Before I started my trip, I got myself a Goal Zero solar panel, the smallest one: Nomad7. It is available as Adventure Kit, with all kinds of adapters and other accessories.

I didn’t have to use it very often, but if I did, it was really necessary – primarily to charge my cell phone. These days, you can find reception even in the Mongolian steppe or high up in the Tian Shan mountains. Power is available often, but not always. Therefore it is worthwhile having a solar panel for longer trips.

For charging you either need a connector with USB plug or a normal car charger for the cigarette lighter. Various adapter plugs are included in the set.

It can be very pleasant to keep the Mp3 player operational, for lonely nights in the tent. That ‘s it already with the practical application of my solar panel. I could imagine to charge a GPS device or the headlamp’s batteries  (a charging box for AA and AAA batteries comes with it). In my headlamp’s batteries, however, last forever and so far it was not necessary to recharge them on a trip.

I have decided for the Nomad7 because it weighs just under half a kilo. The foldaway cover prevents the solar cells from getting dirty. All in all, the Nomad7 is very comfortable to handle. However, before buying, you should think about what kind equipment exactly you will need to charge.

The Nomad7 has a 12 volt output, that means, using a tablet PC, might just work. I have not tried it, but Globetrotter claim it in their product description. What definitely does not work, is charging the notebook. For this, you would need a larger caliber such as the Solar Gorilla .

My cameras are an issue. I have a Canon SLR and a point-and-shoot. To charge those batteries, you would need the appropriate chargers.

Technically gifted hobbyists can pick up a few ideas from this piece on Electricity in the Himalayas. This photographer builds his own equipment and compares it to the buyable solutions.

One thing remains to be said about the Nomad7: it only works in the blazing sun. Therefore, getting one only makes sense, if you are traveling in sunny regions. Otherwise, it will quickly become dead weight.