Goal Zero – A total Solar Power Solution for Adventurers & Travellers

I’m really pleased that Goal Zero Australia have stepped in to support me on my trip to Argentina!  These guys are awesome and they have some fantastic solar power products that you should check out.  (GoalZero.com.au)

If you are an outdoor adventurer, traveller or  photographer on the go  you need to seriously consider this gear set-up.  I spent hours searching for solutions that delivered on portability, usability and generally just coverage for all the electronic gear we use.

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SHERPA 50 Generation I & Generation II side by side.

For my upcoming trip to Argentina I’m taking one of the new generation SHERPA 50 power packs and the NOMAD 13 Solar Panel kit with me to deliver all my power requirements once I leave Sydney.  The aussie7summits team have been using the original SHERPA 50 and are really impressed with the weight reduction and design changes that have been achieved in the new model.

Having the SHERPA 50 with you, gone are the days of carrying wall chargers for each device requiring a battery.  With the SHERPA 50 I now have a small and light solution I can carry in my backpack that’s capable of recharging the batteries for all my portable devices.

1.  My iphone and satellite phone can charge from the USB output on the SHERPA 50.

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SHERPA 50 and the PIXO charging the battery for a NIKON D80

2.  Combining the SHERPA 50 with a PIXO battery charger (another smart piece of gear – refer below)  I can use the USB output and charge all of the batteries I have with me on the trip including AA’s, NIKON DLSR and Point and Shot Lithium batteries.  The bonus here is that you can change camera’s and other equipment that you carry and not have to worry about your ability to recharge the batteries.  You can also provide a battery recharge facility to others that join the team.

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SHERPA 50 charging the MacBook Air using the Laptop output socket and the generic adaptor cable.

3.  And the big win, the Laptop Output on the SHERPA 50 coupled with a 45W cigarette adapter  fitted with an Apple recharger tip that I purchased over the internet can charge my MacBoork Air!  (and that’s charge – not just power it).  I’ve seen various reviews that refer to the Power Pack being able to power the  MacBook Air so I was surprised to find that the combination that I’d put together did in fact produce a charge to the level of the MacBooks battery.  For those of you with other makes of laptop the GoalZero guys have provided a set of adaptor tips.  (refer to the GoalZero website – I’m sure there will be more info there).

The SHERPA 50 is 544 grams in weight, the NOMAD 13 solar panels add  725 grams, the PIXO another 149 grams and with the misc. cord’s that I require the power solution that I’ll take with me to Argentina is 1.5 kg’s approx.  My only power issues on the mountain should be rotating the different batteries through recharge cycles.

I’ll provide some feedback after the trip on how well the SHERPA 50 and associated recharge equipment performed.

If you decide not to purchase the PIXO recharger you can couple the SHERPA 50 recharger with an inverter unit (159 grams) and treat the SHERPA 50 as a mobile wall socket!

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Lunar LED light stalk

One last tip – if you are buying the SHERPA 50 also pick up one of the various lighting extras that GoalZero have available.  I’m using one of the LUNA LED lights that plug into the USB socket (when it’s not being used for battery recharging).  This light stalk is lightweight and very useful at the end of day for lighting the cooking area or the tent.

Note – For those that may already own  the GoalZero Nomad13 panels there is a conversion cable for that allows you to use these panels with the Gen2 SHERPA 50.

PIXO C-USB
If you carry an array of batteries complete with their unique recharger units with you when you travel you need to take a look at this piece of gear.

How it works sounds simple and to be honest I don’t need to know the details – the important points are that the battery contacts can be moved to fit almost almost any battery and the sliding friction grip holds the battery in the charger.   Note – there are some batteries that the PIXO is not compatible with and because I don’t use them I haven’t been too concerned with how extensive this list is, if you need refer to http://www.pixo.de/p/pixo_support.html).

Thanks for checking out his post – I hope you find the information of some value as you set up your portable power solution.

GAVIN

NB – The solution that I have described above is not prescribed or officially supported by GoalZero, but is one that I have pulled together through research and trial and error.  I don’t make any guarantees on it’s applicability to your hardware or situation.  Treat it only as a pointer to a possible solution for you.

Gavin

Wrapping up my week in the Blue Mountains

P1020425Today’s the end of my week in the Blue Mountains so I thought I’d provide you a wrap up of what I’ve been up to over the past 3 days.

