Great Little Charger
I use an old iPhone 3G as a GPS since I'm too cheap to buy a dedicated one and I like the apps on it. The biggest problem with it is that tracking a hike kills the battery in a few hours. Enter the Solio Bolt. I picked up the Bolt because it was the cheapest battery + solar panel combo available at REI and I had a 20% off coupon as well. My thinking was that even if the solar panels don't recharge the battery very quickly (like some reviewers have commented about the Brunton units), at least the battery would recharge my iPhone once or twice. In the end I was pleasantly surprised.
When I started my day hike, my iPhone was already down to about 2/3 charge. After about an hour of hiking, the cold weather had caused the battery voltage to drop (that's just chemistry folks) and the iPhone needed a charge. I hung the Bolt on my backpack and plugged in the iPhone. In a little over an hour the iPhone was fully recharged and the Bolt was down to around 80% (another indication the cold was the culprit since a full charge should have dropped the Bolt to around 50%). After lunch and another three hour hike out, the Bolt had soaked up enough sun to fully recharge itself.
Some other things about the Bolt that made me happy. It has a USB output port and a microUSB input port. Since my regular cell phone (not an iPhone) uses microUSB to charge, that means I already have compatible wall and car chargers for the Bolt. The Bolt comes with a very short USB-to-microUSB cable for charging it from a computer. That means I had an instant adapter to charge my cell phone from the Bolt! Finally, newer Apple products look for voltage on the data pins of their USB connections and don't always charge correctly without it. That means your typical USB charging circuit may not work with a newer iPhone or iPad. Solio recognized this and built in a dedicated Apple compatible circuit and you can easily switch the Bolt between regular USB and Apple device charging.
It won't power an entire base camp but, the Bolt is great power source for your USB devices on the trail. At 5.3 ounces and about 3.5 inches wide (closed) it is light and compact and perfect for my needs. It's a great product.
I bought this little guy for a canoeing expedition I am going on this summer. I was a little worried about not being able to take all the pictures and videos I would want to document the trip, and didn't want to have to buy a bunch of batteries, so I looked into solar chargers. I have not been able to use the bolt on a trip yet, however I do have it set up in my window soaking up the sun and it is working beautifully!
If you are looking to charge camera batteries like I am, I would recommend looking for a universal battery charger on the interwebs. Most of them are compatible with the bolt, but most cameras aren't.
What I really like about the bolt is that it has a built in battery so you can take advantage of the sun anytime it is out, even if there isn't something in need of charge. The other nice thing is that it can get charge from the sun while it is outputting charge to your device, which is super handy!
The only down side is that the solar panels are kinda small, so it takes a while to charge and when it is folded one of the solar panels remains on the outside which is a slight worry for damage. But the price beats all the competition and I am overall very happy with my purchase :)
Nice small charger
I bought this as a portable emergency power backup. As directed, I charged it first from USB, not the sun. I then was able to charge my Kindle Fire to 34% from automatic power off at 2%. Then I charged the Bolt from the sun, which took me 2 days. The key is to keep it pointed directly at the sun, which I learned how to accomplish better on the second day. The pencil provided as a prop and sun-pointer really helps to orient the Bolt properly. It was difficult to keep the Bolt from slipping on the pencil when the sun was high in the sky - next time I will try wedging the hole-pencil join with something. I believe some rubberized coating inside the hole would help and I may do that. After a full charge in the sun (which you can tell because it flashes 5 times when you press the button) I was again able to charge my Kindle Fire to 34% from 2%. The red charging light is indeed hard to see in the full sun this product needs, as mentioned by another reviewer.
Great little solar panel
This is a great little solar panel. It is simple to use, there isn't a bunch of parts that you have to keep track of. I really like the internal battery, so you don't have to have something plugged into it for it to charge. This allows you to clip it to you pack during the day to charge, and then you can charge you gps or other devices even after the sun goes down. I got it down to one bar of power, and it charged half of an ipods battery. The special Apple mode is nice. Overall a great buy, I can't wait to use it again.
Great little thing
This is a great little thing to have around everywhere you go. I live in Vegas so its practically always sunny out here.
With this thing on full charge i get 84% charge on my iphone until the solio goes dead (good enough for me)(on the iphone charge setting(blue light)). But for the money I paid, I wish it would at least come with some sort of case or sheath or something, but oh well, I'll live.
smart concept of the sundial thingy. While other solar chargers dont have that in mind.
Solio Bolt Solar Charger
I bought these for my parents and their reviews are as follows:
Father: The solio is best charged from a wall outlet first and then kept topped off by soaking up the sun. It works to charge the phone.
Mother: It works great and it is easy to use; only thing the instructions for apple and non apple products are a little confusing and they had different charging lights.
Overall cool look and light weight. Great to use when traveling on planes to recharge your phone.
Great value solar charger
I've used this to charge my iPhone 4 since I use the GPS and map function. The Bolt will give two full charges before needing a recharge. Its small and compact which is great for backpacking. I can tell its focus is towards Apple since its two settings are: Apple and general charging.My only complaint is the charge in port is micro USB and not just USB so it just another cord I have to keep track of.Overall, for [$] it can't be beat.
This is the second solar charger I bought, however it is the best small solar charger I have used. Surprisingly it is very durable, I dropped it from the roof of my car and it landed panel down, picked it up and it was fine. All this being said, it is a great product, charges fast in open sky, and relatively "fast" in cloudy skies. Overall worth the money, and the fact that it charges open or closed is great addition by solio.
Excellent Charger for Camping!!
This device is so convenient; I can charge it from the wall and bring it with me as an extra battery pack for my phone.
It is also awesome for camping! I leave it outside at the campsite while I hike, and I come back to a full charge. Provides excellent peace of mind that my phone will have power in case of an emergency!
Best money I've spent at Campmor
I haven't plugged my phone, MP3 players or Nook into a wall outlet since I got the Bolt!
I leave the charger in a sunny spot and plug my gear into it when needed. Recharges in about 4 hours.
Great for hiking and camping and Solio makes a USB AA battery for my gear that requires them.