Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Tour & expedition

Solar phone chargers / map advice.

GuzziriderGuzzirider Posts: 6
edited February 2011 in Tour & expedition
After many years of touring and camping trips on powered two wheelers, I've now caught the bug to do the same with pedal power.

I'm planning my first trip in May and the plan is to ride from home in Huddersfield to my Mum's place in Hayling Island, taking in the Peak District and Cotswolds on the way. I'm doing plenty of weekend training miles on the hills around Hudds on my Cube hybrid and am now doing a bit of planning.

I do not want to be dependant upon technology, but my iphone comes in handy if you ever need to know exactly where you are and has some handy route mapping functions. Because I am planning to camp, I'm wondering whether anyone could recommend a decent solar charger so I can keep the phone topped up as I go along?

I want to take a proper map too- can anyone recommend a decent lightweight (ish) map that will give me the detail I need for the whole trip? I'm planning to use some trails as well as road.

Thanks in advance.



  • Guy - take a look at the Dahon Biologic Reecharge - basically a dynamo type system for the iPhone. Better than relying on solar power. They also do a waterproof mount for the iPhone.

    No idea on maps. Maybe the best thing is just to butcher some OS maps of your route keeping a couple of inches either side - then zed-folding them? I'm sure there's a better way or something for the phone.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Solar charger in the UK? I don't think it's a runner.

    There are other options for dynamo chargers but the Dahon one is interesting.

    I'd also recommend a PowerTraveller Powerchimp (or PowerMonkey) charge some AA batteries and then use these to charge your iPod.iPhone. Worth considering for emergencies.
  • Thanks for the tips guys!! Will check em out.
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    I took a Maplin Chameleon solar charger. It takes 4xAA or 2xAAA and has a USB input and output so I can charge the batteries from USB and convert the charged AA to a USB phone charger.
    I used the hybrid style AA batts that do not self discharge (From Tantronics).

    It wasnt perfect, the solar power could top up my camera batts but took several days.
    There wasnt enough juice even when full to use the USB for my phone. It works on some models, not others.

    You cant buy this model any more but maplin do newer, better ones.
    The USB in/out is useful as is AA/AAA compatibilty.
  • I dont know the Dahon charger, but feel that it would be a better route to go down than Solar in the UK with its predictably overcast weather, but I would go with their clip down dynamo, not the integrated hub variety. ... eecharge-0

    Maps - I typically print out the ones I need from memory map explorer series, laminate them with useful notes and coffee stains on the back. I use these in combination with a garmin etrex legend Cx GPS. Awesome combination.

    As for Solar charger, there are only two real options:
    Basically the solar panel charges a battery, and the battery charges the iphone...

    >Power monkey explorer £ 65 ... -explorer/
    Output voltage from solar cells 5V 220Mha, charging a 2200MHA battery (same size roughly as iphone)
    it will take approximately 18 hours to charge the battery

    >The Freeloader pro with Supercharger £105 ... er-pro.htm
    output voltage from these solar cells 200mha charging a 1600mha batter, the supercharger effectively adds 300mha, to charge the 1600 battery in 3 hours, so you can get two charges in in one day, thus you will be able to fully charge an iphone. in a 12 hours period.

    I have the solarmonkey with solar nut, and it is good for running the Garmin GPS, as well as maintaining the charge of a nokia (great battery life) crappy phone But it doesnt and wont charge an iphone.

    Before next trip I will be getting the Freeloader Pro, but it is essential to get the Supercharger with it particularly in the UK weather. I figure the Freeloader will keep the Iphone alive, and the Solarmonkey will keep the Garmin running.

    I am a big supporter of the Powermonkey range - I believe in their philosophy and have met David Shepherd hes an environmental inspiration, so I will support them, but when it comes down to it, their solution is not as good as the Freeloader (not that i have used the freeloader pro yet) for a dedicated solar charger.

    Hope that helps.
  • Dr U IdhDr U Idh Posts: 324
    I used a cheapo Madison solar charger last year - for the purposes of recharging my Garmin 705. It coped admirably, easily topping it up each evening. That would be about 8 hours riding time. There was enough charge left each day to put a little extra into my phone too - even from springtime in Scotland. I mounted the solar panel in the mapcase of my Ortlieb bar bag so that it had plenty of exposure.

    I've since bought a PowerMonkey, which should be even better.

    Truth is, Smartphones are really power hungry. A dedicated GPS is much more efficient. It also means that you can save the phone battery for when you might need a phone. The GPS is also more ruggedised and waterproof, so it wins all round.
  • For maps when I go on cycle tours, I bought the AA CloseUp Britain road atlas which shows sustrans routes (about £20). I then took it apart so that I could get the separate sheets into my scanner. I select the sheets I need, scan them and then print them. Then I mark my route with a highlight pen. To save space I then cut them down so that they will fit into a clear plastic wallet which I velcro to the top of my bar bag. I got some freebie 6x4 photo paper when I bought some printer inks so I use those- depends how good your eyesight is (I use bifocals) and I have found them to be spot on. To be extra safe I sometimes laminate them in groups. Enjoy your trip!
Sign In or Register to comment.