Solar Power Options

I’ve been trying to choose between a couple different solar charging products for this trip. Keeping all the electronic devices topped off is important.

Looks like it’s boiling down between the Joos Orange (pronounced “juice”) and the Powermonkey Extreme. Both have their pro’s and con’s

Jim has a Joos Orange and likes it. But he did return the first one after the micro USB charge port corroded from exposure to saltwater.  This was after only one day on the ocean. Since then, I’ve discovered most kayakers carry their Joos inside a Sealline iPad eCase to protect it from the elements.

The Joos has an internal storage battery rated at 5400 mAh so it’s capable of charging an iPhone a couple times  but will only partially charge an iPad.

The Joos Orange was plagued by some issues with inferior or defective charging cables when first introduced but has supposedly corrected the problem. All models shipped after March 2013 have the upgraded cables. The Joos costs around $149.

Joos Orange

The other solar charger I’m considering is the Powermonkey Extreme. It’s a two piece unit consisting of a fold out solar panel and a separate 9000 mAh storage battery. You get a bunch of connector tips and cables to fit virtually any device you have. It’s also billed as waterproof. But I have seen warnings about keeping water out of the connector ports.

The Powermonkey weighs a little less than the Joos and the extra large storage battery feature is attractive. However, most of the criticism is about the time it takes to top off the external battery (15 hrs!).  I also wonder if it will fit inside a clear dry bag so I can attach it to my kayak deck to charge all day long?  The unit costs around $179-199.

Powermonkey Extreme

Decisions, decisions….



About Kayak Around Florida

We're two guys who paddled kayaks around Florida.
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6 Responses to Solar Power Options

  1. andy says:

    marc – so what did you decide on, the joos or the powermonkey. i’m in the same boat as you, can’t make up my mind about which one.

  2. If it’s any comfort, I’ve been researching these things quite a bit and came to the same conclusion. My main reason for getting this is for an 18 day trip paddling the Grand Canyon this upcoming December. I met a fellow paddler who did this same trip and actually used the PowerMonkey Extreme and absolutely loved it! Based on her experience and the reviews I’ve read, I think I’m going to buy that one. I kind of like that once the battery doesn’t hold a charge anymore, I can potentially buy another one without replacing the solar panel.

    • Luc,
      Thanks for checking out the journal!

      I really went back and forth on this one. The Power Monkey Extreme looks like a great unit and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The newer models (2013) have an improved LCD screen on the battery.

      Keep me posted. I’d be interested hearing how the Power Monkey Extreme performs on your trip.



  3. The PowerMonkey is not currently available from REI; that might prove to be an issue if you delay in ordering. You mentioned issues of topping-off-the-battery, because of inefficiencies in recharging circuits and batteries, you should consider not topping the batteries of individual device like the iphone from the cache battery; instead, go for 80-90% and disconnect – of course, if charging a device battery while hooked up to ‘the sun’ or external AC, then go for 100%.

    I can only suggest that you consider the overall packaging and weight – in case you turn to hiking for your next epic journey.

    Whatever bagging plan you have, be sure that the entire package floats. On the A.T. I used one-gallon zip-locks inside of another to create fully water tight containers. Personally, I think the white water-proof bags from Walmart are excellent. Great price of $6, highly puncher-resistant, and thoroughly tested by me.

    99% of the time, i kept my billfold in a zip-lock and stored in a water-tight compartment. When off boat I still used the zip-lock as a measure against dropping it while loading supplies. Of course, the single time that I did not, I dropped my billfold – with $300 and my plastic – into 12 feet of water and it when straight down. Clint at the Conch Republic Dive Shop slash Marina (before heading Tavernier island) which I had parked my yak while I hiked to a semi-major store for resupply and a fastfood burger saved the day. BTW, the Tavernier Island is small and low with a single motor boat landing well hidden among the mangroves; be sure to have the waypoint if you are planning to camp there.

    • Warren, had to chuckle when I read your comment.

      I too became a “ziplock-bag-ologist” on my 2009 AT thru-hike. They saved me several times during the hike. To this day I squeeze all the air out of any ziplock bag that’s near me. Fun!

      I can get the Powermonkey with 2 day shipping on Amazon for $20 cheaper that through REI. I just can’t decide. Part of me says go with something different since Jim already has the Joos but maybe it’s good to have similar redundant equipment.

      Six of one, half dozen of the other? Flip a coin? What the heck….


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