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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Solar Chargers > Brunton Torpedo 2800 > Test Report by Derek Hansen

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Photo courtesy Brunton

Brunton — Torpedo 2800 Power Pack, Car Adapter

Test Series by Derek Hansen

TESTER INFORMATION

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NameDerek Hansen
Age37
GenderMale
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight170 lb (77 kg)
Email Address pix-obfuscated
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), each of which includes food and water. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer Fenix Outdoor Group
Year of Manufacture 2014
Manufacturer’s Website brunton.com
MSRP N/A
Listed Features
  • Charge time DC car socket: 2 to 3 hours; USB: 3 hours; AC/USB: 3 hours
  • Charging Capacity - 2x Smart Phone charges
  • LITHIUM ION BATTERY 2800 mAh
  • POWER OUTPUT – 1 Amp
  • INPUT – Micro USB & DC Car Adapter
  • OUTPUT – DUAL Output, USB 2.0 and Micro USB
Manufacturer Recommendations

None

Measurements
Specifications What They Say What I Say
Weight 4.75 oz (135 g) 4.7 oz (133 g)
Dimensions 5.1 x 1.1 in (13 x 2.8 cm) 5.1 x 1.1 in (13 x 2.8 cm)
Colors Black


INITIAL REPORT

9 Aug 2014

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

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The Brunton Torpedo 2800 came in a blister pack and cardboard. A user guide, printed in multiple languages, is located under the product inside the packaging. The Torpedo is cigar-shaped with a silver-tipped car adapter on one end and a black metal enclosure on the other end.

The Torpedo feels heavy in my hand, in part due to the metal enclosure and also the battery encased inside.

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There is one micro USB port, used for charging the Torpedo, located alongside a standard USB port, used for recharging other devices. On the opposite side of the micro USB port is another standard USB port. Next to the USB port is a button and three LED indicator lights.

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According to the manual, each standard USB port outputs 1 AMP of charge, so two devices can be charged simultaneously.

When the button is pushed, the LED lights indicate the charge remaining in the Torpedo: 3 dots= 100%; 2 dots = 60%; 1 dot = 30%.

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The Torpedo contains "high-grade Lithium ION cells" that boast a faster charge and longer lasting charge with "no memory and minimal discharge," with "1,000 cycles at 80% capacity."

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INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

One of the first things I did after opening the package was to plug the Torpedo into my car. The LED lights immediately began blinking, once the car was turned on.

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The Brunton warranty is very generous, and very simple: "Buy it. Try it. Bust it. Return it. No questions asked."

I've been able to attempt recharging a few devices already. With the Torpedo fully charged, I plugged in my iPhone, which was hovering around 30% battery capacity, and filled it to 100% capacity. I next plugged in my iPad Mini. The iPad Mini was at 15% capacity and the Torpedo emptied out but was able to get the Mini to 30% capacity.

I charged the Torpedo again and used it in a following day to recharge my iPhone, which was at 4%. I was able to charge my iPhone from 4% to 100% but it drained the Torpedo to 30% (1 LED indicator light). I was surprised, and a little disappointed, because how low the Torpedo drained after one complete recharging.

INITIAL SUMMARY

I really like the idea of having a recharging battery device that I can plug directly into my car. This way, when I travel out to a backpacking trip, I can keep the battery topped off and have it ready when I hit the trail.

I'm a little worried about if it will live up to the claim of recharging my smart phone two times under a full charge. It also feels a little heavy for how much capacity it has. It is certainly rough and rugged, but I'd almost prefer a lighter casing for more battery capacity.

PRO—Car charging option.

CON—On the heavy side for the capacity.

FIELD REPORT

21 Oct 2014

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've taken the Torpedo on the following backpacking trips:

Sep 12-13: Sycamore Canyon, near Williams, Arizona. The elevation was 6,500 ft (2,000 m). During the night, the temperature dropped into the mid-50s °F (10 °C).

