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Powertraveller powermonkey-eXplorer



An effective and useful gadget for touring, and good for everyday life too.

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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One of the major hassles of bike touring is keeping those small electronic gadgets now so crucial to modern life charged and functioning. What's the point in a traverse of Wales by bike if you can't tweet about every minute detail to your followers, or keep your tunes ready to go? Flippancy aside, it's good to know you can keep your mobile phone charged and ready for any emergency situation, especially if you're likely to be in an area lacking in passers by.

But, if you're camping, or touring abroad, it's hard to keep plugging a charger in when there's a less than reliable source of power. This is where a gizmo like the powermonkey-eXplorer comes into its own. The powermonkey-eXplorer comes as a package comprising three elements- the battery, the solar panel and the mains charger. With these three main bits you also get a vast array of connectors that should accommodate most small electronic items. It also comes with several main charger options for various countries.

The principle is that you can charge the battery unit off either mains or solar power, depending on what's available and store the charge for when you need to charge your gadgets, wherever or whenever that may be.

None of the components is heavy (Battery 80g/Solar panel 80g/Mains charger 94g) and all are compact and reasonably rugged. They are quoted as being shock-proof and water resistant, but I'd always be tempted to store them in a small waterproof bag for additional safety. If you're going to be travelling across Africa, you'd probably not need the mains charger, being able to rely on a steady supply of solar power, whereas for European or UK touring you might want to pack both, to take advantage of any opportunities to plug in as they arise. The choice is yours, and dependent also to a great degree on where you'll be staying. The mains supply while wild camping isn't that reliable!

It's incredibly easy to use. Charge times are slightly lengthy, but other than the mains charge for an empty battery being 6 hours, you're unlikely to be inconvenienced by it. Solar charging varies hugely depending on the amount and quality of sun. Charging times for various gadgets are quite different, but with an iPhone 4, I found the powermonkey charged the phone from empty to full in 3 hours, taking 1 full charge from the unit and leaving it empty. A handy little LCD display tells you how much juice your monkey has left and whether it's charging etc.

Aside from its obvious usefulness in maintaining the ability to keep personal electronic equipment up and running whilst on tour, the powermonkey also doubles up as a useful gadget for more mundane day-to-day duties. Many of today's phones and MP3 players suck up a vast amount of power and die quickly, some lasting an inconveniently short space of time. Charge up the powermonkey battery pack and carry it with you and you've got a useful on the go top-up for your phone etc, with no huge weight penalty, making it good for train journeys and flights etc.

Available in blue, yellow, grey and pink.


An effective and useful gadget for touring, and good for everyday life too. test report

Make and model: Powertraveller powermonkey-eXplorer

Size tested: Blue

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Aimed at anyone venturing beyond a reliable electricity supply.

Perfect for bike touring, travel and anywhere where you might run out of juice for your phone etc

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Small solar panel

Powermonkey battery pack with LCD display

Mains charger with various options (for over 150 countries)

Connector tips for Nokia and mini Nokia, Retractable USB cable, Micro USB, Mini USB, Samsung G600, iPod/iPhone tip, LG Chocolate, Sony Ericsson wide connector, Female USB, DC4.0 for Sony PSP, Nintendo DSi

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Well made and pretty rugged. Water resistant and shock proof but still advisable to not kick it around and keep it out of water.

Rate the product for performance:

Performed reliably and effectively. Straightforward to use as well.

Rate the product for durability:

Should last well if you look after it. Solar panel will eventually become less effective but not for a long time.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

Good weight, especially if you leave the mains charger behind.

Rate the product for value:

Great value for something you can use in day to day life as well as touring and travel.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose


Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Ease of use, construction, weight, size

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product


Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Definitely. Especially for an adventurous tour.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. And not just a cyclist.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Useful, compact and versatile gadget for any situation where an electricity supply is not a foregone conclusion and keeping gadgets charged is a must.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,


Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

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peasantpigfarmer | 12 years ago

ppf.I have one of these.I use it with nokia,samsung and motorola phones.A garmin edge705 and a nuvi205 car satnav and a minolta dimage camera. It works well.I agree the solar panel needs to be at least twice the size to charge in a decent time.There is a battery pack system by dahon that connects to a dynamo or dynohub that has a usb port for charging gadgets. It could even charge your power monkey as you ride! Has anyone tried one?

cborrman | 12 years ago

i have this set-up and actually tested it on the Transcambrian!

the annoying thing about it is that you cannot be charging and using the battery at the same time, for this I have reorted to using another battery combined with this panel (callpod chargepod)

charging direct is ok with a Nokia, android, etc, but the iphone keeps kicking up a fuss saying that it is not a supported device every time the charge drops below a certain level (read, cloud, chaging direction vs. the sun, going under trees, chaging riding position, etc, etc.

In short, in blazing sun its pretty good, however like all panels, as the sun goes it gets quite weak, and charging a battery is the only practical solution, something this version does not support.

this is a shame, as the bundled battery is the weakest of all battery based chargers I have used, inluding a usb two AA cell one I bought of ebay for £6.99 (with two duracell 2650mah AAs out of interest)

TheFatAndTheFurious | 12 years ago

Can you charge a phone directly off the solar panels?

It would be nice if you had the choice of whether to carry the monkey battery as well as the battery in your device.

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