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Bushnell Bear Grylls SolarWrap Mini Review

   
Best Buy Award

Solar Chargers

  • Currently 3.2/5
Overall avg rating 3.2 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: September 13, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $59 - $60 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, inexpensive, simple, internal battery.
Cons:  No cigarette lighter adapter, only charges USB devices.
Best Uses:  Backpacking, sailing, hiking, car camping.
User Rating:     
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  • 5
 (2.3 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  33% of reviewers (1/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Bushnell
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ September 19, 2013  
Overview
This is our favorite small solar panel under $60. It is the most compact panel we tested and the lightest. It is so small we found ourselves using it more than any other panel we tested in our review. The only panel that it scored behind is the SolarMonkey Adventurer. The SolarMonkey comes with more adapters, is easier to set up and easier to use in windy conditions. It is also double the price so its a tough call deciding which one to go with.

If you want to power more than just a smartphone, go with the Instapark Mercury 10. Another option to a solar charger is an external battery. External batteries are less expensive and often charge your phone 3-5 times. See our analysis on what might be better for your needs in our External Battery Review.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Why do we love this panel? The best price-for-performance of any panel we tested. It is also the most portable panel we tested and lightest. That alone would probably have won it the Best Buy award. But wait…there's more: an internal battery that allows you to charge the panel all day long without your device plugged in.

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On the left is the RavPower and the right is the Bushnell SolarWrap Mini
Credit: Chris McNamara

Performance Comparison
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The SolarWrap at 11,000 feet in the High Sierra.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Output Power
With an output power of one amp, this is plenty to charge your smartphone, iPhone, tablet or other USB device like a camera or GPS unit. One amp is not a ton, but it is more than a lot of other competing small devices. And there is no other unit even close to this size that delivers one amp of power.

Storage
This panel offers no storage. We recommend bringing a fabric sunglasses case and attaching it to the panel to hold your USB cord and the cord that charges the internal battery.

Ease of Use
This panel is relatively easy to use. You do have to unroll it, then if there is any wind, find rocks to keep it from blowing away. Unlike the SolarMonkey Adventure, it is not easy to optimally face it to the sun without finding a number of rocks and or just the right tree or bush. It also feels a little more delicate than the other panels were tested. So far it has been quite durable, but the thin thin form factor of the solar cells makes us a little nervous. Handle with care.

Also, you have to keep track of the little plastic protective caps. Not a big deal, but its one more thing to keep track of. A sunglasses case gives you a place to put these caps.

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TWO Bushnell Bear Grylls SolarWrap Mini's at 14,200 ft. on Denali.
Credit: Max Neale
Versatility
This panel scores high on versatility in the sense that it comes with its own built-in battery. The battery is enough to charge your smartphone one time or tablet about half a charge. It's hard to overstate how convenient it is to have this battery. It means you can charge your device at night once the sun goes down, and always be collecting charge even if your device is not plugged into the panel.

Weight
This is by far the lightest portable solar charger we have tested. It is also by far the most compact. Most other small panels can barely fit in your pocket; you could fit about four of these in a pocket. It's a very efficient design. We won't be surprised if we don't see more panels in this form factor by next year.
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The Bushnell SolarWrap Mini is by far the most compact panel we tested.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Value
This wins our Best Buy award because it is not only one of the least expensive panels, it is also very high-performing, easy to use, and extremely convenient due to its tiny package. While the more expensive and larger panels are better for high power needs, this is by far the best value panel for charging a smartphone or small electronic device. Which is which just about everyone needs a small solar for.

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Bear Grylls SolarWrap Mini
Credit: Bushnell

Best Application
This is the ideal panel for taking on a backpacking trip to make sure that your smartphone, camera, or GPS unit stays charged. It is also useful for just around town and traveling. It is so small that you can throw it in your luggage or briefcase without it taking up much space. Then when you get to the airport, you don't have to search around for an outlet to charge your phone. If you're on a long flight, you don't have to worry about your phone or tablet running out of juice halfway.

Conclusion
This is the best small solar panel for under $60. If you want to charge a small electronic device and want something really compact, this is the panel to get.

Other Versions
The PowerSync SolarWrap 250, sells for $155 and charges in six hours in the sun, while the PowerSync SolarWrap 400 sells for $214 and charges in 3.5 hours. Both have the option to plug into the wall. The additional length of the SolarWrap 400 cuts the charging time by 2.5 hours (when comparing to the SolarWrap 250).

The Battery Bar 2x USB retails for $119 and has two USB outputs for charging up to two devices. The battery indicator will let you know when you're running low and the battery bar can charge in six hours via a wall plug. You can expect two smartphone charges, three mp3 player charges, and up to five camera charges.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 13, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (2.3)

33% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 50%  (2)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Sep 13, 2014 - 10:25am
Brisse161 · Hiker · Aarhus
After reading the tests in here i decided to buy one fra amazon (some store in Britain).
I myself is from Denmark, and i was very excited to try the product. But i have the exact same bad experience as Alex S.

I just got home from a 3 day hike (with full sun every day), and the only power i got from the device was the precharged from home.

The first day it layed in the sun for 7 hours, a full recharge is 10 hours it says in the manual, but i only got 10% battery on my phone from the 7 hours in the sun!?

I then connected it to my phone the rest of the day - turned off, and it was hanging in the sun. But when i checked nothing had happened and when i turned my phone on i could see that it constantly was changing between charging and non charging.. I have to test it more to see if it is me doing something wrong, but until now it is not a very helpfull tool or it just takes to long time to charge!?

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 5, 2014 - 12:51am
Alex S · Hiker · Michigan
I purchased this device from a local store, had 2 units that both didn't function the way that they should. I would charge them up with the included wall charger, which seemed like a nice feature, then tried it out for a second by plugging my phone in. It charged, so I disconnected it. I took it on a trip, to find out that it would't charge the phone like I needed it too,it disconnected and reconnected constantly,I was unable to charge my phone, had to leave early from the trip, as I was unable to check in with everyone at home. I got a replacement from the store, only to have the problem again. I think it seems like a good deal, but the quality certainly isn't. Seems like a great form factor in my opinion, I would have loved to find something in this form factor that worked, but apparently just another Bear Grylls dud.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 17, 2014 - 07:02pm
Cerberus · Hiker · Manalapan, NJ
I bought this product based mostly on the review here and I couldn't be happier. I bought it solely for charging my smart phone but might use it for a nook as well.

I have only done testing so far but most reviews online didn't talk much about the solar recharging. My first test was to just try it on my cell phone and it fully charged it.

Later I charged my cell about 35% (to 100%) and spent the rest of the charge on an iPad which took it from about 65% to 75% until it wasn't charging anymore. I assume the iPad is a battery-pig, unless there was some other reason for the charger to stop. Assuming it was fully discharged, I left it in the sun today from 10:30am to 4:30pm. It was in the 20s all day and cloudless sky the whole time. The sun was slightly filtered through leafless trees at least half that time, so there were some light shadows on and off. I think the angle was kept to no less than 45 degs but I didn't look that close. I did put it in 3 different locations that whole time to adjust for sun angle or the trees.

So what can I say? It's not the top of the line product for solar charging. But it is exactly what I needed for the price. Light weight. Simple. And give me the charging ability I was looking for (cell phone).

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Bear Grylls SolarWrap Mini
Credit: Bushnell
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