Portable charging solutions may not be the most riveting gadgets, but at outdoorsy times of year, they sure are useful ones. The Powermonkey Explorer is about as extravagant as they get.

The Powermonkey bit is basically a ruggedised, high-capacity rechargeable battery with a selection of tips to attach it to almost any portable gadget. It’s small – about the size of two 'D' cell batteries – but weighty and tough-feeling. A blue backlit LCD provides information on remaining power.

A Slave for you

But what makes the Explorer special is the Solar Slave it comes with. This foldable solar cell connects to the Explorer to top it up with energy whenever the lights are on. An LED glows if the light is bright enough to generate any electricity.

The Solar Slave isn't the only way of getting charge into the Powermonkey. It comes with worldwide adapters so you can fill it up in your hotel room any corner of the globe. Everything is provided in a neat rectangular package, and a smaller cloth bag is provided for portability. Basically, the Explorer provides options.

The juice is loose

So, those are the basics – how does the setup perform? Amazingly well, as it turns out. Plug it into the gadget you want to re-juice, press the power button and it'll sense the voltage it needs to provide – and gets going.

It's as fast as a wall charger and seemingly inexhaustible. We recharged an iPod Nano and Sony Ericsson phone, only knocking two bars from its seven-bar indicator. We can't see it running out during a weekend away or a summer festival. It automatically senses when it's filled up the gadget that's attached to it and turns itself off to save valuable power.

Sun worship

Better still, if you've got some bright sunshine to exploit you can recharge gadgets directly from the Solar Slave. Or, if you have one of Powertraveller's own K3000ST travel speakers you can power it directly from either Solar Slave or Explorer – and it'll recharge your docked iPod to boot.

It'll work with pretty much any pocketable gadget – tips are included for all modern phones, iPods, PSPs and anything that'll charge via USB. Powertraveller will happily furnish you with any tips that aren't included.

As far as charging solutions go, it's almost impossible to fault the Powermonkey Explorer. It could be a bit smaller, have a slightly higher capacity, cost less – but no other charging solution compares.


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Powertraveller Powermonkey Explorer review

If you can't be without gadgets, the Powermonkey Explorer is a holiday and festival must-have