How many preppers out there plan on adding electronics to their bug out gear? Sure everyone carries a flash light or two, but most probably don’t carry many real “electronics”. My bug out bag has a Ham Radio kit, small netbook computer, GPS, flashlight, laser rangefinder and a few other small electronics which all require batteries/power to run and/or require their batteries to be recharged on a regular basis for regular usage. Is carrying/using electronics in your bug out bag practical? I say not only is it practical, but it’s a necessity if you want any kind of advantage in a bug out situation. So how are you supposed to power all of these things after the batteries die?
Think for a minute about our military. The days of dropping into enemy territory with nothing but a canteen, rifle and ammo are long gone. Today’s modern soldier relies heavily on electronic equipment to not only do their job, but also to maintain an advantage over the enemy. Communications, night vision, electronic navigation/GPS, small computers and many other items that they use all need power. Often times, they have to be on operations away from the base for days or weeks at a time and all that equipment has to remain operational. So how do they do it? The answer is simple – Solar Power.
So how does solar power work exactly? Home solar systems have 4 main parts: solar panels, a charge controller, batteries and an inverter to convert the stored battery power into usable AC power. Also it is important to note that when you use a solar system, you aren’t actually running your electronics off of the solar panels. You are running your electronics off of the batteries that are being recharged by the solar panels.
But if, in a worst case scenario, you had to grab your bug out bag and huff it on foot, what would you do? You can’t carry big glass solar panels nor a car battery in your backpack. Good news – you don’t have to. Thanks to modern advances in solar and a great interest in backpackers and hikers wanting to use it out on the trail, manufacturers have invented very light but capable systems that you can put in your backpack. And on top of this, they have reduced the system down to only 2 parts: the solar panel(s) and a battery pack which includes the charge controller, battery and inverter in one unit.
Here is the system that I currently use to keep all of my bug out electronics charged and working 24/7:
Solar Panel: 2x Powerfilm F16-1800 30 watt foldable solar panel
This solar panel is light and flexible. It work very well at all angles of the sun just lying flat on the ground, though if you use poles and stakes to keep it facing the sun throughout the day you will get max wattage.
Power Pack: Goal Zero Sherpa 100 power pack with AC inverter attachment
This unit is the all in one battery, charge controller and inverter. It has USB ports to charge phones and other items and an AC port (with attachment) to plug in and charge other items.
With this setup, I can keep my items charged all day and night by stopping for 2-4 hours once every day or 2 in the middle of the day to charge up. So what does all this cost? Well considering the cost of all my prepper electronics it’s well worth the price to keep it all powered up. I purchased my system for under $700 total.