Swiss Army manufacturer Wenger gets into portable solar charging
An optional LED adds a little portable lighting to your solar charger
Best known for its Swiss Army knives and watches, Wenger has been expanding into other types of gear and accessories, including tents, shoes and sunglasses. Portable solar chargers are some of the latest additions to this expanded line.
Wenger is one of a growing number of outdoor brands that's selling its own line of solar chargers. Each of its chargers is equipped with multiple polycrystalline solar panels and a lithium ion battery with USB connection. Wenger also includes a USB to five-tip adapter that provides more versatility in charging. The chargers fold up, making them easy to transport. Integrated straps let you lash them to your bike, backpack, tent, etc.
The most powerful of Wenger's chargers is the Pro model. It uses six solar panels for 6.75 watts of power. The 5,000 mAh lithium-ion battery takes about 5 hours to charge to full. It retails for US$340. Wenger also offers the 2.25-watt two-panel Standard charger ($180) and 4.5-watt four-panel Top charger ($270).
Wenger's claim that the solar chargers are "almost as versatile and functional as a Wenger Swiss Army Knife" is a disservice to its knives, but the chargers do offer a flash of the multifunctional design Wenger is known for. Buyers can add a 3-watt LED light to any of the three chargers, turning it into a sort of flashlight. Of course, that costs an extra $70, so you'd probably be better off just buying a separate flashlight or headlamp.
About the Author
Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.
All articles by C.C. Weiss
Even from the article's title it screamed that this would be (probably) well-made but highly overpriced gadget.
Good concept. To expensive, unless its designed so if you accidentally ran over it with your truck, it still worked.
I use version 4.5W in a few days. Charger performs well. According to the manufacturer's description Solar is suitable for attaching to a backpack or a bicycle. Battery has a MICRO USB plug - it's exposed to shocks during the tour so I think this is the weakest point of this device. I do not understand for what outputs are normal USB but input from solar (or PC) is Micro ! It can easily be damaged during the journey.
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