British design student Brad Brister has designed a fully articulating solar backpack combining the efficiency benefits of a rigid solar panel with the durability benefits of a fully flexible one. The project came as a result of a collaborative final year major project between outdoor gear company North Face and Brunel University London. The core concept came through Brister’s years of hiking and general annoyance at the fragility of current solar panels. This project solves this problem whilst providing a system that can fully charge your phone and have capacity left over within 12 hours of walking.
The panel output calculations have been specifically modified with respect to the average irradiance of the most commonly walked areas in the UK (Much lower light than the UK average). The internal 4000mAh battery bank means you still have a way to charge your phone even when the sun goes down. The most unique aspect of this product over others is the close integration with an existing pack. The panel buckles onto the backpack and wires into two internal USB ports, one in the base of the pack and one terminating at the hip strap pocket to allow charging and device usage whilst on the move.
The integration with the pack allows for a better user experience, it redesigns how the solar panel is used when hiking from the ground up rather than just adapting existing approaches fit.
Brister intends to further develop the project in the future, with hopes of designing a more modular system that could increase energy storage capacity.