GOAL ZERO VENTURE 30 RECHARGER
Yes, this is yet another crowdfunded solar USB charger, but it's also claimed to be "the world's toughest 100% waterproof solar panel."
Solar USB chargers have come a long way in recent years, and new models are increasingly lightweight, weatherproofed, and durable, with faster charging times and a smaller physical size for better portability. Two years ago, Brown Dog Gadgets launched its folding 5W solar charger ( via Kickstarter, to great success, and now the company is back with another solar gadget, and its Badger solar panel promises to be a rough and ready solar companion that can go wherever you do.
Water and electricity aren't a good mix, and most of our favorite gadgets are prone to being a bit on the sensitive side, at least when it comes to getting knocked around or getting wet, so any good portable solar charger needs to be able to stand up to a bit of roughhousing and moisture, which is a big selling point of the Badger.
According to the Brown Dog Gadgets website, the Badger was designed to handle "any amount of abuse," and to put that to the test, the company left it in a fish tank for two days, fired at it with a shotgun, and dropped a bowling ball on it (not all at the same time), and the device was still able to generate a charge.
To keep water from damaging the charger or devices attached to it, the company internally waterproofed the electronics, added a rubber cap to the USB port, and integrated a water-resistant pouch to protect gadgets while charging. The Badger earned an IP65 rating for its dust- and waterproofing features, and while you probably aren't going to be doing any charging underwater or in a dust storm, the rating is a great indication of how durable the device should be in most real-world conditions.
Another feature that is included in the Badger chargers (which will be available in 8W, 12W, and 16W versions) is a removable USB Watt meter, allowing users to see, in real-time, how much power the units are generating, which is something that most other solar chargers don't include in their designs. The Badger is also said to have an auto restart feature, which means that if/when a shadow or cloud blocks the sun from reaching the unit and it stops charging a device, the unit will automatically begin charging again once the sun hits the solar cells, without having to unplug and replug the charger from the gadget (which is often the case with portable solar chargers).
The company is also offering two different power banks (for example: GOAL ZERO VENTURE 30 RECHARGER) to accompany the Badger solar charger through the crowdfunding campaign, with one being a 6,000mAh version that doubles as a flashlight, and the other being a waterproof and shockproof 15,000mAh version that is said to be "built like a brick."