Published on August 18th, 2013 | by Greg0
PowerMonkey Extreme: Rugged Solar Charger With Juice To Spare
Do you travel to the Australian outback or the Alaskan wilds? Spend time in jungles, on mountains, or cruising the distant seas? Even if you don’t, you could probably use a decent battery backup solution- something that provides power to your thirsty smartphone and tablet? But why stop there? Why not also find a single solution that can also serve your DSLR camera or other digital devices, from your PSP to your GPS?
The Powertraveller PowerMonkey Extreme isn’t much to look at- but it still managed to be our favorite and must-have smartphone accessory for the season. Combining a 9000 mAh lithium polymer battery along with a foldable solar panel, they also include a veritable feast of assorted dongles and adapters for many devices. Unlike others that we’ve seen, this one is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water, and is shock resistant- even a storm can’t stop it from boosting your battery.
We’ve seen plenty of backup batteries and charging accessories- from the HyperJuice Plug to the Jackery Giant- and generally they are fairly portable and offer simple recharging either via USB or wall outlet. The PowerMonkey Extreme adds car charging via those old cigarette lighter plugs, and also a superior battery-level indicator that is easy to read and far more accurate than a couple of glowing dots. Granted, this one weighs just a bit more (about a pound) and offers a little less power, but is far more rugged and capable. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s not quite as good looking- more military, less Apple- but definitely won’t slip out of your grip when you’re saving the world. It does take a long time to fully charge though.
The solar panel portion is a clam-shell design that adds portability and doesn’t feel too bulky, especially versus something like the JOOS Orange. Granted, it didn’t offer quite the capabilities of, say, the Goal Zero system, still the most powerful solar-powered charging system that we’ve reviewed. And though it’s perfect for a pinch, we didn’t find it able to work quite as well as we hoped in NYC’s less-intense sunlight over the last month or so. Direct, powerful sunlight matters a great deal; cloudy and overcast conditions can massively reduce the power generated. They claim an efficiency of up to 17%, which is quite good, and a charging time of 15 hours, but your results will vary widely. Plus, even if you leave it in a closet for a year, the PowerMonkey Extreme should still have juice to spare.
Available now, online and in stores, expect to spend $180- more than most competitive backup batteries, but reasonable considering the array of accessories and the rugged solar panel.