Hands-on Gear Review

Goal Zero Nomad 13 Review

Goal Zero Nomad 13 Panel
By: Chris McNamara and Lyra Pierotti  ⋅  Dec 15, 2014
Price:  $150 List  |  $74.97 at Backcountry - 50% Off
Pros:  Very robust and versatile, well integrated with other Goal Zero products
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, only one USB port
Manufacturer:   Goal Zero
68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Output Power - 30% 8
  • Ease of use - 15% 9
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Portability - 20% 5
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  • 5
Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

The Goal Zero Nomad 13 is an efficient and versatile solar panel that can be easily integrated into the rest of the Goal Zero product line. It won our Top Pick award because it integrates well with accessories such as external batteries, and it is capable of charging multiple devices, though only one via USB at a time. If you just need to charge your smartphone, then this is a little overkill. But if you want to charge many devices at once, including external batteries, then this can be a key component of that system. It is also the only panel we reviewed that is set up to daisy chain with other solar panels, thereby boosting the wattage of your charging system.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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Performance Comparison


The generous pouch on the Nomad 13 holds the Sherpa 50 battery pack  cables  and extras.
The generous pouch on the Nomad 13 holds the Sherpa 50 battery pack, cables, and extras.

Output Power


At 13 watts of power, the Nomad 13 is a powerful portable panel. It only has one USB port rated at 1 amp of current; as such, this is not the fastest device in our review to charge smartphones and tablets (the 2.1A panels charge noticeably faster).

However, the Nomad 13 integrates well with the Sherpa 50 battery pack and the Yeti 150 solar generator, both of which will charge a laptop after they are charged up by a solar panel.

Versatility


This panel can charge a number of devices at once, from USB to 12V to the Guide 10 battery charger. It's even more powerful when you daisy chain it with other Goal Zero panels, which means it can charge up a solar generator like the Yeti 150 and that can charge a laptop. Goal Zero also boasts a wide variety of accessories and toys, including their own proprietary lantern style lights and rechargeable speakers.

Ease of Use


The Nomad 13 has a large pocket for storing the Sherpa 50 battery, your cellphone, and extra cables. It can even hold a tablet. It has two panels instead of four, so it takes up less space and is easier to set up.

Because the cables are built into the panel, you don't need to remember a bunch of accessories to charge the various Goal Zero battery packs and one USB device. It is great that you can now directly plug your phone's USB charging cable into the panel. It is also very cool that you can daisy chain this panel with other panels and charge multiple devices at once.

The generous pouch on the Nomad 13 is just big enough to hold an iPad.
The generous pouch on the Nomad 13 is just big enough to hold an iPad.

This panel has the largest built-in storage for your extra batteries, phone, and cables. The downside is that compartment is always partially filled with extra cables that you may or may not need to use. In addition, it's a bit of a bummer that such a large panel can only charge one USB device. To charge another device you need to buy either a Goal Zero battery pack or an additional adapter.

The extra cables do not detach so you always have to deal with a little bit of spaghetti.
The extra cables do not detach so you always have to deal with a little bit of spaghetti.

What do all the cables do?
  • one is an input for daisy chaining other panels.
  • One is an output that connects to the Guide 10 adventure pack.
  • one is a 12-volt output.
  • and there is one USB connection.

Weight


This panel is middleweight contender for portable solar. It's not so light as to take backpacking, climbing or hiking a distance. But it's also not so heavy that it's out of the question to take it on an shorter hike or bike ride.

Best Applications


This panel is best used with the Sherpa 50 battery pack and other Goal Zero products like that Guide 10, Rock Out speakers, or the various LED lighting systems. On its own, is still a good panel but it's a little heavy and expensive if you are mainly charging cell phones and tablets.

Value


This panel is relatively expensive at the price-per-watt level. There are much cheaper ways to get this much power. The value comes in combining this panel with other Goals Zero products. While the market for panels that charge phones is very competitive, Goal Zero still is the clear leader in integrating panels and batteries with other accessories such as lights and speakers.

Conclusion


This is a great upgrade from the old Nomad 13.5. It is ideal for people that want to power a lot of different devices and either own other Goal Zero products or plan to buy them. If you're just charging cell phones and tablets there are a lighter and less expensive ways to go.

Chris McNamara and Lyra Pierotti

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Most recent review: December 15, 2014
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
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