Having trouble deciding which solar charger I should use for a long distance tour across the Southwest. Given the fact that there are copious amounts of these types of chargers out there (and few with good reviews), I was wondering if anyone has had good experience with a particular type or brand.
So far, the Brunton SolarRoll 4.5 has got my eye, but it's a bit steep on the price. Ideally, I will charge the ol' iPhone and lithium-ion battery for my point and shoot Olympus. Shouldn't have many more electrical necessities and the 4.5 wattage should be fine, right?
Different strokes, but 2.5 pounds and $85 would be a lot of batteries and/or chargers. Unless you will be somewhere that there are no services for weeks at a time the disadvantages might outweigh the advantages.
For lithium camera batteries... I found that they weigh very little, I think it takes 3 or 4 to make 1 ounce. That many will take a lot of pictures. They are expensive from the camera manufacturer, but third party vendors have them for a fraction of the cost. I got 4 extra batteries for my Nikon for under $7 a piece. That is enough batteries to take at least a thousand pictures. It isn't that hard for me to find a place to charge batteries every thousand pictures.
For cell phones, the batteries last a long time if you turn it off when not using it. Then again I don't talk on the phone much so mine lasts forever. Your iPhone probably gets used for more than just a phone so you may need to charge more often than I do. Still in first world countries it probably makes more sense to just charge at stops in stores, camps, restaurants.
If you really need it, by all means go for it, but it doesn't make sense for most tours.
I have the large 15W version that I set on top of panniers and I can string it up to run my GPS fulltime without needing to drain the GPS batteries (it would otherwise eat them up about every other day). It's expensive, but the nice thing is it will store excess charge in the battery which I can then use to charge a number of different devices with the standard connector set. They have additonal connectors if you have something that the standard set won't charge. I've somewhat abused my bag, and the company has been very accomodating to fix me up with a replacement.
FYI, with the bag I have I can actually run a 17" inch laptop for about an hour off the included battery.