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Portable Chargers

Power up your electronics with these eco-friendly devices.

portable chargers, outdoor gear
Photo caption
The SOSCharger, the HYmini, and the JuiiceBar keep your travels energized.

Going off the grid doesn’t have to mean doing without your cell phone or mini–music player. On the trail or by the pool, you can now turn to the sun, the wind, or your own muscles to stay connected miles from a plug. These portable chargers use clean energy but take time—from 10 minutes to 15 hours—to juice up. Luckily, most of the chargers store power so you can load them at leisure and charge any time. Here are our top picks.

  • Let the wind spin the blades of the palm-size 4.3-ounce HYmini to convert nine to 40 mph gusts into longer battery life. Add a HYmini solar panel, bike holder, armband, or crank generator. $50.
  • The 24-ounce Joos Orange is about two-thirds the size of an iPad and can store enough solar input to replenish four smartphones. A hardy outdoor companion, the Orange can also take a tumble or a surprise rain shower. $100. (408) 369-1727,
  • Sleek enough to slip into your pocket, the 2.1-ounce JuiceBar, powered by sunlight, can squeeze out enough energy for 15 hours of MP3 music or two charges of a cell phone. $43. (866) 222-0030,
  • Part stylish iPhone or iPod Touch case, the 2.7-ounce solar Surge trickles current into your device even while it’s pressed to your ear or syncing your media. $80 for iPhone, $70 for iPod Touch. (510) 957-0148,
  • The world’s first solar charger for handhelds, the Solio Classic fans out like a windmill. Three small panels, weighing 5.6 ounces total, turn an hour of sunbeams into a 20-minute phone call. $80. (510) 868-8714,
  • It’s all in the wrists to crank light or an urgent call out of the 3.3-ounce SOSCharger. Spin the two-inch handle for three minutes to get an hour of bright light or up to eight minutes of talk time. $25. (800) 761-4505,

Photography by Kevin Candland


This article was first published in January 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.