Keeping all of our electronic devices charged while traveling, or living off the grid in the backcountry, can be a real challenge at times. After all, it is not uncommon to set off on a backpacking trip with a smartphone, tablet, GoPro camera, rechargeable headlamp, or any number of other electronic devices. Carrying a USB battery pack is often a good way to alleviate this problem, but sometimes even that isn’t enough to get you through a longer journey.
Enter the Kogalla Solar Storage Bank, a device that combines a solar panel and a USB battery into one lightweight package designed to keep all of our gadgets powered on the go. This unique all-in-one solution provides travelers with everything they need to collect clean, renewable energy, without having to worry about whether or not they will be able to recharge their devices while away from a power outlet for an extended period of time.
The Kogalla features a foldout design that allows it to draw power from four individual solar panels when fully deployed. At peak efficiency, those panels are capable of generating up to 22 watts of power from the sun, all of which is stored in the device’s onboard battery pack, which features a respectable 10,000 mAh of capacity. Two built-in USB ports allow users to plug in a wide variety of devices and recharge them, even after the sun has gone down.
We’ve seen a variety of solar panels for use in the outdoors over the years, but most don’t come with the ability to store the energy they collect onboard. That gives the Kogalla a distinct advantage over the competition, most of which require you to bring your own battery pack and plug it directly into the solar panel. With the Kogalla however, you simply place the device in the sun and it automatically begins generating power, without the need to wire anything up. This ensures that it will always collect even a minimal amount of energy and store it in the battery for use later.
The solar panels included on the Kogalla are even efficient enough to collect energy in low-sunlight conditions and can restart the collection process if clouds happen to block the sun for an extended period of time. Some other solar chargers will stop functioning altogether when that happens, which can prevent them from generating power for extended periods of time, even after the sun returns. This is a nice feature to have, as it allows you to basically set up the Kogalla at your campsite, leave for the day, and return knowing that it collected as much power as possible while you were gone.
One of the other nice features of this product is its ability to fold down to a relatively small and thin footprint for storage in a backpack while not in use. The Kogalla is made from flexible and durable waterproof materials, which makes it easy to transport without fear of damage. It also comes with a handy built-in zippered pocket to store USB cables for charging your devices too.
All told, the entire unit weighs 28 ounces, which is considerably more than Goal Zero’s popular Nomad 7 solar panel, which tips the scales at a svelte 12.8 ounces. But the Kogalla includes two more solar cells, which allow it to generate more power of course, and it has the built-in battery pack too. Those additions probably make the extra weight worth for most users.
Just how well the Kogalla works in the field remains to be seen. As we pointed out, hikers have had mixed results when using solar panels in the past. There are a lot of environmental factors that have an impact on how well they work in real-world situations, but as the design of these devices continues to evolve — and solar panel efficiency improves — we should see better solar charging options in the future. The inclusion of a built-in battery pack is a step in the right direction, as it helps eliminate one more piece of the puzzle.
The Kogalla Solar Storage Bank is available for $240. Find out more at Kogalla.com.