The last solar power backup device we reviewed was the Powermonkey eXplorer by Powertraveller which actually opened our eyes to the concept of mobile device charging using sunlight. More and more products of this kind are entering the market in different forms and with different price tags.

Enter the eCharger canvas satchel bag a relatively funky looking canvas bag with one big difference, a large solar panel is prominently placed on the front of the bag behind a durable thick plastic screen. The bag itself is very sturdy: manufactured in thick canvas in a lime green/white colour scheme and has a thick white leather strap for carrying around, again of fine quality.

The basic concept behind the bag is that the on board solar panel charges up four AAA rechargeable batteries which can in turn be used to provide backup power or charge up a variety of devices, such as mobile phones, PDAs, handheld gaming devices (PSP etc), MP3 players and cameras through a 6V outlet. The bag we were sent came with pretty much every type of tip for each of these devices so it would seem that only those with very exotic devices would have to source alternative power tips. Also included is a standard mains charger so that devices can still be charged even if there is low or no light.

eCharger-canvas-bag-content – We tested the device using a couple of Nokia phones as well as an iPod classic and found that the solar panel performed nicely as long as sufficient light levels were available, which during the last couple of weeks in the UK winter has meant outside. Due to the chilly weather we were unable to test charging times, but from our estimation based on our testing and calculations from the included data sheet we predicted that depending on the rechargeable batteries used in the charger (we used 1300maH) we could charge the average mobile phone around four times if the rechargeable batteries were fully charged, certainly helpful for regular travellers.

We think the eCharger canvas satchel bag would make an excellent travel companion whether only for students or regular travellers, providing backup power whenever required as long as there is sunlight. eCharger bags retail for around $40-50 bringing them within the grasp of most peoples budget for travel accessories and the bags come with a standard 1 year warranty.

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