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Recharge via solar with mPowerpad 2

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mPowerpad 2 is perhaps the most versatile solar power panel I’ve ever encountered. Not satisfied to just be a solar collector, the mPowerpad 2 is the Swiss Army knife of solar panels. Sure, it collects power, but let’s look at all it does after the collection process.

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I’ve been testing the Pro model (also comes in the Lite, Plus, and Ultra.) Not all the features come on the other models, so check the Product Range tab to see which features come on which models.

Two storage units gather and hold power. The main unit has a 6600mAh capacity and the removable mPowerpack50 holds another 5000mAh. The small power pack will easily fit in your backpack and give you multiple iPhone recharges. Together, the two units could charge your smartphone 5 to 8 times or your iPad 1 to 2 times.

Each unit comes with its own flashlight. Press the button twice and get a handy stream of emergency illumination. There is also a tiny reading light on the front of the unit. Both the flashlight and the reading light can function as an SOS light, pulsing out the message in Morse code.

The Pro model also comes with an FM radio and an ultrasonic insect repellant, which keeps bugs away that don’t like high frequency sounds. (I’ll have to wait for the polar vortex to leave to test that one.)

Using the solar panels are ideal when you are away from the grid or heaven forbid, the grid goes down. Expect at least 14 hours of sunlight to fully recharge the unit. This rating varies widely depending on the intensity of the sun's rays. Winter sun in Cleveland, often did not fully recharge the main unit.

You can do it faster with a wall plug, but you should ideally use a 2Amp USB charger (most are 1A.) Before you head out, charge the two packs completely and then just use solar to keep them topped up.

To see all the models and their capabilities, check their website at http://thirdwavepower.com.

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new travel technology topics, across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.com with suggestions for future products to be reviewed. If you've ever used one of the products he's reviewed, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here.

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