Goal Zero

goalzero

beGoal Zero recently supplied some charging equipment for the JTM Ama Dablam 2012 Expedition.  Using a Nomad 7 Panel, Guide 10+ kit, Sherpa 50 Power Pack and Sherpa Inverter our power needs were pretty much covered for the duration. 

Any expedition inevitably brings with it the problem of powering all your gadgets.  Ten years ago we went on these trips with no mobile phone coverage, no satallite phone, and didn't use digital cameras to name some recent changes.  As a lightweight expedition our power needs weren't vast but between us we had 4x digital compact cameras, 1x digital SLR, 4x iPhones, 3x iPods, 1x Laptop, not to mention radios and a satallite phone which might need to be powered in an emergency.

The charging system for all this equipment also needed to be versatile and light - most of the time it's either packed in a holdall on a plane or being carried by a porter.  You really don't want an expensive excess baggage bill and it's important to keep loads within reasonable boundries to look after your porter.  The Khumbu region of Nepal is fairly developed so we could charge items in "Teahouses" along our trek but needed to be self supporting at Base Camp.  All in all it's not an insignificant challenge.

Shortly, before heading out to Nepal, Mountain Boot Company (distributors for Goal Zero UK) stepped in suggesting the following equipment:

 

Our Goal Zero set up..

Guide 10+ Adventure Kit

http://www.goalzero.co.uk/shop/kits/guide-10-adventure-kit-w/4-aas/

Sherpa 50 Power Pack

http://www.goalzero.co.uk/shop/battery-packs/sherpa-50/

Sherpa Inverter

http://www.goalzero.co.uk/shop/inverters-accessories/sherpa-ui/  

Rockout Speakers

 http://www.goalzero.co.uk/shop/inverters-accessories/rock-out-speakers/


 

What's the Goal Zero system like in use?

First up, we used a Nomad 7 Solar Panel.  This was excellent giving a good stable charge for an iPhone (in fact better than the cigarette lighter in my car), and featuring a generic USB connector for other items.  In most cases an iPhone would charge in 1.5 - 2 hrs directly from the panel in good sunlight.  The panel is housed in a neat looking folding case complete with a small mesh bag.  This being particularly useful for storing the cables required or a phone, iPod etc while charging.

The temperatures we experienced ranged from approx -15 degrees at Base Camp on cold nights and mornings through to 28 degrees on the trek in.  The panel coped well over this temperature range when other products I have seen have become brittle or fragile in the cold.  Martin was so impressed he has now bought his own system for charging in Antarctica, where he works on Mount Vinson each season.

It's one thing to charge devices direct from the panel, but even better to be able to store the power.  Well this exactly what we did, firstly with the Guide 10+ Adventure Kit.  This small battery pack is made up from 4x AA batteries allowing you to use them in cameras or headtorches etc.  In addition, as a power pack you can do at least 2x full iPhone charges.  Making this a viable back up option for a short duration.

As we were slightly more power hungry we also made use of the Sherpa 50 Power Pack.  This gave us the ability to do a greater number of charges or power bigger devices (e.g. Laptop) in conjunction with the Sherpa Inverter.  This combination makes a neat little package with the inverter easily connected using the recessed cable. Early on I somehow lost the cable used to charge the Sherpa 50 directly from the solar panel.  This would have been a near disaster if it wasn't for the conventional power lead which allowed us to charge it up at a local Teahouse!  Versatile indeed...  One option would be to have this cable recessed or attached to the Sherpa in the same way.

All the leads are different, so that it's easy to link things up correctly.  For us this created a bit of a problem as we had no chance of getting a replacement cable.

In summary a great system that is really versatile and coped with the demands of a four person team easily.  Massive thanks to Jo and Jake at Mountain Boot Company who took the time to suggest this equipment.

Note: As of December 2012 there has been product re-call on all of the Goal Zero Sherpa products – here’s a link to the official statement - https://www.goalzero.co.uk/sherpa-recall/  This was due to a small number of problems with one batch.  The good news is that their is a new version which is a much smaller / lighter unit with the combined ability to charge a laptop directly from the battery rather than having to use an inverter..?

Plus Points:

  • Great stable charge from the Nomad 7 direct to devices.
  • Highly versatile system that coped well with extremes of temperature.
  • Highly portable and lightweight - I won't hesitate to carry the Nomad 7 and Guide 10+ Adventure Kit on lengthy ski tours for as long as the sun is shining.

Negative Points:

  • A couple of "suckers" for the Nomad 7 panel would be a good addition to allow its use on windows.
  • Take care of the cables, they are unique!