Like it or not, we live in a world connected by electronics. I try to resist that when I’m playing outside, but then I find myself reaching to my phone to take a picture, or using my watch for navigation on a trail run, so it’s nice to have the ability to get a little extra charge. The Kickr IV and Jumpr Slate are impossibly thin and seemingly indestructible, while putting out an amazing amount of power. While I had some issues during testing, I still think that these are a great addition, regardless of when or where you need some power.
The Kickr IV has four solar panels with a regulated USB port, putting out 6 watts of power. It’s constructed using a proprietary “solar on plastic” method, making it extremely durable, flexible and only 2mm thick. When it’s deployed it measures about 30″ x 7.25″, folded it measures 8.5″ x 7.25″. It has four reinforced holes in each corner, and comes with elastic loops for securing the panel to just about anything. My only small complaint is that the USB output is supposed to have a cover, which was way too easy to pull out. I lost it pretty much right away. The Kickr IV gets bonus points for being made in the USA.
The Jumpr Slate 5k-L is a lithium-ion battery pack with a 5v output and 5,100 milliamp hours. This model has a built in lighting cable output, and a regular USB output. I was impressed that I could usually get about three full charges on my phone out before recharging it. It had two flaws. The minor one being that the charge indicator lights were very small and dim, making it hard to see in bright sunlight. It’s big flaw was that it wouldn’t continue to charge after an interruption, such as the sun briefly going behind a cloud when I was using the solar panel. To resume charging, I would have to either press the power button on the Jumpr Slate or unplug it and plug it back in. It’s not a big deal if you’re close by, but don’t expect it to be a “set it and forget it” kind of thing if you’re using a solar panel. I reached out to customer support, they said that it shouldn’t be doing that, so perhaps mine had a flaw.
Even with those flaws, I’m impressed with these little devices. I brought them along on several outdoor trips, and I’ve found them to be a great addition to just throw in the car, or have around the house for the next time I find myself without power.
Price: Kickr IV: 64$ on Amazon, Jumpr Slate: 28$ on Amazon
Weight: Kickr IV: 10.3 oz, Jumpr Slate: 6.7 oz
Best use for: Off the grid power (i.e.: car camping, backpacking, around the house emergency usage)