Converter solar backpack delivers big on power

I’ve always loved Voltaic System’s habit of slapping a solar panel on just about anything one could carry around during the day. Backpacks, tablet covers, or laptop bags all become doubly useful once they’re capable of powering the gadgets within.

My only complaint about these products, especially the early versions, was their cumbersome size and serious weight. Necessary to include quality, well-protected solar panels but still, a bummer.

Now, with their newest offering, Voltaic seems to finally be tackling this problem. The new and improved Converter Solar Backpack  is a streamlined bag for commuting and short trips that still delivers big on power.

Image via Voltaic Systems

The new bag retains the design and spirit of previous versions, but now weighs only 2.4 pounds with the panel and battery. That’s way less than my current computer backpack, and it doesn’t have the ability to charge my phone.

The Converter Backpack includes 3.4 watt monocrystalline solar panel generates power in sunlight. Like all of Voltaics offerings, the panels is waterproof, lightweight, and built to withstand abuse, so you don’t have to worry about taking it on a hike or to an outdoor concert.

In addition to being powerful, the solar panel charging system is fast: Voltaic claims that six hours in the sun will fully charges a typical phone, and just one hour will provide about 75 minutes of talk time. But don’t think that the Converter Backpack is limited to smartphones. Use if for just about any handheld mobile device, from GPS to iPods.

Also included is Voltaic’s updated V15 Micro USB Battery. It has 15 Watt hours / 4,000mAh vs 11 Watt hours / 3,000 mAh of capacity, which means your backpack will be able to provide power even when the sun doesn’t shine. Tests show the V15 capable of providing 1.7 full charges on an iPhone 5.

The backpack is available for $129, or, if you’re feeling lucky, you can also enter to win one on Voltaic’s Facebook page.

Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling