain »

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Offline venchka

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2016, 09:51:57 AM »
Heresy alert.
While they are still available, has anyone considered an Android device with user serviceable batteries?
I don't have any batteries handy to weigh, but suppose you carried a handful of batteries that equaled the 8 oz. Anker battery that all of the east coast hikers like. That seems pretty fool proof.
The Suntactics 5 has been successfully used on the Pacific Crest Trail and is a tiny bit lighter than the Anker battery. BiBe has sunlight available similar to the Left Coast. The Suntactics charging the Anker battery might be the answer.
Wayne


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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2016, 10:33:27 AM »
Heresy alert.
While they are still available, has anyone considered an Android device with user serviceable batteries?
I don't have any batteries handy to weigh, but suppose you carried a handful of batteries that equaled the 8 oz. Anker battery that all of the east coast hikers like. That seems pretty fool proof.
The Suntactics 5 has been successfully used on the Pacific Crest Trail and is a tiny bit lighter than the Anker battery. BiBe has sunlight available similar to the Left Coast. The Suntactics charging the Anker battery might be the answer.
Wayne


No heresy at all, Wayne. I think the Android strategy is a good one. I currently have an old iPhone 5 and the buried battery situation is enormously frustrating, but I may soon replace it with a Samsung. That way, I can also leave my firestarter at home.  :icon_wink:

The SunTactics/Anker combo looks like a winner.
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Ultralight light power?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2016, 10:38:26 AM »
OK HMoD I am back in country and you have maybe already seen this by now but here is the thread on Experiments in ultralight solar from the Backpacking Light forums, it seems specifically aimed at I-phone recharging too.  Bob Gross and Richard Nisley and the other big minds all chime in.  Very detailed and interesting (I have not read the whole thing closely).

At roughly 3 oz., depending on how much power it produces, you might could realistically cut out a number of items like you are thinking about and come out ahead weight wise.  It would be an interesting experiment but I would also want some redundancy in case of some failure until proven to take field abuse but of course you know that.

Thanks, ME. I have NOT seen that particular thread. Bob Gross may put me a bit into the weeds, but I'm going to go through all of it.  3oz is amazing. That could lead to an enormous weight savings by empowering (literally) the multipurpose use of my iPhone.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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