Earlier I reviewed the Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar charger. It is comprised of two solar panels which can be used to charge your electronic devises. But, what if the sun is not shining? Well, there is a supplemental component to the Nomad 7, which allows for more continued charging. That devise is the Guide 10 Plus rechargeable battery pack. It was provided to me by Omaha Knife for testing, and it was very useful during the recent hurricane.
The Guide 10 Plus is designed to work in combination with the Nomad 7. In fact, the Nomad 7 comes with the extension cord necessary to connect the Guide 10 Plus to the solar panel. The guide 10 Plus comes with four AA rechargeable batteries.
The dimensions of the Guide 10 Plus are 4 inches x 2.5 inches x 0.75 inches. The case itself weighs 2.1 oz and 6.2 oz together with the batteries. The cable that connects the Guide 10 Plus to the Nomad 7 weighs an additional 0.7 oz. The Guide 10 Plus battery pack retails for about $40.00. Keep in mind that very often it is sold as a kit with the Nomad 7.
On their website, Goal Zero states that using the Nomad 7 solar panel, the Guide 10 Plus battery pack can be charged in about 6-8 hours, while using a USB source, it takes about 8-10 hours. I have to say, I have no idea where they got these numbers. While the charging speed from the Nomad 7 sounds about right, I was able to charge the battery pack through the USB port by both plugging it into my laptop and to a wall outlet in under 2 hours. To charge the battery pack, the cable is inserted in one end, and the other end of the cable plugs into a USB port or the Nomad 7. This port can be a computer, or if you have an adapter (my cell phone came with one) a wall outlet. Keep in mind that inside the pack, there is a small piece of plastic that keeps one of the batteries from touching the pack. You have to pull it out before you can use the pack. The tab is there to keep the batteries from being active while the devise waits to be sold, but it will not work unless you take it out.
To use the battery pack, you just have to plug your device into it. The Guide 10 Plus has a USB port into which you can plug devices you wish to charge. Alternatively, you can just use the batteries themselves in your devices (headlamp, etc).
When it comes to charging speed, it is similar to if you have your devise plugged into your computer. It is about the same speed as if plugged into the outlet. I was able to charge my phone (Droid X, and now Galaxy SIII) twice on one charge of the Guide 10 Plus. I get about 10% charge every 10 minutes.
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 and the Guide 10 Plus battery pack are clearly designed to work together. The intent is that when there is sun you can use the solar panel to charge your devises and the battery pack. When sunlight is not available, you can use the Guide 10 Plus battery pack to power your devises.
Again, the usefulness of the system will depend on your circumstances. I can not see an instance where I would need it when backpacking, but for trips requiring more electronics, or bugout bags, I think this is a great tool. It was incredibly useful in the recent hurricane. My phone was one of the most important things I needed to charge, and the battery pack gave me that capability. This is not in the instructions, so I don’t know exactly what impact it would have on the device, but I was able to use regular batteries to charge my phone by just putting them into the Guide 10 Plus cartage.