Whenever we go on shore excursions, we always take a backpack. We carry bottled water, a camera, a cell phone, possibly a small tripod, snacks, etc. When we discovered Solar Sack™, a backpack that also has the ability to keep our phone and camera charged, we knew we had to give it a try.
We decided to test the Solar Sack during our 9-day Windstar Star Pride cruise in the Caribbean. I wore the Solar Sack on three different excursions, and used it one day when we were lounging around the pool. As a backpack, the Solar Sack is well designed with plenty of pockets to hold a variety of items. You can easily carry a cell phone, iPad mini (which is what we have), a camera, and still have room for plenty of other items. The shoulder straps have minimal padding, but provided enough comfort so as to alleviate any shoulder pain.
Each shoulder strap has a small fabric loop that can be used to attach a carabiner, the included compass, or as a pass-through for a charging USB cable. There is also a horizontal chest strap (not shown) that is useful if you are carrying a particularly heavy load. The chest strap connector even has a built in safety whistle. There are expandable water bottle pockets on each side of the Solar Sack which can each easily hold up to a 20oz Dasani water bottle. An optional hydration bladder is available should you require one.
The real magic behind the Solar Sack is the addition of a 10,000 mAh battery charger that can be used to keep your gadgets charged while you are on a hike or shore excursion. When fully charged, the battery pack has enough muscle to extend a cell phone's talk time by about 30 hours. The solar battery/charger is removable and about the size of a large cell phone, and a little heavier. The battery pack can be charged using a wall outlet or sunlight. Of course, the quickest way to fully charge the unit is from a wall outlet via a USB adapter. And, since the battery pack is removable, it can be used as a backup power source when you are not using the backpack.
There are two USB ports on the bottom of the battery charger allowing you to charge up to two devices simultaneously. The battery charger slips into a pocket on the top flap of the Solar Sack which has a clear plastic cover, allowing sunlight to reach the charging plate. A bright green light indicates that the battery pack is charging from the sunlight and a series of blue lights show the amount of charge remaining. The LEDs are bright enough to be seen even in the brightest sunlight.
The photo above shows the battery pack slipped into the pocket of the Solar Sack and the flap that folds over with Velcro to hold it in place. The production model will have a small slit in the flap for the cables to pass through to the main backpack compartment.
The Solar Sack comes with a USB charging cable with a clever two port design allowing the cable to charge an Apple iPhone/iPad (Lightning) or an Android phone/pad (Micro USB). I was able to use my mini-USB-to-USB cable to charge our Panasonic camera from the battery pack.
I personally like the size of the Solar Sack. It is not too large so as to be cumbersome, but large enough to hold everything we would ever need on a shore excursion or short hike. We were even able to cram a pretty large beach towel into the main compartment. We tested the charging capability with a GoPro camera, a Panasonic pocket camera, an iPad mini and my LG Android phone. I even used a long USB cable to keep my GoPro charged while we were on a Segway tour. We did not test the hydration bladder or the Bluetooth speaker, both of which ship with the Loaded Bag option (see below). Perhaps we will give those a try on our next trip.
The water bottle pockets are a huge plus for us and the Solar Sack has more than enough pockets inside to hold various items. The construction of the backpack is good and the Rip Stop material looks pretty tough. My only complaint is the material that rests against my back can get pretty warm on a hot day causing perspiration. A micro-fiber, Cordura or other breathable material would be a better option here
The visible solar battery pack seemed to attract a lot of attention from other travelers. Several people stopped me to ask about the backpack and how the solar charger worked, a good indication that there is a market for the Solar Sack.
The Solar Sack is the perfect size for cruise enthusiasts on shore excursions. We carried it with us on a kayaking excursion in Grenada and the water-resistant material worked great on the beach. Of course, the Solar Sack is much more capable than our needs require, but it is nice to know that the charger is there to keep the phone or camera charged when we are away from an AC power source. For this reason alone, we will make the Solar Sack a regular part of our cruise packing list.
The Solar Sack is available in two configurations:
Basic bag: Backpack, solar powered battery bank, dual-headed charging/data cord and multi-function compass
Loaded bag: Backpack, solar powered battery bank and dual-headed charging/data cord, multi-function compass, hydration bladder, multi-function tool and Bluetooth speaker.
For pricing and additional information, visit their Facebook page or website www.TheSolarSack.com
Originally posted on: 12/6/2016