What better place to be writing a post on this topic than Ely, MInnesota, the gateway to the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in the far Northeastern section of Minnesota called the Arrowhead. We're talking a remote place here -- "the end of the road," as the locals often refer to it. Oh, the town itself has plenty of places to plug into the electrical grid, but when you're out on one of the many lakes in the area, canoeing, fishing, and/or camping, how do make sure your mobile phone has enough juice when you need it, or that you'll be able to use your phone during a wilderness trip that might be days long? Sure, you can carry multiple battery booster packs or something, but that not only adds considerable weight to your backpack, it can be really expensive, too.
Enter the WakaWaka POWER pocket-sized personal smartphone power station. It's a stylish, lightweight iPhone and Android charger with a solar panel that its maker claims is 200% more efficient than its competitors. It not only charges via solar, but by USB or AC, too -- and it will fully charge a smartphone in less than two hours. Set it up facing the sun and it's fully charged in eight hours. Via USB or AC, it will be fully charged in four hours. The WakaWaka POWER is obviously deal for camping, emergencies, or charging on-the-go. You can buy it here on the manufacturer's site for $79.00. (I also checked Amazon and saw it's available there for $64.99 with Prime shipping.) It's available in black or yellow. For my review unit, as you'll see in one of my photos below, I chose black.
Here's what's also cool: the unit solar charges a built-in lamp, too! (It's on the back side.) It shines up to 40 hours of light after one day of solar charging. Full technical specs are available here. The unit has five different light modes, including an SOS beacon. I like how it can be used as a light either by hanging it, by freestanding it (via the flip-out stand), or by placing it on the top of a bottle!
The WakaWaka POWER is portable, weighing only 7 ounces and measuring just 4.8 x 4.0 x 0.8 inches. It's quite durable, with water-resistant construction. I found it very easy to use, and it works just as advertised.
Unpacking the WakaWaka
A real treat when the product arrives is experiencing the very nicely designed packaging, and what may be one of the best, most simple and graphic package inserts I've ever seen. Kudos not only to the product designer, but to the designer of that beautiful packaging! I guarantee you I won't be throwing mine away -- it will serve as my permanent storage case for this great, very practical product, which gets my highest recommendation. Good design really matters!
Everyone with a smartphone knows there are times when batteries die just when you need your phone most. WakaWaka POWER makes sure you never need to be powerless again. Smartphone owners in North America will love how it performs as a powerful personal solar charging station -- it's obviously a great way to power mobile devices in emergencies, when traveling, or on a camping trip. But the WakaWaka POWER comes with that amazing light that makes it an extremely useful tool for the harsh conditions faced by those living in developing countries as well. (The company also offers products with just a light, without the phone-charging feature.)
Giving Power to Others
Here's a great bonus when you buy the product: with every WakaWaka POWER purchase, the company makes a $10 donation to the WakaWaka Foundation. (The company being Off Grid Solutions U.S. LLC in Discovery Bay, CA. Here's more about its mission.) All funds in the Foundation are used to empower entrepreneurs around the world to establish their own solar lighting businesses, encourage learning, and generate lasting social change.
WakaWaka is Swahili for “shine bright.” Off-Grid Solutions develops, engineers, manufactures, and markets the most efficient lighting and phone charging solar-based products for consumers worldwide. Initially funded through Kickstarter.com, WakaWaka has received interest from more than 75 countries around the globe and is on a mission to end energy poverty in our lifetime. In 2012, Off-Grid Solutions made a pledge to the Clinton Global Initiative to distribute at least one million WakaWaka’s in the next few years.
The WakaWaka mobile phone charger and solar-powered lamp can be a true lifesaver for those that find themselves without electricity, in developing countries or in the West.
Note: Yes, I was provided a review unit for doing this post -- and got to keep it! I only do reviews for products I like. But I liked this one so much I also purchased a second WakaWaka POWER unit. So, now I'm double-covered when I'm way off the grid!