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Brunton Restore Solar Charger: Who Loves the Sun

I’m fascinated by solar power, and you should be, too!  I’ve been using Brunton’s Restore solar charger for a few months now, and I’m hooked. 

It’s so easy.  Before I go to bed I leave my Restore on my desk in front of the window, then I leave it there for two days so it has plenty of time to soak up the sun.  (In direct sun it takes 10 hours to charge.)  I also have the option of charging the Restore from a wall outlet (two hours—I plug it into the USB port in my surge protector power strip), from my car’s charger (two hours, DC adapter included), or from my laptop (four hours).  The unit comes with a single power cord that wraps around the device for easy storage, with one end of the cord plugged into the mini USB port and the other end into the UBS port.  It’s a smart design. 

The Restore opens like a book to reveal two small solar panels.  It has a power gauge to show me when I need to recharge (green lights show me it’s charging and blue lights show me how much power is left), and lucky for me because I don’t always pay attention, an automatic shut-off.   When it’s on, a small red LED goes on.  The Restore also has a small white LED flashlight on one side; a handy feature since I keep this in my car. 

I love this handy charger because there are so many ways to charge it.  I feel safer on the road knowing I always have a power source for my cell  phone.  It’s also nice to know that on long flights I can keep my iPod going for a long, long time.  According to Brunton, one hour of sun time = six hours of music.  The Restore can also be used to charge other mp3 players, smart phones, Bluetooth headsets, portable gaming consoles, and AA battery chargers.  Cool.  The device can be charged more than 500 times. (I can charge my iPod Shuffle, my cell phone, and top of my iPod Classic in less time than it takes to watch a movie.)

I’ve really enjoyed using the Restore, and it’s so sturdy.  I’ve tested several solar chargers that are quite flimsy. This one is solid and durable. It’s not the lightest gadget in my pack, but I wouldn’t go on a long drive or flight without it. 

Bottom Line: It's nice to have a packable power source when I need one!--E.D. (Dec 2010)

BUY ONLINE: $120, on sale for less at Amazon.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.