On Tuesday I took the opportunity to revisit Lockleys Pylon west of Leura.  It’s an area that Hugh, Bridie and I have sent a reasonable amount of time in over the past 3 years and the recent fires in the Blue Mountains extended into the upper reaches of the Grosse Valley and they are now closed to public access.

From my vantage point on Lockleys Pylon I was able to view back to P1020420some of the northern areas in the valley and yes there were tongues of fire damaged bush but I was surprised how little there was compared to the stories that I had heard.  You might be able to see what I mean from this photo.

For me the two things that really stood out on this walk were

1.  How dry the ground and fallen tree material was underfoot.  Every footstep triggered a crackle as the material was breaking not bending under my feet.  Even the ground lizards moving from there sunny spots on the track as I approached were breaking the leaves and giving me an idea of where they had scampered to.

2.  Secondly, the deafening roar of the cicadas in the Grosse valley that carried up to the valley rim.  I’m sure that if I’d been there with someone else the chances of an audible conversation would have been slim.

It was a great day in the outdoors, a chance to put some kilometres on my legs and backpack some weight around the trails.  For someone who prefers the colder weather conditions the temperature above 30C for most of the afternoon was the only downside.

Wednesday was my training hump day.  I wanted to complete a walk that was give me more of a physical test, a means for me to gauge just how well I was preparing ahead of leaving for Mt Aconcagua in 16 days time.

Abut 6 months back during a search operation in the Blue Mountains I’d been one of the group assigned to walk the bottom of the cliffs between Katoomba and Leura and for me that was just the type of walk I felt I needed to repeat.

At 10am I left the car and started the descent down Sublime Point ridge.  It’s one of the those tracks that you know is there but when you are looking for it, it’s difficult to find and even more difficult to follow.  At one point I dropped onto the climbers access track to the Sweet Dreams climb and lost about 10 minutes  as I had to retrace my steps abck onto the ridge line.  In 30 minutes I was at the junction with the track that runs round to Katoomba. This track isn’t maintained by National Parks and is not marked on the topo. Maps but generally it’s in good condition.  There are 4-5 creeks that break through the cliff and present some awesome waterfalls, even if I was in a dry period.  My plan had been to reach the foot of the Giant Staircase as that’s where I’d entered onto the track during my Saturday walk with Hugh and I was relieved to get there at 1:30pm.

It  was a surprise to me how few people were on the walks.  Since leaving Sublime Point car park I hadn’t seen a soul and it wasn’t until I sopped at the Leura Forest lunch area on the return trip that I came across the only 5 of the 7 people I saw all day.Sublime Pt waterfall2

Having taken 3.5 hours to the turning point I was a little concerned when I might get back to the car park and contemplated bailing out of the full return journey several times.  I was relieved to find that I moved much quicker on the return and it was 3:40 when I started the climb up Sublime Ridge, and thankfully I made no navigation mistakes to slow me down.

In the end 4:10pm back at the car – on the go for a shade over 6 hours and in the scheme of where my trainings at at the present I was happy with the outcome.

Sublime Pt waterfall

Thursday – Today.  And my last day in the Blue Mountains.  I was after a short sharp cardio workout and Bridie’s suggestion that I take on the Giant staircase one last time was a good one.  But rather than settling for one climb back up I thought that a target of 3 circuits should be possible.

The weather forecasts for the week have been pointing to increasing temperatures toward the end of the week so I wanted to get out and underway as early as possible after our routine coffee.  It was just on 10am when I arrived at the 3 Sisters as was ready to go P1020444and I immediately started to get some sideways stares when I set off.   My first descent took just over 7 minutes and then 14 minutes to climb all the way back up the 900+ steps.  Lap number two and the times remained comparable.  On my last trip up I passed a South African family for the second time and they really questioning my sanity.   My lap 3 climb out was completed in 17  minutes for a total elapsed time of 1 hr 17 minutes.

I’m happy with that and now looking forward to returning to Sydney and wrapping up my training in the next 10 days with weight and circuit work but I’m sure I’ll drop in a walk or two as well.

A temporary goodbye from me to the Blue Mountains – thanks for a great week!

Narrow Neck Cliff Line