Words and photos by Mercedes Lilienthal
Originally Published in Issue 26 of 4Low Magazine
Being self-sufficient is important when adventuring with your vehicle. Along with creature comforts and food, having adequate power to charge and maintain your rig and equipment is key. Off Grid Trek’s 200W solar blanket and Inergy’s Kodiak solar generator are a must if you need adequate juice to sustain your voyage.
Off Grid Trek’s solar blanket can be used in two ways: It charges up and tops off your 4×4’s battery (when using their solar controller, Anderson connectors, and battery clamp kit), or the blanket can be connected directly to the Kodiak solar generator to create a charged “power bank.” This gives you a power source wherever you need it, whenever you need it. This duo is easy to set up (it’s plug-and-play with one cable), offers many ways to run or charge your gadgets and boasts an industry leading efficiency rating (currently at 23.5%).
This 200W solar blanket can charge multiple devices at once. It has the ability to charge in most weather environments—even when in cloudy skies or when up to 30% covered. Other products seem to stop charging in those conditions. Living in rainy Portland, Oregon, most of my testing period was in overcast or rainy situations.
Weighing in at 13.6 pounds, Off Grid Trek’s solar blanket folds down to the size of a large laptop (12.6” x 12.6” x 2.8”) and can easily be stashed in a carrying tote, ready for action. The 200W blanket is waterproof and rugged—it scoffs at rain, wind, and dust. Give it a quick wipe and it’s as good as new. This could be due to the Japanese-made ETFE coating (fluorine based polymer) that Off Grid Trek uses. This coating boasts the following benefits: scratch resistance, better sunlight absorption, weather resistance in high heat and cold temps, and a long lifespan (10 years plus compared to other coatings).
The Kodiak solar generator is a powerful 1,100 watt power station. It’s lightweight (only 20 pounds) and once charged via Off Grid Trek’s solar blanket, has the ability to charge and power things like TVs, refrigerators, smartphones, and laptops. Output ports include: six 110V AC plugs, two 12V DC sockets, one 30 amp 110V RV plug, four USB outlets and even two base camp LED ports.
This generator powerhouse can be charged in a variety of manners: via 110V wall charger, 240W car charger, or via Off Grid Trek’s solar blankets. The Kodiak also includes battery balancing, overcharge protection, and includes a shoulder strap and AC wall charge cord. This heavy duty unit has up to 2,000 charge cycles and can last up to 10 years (if it’s charged every three to six months, at minimum). Operating temperatures range from -15°F to 150°F. Dimensions of the Kodiak are: 14″ wide x 7″ tall x 8″ deep.
Although I didn’t have optimum weather conditions while testing this duo, I found the test subjects easy to use, durable, and powerful. Off Grid Trek’s 200W solar blanket charged the Kodiak power station adequately—allowing for ample gadget charging opportunities. The Kodiak unit easily powered items like my power hungry halogen work lamp, two smartphones, laptop, and DSLR batteries. I also successfully tested it indoors.
Tip: be sure to give enough room around the power station and supplied AC wall charger as the power adapter gets hot and the unit needs room to vent.
Once on, the integrated blue LCD screen shows three real-time capacities: volts, watts, and amps. This screen quickly runs through items like: voltage minimum (Vm), watt hours (Wh), as well as amperage peak (Ap) and wattage peak (Wp). In addition, the Kodiak indicates real-time info like: battery voltage, power consumption in amps as well as power consumption in watts. A multi-colored battery indicator helps you understand how much battery was used. Each dot equals about 10% battery. All of this is helps users understand how efficiently their Kodiak is running. A charged Kodiak will read anywhere from 12.3 to 12.6 volts while a completely discharged one renders about 9.3-9.6 volts.
Although my test Kodiak is current on the market, a new and improved K2 unit will be released soon (pre-sales via Off Grid Trek’s website are now offered). The K2 offers improved features and benefits. Both Kodiak and K2 solar generators support only Off Grid Trek and Powerfilm solar products. Pre-sale price is $1,625.99.