We are massive fans of Biolite and their range of energy focused, clean, cooking products. (Read our review of the Biolite Camp Stove, kettlePot and Grill here). The ability to top of the charge on our ViewRanger equipped iPhone or our Fujifilm X100T when in the mountains is a real plus while boiling our water but what about a solution for the rest of the journey? Well, Biolite now have charging on the move covered in the form of the Biolite SolarPanel 5 series charger. The device comes in two forms the Biolite SolarPanel 5 a default solar charger and and the 5+ that features a 2200mAh onboard battery.
The Biolite Design
If you have used any of the Biolite products you will already know the design is premium and the SolarPanel 5+ is no different. Both the 5 and 5+ solar panels integrate a sundial and 360-degree adjustable kickstand to help positioning to maximize exposure to the sun.
There is a simplicity with the product, light, well-built with exceptional attention to detail, for example both USB ports are enclosed by two little rubber doors to protect them from the elements.
The SolarPanel 5+ is constructed for the outdoors and I had no issue strapping it to the back of my rucksack through the metal stand to maximise charging while we climbed, I even fed the charge cable through to be charging my phone in the side pocket of my rucksack.
Biolite SolarPanel 5+ Battery
The Biolite SolarPanel 5+ comes equipped with a 2200 mAh battery that can be pre-charged at home via the supplied USB cable or topped up via the solar panel. A little row of LEDs offers a battery level indicator and the little batter icon beside the LEDs is a little on-off switch.
I use my mobile phone to run the GPS tracking application Viewranger so the Biolite SolarPanel 5+ means I was able to ensure a full day of charge for GPS tracking and adding photos to Instragam. We were able to get a full iPhone charge with a single charge of the onboard battery.
Fujifilm X100T users will be pleased to note that the same USB that allows you to manually charge the SolarPanel 5+ can be used to charge your camera when out on the mountains. This is great for campers who travel with a couple of batteries and I actually found I used the Biolite SolarPanel as a Fujifilm X100T accessory more than I did to charge my phone.
You can see the faint charging light on the back of the X100T in the photo above. The SolarPanel 5+ also offers some shade so the camera isn’t subjected to the hot sun for a prolonged period of time. The Biolite SolarPanel 5+ is designed for travel weighing less than 400g and is ultra slim to boot and I was able to slip down the back of a day pack when not in use.
We are exceptionally impressed by the Biolite SolarPanel 5+ but we are also exceptionally impressed at the price, retailing at under £70 for the SolarPanel 5+ model (featuring the internal battery). If you travel with an electronic device, and lets face it who doesn’t then the ability to top up your tablet, phone or camera comes in the form of an ultraportable, ultra-efficient and affordable package. The onboard battery offers a full phone charge and the solar panel offers an impressive 5 watts per hour in full sun. If you go camping then the SolarPanel 5+ is an almost essential companion for your electronic devices, in short, we love it.