In a digital world it is hard not to take electrical gizmos with you when you go touring. Once you have you need to be able to keep them powered. This can be as simple as finding electrical sockets on your travels or buying batteries. There are increasingly more rechargeable options around from harnessing power from hub dynamos to solar power or even wind. I have tried most over the years. My daughter bought me a wind powered fan that was meant to charge your mobile on the go a few years ago. Unfortunately it didn’t work.
We both have the plug 2 plus fitted. http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/accessories/electric-power-supply/ which sounds a fantastic idea as long as your dynamo can produce enough charge. I have a Supernova Infinity 8 dynamo and on a laden touring bike it will recharge Samsung Galaxy s3 from flat in about 4-5 hrs. It will also keep an Garmin Oregan 600t running on nimh batteries charged up all day. Pippa has a lower output dynamo a Son Delux which unfortunately doesn’t charge anything at touring bike speeds.
However the Garmin Plug 2+ has an annoying flaw. When your speed drops below about 8 km/hr ie up a steep hill it will tell you external power is lost and whether you want it to stay on. It frequently hangs at this stage and you have to stop remove the batteries and reboot it. When this happens 10 times a day it gets irritating. I contacted Garmin and they told me it is not designed to be charged on the go which is a shame.
To augment the plugs we bought a Brunton Solaris 4 usb solar panel in Stockholm. We have tried this on a sunny day on the back of my bike charging my phone but unfortunately it wasn’t in the sun enough to charge anything. When you are static on a sunny day in the campsite it works fine. Charging a phone in a few hours.
So as long as we keep moving or are camping in sunny conditions we can be reasonably self reliant on powering a GPS and a phone.
UPDATE ONE YEAR IN
I have been a bit disappointed with the plug 2. After a few months mine stopped charging altogether. The light would flash rather than remaining solid whilst we were cycling. I contacted tout terrain who thought that the plus part of the plug had failed. This was the capacitor that sits in series with the plug. They told me to remove it and they would send me out a new one. This solved the problem, the plug 2 would charge again, however as we were going through pretty mountainous territory it didn’t charge much. Slogging uphill wouldn’t produce much charge and then flying down the other side the plug would cut out above 40km per hour as it couldn’t handle the charge.
I received the updated plug plus when we returned to the UK for a few weeks and it is back charging again, On UK routes it charges well easily coping with my Samsung Galaxy. It is a very neat solution and is well executed, I am trying using a Fuel+ 3,000ma Li-ion battery to save the charge which I can then use to charge my other gadgets.
Unfortunately I managed to break the USB port on the plug 2 when my bike fell over with a USB cable connected. I contacted tout terrain who for only 45 euros sent me a replacement plug 3. This I hope will be of more use in the mountains as it doesn’t stop charging when you exceed 40km per hour. We will see.