The rustle of breeze in the trees.


Powertraveller’s powermonkey eXtreme Latest Test Blogs Here…


powermonkey eXtreme – Part 4 : Solar Panel Test 2

Full Cloud Cover But Reasonably Bright

The photo above, although not asthetically pleasing, does show (just) the full cloud cover when testing the solar charger in the early hours of the morning. I took the picture pointing the camera straight at the sun’s (obscured) position to give you a better idea of the conditions. As you can see these are not really the conditions ideal for the solar charger to work in and Powertraveller themselves do state that these are not the conditions their solar panel was intended for. But I wanted to test anyway 🙂

As you can see below from the screen grab from my SmartPhone I started the test at 6.10am and my phone’s battery was at 18% capacity!


Battery at 18% Before Connecting Solar Panel

I then turned the phone off, went outside, and connected the solar panel directly to my SmartPhone using the USB cable that came with my phone. (this is recommended by Powertraveller as the cable supplied with one’s phone should be the optimum one to use although Powertraveller’s own supplied cables and monkeynuts work just fine with my phone!) I placed the solar panel to face the sun’s position (although, as mentioned (and seen in the first photo) the sun itself was obscured) and left the solar panel connected to my phone for 2hrs 23mins.

As can be seen from the second screen grab below the results are interesting! Not only was the solar panel unable to charge my SmartPhone in these conditions (results which, in fairness, I expected – the powermonkey eXtreme’s solar panel IS remarkable, but not a miracle worker!), but it seemed to actually drain my battery! Remember, my phone was switched off during this test and as such it’s battery should lose very little power, if any, during the 2hrs 23minutes it was switched off. I know batteries drain over time even when unused, but, even taking into account the power consumption used when re-starting my phone, 15% battery loss seems excessive over that short period of inactivity!


Battery at 3% After 2hrs 23mins Connected to Solar Panel

Also note the battery indicator icon top left in the screen grab above. It clearly shows that a power source is connected (in this case the solar panel obviously) by the lightning icon showing, but I can confirm that power wasn’t being delivered to the phone as the blue power level indicator to the right of the lightning icon moves when a charge is being delivered.
I don’t want to make assumptions just yet though! I will turn my phone off for the same period of time then re-start it without the eXtreme’s solar panel connected (or any other power source connected!) and see what the battery results are then. I will blog the results in this post later so look out for post updates. (This blog post will aotopost to my various network sites anyway so look out for the update there :))

In the meantime the fact that the solar panel was unable to charge my phone in such poor conditions is hardly surprising and shouldn’t put anyone off this product. It IS a Solar Charger after all and thus needs the sun 😉

I am talking Nuts!

Which nuts are tighter?

Something that has been a constant cause of amusement for me are nuts. Not the edible varieties (although some may argue that point regarding a particular set of nuts i will be discussing here ;)). Rather the nuts in question are those that tighten my bicycle seat!

Thrilling topic!” I hear you bellow sarcastically. But please bear with me! 

If you are a male cyclist (like what I am!) you may be aware of the unexplained phenomena that is this: No matter how much you tighten your saddle to its stem it eventually always moves a little to one side. Left or right depends on the person, but it will always be the same side for each person! For me it moves slightly to the right after time and no matter how many times I reposition the saddle and retighten the nut, it will eventually move slightly to the right! Well I think I have discovered the cause!!

I believe the cause for this so far unexplained phenonena is….. another set of nuts!

Let me explain. (Though some of you may already know where I am going with this lol)

All men ‘dress’ to one side or the other. (For those of you who may be reading this and don’t know what I mean ‘Google it’! lol). I happen to ‘dress’ to the left (as apparently do most men – again ‘Google it’) and I think this is why my saddle is ‘pushed’ to the right over time. You see, when I sit on my saddle, if I am ‘dressing’ or ‘hanging’ to the left then I believe my bodies natural motion when cycling is causing my ‘nuts’ to push to the right thus fighting against my saddles central positioning. As I push my left leg against the peddle my ‘nuts’ are being forced to move over to the opposite side of their normal ‘resting’ place (the left) and thus press against the saddle causing it, over time, to move slightly to the right to accommadate them! As I raise my left leg again my ‘nuts’ simply move back into their usual position ready for the next downward push of my left leg. As my ‘nuts’ don’t ever move fully into the right ‘dressing’/’hanging’ position then the pressure on my saddle is never counterbalanced thus it’s never able to resume the central position I start it out with! lWell this is of course just an amusing theory and not to be taken too seriously, but as I cycle miles day after day my mind tends to wander and this theory is a result of those lonely times in the (shifting) saddle 🙂 

An interesting side issue of all this is that my ‘nuts’ are obviously more ‘potent’ than the tightened nuts on my saddle! (Hey – it’s my blog post and theory so let me go with it ;))

Oh! The edible nuts comment? If you haven’t spotted the link then good for you! You are a pure souled person and should be proud! 😉

If you have any thoughts on this (though I suspect it’s just me!) feel free to comment!


