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Nomad 7/Guide 10 Adventure Kit

January 01, 2013

Stay Connected With Goal Zero

www.goalzero.com

Jim Sendecke: There was a day when motorcycling meant casting off the ties that bind and just freewheeling with the wind in your hair—the destination not nearly as important as the journey itself, and you packed as light as possible.

Now we stuff our bags with high-tech rain gear, electrically heated garments and, of course, the plethora of electronic gadgets that keep us connected to job, loved ones, destination and other entertainment interests.

GPS units, cell phones, LED flashlights, digital cameras and MP3 players have all become cycling necessities. The bad news is that they need power, and it usually comes in the form of some kind of battery. Know when those batteries lose power? Just when you really need them.

So Goal Zero comes along and offers a solution: Nomad 7 and the Guide 10 adventure kit. It is a packable/portable set of solar panels that use sunshine to recharge either that dead battery or the pack of rechargeable batteries included. It can charge most USB and 12-volt devices and comes with cables to do so.

Measuring about 6-inches by 9-inches by 1-inch folded, expanding to about 17-inches wide and 0.1-inch thick, the Nomad 7 will recharge a set of up to four AA batteries in about two hours of continuous sunshine. The Nomad 7 solar panels and Guide 10 battery pack performed as advertised with the recommended amount of direct sunlight bringing the four AA batteries to full life. It can take between one and three hours to recharge your cell phone or music player and between two and four hours for smart phones, GPS units or a camera with a USB port.

The system requires no real set up, and the directions are simple and straightforward. It is weather–resistant so a little rain or snow won’t hurt it, but it is not waterproof. While it folds neatly into a small case, it is a solar panel, so you don’t want to smash it to the bottom of your saddlebags. 

It is important to note that the system will not charge your iPad or any tablets, so just leave them at home or plan on charging them conventionally during overnight stops that have electrical outlets. Its maximum 12-volt output is rated at 13-15 volts at 0.2 Amps 3W, probably not enough to recharge a dead battery on your bike, either.

If you stop at destinations for a relatively long period of time, during sunny daylight hours, or you are headed off the grid for an extended riding/camping experience, this product makes a lot of sense. If, on the other hand, you are on a mission to get somewhere, the ability to use the system may only be possible if you ride in a straight line with the sun behind you and have the panels mounted on your back when crossing South Dakota, Iowa or Nebraska.

Either way, secure the system to something substantial or someone else may be tempted to try it out.

Want to be an AMA tester? Email submissions@ama-cycle.org for an application.

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