Admittedly, I’m a bit of a backpack fanatic. My wife loves shoes and purses, and likewise, I have a collection of hiking boots and backpacks. One thing that always goes out on adventures is a backpack. I also carry a backpack on a daily basis and the uniform requirements that I have will often times influence my choice in backpack. When I saw that EnerPlex had a backpack in a color/pattern that I could use that also provided a solar panel, I was excited to put one to the test. So EnerPlex sent me their Universal Camo Pattern Packr to try out. To give some background on my usage, I have a short commute to work on my mountain bike. I will plug my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone into the Packr on my way to and from work but on a daily basis, my phone is only plugged in to the Packr for about an hour.
Product Dimensions: 19.5″ x 15″ x 6.5″
Power: 3.5 Watts Unregulated; 3.0 Watt, 5 Volt System Regulated
Solar Cell Type: CIGS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_indium_gallium_selenide_solar_cells)
Output: 0.6 Amp (USB Port)
I have been using the EnerPlex Packr every work day and some weekends since i received it in September. While I wouldn’t really classify that is a long term test, it has certainly been enough time for me to make my determination on what I think of the Packr. At least twice a week, I receive comments from strangers about the cool factor of the backpack. The idea of being able to charge a device while out and about is clearly fascinating to more than just me. My daily load usually involves two 1″ three-ring binders, my 15″ laptop, a coffee cup, water bottle, and an assortment of pens and pencils, a hat (for when I do take my bike helmet off), and a lunch.
The main draw to the EnerPlex Packr is its ability to charge devices while outside. In my experience, I’ve found that the solar panel’s output is enough to slow the discharge rate significantly. But given the high power requirements of modern phones (like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple iPhone 5S, which I tested with) the panel is not enough to charge the phones. The Packr has a MSRP of $99, which is more than I typically spend for a backpack but the EnerPlex Packr carries a really interesting load, more than your gear inside. But the key selling point didn’t quite deliver on the ability to charge the device in an active use situation. The “cool” factor is pretty high though and simply slowing down the discharge rate makes the EnerPlex a good buy, in my opinion. You’ll have to decide for yourself if these features and capacity meets your requirements.
In the future I’ll also be providing a review of the EnerPlex Kickr IV, Surfr for iPhone 5S, and Jumpr Slate 10.