We take a look at the super compact solar panel from Goal Zero
Reengineered to be lighter and smarter, the Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel has the innovative technology to charge USB devices directly from the sun.
Last year we reviewed the excellent Goal Zero Venture 30. Since then I’ve used it plenty and it’s proved a great piece of kit, one of the best portable batteries I have used. So it was with excitement that the new Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus solar panel landed on the desk for review.
On first inspection I was as impressed as when I had first saw it at The Outdoor Show in September last year. It’s rugged, lightweight and easy to use – all the elements I’m looking for in any piece of outdoor kit. I had been using my Goal Zero Venture 30 with an Anker PowerPort Solar Lite – this provides me with 15W of power and is a great basecamp or bivvy panel. The Goal Zero Nomad 7Plus however, is much more robust and packable – I easy found room for it in my cabin baggage pack for a recent climbing trip to Spain and it didn’t take too much precious weight at 374g. I can make it lighter by removing the kickstand to a mere 256g.
The Nomad 7 Plus is a very robust unit, unlike other solar panels you might have seen it is fully encased in a weatherproof rubberised coating, including the microcrystalline panels. This makes the surface weatherproof although do note it doesn’t carry an IPX rating. The unit opens to A4 size and folds in half to A5, about the same size as a book. It locks closed with the help of 4 magnets which also hold the zipped kickstand pouch to the back. I found the pouch a little too small and the Venture 30 wouldn’t fit in, it did hold my phone or the Flip 20 OK though. It can attach to your pack using the 6 holes on the edges of the panel.
The pouch holds the smart box which connects via USB directly to a phone or tablet as well as a portable battery. I used it with my iPhone, iPad the Venture 30 and Flip 20. I don’t normally carry the Flip 20 on expedition or to the crag as the I find the USB connector a little delicate so I use it for urban adventures. My normal preference is to charge up my Venture 30 when climbing and then use that to charge my iPhone or iPad later. It’s all about the little ways to help cut down my carbon footprint and every little helps.
Charging times…? Well it’s difficult to say really as I’m definitely not one for sitting around and timing a charge. Needless to say that I have found it charges the Venture 30 after a day out on the crag – I may have to finish the charge off in the car on the return journey but it has always charged from empty to 4 lights in good sunlight. It will easily charge my iPhone from 15% to full in 4 or 5 hours of strong sunlight.
So in conclusion the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus is a great little solar panel for adventurers and travellers who are looking for a robust and compact way to keep their electronics charged on the go. Although you can get more power (the Goal Zero panel range is extensive) the compact nature of the panel means you are more likely to pack it on your day out.
Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for over 10 years. He works as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working full time as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces. When he isn’t working in the mountains he’s playing in the mountains and enjoys all aspects climbing and mountain sports whether bouldering at his local crag or ice climbing; as long as he’s going upwards he’s happy!