Eric Crosby was first introduced to the wilderness through a NOLS Semester in the Rockies, and soon after he became a Graduate of Colorado Mountain College’s Outdoor Recreation Leadership program. Eric wants to pass along this type of experiential learning to students of all ages and demographics. For four years he has worked for a YMCA non-profit, the B.O.L.D. and G.O.L.D. Mountain School (boys and girls outdoor leadership development) based out of Seattle, WA. This year Eric will be working for the Colorado Outward Bound School based in Leadville, CO.
Goal Zero, the leader in portable solar panel technology, has revamped their popular solar panel model: the Nomad 7. The new Nomad 7 Plus (available on Outdoor Prolink late May 2016) has been ruggedized, slimed down and equipped with new energy regulation technology resulting in a superior product.
The Nomand 7 Plus is the smallest panel of the Goal Zero line-up. I tested the original version of the Nomad 7 on a climbing expedition last spring and loved it, which has only made me more excited to see the new Nomad 7 Plus perform.
Recently I took the Nomad 7 Plus to South Platte when a spring storm rolled in and trapped our vehicles, and the Nomad was invaluable while charging phones to organize a pick up. The Nomad then traveled to the desert with me to guide a canyoneering course in the North Wash area of Utah. The Nomad gave me confidence that my devices, especially the important ones, wouldn’t die on me.
The new Nomad has a simplistic and durable design with few bells and whistles. The magnets closing the panel seem powerful enough to withstand the abuse of backcountry travel. There is a detachable magnetic kickstand with a zipper pocket to shade batteries and other devices.
The detachable kickstand allows for a less bulky and lighter setup, which is nice if you are concerned with weight. The Nomad 7 Plus is 4 oz. lighter than the Nomad 7, and has one USB port making it the most user-friendly panel I have used. The new matte finish on the Nomad 7 Plus has a more rugged and durable feel.
At each corner and in the centerfold of the panel there are several holes for attachment points making it easy to rig towards the sun even without the kickstand. The 7 Plus is advertised as weather resistant. Goal Zero does not recommend charging while the junction box is wet, so keeping this piece of equipment dry is important.
The junction box has a new unique feature: the solar intensity indicator. The simplistic solar intensity indicator uses four LED lights to indicate the amount of solar energy the panel can transfer. For charging a smartphone you want at least three to four lights. Four lights is the maximum producing up to 5+ watts. I have found with full power I can charge my phone or an equivalent battery like Goal Zero’s Lighthouse Mini Lantern in roughly 4 hours, as Goal Zero advertises. A new feature on the 7 Plus is the auto restart which tracks power flow history. The jist of the auto restart is to keep your equipment charging in an efficient fashion.
During my travels with the Nomad two of the powerful magnets came un-glued from the panel itself. Yet, the panel still works great and the kickstand still works with just two magnets. I don’t think I abused the panel too harshly, so maybe a little more glue from Goal Zero would do the trick here. This was the only issue I saw with the Nomad 7 Plus.
After using the Nomad 7 Plus I am impressed with its overall performance. The panel charges quickly, and its simple, user-friendly design makes it great for any person who wants portable power!