Skip to main content

Flexible solar panel straps to outdoor fans’ backpacks to create mobile charger

SunnyBAG LEAF+ Kickstarter Video
The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus may boast Apple’s best-ever smartphone batteries, but there’s no getting around the fact that keeping your mobile devices charged 24/7 remains a big challenge.

That challenge becomes even more important if you’re the kind of active person who relies on your smartphone or another gadget when climbing a mountain, or carrying out some other equally  impressive physical task that doesn’t provide very many opportunities to charge your phone.

A new Kickstarter project aims to solve that problem with a 6-watt flexible solar panel that weighs less than 200 grams and can be strapped right onto your backpack. The so-called SunnyBag LEAF+ offers the world’s lightest flexible outdoor solar system — making it perfect for keeping everything from your smartphone to your digital camera properly juiced when you’re on the go.

“We’ve always been interested in creating environmentally friendly solutions for the mobile energy supply problem,” Stefan Ponsold, SunnyBag’s founder, told Digital Trends. “That’s been our vision since day one.”

The company’s mission began four years ago, when Ponsold was approached by the organization Doctors Without Borders to create an easily portable solar charging system. “They needed something lightweight and robust …,” he recalled. “As a result, we came up with the first LEAF prototype product. The response was so positive that at the end of 2013, we rolled it out into the market place.”

Plenty of satisfied feedback later, and SunnyBag is now back with that product’s direct sequel: the LEAF+.

“We stuck with the same design, the same size, the same weight, but improved the efficiency of the solar system,” Ponsold said. “Already, there had been a lot new technologies since two years ago. We had to decide whether we’d use high-efficient monocrystalline cells, or stick with the flexible technology we had been using. In the end, we decided we didn’t want A or B, we wanted A and B in one product. We decided to put highly efficient, monocrystalline “sunpower” solar cells with an efficiency of 22.4 percent on the top and the bottom of the device. They’re not flexible but they have a very high output. Then in the middle part, which is the bit that bends if you put it on top of your backpack, we chose to stick with a slightly improved version of the flexible panel we’d used before.”

If you’re interested in getting hold of a unit, you can do so for a pledge of just 74 euros ($83 U.S.), which includes a 4.000mAh PowerBank. Ponsold said the product will suit anyone who’s regularly pursues outdoor activities for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. “If you’re not going to be near a power plug, this is for you,” he concluded.

Well, that covers our ‘Pokémon Go’ habit — err, we mean our extreme mountain-climbing hobby.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Why AI will never rule the world
image depicting AI, with neurons branching out from humanoid head

Call it the Skynet hypothesis, Artificial General Intelligence, or the advent of the Singularity -- for years, AI experts and non-experts alike have fretted (and, for a small group, celebrated) the idea that artificial intelligence may one day become smarter than humans.

According to the theory, advances in AI -- specifically of the machine learning type that's able to take on new information and rewrite its code accordingly -- will eventually catch up with the wetware of the biological brain. In this interpretation of events, every AI advance from Jeopardy-winning IBM machines to the massive AI language model GPT-3 is taking humanity one step closer to an existential threat. We're literally building our soon-to-be-sentient successors.

Read more
The best hurricane trackers for Android and iOS in 2022
Truck caught in gale force winds.

Hurricane season strikes fear into the hearts of those who live in its direct path, as well as distanced loved ones who worry for their safety. If you've ever sat up all night in a state of panic for a family member caught home alone in the middle of a destructive storm, dependent only on intermittent live TV reports for updates, a hurricane tracker app is a must-have tool. There are plenty of hurricane trackers that can help you prepare for these perilous events, monitor their progress while underway, and assist in recovery. We've gathered the best apps for following storms, predicting storm paths, and delivering on-the-ground advice for shelter and emergency services. Most are free to download and are ad-supported. Premium versions remove ads and add additional features.

You may lose power during a storm, so consider purchasing a portable power source,  just in case. We have a few handy suggestions for some of the best portable generators and power stations available. 

Read more
Don’t buy the Meta Quest Pro for gaming. It’s a metaverse headset first
Meta Quest Pro enables 3D modeling in mixed reality.

Last week’s Meta Connect started off promising on the gaming front. Viewers got release dates for Iron Man VR, an upcoming Quest game that was previously a PS VR exclusive, as well as Among Us VR. Meta, which owns Facebook, also announced that it was acquiring three major VR game studios -- Armature Studio, Camouflaj Team, and Twisted Pixel -- although we don’t know what they’re working on just yet.

Unfortunately, that’s where the Meta Connect's gaming section mostly ended. Besides tiny glimpses and a look into fitness, video games were not the show's focus. Instead, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to focus on what seemed to be his company’s real vision of VR's future, which involves a lot of legs and a lot of work with the Quest Pro, a mixed reality headset that'll cost a whopping $1,500.

Read more