Gear Review: Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit

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Those of us who love nature bear the biggest responsibility—and stake—in combating the myriad threats posed by climate change.

With the smartly designed and solidly built Venture 30 Solar Kit, you can help the planet while easily keeping your devices charged, whether it’s for grabbing great photos to document your wilderness adventures or plugging your phone or tablet into the sun when it needs juice at home.

On a six-day July rafting trip down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, I brought along the Venture 30 to test it out and keep some electronics operating. My two kids take pictures and read books on their smartphones, and I had a tablet for reading and taking notes for the trip story I’ll write for my blog.

I had fully charged the Venture 30 in my backyard before the trip, using the unit’s solar panels. With a 7-watt solar cell output capacity, the Venture 30 charged my son’s phone twice, then brought my tablet from below 10 percent charge to 30 percent before the Venture 30 battery needed recharging. Back home, with a full charge, the Venture 30 used only about 20 percent of its power to fully recharge my phone.

Goal Zero Venture 30 Kit

A simply designed unit consisting of two folding solar panels, three short wires, and a zippered mesh pocket that holds the detachable battery, the Venture 30 is about as user friendly as any modern piece of electronics. Simply plug in the battery, open the solar panels and leave the array sitting in a sunny spot (or clip it to the top of a backpack or boat using its loops and mini-carabiners). The sturdy but flexible microUSB cable wraps around the card-deck-size battery and plugs into the two high-speed 2.4A USB and microUSB ports, so the cord gets stored attached to the unit—no risk of losing it—and allows you to charge two devices simultaneously. The weatherproof solar panels shrugged off rain. When it’s fully charged—five lights on a display indicate charge level in 20 percent increments—just plug in your device. It works with most Apple, Android and Windows phones, tablets, cameras and other devices.

Goal Zero says the Venture 30 will go from drained to a full charge using solar power in 8 to 16 hours. I found that on cloudless days, sitting in direct sunlight (a southern exposure in July) for at least eight hours a day in my backyard in Boise, Idaho, it took three days (roughly 24 hours) to fully recharge the Venture 30. Under cloudy skies, solar charging time seemed to nearly double. Better to charge it at home using the USB plug before a trip. I found the company’s claim of the Venture 30 charging up within five hours via USB from an electrical source accurate.

Goal Zero’s Venture 30 Solar Kit lets you have a clean conscience while powering your electronic devices. The system is as easy to use as it is simply designed and sturdily constructed.

Shop Goal Zero products at REI.com.

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