This tiny device helps bring power to your campsite

Nowadays it seems that when we venture into the great outdoors, we tend to take a host of electronic gadgets with us. Things like smartphones, tablets, cameras, GPS devices, headlamps, and more. Most of those devices are powered by rechargeable batteries, which of course need to be re-energized from time to time. But power outlets are few and far between in the backcountry, which is why many of us have turned to solar energy to help keep our devices functioning.

In recent years, breakthroughs in technology have allowed solar panels to get smaller, lighter, and more efficient than ever before. This has helped make the sun’s rays a viable source of power for use in remote places that are located way off the grid. In fact, portable solar panels are now used by everyone from hikers on the Appalachian Trail and climbers on Mt. Everest, to skiers heading to the South Pole, and sailors circumnavigating the globe.

Simple, lightweight solar panels with built-in USB ports are common these days, and they are generally adequate for keeping mobile gadgets charged. But those panels typically aren’t all that efficient, nor do they generate enough juice for more power intensive devices such as laptops or monitors. Larger solar panels can gather more energy however, and they can store that power in batteries for use at a later time. A key component of such a system is the charging controller, which regulates the flow of electricity from the solar panels to the battery, ensuring that power cells aren’t damaged from overcharging. One such controller is now promising to revolutionize that process, bringing more efficiency to our campsites as a result.

A company called Thornwave Labs is preparing to release the Inti C14 solar charger, which brings a number of intriguing features to this still-evolving market. For instance, the C14 is very small and compact, which makes it a good choice for a portable charging system that you may take with you into the backcountry. It is also incredibly powerful, reportedly putting out as much as 30 volts of power, which is enough to charge a 24V battery. And if you ever need to bypass the battery altogether, it can also charge your devices directly too. If that wasn’t enough, the device also has Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to monitor and control its performance via an app for Windows, Linux, iOS and Android devices.

Thornwave claims that the C14 can put out as much as 400 watts of power, which translate to some serious juice at your base camp. That’s enough energy to allow it to not only recharge laptops, walkie talkies, and other gadgets, but it could also power a portable refrigerator or an LCD television set as well. Basically, just about anything that could be plugged into the DC outlet of your car can be powered from this solar charger, opening up all kinds of possibilities for amenities at the campsite or for keeping important tech items charged while on extended expeditions.

The Inti C14 will be priced at $149 when it is released, and Thornwave says it will enable outdoor enthusiasts to build a complete portable solar charging system for under $500. We’ll have to take their word for it now, because the device hasn’t even gone into production yet. According to Thornwave’s Facebook page however, the company will be launching an Indiegogo campaign very soon to get the funding it needs to make this product a reality. If it truly does live up to the hype, it could make cheap, efficient, and environmentally-friendly portable power at the campsite a reality.

Emerging Tech

Adidas has created a running shoe that’s made to be remade

Adidas has unveiled the Futurecraft Loop running shoe that it claims is the first performance footwear to be 100% recyclable. The shoe is the latest green initiative by the sportswear company and will go on sale in 2021.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Computing

Tablet or notebook? Our favorite 2-in-1 PCs give you the best of both worlds

If you can’t decide if you need a tablet or a notebook, then don’t bother. The best 2-in-1 laptops are both, and they can provide all the power you need. Check out our list for the best 2-in-1s for any user.
Cars

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Run to the beat of your favorite music with the best running headphones

Running is a great source of exercise but isn't always the most thrilling, especially when you're fiddling to keep your headphones in place. Check out our picks for the best headphones for running, so you never have to miss a beat again.
Outdoors

Puma is looking for volunteers to test its self-lacing sports shoe

Puma unveiled its high-tech self-lacing shoe at the start of the year, and now it's looking for volunteers from around the world to try it out and offer feedback so it can finalize the design prior to launch.
Outdoors

Lyft is offering free bikeshare rides to highlight Earth Day

To highlight Earth Day and promote its own green efforts, Lyft is offering free rides with its bikeshare programs in six cities across the U.S. on April 22. Anyone interested should check the service's website for full details.
Deals

Get cooking with a Masterbuilt meat smoker, now $230 off

Warm weather means it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors, but meat lovers know that spring and summer are prime cookout time. The Masterbuilt meat smoker – on sale from Walmart for $230 off – is an excellent way to prepare meat like a…
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Outdoors

The best sustainable outdoor gear for Earth Day and beyond

Take some time to clean up trash on a highly-used hiking trail for Earth Day, but don't stop there. Take the next step by choosing only sustainable gear for your outdoor adventures.