Badgers are tough bastards. Maybe that’s why the folks at Brown Dog Gadgets chose the name for their newest line of solar chargers. Badger chargers have an insane waterproof rating and they can take more abuse than even Floyd Mayweather can dish out. They’re the portable panels you want on your side (or outside of your tent).
Check out this video of the abuse this thing can take. The team backed a car over it, hit it with a bowling ball, and submerged it in a fish tank. Not just for a minute, or five minutes, but for two days. It’s rated IP65, which means you shouldn’t hit it with your fireman’s hose or pressure washer, but it’ll be fine in a deluge. The internals are waterproof, and the USB port has its own plug. Even if the plug isn’t secure, the USB is separated from the sensitive bits, so all you need to do is let it dry. Tuck your chargeables like SteriPens in the waterproof zippered pouch, and you’re good to go.
Some chargers have issues with cloudy days, as though suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or something. Not the Badger. Automatic-restart tech in the Badger chargers starts the charging process on the panel back up again after clouds clear, unlike some other panels (we’re looking at you, Nexcon).
Brown Dog Gadgets also offers power banks that are just as durable and waterproof as the panels, so when you’re off the grid you won’t be screwed when nighttime rolls around. There’s a 15,000-mAh two-USB bank of batteries, and a 6,000 mAh with one USB port that doubles as a flashlight. If you know there’s an extended period of cloud-cover coming up, these come in handy to store energy from the preceding sunny days. Otherwise, you’d better make sure everything is charged before night falls or the storm hits.
The high output is another life-saver. The largest model, the 16 watt, has a USB output of 2.85A, weighs 29 ounces and is 9.25 × 31 × 0.25 inches unfolded. It has enough output to charge thirstier beasts such as tablets, yet is still light and small enough to strap to the exterior of your pack to charge while you walk.
If you’re RVing, grab more than one of these suckers: Think daisy chain. And if you want to know how much the panel is actually putting out, the folks at Brown Dog Gadgets are kind enough to include a removable USB watt meter. Now you can go around showing people how much their chargers actually suck, when you’re not out trekking with the Badger.
The 16 watt is $160, the 12 watt $140, and the 8 watt is just $110. You can go to Kickstarter, support the team and buy Joshua Zimmerman — a former middle-school science teacher turned Kickstarter mogul — a new shirt. We don’t think he’s been wearing the same one for two years, but we can’t be sure.