Truck Camping 101 | Part 3 | Portable Power – Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel

If you’ve been following along, I’ve published a couple of articles covering items I’ve found to be essential for truck or car camping. Additionally, these items could be applied to a “bug out” situation where living off the grid or maintaining a low profile is necessary. Part 1 showcased a neat little portable light from Goal Zero. The second article was all about portable power. And now the final piece of the puzzle. An item that will allow you to remain off the grid for much longer than you’d think. A powerful yet portable solar panel. The Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel.

Boulder 50
Recharging the Nomad lifestyle

I used to spend days kayaking around the islands in Lake Superior. Back then, everything I carried ran on AA batteries. This was by design because I had a solar battery recharger from Brunton. Great in concept, but very underwhelming in actual performance. The panel itself was way too small to charge the 12 or so AA batteries on board. Unimpressed, I was kind of turned off by solar power for awhile. Until now.

My first test of the Boulder 50 was to monitor the time it took to recharge a depleted Goal Zero Yeti 150 Power Station. It had to be better than my last foray with portable solar. So I set it up in my backyard on a sunny morning. And 2 things happened. First, the Yeti 150 had a full charge in about 6 hours. Which impressed the hell out of me. Secondly, zone 4 of my sprinkler system ran for 30 minutes subjecting the Boulder 50 and Yeti 150 to a deluge of water. Not my intention at all, fortunately, all was good.

The design of the Boulder 50 starts with a robust tempered glass panel framed in aluminum. Reinforced corners help protect the panel in both temporary as well as permanent installations. A built-in metal kick stand allows the user to maximize the angle with relation to the sun. On the back, a simple junction box with an 8mm output plug for charging a power station. As well as an 8mm input plug for chaining additional Boulder panels together. Up to 4 Boulder panels can be chained together for increased solar collection.

Boulder 50
Keeping the mobile office powered up

On our recent family trip, we utilized the complete Goal Zero package. Portable power to run the lights at night and top off cameras and phones overnight. Just after sunrise, I would place the Boulder 50 in direct sunlight and start to replenish the power station while we prepared breakfast and broke down the camp. Each time, I was amazed at the efficiency of the panel in a short amount of time. I’m currently working on a way to safely secure the Boulder 50 panel to the top of our Tepui rooftop tent when folded up. This would allow me collect solar power while driving between locations.

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel Specs courtesy of goalzero.com

Boulder 50

Charges the following:

  • Sherpa 50: 3-4 Hours
  • Sherpa 100: 4-8 Hours
  • Goal Zero Yeti 150: 6-12 Hours
  • Yeti 400: 16-32 Hours
  • Goal Zero Yeti 1250: 55 – 110 Hours Yeti 1400: 57 – 114 Hours

Boulder 50 Solar Panel:

  • Rated Power: 50W
  • Open Circuit Voltage: 18-20V
  • Cell Type: Monocrystalline

General

September is National Preparedness Month, so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the usefulness of solar power in the event of an emergency. With an unlimited power source like the sun, a modern solar panel coupled with a power station can provide much-needed electricity. Keeping phones or radios charged. Or just running some lights at night. Goal Zero offers a full line of power stations as well as several solar panels to support them. Our kit is mostly targeted for camping but knowing we have the proper equipment to collect and store solar power is good piece of mind should we ever need it.