Review: Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Power Pack
By Aaron Schmidt, SUP mag photo editor
This summer I was fortunate to do a multi-day paddling adventure down the Bow River through Banff, Alberta. Although I was stoked to be out in the wild for that long, I was a bit worried how I was going to keep the cameras running for not only myself, but also for team filmmaker David Jackson. (I knew that nothing drained camera batteries like DSLR filming!) Thankfully I acquired a Goal Zero Sherpa 100 lithium-ion battery pack before the trip. It turned out to be just what we needed to keep the juice flowing to our thirsty devices.
The Sherpa 100 is a happy medium for adventure filmmakers and photographers. It cranks out 120 watts of power and weighs in a bit over two pounds with the optional inverter attached; it's just big enough to keep two or three DSLRs running full-tilt while out in the field. (The inverter is a required accessory to plug in your camera's battery charger.) The Sherpa's two onboard USB plugs worked well to keep our fleet of GoPros, cell phones and GPS topped off. It also comes equipped with a LED light and a special plug that fits most laptops, although not my Macbook Pro, further increasing the need for the optional inverter.
I was able to fit the Sherpa, Nomad 20 solar panel and other camera stuff into a DryZone 40L made by Lowepro. Whenever we were in camp, the panel was out, milking energy from the sun. I was even able to charge it from a car battery one night while at Lake Louise campground. While I couldn't have been happier with the charging results, both David and I pretty much took it to its limits. For a larger expedition or those employing more filmers, I would recommend either one of Goal Zero's larger batteries or daisy chaining together additional solar panels. I still feel it's always wise to invest in extra camera batteries for those long days on the river or if working in inclement weather as the panel really does benefit from direct sunlight; charging the battery via solar can take between 7-30 hours. If you plug it into a wall outlet it only takes three.
All told, you're looking at about $600 to get fully equipped with the Sherpa 100, Nomad 20 solar panel and inverter. But those of us requiring constant use of our digital equipment in the field will no doubt see the value here. This solar kit gives us the ability to venture farther and stay longer.