Today's adventurer carries a plethora of devices; all power hungry and all demanding topping up if you're out for more than a day or two. From computerised, programmable, head torches to GoPros, and phones to tablets the demand for power in today's social media world is on a constant upward curve and the market place for portable backup power is flourishing.
What the manufacturers say:
The WakaWaka Power+ is a durable, lightweight and compact solar charger that is capable of charging virtually any type of (smart)phone or small electronic device within just a few hours and providing up to 150 hours of safe, sustainable light.
We believe that access to energy, having power, is a basic human right and is essential in everybody’s life. Access to energy, means access to education, communication, and income generating opportunities. More than a billion people around the world live without energy and face serious consequences in their socio-economic development. Therefore, creating worldwide access to energy is much needed.
The world’s greatest natural energy resource is the sun. It’s abundant, sustainable and available everywhere. It’s a solution for everyone that is in need of power, but has no access to the grid, whether it’s permanent or temporary.
With WakaWaka, everybody is able to tap into the sun. For earthquake survivors, rural farmers, office commuters, or outdoor enthusiasts, they can all make use of solar products with the exact same WakaWaka design and quality.
- Full battery after 12-24 hrs in the sun
- Completely charges a smartphone in ~2 hrs
- 4 light settings: from 5 to 75 lumen
- Flexible positioning: table top, on a bottle, hanging from the ceiling
- SOS emergency beacon
- Patented Intivation SunBoost chip
- 100% recycled PC-ABS, high impact resistant
WakaWaka Power+ on test:
Power banks are far from new and have become an increasing necessity for MyOutdoors, from charging devices on the go to powering tablets for work back in the tent. As a result we've broken down the specifics we look for into three distinct categories: weight, power capacity and ruggedness.
At 149g the WakaWaka Power+ is surprisingly light for a power bank, because at the end of the day the weight is almost entirely defined by the size of the internal battery. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the capacity of the device is only rated at 2200mAh. In practical terms that's around 120% of the charge needed to bring a smartphone from empty to completely full.
The housing is made of 100% recycled PC-ABS that's classed as "high impact resistant" and the two ports, >0.5A micro USB input and >1.5A USB output, have rubberised port covers to keep the water and dust out. In a neat touch folding out the base to make a stand opens access to the ports without the need to remove the covers.
As with most power banks the WakaWaka can be charged from USB, taking 6 hours from empty, but its unique selling point is the highly efficient 22% Sunpower solar panel which can charge the battery in between 12 and 24 hours. In real world testing we've found the Sunpower panel to be the most efficient solar cells we've tested to date achieving a full charge from empty on 14 hours of April sunshine in the UK and transferring that power to an empty iPhone in a little over 2 hours.
In addition to its device charging function the Power+ comes with a multi-setting LED light that operates from 10 hours at the maximum, 70 lumens, setting to 150 hours at the 5 limens Energy Save setting, with an additional SOS emergency setting available by holding the single power button for a few seconds.
At 2200mAh the WakaWaka's not going to compete with the 50,000 mAh devices that have flooded ebay, but that doesn't mean it's either expensive (£69.95) for what it is or too underpowered to be practical. The reality is those 50,000 mAh oriental imports rarely get close to the quoted capacity and the weight and size can be complete overkill. At 149g and with physical dimensions of 121x17x78mm the Power+ is extremley portable and with sensible device management there's no reason why you should need to fully charge a phone from completely empty over a weekend; so carrying a fully charged Power+ means you shouldn't even need to put the solar panels to the test.
If you do find you need to use the solar panels to recharge your device the base folds out and rotates through about 300 degrees to provide a stable base, or can be attached over the top of a bottle.
The same base can also be used to hang the device from tent hanging loops without the fear of the weight causing any issues. It's this lack of weight that makes the Wakawaka Power+ a practical alternative to the heavy 10,20 or 50,000 mAh devices and why despite first impressions that it's underpowered you'll soon find it replacing overpowered, overweight, power banks that return home after a 2 or 3 day trip with barely any charge used.