The Soldius Solar Back Pack is a well constructed piece of gear. The materials (fabric, zippers, pulls, straps, etc...) used were all high quality. Both the back of the pack and the straps were well padded.
The pack itself is very roomy and will easily accommodate a 15" laptop in the main pocket. There are also smaller mesh sleeves and smaller pockets for accessories (AC chargers, cables, etc...).
This Soldius pack was designed with mostly the urban hiker in mind, but will also hold its own out in the field. The pocket shown above, while useful for cables and AC chargers, is also perfect for stowing larger items such as binoculars, energy bars, or small juice packs.
The most unique feature of this Soldius backpack is the incorporation of a solar charging panel on the outside of the pack. We don't have the specs for the solar panel yet, but we'll have it by the FirstUse review.
The solar panel is sewn into the smaller front pocket. The compartment is zippered and opens flat. There are three small pouches inside this section. One pouch holds all of the electronics associated with the power converter. The other two pouches are for storage.
The power converted by the solar panels is transferred via a cable. Soldius supplies a variety of plugs for popular devices (cell phones, blackberry, iPods). We wished they had also supplied a set of generic plugs for devices such as CD players and battery chargers. We see a RainyDayProject in our future :-)
The cable is terminated with a mini-USB connector. All of the adapter plugs will plug into this. While having a USB plug is nice, it would actually be more useful to have a USB socket instead. That way, Soldius would not have to worry about providing nonstandard plugs (Magellan GPS comes to mind) for all the devices out there.
We should note that Soldius does provide a plug for the iPod Shuffle, which is a USB socket. We'll see if this socket would work as a generic USB socket for low powered devices.
In the FirstUse review, we'll test the charging abilities of the solar panels on two devices (MPX200 cell phone, iPod nano). One suggestion we have already is a way to charge more than one device at a time. Another thing we would like is a battery...the sun is not out all the time :-)
The connections from the solar panel to the cable are housed in a separate zippered pocket. This pocket is there to protect the cables from the contents of pack. During the normal course of daily use, the user should not need to access this pocket.
The device being charged can be stowed in one of the pockets in the pouch behind the Soldius' solar panel. We'll use this pack for a few different outings with a few different devices to see if it can really keep them juiced. Since this is still a prototype unit, we'll give it a little slack, but we'll still bang it around for real!