Sensi Buzz: SolarPlexus
Jun 06, 2018 06:44PM ● Published by Randy Robinson
Summer is here. You’re in Colorado. If you’re not reading this from a canvas chair you unfolded in front of the campfire you built next to a tent you pitched in a secluded spot in the Rockies, you’re doing this wrong.
If you are, kudos—I’ll be there soon, just gotta finish writing this bit. But before you get too self-congratulatory about how you are one with nature, a few questions: Did you light the campfire with a butane lighter? Are there disposable batteries powering the flashlight you’ll be using to duck behind a tree after dark? If your phone runs out of juice, are you gonna plug it in and turn your car on to power it back up? Sorry: you’re doing it wrong, too.
First, ditch the Bic for a plastic Fresnel lens. You can find packs of these credit card-sized magnifying “glasses” on Amazon for around $12. They require no fuel, flint, maintenance—or ants—and can get a campfire started in just a few seconds. Bonus points to anyone who can pinpoint magnified sunlight and “solar puff” a bowl.
Second, swap out battery-powered lanterns for Pocket Lights (SURVIVALFROG.COM).These luminaries draw juice through a solar cell at the top of the device, and each one can collapse accordion-style to the size of a hockey puck for über portability. Each one is $20 a pop, and it comes with a built-in USB port so you can bring your phone back to life, too. [Tip: even if you have service, you aren’t out here to check Insta. Turn it on airplane mode to extend battery life.]
Next time, pack camper-friendly solar chargers. Brands like Jetsun, Voltaic Arc, and Wildtek have some very affordable ones these days. Most aren’t much larger than an iPad, and some can charge multiple devices at once. Handheld chargers run in the $30–$50 range; heftier ones go for close to $300.