Old 06-28-18, 05:18 PM
Tourist in MSN
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 5,995

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, Perfekt 3 Speed -age unknown, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

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The last tour I did without a dynohub was the Pacific Coast in 2014. On the rare occasions when I was in a restaurant (when I walked in, tried to find a place to sit near an outlet to charge things) I charged up my tablet. I did e-mail and checked weather forecast on my tablet where I had wifi, but I had no data plan. My phone (vintage flip phone) stayed off unless I wanted to call someone. I used a GPS when rolling and used AAA battery powered taillights (two, but usually only had one on).

But, for charging, I was always hunting for a place to charge. In this photo, I was using a 3 into 1 adapter so that I could charge a Li Ion battery for my camera, a USB charger for my tablet (tablet not in photo), and was charging four AA batteries for my GPS. The outlet in this photo was an unoccupied campsite that was within maybe 150 feet of the hiker biker site where I was camped. This was not very convenient. But it was a lot more convenient than plugging in at a bathroom.

Since the above photo was taken, I now have AA/AAA chargers and Li Ion camera battery chargers that are powered by USB. Thus, I can recharge everything I want to with USB power supples. That is definitely preferable to what I did on that tour.


I have not used a solar charger on a bike tour, I probably never will now that I have dynohubs on my touring bikes. I have used a solar charger to charge AA batteries for my GPS on a kayak trip, I had no cell coverage for the entire two weeks of that kayak trip so that meant that my phone battery stayed pretty well charged the whole time. When charging with the panel, I was always checking to make sure that the solar panel was still in the sun and not in the shade, etc. If I was taking a day off and not traveling, thus hanging around in the campsite, it was convenient. But otherwise I would hate to be tied too closely to it.

The panel in this photo from my kayak trip was not very big, it put out maybe 300 milliamps in bright sun. That is not a lot of power, probably half the power that my phone will burn through when the screen is on. That is an important point, with an hour of sunlight, I would probably get 30 minutes of screen time on my phone, which is not a lot.

In the photo I was charging two AA batteries.

This is a link to an old (several years old) article on bike touring while charging stuff from solar. It has a lot of good information, but the article is old enough that much of the hardware discussed is no longer for sale and has been replaced by other products.

I know that your goal is to charge by solar, but I suggest you carry the hardware to plug everything in at any time you see an unused outlet that is at a reasonable distance from your tent. And if you have a couple USB chargers, that is better than one. And if you bring a 3 into 1 outlet adapter, other people can plug into the same outlet you want to be plugged into too. I know one guy that carries a power strip on bike tours so he can plug in lots of things all at once.
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