There is a lot of great equipment out there. It seems every day I start by reading about some clever new piece of technology purpose-built for the military, camping or other venture that would be perfect for filling out an emergency kit. Then again, there are those items that are clever, but are absolutely in the “Do Not Need” category. This is one such item.
Basically, this is a portable solar-powered charging/power-storage and water pumping unit. The kit consists of a tube a couple of feet long with a handy shoulder strap. The upper portion includes a unit for power regulation, ports for charging devices, and a battery unit for storage. The rest of the kit includes a rolled-up flexible solar panel, a frame to mount the panel, and some small LED-based lights. The whole thing is about n-feet long, n-feet in diameter and weighs in at a hefty n-pounds. There’s a downloadable manual from their website (that’s been translated from French…mostly).
Here’s the problem: I’ve been looking at their manual and promotional literature for a few days now, and I’m not 100% sure who they’re marketing this device towards. It’s too large and heavy for most campers/hikers. It’s almost too portable and not powerful enough to really run a more permanent campsite. One could argue that it does add some additional functionality to an emergency situation, and the semi-durable container and power supply (limited though it may be) all point in that kind of direction, but the price ($1900 Euros/$2750 USD!), weight and physical size all work counter to most of those goals. I’m just not sure what we’re supposed to do with this. (upon further research, their market is actually quite clear: the military)
That said, it *is* a very cool package, and it nicely showcases some of the advancements that have been occurring in this field. There are a lot of interesting solar-based products out there and this is by far one of the coolest. And make no mistake, having some kind of off-the-grid, fuel-less power source would be fantastic after a major disaster. If the price were a little lower (and by “a little”, I mean “a lot”) I could probably even recommend this as a nice-to-have item, but as it stands it’s just not going to be worth it. There are a lot of other ways $1800 can be much better spent.