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Brunton Restore Review

DSC01054cLooking for a great way to keep your personal electronics charged while in the great outdoors?  The Portable Power of the Brunton Restore keeps you talking and singing with their new solar capable recharging device.





DSC01070aNow you can harness the power of the sun!  No, not an advertisement for a new hybrid car, but a powerful feature on the new the Brunton Restore power supply.  Brunton is one of the leaders in the outdoor power field and with technology evolving at a rapid pace and the new green movement gaining popularity, it is no surprise, that there is a demand and following for solar powered gear.  The solar movement has exploded in the last few years due to new incentives offered by the government and other grant sources, and fellow Woods Monkeys are finally able to reap the benefits.  The Restore is a portable battery source that uses solar energy among other energy sources to “store” a charge for your dying phone, camera, iPod, or other small electronic device.


Since the Brunton Restore has photovoltaic cells (which means light making voltage, no quiz later), perhaps a quick crash course in solar power is in order!  A solar powered gizmo has special cells that take photons from solar energy.  These photons give up their energy to electrons in your unit, and these electrons then move the energy across the cell, and eventually, into a circuit,  resulting in your recently charged iPod playing the Ramones again.  How does that factor into one of the features of the Brunton Restore?

A Portable Power Source

DSC01035aThe easiest way to think about the new Brunton Restore, is not as a solar powered device, but as an energy storage unit that uses a solar charger as one of the options for recharging.  The 8.5 ounce unit has a durable rubberized shell, able to withstand impacts common to such a device.  Leaving a solar charger device on the hood of a car or cooler is common, as these are good spots for getting lots of sun.  After palm slapping yourself for driving off with the Restore on the car, you can find it easily with the bright construction yellow highlights and rest assured that it can handle low level impacts.  Be careful not to crack the solar cells on the inside though!  All of this wraps up in a package that is 5 3/4 inches long by 3 inches wide, with a folded thickness of a little over an inch.  Not bad when you consider it could power a plethora of your devices instead of bringing spare batteries for each of them.

Solar Charging

DSC01065aThe solar power recharging option can take up to 10 hours, under ideal light, but charges much faster using the computer or car plug option.  The total of the two panels captures about 100mA per hour, and the Restore’s internal battery is 2200mA under optimal sunlight.  You may not have 10 hours to sit around and wait for the sun to do its work, so it is a good idea to pre-charge it before you go out.  Say you want to charge up an iPod on the trail while backpacking.  No problem, you can charge the iPod that night in the tent, wake up in the morning and still have juice left in the Restore.  Now strap it onto the top of your pack as you are hiking, and you will have more power then when you woke up.  This isn’t the only way to charge the Restore, as it can take a DC outlet such as a car cigarette lighter and a USB cable from a computer to bump the battery up.  A car charger may only take 2 hours to pump the Restore, and a computer USB port would take about 4.  To tell if The Brunton Restore is recharged, there are 4 LED lights located on the right side of the unit.  These lights indicate the charge on the battery, and also tell when the unit is turned on.  There is a small green lightning bolt underneath them that flashes green when the unit is charging via solar or otherwise.  To top off everything, there is a small LED flashlight on the opposite side of the power button, a very handy feature for night time charging.  I found the buttons to be a little hard to mash, and wish they had more of a click when engaged.

Times to charge equipment

DSC01043aSo lets look at some times for equipment to be charged by the Restore.  A normal cell phone will take about 1-2 hours, depending on the type.  An Mp3 player such as an iPod would take about 1-2 hours as well.  Both a GPS and a Camera would take roughly the same time too.  My Garmin Etrex Vista C turned on and read it as hooked up to a power source.  The Garmin Nuvi 200w also worked while charging. Now the cell phone, in this case, a Sanyo was a little tricky.  I didn’t have a USB to cell phone cord right away to charge the communication device.  With a quick search on the internet, I found directions to quickly cut and transfer all sorts of wires.  I had to make sure the amps aren’t going to fry my phone.  With a quick trim of the wires, I now had a USB phone charger, ready for charging by the Brunton restore.  The wife’s Fujifilm camera was charged on the way to my nephew’s first birthday, and quickly saved the day as she had a full battery on the 2 hour trip in the car.  With so many busy things going on, it is hard to do things as simple as recharge a camera battery.  For a last kicker, it charged my new HTC Hero Android phone promptly.

Road Trip Master

That makes at least 5 units that can all be charged by this device, portably.  These devices may not come out when trudging in the wild, but it sure will help for the car trip there.   This is where the Brunton restore really shines.   This portable power device would be indispensable during road trips!  I can think of many times where I wouldn’t mind having the device sit on top of the dash board while driving, collecting power after I’ve used it.  It may sit there and recharge your phone, giving you one more outlet available to charge another electronic device.  I can think of one trip where I had four other snake hunters, charging their phones, cameras, GPS’, and other equipment all at once, it was a cable nightmare inside the vehicle!

Indispensable on an Amazon trip

DSC01051aThere was another trip where I think the Brunton Restore would have showed its handiness, and that was in Peru.  If I had a fully charged Brunton Restore out in the jungle, I think I would have taken many more pictures with my small camera, knowing that I had a fully charged unit with me that I could potentially recharge a bit more later in the sunlight, while constructing shelters or riding in the boat.  It would have eliminated the need to purchase extra rechargeable batteries specific to the cameras.  Carrying multiple batteries for multiple items can get a little annoying, especially when you are trying to pack it all with you.  It is important to note that the solar charging capabilities can not be relied on in their entirety to support the electronics though, as the length of time required and the weather conditions can play an important role in the Restore’s overall performance.

Too many cords

DSC01075aOk, this is where things may get a little technical, because now you are carrying a wire to USB for every gizmo you have, and sadly the world hasn’t all converted to mini USB.  With a little ingenuity, you can carry one or two cables with the Restore for everything! Combine the Restore with these USB cords that can take different heads to each of your different electronics, and you will not have to remember every cord.  There is even one available with a retracting cord to make clean up even less of a hassle.  Brunton also includes a USB to car adapter, so that is one less thing to think about.  There is a lot to be said if you are even half of a techno geek who travels often, with the Restore, and an adaptor kit.  The supplied USB cord is marginal, with the angled and bulky USB male end hardly ever fitting into a convenient place on two of my computers, and the mini USB adaptor on the other side has the same problem, too much angled plastic.  This is easily remedied by the use of your own adaptors, and I quickly started using these in place of the bulky supplied wires.

Restore for Sure!

The Brunton Restore is an awesome tool.  After figuring out what I could and couldn’t charge, I’ll be taking the Restore on just about every trip.  It can charge my items when I need it, and I don’t have to crawl around looking for a socket when I get to a room or shack.  At $60 to $90 on some websites, it is not out of the question for a solar powered combination device either.  If power for your electronics is a problem, the Brunton Restore is the answer.


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