Dead. The accursed blank screen signifying a drained battery is one of the most upsetting sights in today’s technology-driven world. No one wants to stop and charge their phone for an hour at a café when there are Roman ruins to see. No one wants to be in the middle of a life-changing hike when their camera dies, along with their hopes of reliving the experience in full-color HD images.

But there is a solution! Certain portable devices can save us from this stomach-dropping moment. To revive our phones, cameras, laptops, and other devices, these portable tools draw their power from a source that is accessible virtually everywhere—the sun.

You can easily find these gadgets—from solar panels to portable power sources—online or in most outdoor equipment stores. They are well worth the cost to keep your battery bars green while you’re on the go.


Nomad 7 Solar Panel

Goal Zero, $100

This portable, weather-resistant solar panel fully recharges your mobile phone, GPS, USB camera, and Guide 10 in two to four hours. It also hooks onto a backpack for portable recharging.


Guide 10

Goal Zero, $60

This USB device and battery charger includes four rechargeable AA batteries and a built-in LED flashlight that runs for 20+ hours. After being charged by USB (8–10 hours) or solar panel (2–4 hours), the Guide 10 can recharge cell phones one to three times and can recharge batteries in just two hours.


Switch 8

Goal Zero, $50

This pocket-sized energy source contains a USB output that can charge a smartphone in only one hour! The Switch 8 recharges from a USB port or solar panel in four hours. It’s also perfect for city and airplane travel—passes easily through security!


Powermonkey Explorer

Outdoor Tactical, $100

This device stores up to 96 hours of reserve power for most devices. Apple approved, it will give you 40 hours on your iPod as well as 48 hours on your PDA. It can be recharged via USB or solar panel.



Etón, $50

This all-in-one radio, flashlight, bottle opener, and cell phone charger is designed to provide instant energy to a phone battery for emergency calls or texts. It includes a built-in solar panel with a clip to hook it to your bags and a hand crank to provide manual recharging.



Solio, $35

This flashlight never runs out of juice! It has five lighting modes, including an SOS mode, and a built-in diffuser to turn it into a bike safety light. It provides full light for three hours and lower levels of light for 42 hours afterwards, and it recharges by solar panel (5–7 hours) and USB (1 hour).


Rukus Solar

Etón, $150

These speakers connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled devices. The solar panel allows you to play music all day and eight hours into the night and charge mobile devices via USB.


— Valene Wood