The Apollo 6 Mobility Package by Endless Sun Solar is a convenient, lightweight, and flexible solution to portable outdoor power for small devices.
Admit it. You feel a little naked without your smartphone and a little panicked when the battery meter gets below about 15%.
In the US most people carry a smartphone, and we take them everywhere.
The little 6-ounce hunk of plastic, metal, and glass creating rectangular wear lines in your pants pocket has replaced a lot of the stuff you used to carry there, like lip balm. And for most of us, outdoor junkies, weekend warriors, and posers alike, our phones have replaced point-and-shoot cameras. So, keeping your device powered up is pretty essential. Even when you can’t use it to make a phone call, send a text, or ignore an email your boss might have sent.
Recent years have witnessed an explosion of portable power devices in the outdoor marketplace. Many are solar-based solutions. These have varying arrays of cells that capture lightwave energy and pump it into your phone, tablet, powerpack, or lunch box.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve tested one of these devices. The Apollo 6 Mobility Package (Endless Sun Solar) has been with me at home, to work, and on a few trips. The package consists of an Apollo 6 USB solar charger and a Spectrum 10 USB powerpack. And it’s been a welcome companion.
For its size and power output, the Apollo 6 is among the lightest portable solar panel products available, weighing in at 8.8 ounces. One reason for its light weight is that the Apollo 6 uses CIGS solar cells. CIGS cells claim greater efficiency than monocrystalline cells, used in most portable solar panels. They’re also flexible, which means you can shove the Apollo 6 in a backpack without too much risk of damaging the cells. Something I have really appreciated about the CIGS cells is that they work in shady, dappled, or overcast conditions. Lying open on my desk and out of direct sun, the Apollo 6 was able to charge a battery pack (albeit slowly) from the light coming through nearby windows.
Endless Sun Solar seals the Apollo 6’s three solar cells and embeds them in rubberized fabric, making them both water repellant and able to fold up into a slender package about the size of a paperback. As long as you can protect your device and the USB port underneath the panel, you can continue charging in rain or snow. I’d avoid hail if I were you.
Unfolded, the Apollo 6 is about 8×20 (inches). Three embedded grommets allow you to either stake it down in windy conditions or hang it on your backpack, tent, car antenna (not while driving, please), tree, etc.
The Spectrum 10 USB powerpack in the Mobility Package is a very handy accessory. Even on its own, it’s perfect for travel or to keep in the car. I carry mine in a small pouch inside of the messenger bag I take to work. It charges through a micro-USB port with either solar or conventional power. A USB 2.0 provides access to the Spectrum’s 5V .8A power output.
Endless Sun Solar claims that the Spectrum 10 will charge in three hours in direct sunlight. That’s probably true, but I didn’t actually time it. I did, however, test it’s ability to fully charge my phone (iPhone 5) from about 5% power. The Spectrum 10 did the job with a little juice to spare. Leftover energy powers the built-in flashlight. Fully-charged, it’s supposed to shine for 24 hours.
My experience with Apollo 6 Mobility Package by Endless Sun Solar has been great. While traveling in the Southern Utah desert, the Apollo 6 was awesome. The panel stayed in the sun on the dashboard, charging a couple of different powerpacks. [Traveling as a family, we often need more than one.] When the sun went down, we charged our devices with the day’s stored sunshine. I’m guessing that the panels would have worked better in the open air, considering the auto glass soaks up quite a bit of UV energy.
That said, the dashboard method worked great for us. We’ll be repeating it on future trips. The power sockets in many cars–mine included–don’t work unless the car is turned on. So if you’re making lots of stops, your powerpack or device doesn’t get consistent charge time. The Apollo 6 completely eliminated this disadvantage for us during visits to a couple of national parks.
Our powerpacks kept right on charging as we made the requisite stops to see the sites and hike throughout the day.
So far, I’m pretty pleased with Endless Sun Solar’s Apollo 6 Mobility Package. And I’m looking forward to many sunny, or even cloudy, days and full batteries.