My newest acquisition from AT&T comes after my request for something I could use in times of an emergency. Specifically, I was looking for something I could easily add to my family’s emergency kits, especially since we’re entering tornado season (condolences to those affected by the most recent outbreak).

I’m a big fan of external batteries and the ability to carry extra charging power (for example: GOAL ZERO GUIDE 10 PLUS SOLAR KIT ) anywhere you go. Unfortunately, once you’ve discharged the portable battery, you’ll need to spend a few hours recharging. The problem is, you need an outlet to make that happen. As some folks effected by last year’s massive tornadoes in Oklahoma discovered, sometimes there’s no place to charge in a disaster zone. Thus, when these individuals needed their phone, sometimes they didn’t have any charge.

That’s where I see the Goal Zero as a huge benefit. You can probably tolerate 2-3 hours without power, but days starts to drag. Goal Zero solves the missing outlet problem by giving you 2 solar panels of charging power.

The panels basically equate to 4 hours of charge time; about 1.5 hours longer than a plug for my Nexus 5.

I really like that the Goal Zero comes with 4 rechargeable batteries — buy an extra pack for $32. This battery pack acts like a portable battery giving you enough power to charge your phone or Nexus 7 tablet.

Goal Zero also includes 4 outlets for charging different types of devices, including USB, which allows you to charge your phone or tablet directly from the solar panels (at a slower rate).

The instructions state that Goal Zero works best when it’s pointed directly at the sun and tilted about 60-75 degrees. I had no problem propping the charger up against an outside wall and letting it sit there for 2-3 hours.

You’ll also want to heed the advice of using the panels in full sun. I failed at charging my Nexus 5 from inside my office window. I learned — the instructions say as much — that the device doesn’t work well in cloudy skies or through windows. Who benefits from instructions anyway?

I do worry about the durability of case and battery pack, but you can (and should) tuck the flap and battery pack behind the panels for shade — the battery pack got extremely hot in the position pictured. I’d even suggest using the zipper pouch, but I wasn’t smart enough for that.

I’m really impressed by this compact device. I’m convinced that the Goal Zero is a great addition to your family’s emergency kit. Although the entire package is kind of costly, I like being able to charge two devices at once, and even add additional batteries.


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