Ultralight A-Z – The Video Guide To Lightweight Backpacking

by Hendrik & Devin
The knowledge, equipment and attitude it takes to enjoy the outdoors in a lightweight way in twenty-six entertaining episodes.

A Way in Wales – Part 1

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I am just starting to blog and some of you know I have a fear of blogging. This stems from a lack of confidence in my ability to write anything of worth to anyone other than myself. But a few people I now consider friends have encouraged me to try and write and the best advice (for me at least) was ‘don’t write for anyone other than yourself’. It is with those words in mind that I write this. It is theraputic in a way I have only heard spoken of by others and as such this blog post and any post is really only intended for my own needs. A little pretentious maybe, but there you go. And here I go 🙂

Earlier in the week I took a last minute trip to Wales after deciding it had been far too long since a saw a hill let alone a mountain and the restlessness growing inside me simply overcame me. I needed to get away. I needed something other than the flat, though pleasant enough, scenery in my back yard. I needed just to have time to myself without the distractions of life. I needed to escape for just a day or so. Not from myself – I enjoy my own company – rather to forget, for a moment or two, the last few months of crap that life had slung my way. You know how it is. Sometimes you just want to walk. To hike in an area that inspires. That soothes. That puts things into perspective for a while.


The last time I went to Wales was with my now ex wife and my two children on a camping holiday near Prestatyn. It was a great holiday, but in hindsight it was also the beginning of the end of my marriage. I wont bore anyone with the details, however one of the results of this particular time of my life was an aversion to visit Wales again. It wasn’t so much a concious descision not to consider the area on subsequent plans for hiking, rather it simply didn’t register in my mind as an option. Some wounds run deeper than we realise perhaps.

Well the option to visit Snowdon came rather unexpectedly. A friend had offered me a lift at short notice and without thinking I accepted. It was all rather rushed really which, as it turned out, was the best way this time. We weren’t to be hiking buddies or even camping buddies as such – my friend was simply meeting up with friends and offered me a lift as he knew I was itching to get away. This suited me as I am a solo hiker and wild camper at heart and can count the times on one hand that I have ever hiked with someone. That said, I am looking forward to meeting up with a few friends off Twitter for a hike in the future – but for now solo was the way to go.

Some of you who may be reading this will know that I am a bit of a tech geek when it comes to using mobile phones, apps and gadgets on my hikes and the social geo-location website Social Hiking is a passion of mine. I was looking forward to ‘sharing my adventure’ on Social Hiking – using Powertraveller’s  new solar charger I had recently purchased, the powermonkey eXtreme,  to power my Samsung Galaxy S mobile phone. I have wanted to test this solar charger in ‘real life’ conditions since owning it and being away from a power source for over 60 hours wild camping in Wales seemed a good opportunity to do so! So not only had I been given the means to ‘get away’ for awhile, but also to indulge my love of  ‘outdoor’ apps and gadgets!


My basic kit is left in my back pack semi permanently as I often walk with my kit regardless of how long or how far I hike so I didn’t have to think about what to pack. I do this as I often hike and wild camp for days on end, especially when I am going on pilgrimage and I consider it as training and part of my fitness routine. I am going on a 5-6 week pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella in March where I will be walking 25Km a day for 40 days and wild camping each night so I need all the excersise I can get! I am not an UL hiker (though some of the gear now available is certainly tempting – I am not getting any younger after all!) so my kit list would shock many and as such I wont list it here 🙂 But if I say my back pack is a Berghaus Men’s C7 1 Series 65+10 Rucsac  it will give some idea of my lack of UL’ing! However I will say that this is the most comfortable pack I have owned and although it is quite heavy in itself, it does fit me perfectly and the pack weight is very well distributed when worn. I never feel I am carrying something heavy or poorly balanced. So with my kit ready, my gadgets ready and most importantly my mind ready I was all set to go when my friend turned up to collect me.

To be continued…..