Pack Light

Oct 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
solar power backpacks

SUN-DIALED: Clear Blue Hawaii's solar bag brings power to the people

ADVANCES IN SOLAR PANELS in recent years have led to some promising developments in off-the-grid recharging, with light, flexible cells that can be fused into tents, backpacks, and even clothing. Alas, the designs have thus far placed utility above style—executed with all the flair of a Soviet architect. But this fall, a handful of startup bag companies have finally gotten it right, releasing several slick haulers that harness daylight to recharge internal batteries or feed power directly into electronic devices (though not laptops—yet) through regular cigarette-lighter adapters. Similar refinements in tents and jackets are expected to hit the market next year, but these four daypacks have already claimed their place in the sun.

CLEAR BLUE HAWAII's sleek BLUE SUN merges flexible, weather-resistant solar panels with an ergonomic frame. An optional high- capacity battery can store power well after dark. $299;

REWARE's simple, cube-shaped JUICE BAG gets its seven-watt charge from a coating of superthin cells on its oversize front flap, while the 2,200 cubic inches of pockets can hold everything you need for a day unplugged. $200;

VOLTAIC SYSTEMS offers four different solar bags, all with rugged nylon skins and hard spines of efficient solar panels designed to charge the internal lithium-ion battery while also protecting your stuff. $229;

The heavy-duty SOLAR FLARE commuter bag, from ECLIPSE SOLAR GEAR, includes zip-up water-bottle pouches, ample cushioning, and space for a 17-inch laptop. $129;

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