EnerPlex Kickr IV Review: Trail-friendly Solar Charger
The EnerPlex Kickr IV is an extremely thin, lightweight, flexible solar panel that’s trail-tested and trail-friendly.
The Kickr IV delivers 6 Watts of solar power on the go – great for camping, backpacking or other off-grid adventures – and with ample sun, charges batteries and devices at about the same rate as a wall outlet.
EnerPlex Kickr IV Review
The Kickr IV solar panel is really, incredibly thin, measuring under .1 inch thick. And it’s surprisingly lightweight: weighing in at .68 pounds, it adds negligible weight to my backpack.
And it’s small, given its big power output: unfolded, the four-panel Kickr IV measures 30.5″ x 7.3″, and delivers the equivalent power of a wall outlet when it’s in full sun. Folded, the panel measures a small 8.8″ x 7.3″, and elastic cords (included with the Kickr) bundle the panel closed.
Folded or unfolded, the Kickr IV lashes easily to the back of my pack or the outside of my tent via its four grommets. I can set it up and forget it while it charges my phone, gear or an external battery pack.
Watching the Kickr grab power from the sun has a cool factor that’s hard to describe: while solar power isn’t new, charging my iPhone directly from the sun’s energy seems, well, almost magical.
To track, profile, and document trails for Atlanta Trails, I carry my iPhone 5s, Canon DSLR, and Garmin Oregon 600 GPS when I’m hiking. And I need to recharge these devices off-grid on multi-day adventures so that I can keep tracking, profiling and documenting trails. With a lightweight, compact solar panel like the Kickr IV, my recharge power is virtually unlimited.
The Kickr IV charges my iPhone 5s as fast as a standard household outlet when it’s in full sun. As with any solar panel, cloudy days slow the charge – but with the four-panel surface area of the Kickr IV, I’ve been able to draw power even on overcast days.
The Kickr pairs well with the thin-profile EnerPlex Jumpr Slate 5k battery. With this combo, I charge the Jumpr Slate battery during the day, and then power my gear overnight in my tent, saving heat-sensitive devices like my iPhone from heat and sun exposure.
The Kickr IV isn’t the first portable solar panel on the market. It’s different, though: the Kickr’s extremely thin, flexible panels are nearly unbreakable, and are built to survive drops, impacts and moisture. EnerPlex uses a patented technology to place their solar panels on a flexible plastic backing, unlike most other panels which are mounted to glass (and glass and trails don’t work together – I’ve replaced several iPhone screens to prove it). I love the flexible plastic construction of the Kickr solar panels: they’re ruggedly made for the outdoors.
EnerPlex Kickr IV review: Bottom Line
I’ve been testing the Kickr IV on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and Panther Creek Trail this summer, and love its lightweight, rugged construction – and the off-grid power it delivers to my gear. I’ll be packing the Kickr IV on many camping and backpacking adventures this fall, and will report back after more time testing on the trail.
So Where Can I Get One?
While we were provided with a sample Kickr IV to test, all opinions above are our own, and based on our own, trail-tested experience.