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Downhill
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PostTue May 26, 2020 7:19 pm 
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Here's my need:

* I'm considering a 10-14 day backcountry trip this summer, utilizing a pre-staged cache that I'll hit at about day 5-ish.  Probably 40% of my trip will be off-trail and GPS is money for those times. *** ALL of the Off-trail travel/GPS usage will be *after* the day 5 cache exchange ***
* I just need juice for my phone, and I will be using camera and GPS aps while doing my best to keep it OFF when not in use.
* I can carry enough battery for the first 5 days without an issue.  I will dump that charger at my cache, recharge my phone and carry a fresh charger forward with me that I expect will last another 5 days.
* This leaves me at least 4 days short, assuming everything goes as planned - or I might go dead even sooner (more photos, more GPS usage)
* I feel like I need a lightweight, efficient solar charger, both as a backup and to extend my range of days.

Any suggestions?  I've seen many reviews, but I trust the actual experiences of the NWHiker community more.  Priorities are weight and output.

TIA!
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neek
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PostTue May 26, 2020 8:11 pm 
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Take this with a grain of salt since I've never used a solar charger.

* A 2nd battery pack will be much more convenient than a solar charger, weigh less, and cost less
* Booting up takes a ton of energy; phone might last longer in airplane + battery saver mode
* Turn off HDR and other expensive post processing
* Force brightness low and use gps in shade
* Disable compass if possible
* Reboot right before unplugging from final charge
* Don't create a track or you won't be able to enable battery saving mode and will get much less life. Waypoints OK
* Don't let it get too cold at night or battery metering could get screwed up

I can get 2-3 days from my (now "old") Pixel 2, and have a brick that can charge it 2+ times.  Last year anyway.
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Randito
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PostTue May 26, 2020 8:57 pm 
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2nd Neek's recommendation of extra battery packs instead of solar panels.

I pedaled the Pacific Coast Route three summers ago taking a month+ at a relaxed pace.

I brought a 15watt solar panel along as well as a 22000mah battery.  I found the solar charger only marginally effective at recharging the spare battery.  It's tricky to orient the panel effectively while underway.    I suppose if you took long lunches,  rest days or had regular base camp days where the panel  could be oriented for effective power generation you'll get more power than I did with the panel flat mounted on my bike's rear rack over my panniers.
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Malachai Constant
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PostTue May 26, 2020 9:05 pm 
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I have spoke with a lot of thru hikers about this. Solar sounds great in theory but most have trouble charging a phone even when northbound on the pct in full sun. I use a 10,000 mah battery pack and have had no problems. Follow needs instructions and keep the phone off until you need it. The battery lasts a lot longer in airplane mode and you can still use the camera. Hunting for a towed burns a lot of power. Anker is a good brand for about $20 A good solar cell is close to $100 and produces a fraction of the power.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Cyclopath
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PostTue May 26, 2020 11:05 pm 
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I have a friend who hiked the OR and WA sections of PCT.  She regretted bringing a solar panel.

Some GPS units are very optimized for battery life.  My watch has maps and turn by turn, it gets 52 hours of tracking to a charge, can be extended turning the HRM off or lowering the GPS sample rate.  Depending on your budget and tolerance for used gear, this might be a better option for you?

I would also consider taking a stand alone camera or second phone.  I would personally be nervous relying on the same battery hungry device for both functions.
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Downhill
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PostWed May 27, 2020 6:35 pm 
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Thanks all for your comments - You are essentially confirming all my own personal experiences.

Neek - great list of suggestions - I already do most of those, but I picked up a couple gems, thanks.

I live off-grid and have no cell service, so airplane mode is a daily routine for me - it's amazing how much capacity you can save this way.  At home, my electrical setup is solar panels with generators for backup and heavy current applications.  Because I'm familiar with the fussiness of solar and have been skeptical of its efficiency for backcountry applications.

I have 3 power banks that I use on frequent rotation, their respective weights are inversely proportionate to amp hours --> 5 charges, 3 charges, and 2 charges.

I'll just figure out how to stage these for my extended outing.  Thanks for your help!
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Brian Curtis
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PostWed May 27, 2020 7:38 pm 
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I had good luck with a solar panel on my last extended hike. I never tried to charge my phone with the solar panel. I charged a battery and then I would charge my phone from the battery. I would normally put the charger out in the sun when I was eating lunch or fishing.

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that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
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InFlight
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PostThu May 28, 2020 2:06 pm 
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The typical 20,000 milliamp/hour charger delivers its power into 5 Volts (USB Standard)
This charger is really 20 Amp/hours.

Typical the best backpacking solar chargers are rated at around 25 watts at most (and weight over a pound).

Best Case Full Sun, Perfectly Aimed, 100% efficency = 25W/5 Volts = 5 Amps  This would charge the fully discharged (20,000 milliamp/hour)  in 4 Hours.

Charger on top of your backpack (not aimed), overcast, below the tree-line.  Maybe 2.5 watts.

2.5 Watts/ 5 Volts = 0.5 Amps.  This would recharge the 20,000 milliamp/hour charger in 40 Hours.

The original 20,000 milliamp/hour charger weighs in at 12 ounces.
Unless your hiking in Arizona, you would save weight carrying an extra charger.

I've completed a number of 50 mile + trips with just a single battery charger.
If you turn your Cellular and Bluetooth off, and just enable GPS your phone will last much longer.  Also turn it completely off once you reach a campsite.
I'd rather manage battery life; than carry a heavy solar charger in the PNW.

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...  ― Henry David Thoreau
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