I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity to do an in-depth review of the iSIS Freeloader. A solar phone charger, which in my opinion is pretty damn close to being the perfect portable battery pack to take on an outdoor adventure.
- The iSIS Freeloader Solar Phone Charger
- An impact and water resistant matte black rubberised case
- A velcro strap to easily attach the charger to a backpack
- An additional mirco USB charging cable
- An in depth user manual
About the iSIS Freeloader
The iSIS Freeloader is a Solar Battery Pack manufactured by Solar Technology International Ltd, a UK company based in Gloucester. Unlike the vast majority of portable phone chargers, the iSIS Freeloader feels “British Made”. The device somehow manages to appear extremely robust and is yet surprising light when compared to other portable chargers.
The front of the iSIS is largely occupied by the highly efficient 220mA solar panel surrounded by a matte black trim. There is a small LED display at the bottom which indicates the current charge source (solar or USB) and 4 bars to indicate battery storage.
The main body of the device appears to be cast from Aluminium with a brushed satin finish which looks to have been coated in a lacquer to prevent any tarnishing when exposed to the elements. The aluminium body, which is visible on the sides of the charger, houses 2 integrated charging arms. The right arm has a lightning connector suitable for most Apple products made after 2012 and the left arm has a standard Micro USB connector which is suitable for pretty much all other portable devices.
On the rear of the iSIS solar charger is a support stand which is neatly recessed in to the body. The angle of the stand can be easily adjusted to maximise sunlight exposure on the solar panels.
The integrated charging arms and the built in stand were definitely 2 of the main reasons that the Freeloader first appealed to me over other solar phone chargers.
After testing this product on a hike, however, I have to say that both these features are far less practical than just using the case and the Velcro backpack strap.
The water-resistant rubberised gel case and the Velcro strap that come with the iSIS Freeloader make this solar charger a perfect addition to your hiking kit. Once you have attached the iSIS to the strap on your backpack you are instantly able to get the solar charger in it’s optimal position, simply by the placement of your bag.
As you can see from the picture below, by leaving the iSIS on the strap of my hiking bag, I am able to easily position the solar panels to maximise their effectiveness while keeping it off the ground and inside it’s water and shock resistant case.
During my hike, I found that I could easily orientate the device towards the sun, even if I wasn’t walking directly towards it. On my return journey, when the sun was behind me, I was able to effortlessly reposition the solar panels by sliding the iSIS up the bag strap and over my shoulder.
The integrated charging arms are undoubtedly a nice feature, but for me, the better charging option was to use the USB port and an external cable. This way I could keep the solar charger on the strap of my bag, and have it charge the phone in my pocket.
- 4000mAh Lithium polymer battery
- 200 mAh Solar cell
- Lightning & Micro USB integrated cables
- Charges 2 devices simultaneously
- Dust and weather resistant port covers
- Impact resistant from a 1m fall
- Water resistant (in it’s case)
The high density portable solar panels on the iSIS freeloader are said to be 50% more efficient than it’s competitors which allows it to be far smaller than it’s rivals while still matching the charge speeds. The internal Li-polymer battery has a respectable 4000mAh of storage capacity making it capable of recharging most smartphones 3 times over as well as GPS devices.
There are other portable phone chargers with far more capacity that the iSIS, but additional storage comes at a cost of size and weight, which are both important factors when choosing your hiking gear. For this reason I believe the iSIS Freeloader has struck the perfect balance between it’s capacity and it’s physical size making it ideal for lightweight day hikes.
Making the most out of a Solar Phone Charger
Rather than stowing the iSIS Freeloader away and only using it when you are hiking, you can actually make good use of the device at home. I placed it on my window ledge and it began taking a charge through the window. I imagine that it won’t be quite as effective as charging it in direct sunlight, even so it’s free power which has to be a good thing right?
I also like to hook a USB fan up to a portable phone charger on a hot day and use it as a cooling fan while I’m at my desk.Price and Availability
The iSIS Freeloader portable solar charger is priced at £64.99. Initially I thought this was a little expensive for a solar phone charger, but after getting my hands on the product and testing it on a hike, I can confidently say it’s worth every penny.
Available to buy online at Amazon.co.uk or find it at your nearest electrical or outdoor goods store using Freeloader’s “where to buy” page.
Update: – 11/12/14
The current best price available on the iSIS Freeloader is £52.65 from Amazon.co.uk