Gear Review: Xtorm Evoke Solar Charger
A high-capacity solar charger that charges multiple devices
Pro: High-capacity solar charger with 2 USB ports
Con: Lid hinge feels a little lightweight
Overall: A rugged solar charger for many needs
Let’s face it – not many of us carry digital cameras around with us when hiking any more. Sure, some people might like to relive 2005 and carry their 4-megapixel digital camera with them into the backcountry (don’t forget 4 AA batteries!), but most of us simply carry our phones for pictures. And for good reason – our phones are more lightweight, do more, and unless you’re skilled in using a DSLR camera, the pictures are just as good.
But there is a shortcoming to all of this multi-functionality: battery life. Sure, airplane mode can help extend battery life, but it can’t do anything about battery-sapping cold nights. So we need a way to charge our phones and when we’re out hiking and camping.
The Xtorm Evoke solar charger solves this conundrum. It’s one-unit solar charger – meaning it has solar panels and a battery in one unit. For those technologically-inclined, you’ll already know this, but for the rest of us out there: any time you have to run a cord to power or charge something, you lose efficiency. The Evoke wires its solar panels directly to its internal battery, which maximizes battery charging efficiency (non-nerd speak: it speeds up charging time).
Add to this SunPower® solar panels, who manufactures some of the most efficient solar panels available, and you’ll find that this is quite a little power pack. In fact, the lithium-polymer battery can go from completely empty to 100% charged in about 11 hours of direct sunlight. That’s really fast.
Speaking of the battery, the Evoke can hold 10,000 milliamp hours (mAh). For those of you who aren’t electrical engineers, this means that the Evoke battery can completely charge your phone (0% to 100%) about 5 times (depending on the battery capacity of your phone). Now, consider that folks rarely let their phone drop to 0% battery, this means you can get a lot of life out of your phone by plugging it into the Evoke.
But more than the large battery capacity and the highly-efficient solar panels, my favorite feature of the Evoke is one of the simplest design features: two USB ports for charging. Think about it: how often are you hiking or camping solo? More often than not, you’ll be with someone else – and that someone else will probably want to charge their phone, too. By including 2 USB ports, you’ll be able to charge both phones at the same time. I haven’t seen any other solar chargers with this feature, and to me, it’s a huge plus to have on any portable charging unit.
The Evoke is a well-built and solid unit. The hinge on the lid of the unit seems a little under-built compared to the rest of the unit, but the only time you’ll use it is when it’s charging & laying in the sun, so there is little risk of it breaking. The outer-case is rugged and rubber and has a feel of durability to it that gives you confidence tossing it into your bag & not worrying about it. And the rubber case makes it waterproof against spills and splashes. It probably won’t (and isn’t designed to) survive a complete submersion in water, but it’ll be able to handle a little rain or spilled water.
Add all these features together, and the Evoke is a well-built solar charger that can keep your phone powered for many days while you’re on the trail.
Dimensions: 6.5″ x 4″ x 0.8″
Weight: 12.9 ounces
Solar panel: 4.5 Watts
Battery capacity: 10,000mAh
Output: 2 female USB ports
Input: Micro USB (for charging)