One of the best parts about heading out into the field on an adventure, like the one I just completed in British Columbia, is that it gives me the opportunity to test out new gear. I took several new items with me on the trip, most of which will be getting reviews here on The Adventure Blog in the days to come.
Last year I reviewed Jackery’s original 50-watt solar panel and found it to be efficient and lightweight, albeit a bit on the larger side. That made it a good choice for keeping your electronic devices charged, but a bit unwieldy to travel with.
Out with the Old and In with the New
The new SolarSaga model is a much better option for adventure travelers and backpackers alike. Due to its new tri-fold design, it manages to reduce itself down to a much smaller, more compact footprint, making it far easier to carry inside a backpack, duffel bag, or even a piece of luggage.
This in turn makes it much more useful as well, as you won’t think twice about bringing it with you on extended excursions, as even at 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) it doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your bag.
More Portable and Powerful
The new model manages to become far more portable, while also increasing its power output at the same time. The SolarSaga can deliver as much as 60 watts of power, which makes it ideal for charging Jackery’s line of portable power stations, which are handy in their own right.
The new solar panel is equipped with a standard solar charging plug which makes it compatible with other power stations and battery packs too. In fact, I used a model from a competing company on my journey and the SolarSaga delivered a steady stream of power to it as well.
Real World Testing
As with all solar panels, the amount of power generated in real world conditions is highly dependent on a number of variables, not the least of which is direct access to the sun.
On bright, clear days, with the SolarSaga set in direct sunlight, it performed exceptionally well, recharging my 25,600 mAh portable battery pack from empty to full in about three hours.
That’s about as fast as plugging the battery directly into a wall outlet at home. Needless to say, I was very impressed with this level of efficiency.
As you would expect however, on cloudy days the charge times rose dramatically, taking as much as 12 hours to collect enough energy to top off the battery pack. That isn’t a knock against the SolarSaga however, it’s just a simple fact of using any solar panel in the field.
Built for use in the outdoors, the SolarSaga 60W solar panel is very durable. It comes wrapped in soft, but abrasion resistant fabrics, and the panels themselves seem fairly resistant to impacts.
That said, as with any rigid solar panel, you’ll still want to take some care with how you handle the product.
You don’t have to treat the SolarSaga with kid gloves by any means, but just be aware that if the panels themselves are damaged it will become far less efficient or stop working altogether.
It is also important to note that the SolarSaga is not water proof, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when you set out to do its job.
No Built-in USB Port
If I have one knock against the SolarSaga solar panel its that Jackery removed the built-in USB port that was found on its previous generation model. While the new 60W version connects nicely to solar-compatible power stations and battery packs, it doesn’t allow users to plug in a smartphone or tablet directly to the panel itself.
That seems like a significant oversight in my opinion and removes much of the versatility that I found in the older 50-watt version. This means you can’t just use the solar panel with any random battery pack as well, which will certainly limit its usefulness for some users.
Thankfully, I have several charging options that use the standard solar charing port, but for the most part this is fairly rare on USB battery packs, although it is found on most power stations.
My Final Thoughts
The Jackery SolarSaga 60W solar panel is a good choice, provided you have a device that it is compatible with. My in the field testing showed it to be fast, efficient, and easy to use, converting sunlight to power quite nicely.
It’s new design allows it to be smaller and more transportable than previous models from Jackery as well and it is durable enough to survive the adventures that we take it on.
It’s a shame that it doesn’t have a built-in USB port however, as that would have made this the perfect option for keeping your gadgets powered even in remote corners of the planet.
As it stands, his is a really great solar panel that works amazing well with Jackery’s power stations or other charging devices that have the required port.
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