The email said Brunton were sending me and others the EMBER today, and they wanted my views on this little solar-powered charger. The next day I was already reading reviews of it on blogs. I figured I would wait and use it outdoors in the hills and see how it performed there.
First, Brunton right now are offering a good range of charging options for the backpacker on remote trips. Unlike my old Power Monkey, you cannot easily accidentally turn on the unit, discharging the power. So a winner there.
You charge the Ember from a USB connection, but it turned my Mac off, stopping it starting up again, and I had to discharge the battery totally on the Mac, then connect it to mains power to fire it back up. I charge the Ember on my PS3 now before a trip.
Out in the hills the 100 mA solar panel works, and I soon got a bar of power back on my phone. In the late evening light I laid the Ember in the window and powered my iPhone 5, playing music while the Ember kept pumping power into the phone. I turned in to sleep later with a fully-charged phone, after listening to a few albums of music. This unit is ideal to pump short power top ups into a phone and can soon regain that power in average light. Over a three day walk, it worked fine for me.
You turn the Ember on by depressing the button hard for a few seconds, and then the power level indicator shows the remaining juice in it. For me, the unit can, fully charged, deliver about two full charges to my iPhone 5. It has a 3 in 1 USB cable which houses a mini, micro and Apple connector for a iPhone 4 but not for a 5. As the iPhone 5 charger has a USB connector as part of the plug, it can simply be slotted in to the Ember USB port. It's a clever unit. But the cable that comes with it is outdated already with new phone designs.
Brunton say this is a day hiker unit. I say it's a 3-4 day unit and can, with conservative use of a device, keep your power levels toped up to the end of the trip. Price-wise I think Brunton need to get it a bit cheaper, but it's solid and housed in a water-resistant casing. Weight is low - I have not checked the actual figures, but it's not noticeable in your hand, so a winner there too.
Overall,I am well pleased with this. Worth a look. Long term I will mention it on trip kit used summaries and report any issues.
Disclosure: Brunton provided a free Ember for review. This is a true statement and we don’t take disclosing here as a joke. There are no affiliate links or text based adverts for profit in this post.