Sep 19-20: Cinder Hills, near Flagstaff, Arizona. The elevation was 6,500 ft (2,000 m). This was a short, 2 mi (3.2 km) backpacking trip with my kids, with an elevation gain of 700 ft (213 m).

Oct 10-11: Mount Elden, near Flagstaff, Arizona. The elevation was 9,200 ft (2,800 m) on this backpacking trip of 11 mi (18 km). The first two miles (3.2 km) had an elevation gain of 2,000 ft (610 m).

Oct 16-17: Snow Canyon, near St. George, Utah. This picturesque, 5-mile backpacking trip is a personal favorite with breathtaking over-the-canyon views. The elevation was 5,000 ft (1,524 m). During the night, the temperature dropped into the mid-50s °F (10 °C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I've had an interesting time recharging my iPhone with the Torpedo. I've sort of "blindly" accepted that the Torpedo would be able to recharge my smart phone two times, based on the claims on the packaging. On more than one occasion I've let my phone get down to 18% battery life and then plugged it in to the Torpedo. With a fully-charged Torpedo, I was able to recharge my phone to 100% but the Torpedo would be down to one LED, or about 30% battery remaining. When my phone depleted back to 18%, the Torpedo was only able to recharge the phone up to around 30%. Not quite two recharges on a full Torpedo.

My iPhone 4s has a battery capacity around 1900 mAh. Two full recharges would be 3800 mAh, which is 1000 mAh more than the Torpedo is capable of providing. I contacted Bruton customer service about this and they were unapologetic about the claim of two recharges. Their only advice was to turn off my iPhone while I recharged, since the phone uses some battery power while it is on. Certainly there is some advantage to powering down a device or enabling "airplane mode" to reduce battery drain while charging, but I'm not really pleased with the performance and claim made by Brunton, especially since a generic "smartphone" battery capacity range is growing, from a basic 1500 mAh to some of the higher-end brands that boast 3900 mAh.

I use my smartphone a lot while backpacking, so I'm ready for a recharge at night. For short-term overnight trips, the Torpedo fits a niche, but pushing an extended trip where I would need to recharge a few times, it just doesn't pack enough power.

Weight and Packing

The Torpedo certainly feels rugged. The metal enclosure has a solid, substantial hold. I was really hoping, however, that the weight was due to a more larger battery, but based on my tests, I'm convinced it is due to a thicker, more durable metal enclosure.

I did some quick math and looked at the Torpedo and another battery pack I own to get a sense of weight per amp-hours. The Torpedo is 1.67 oz (47.5 g) per amp hour. My other battery pack is 0.89 oz (24.95 g) per amp hour and has a thick plastic enclosure. The Torpedo is nearly two times heavier per amp-hour!

The Torpedo isn't rated for weather or dust protection, so I'm really not finding much advantage to the heavier metal body. In my experience, the real dangers in the field aren't the drops, since these devices usually remained packed while not in use and are stationary when in use--it is water damage and dust and dirt getting into the sockets. There are no covers for the ports. The more I've packed the Torpedo, I've wished for a lighter version, maybe something with a durable plastic shell instead of metal.

The device fits nicely in my backpacking side pockets or in a floating lid.

Recharge Time/Car Charging

I think where I've really been disappointed with the Torpedo is the recharge time. The packaging claims a base 3-hour recharge time, which is a reasonable time from front door to trail head, depending on the destination. Most of my trips are a lot closer, thanks to proximity to National Forests, but I did leave the Torpedo in my car to recharge during the work week so I would be ready on the weekend.

My average round-trip commute time in my car is 40 minutes. It took 7 days at 40 min each to recharge in my car or about 5 hours to recharge the torpedo.

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Breakfast on a cliff edge.

FIELD USE SUMMARY

The recharge time on the Torpedo is slow. I love the convenience of charging while I'm in the car, but if I need to fully charge the device, I need a long road trip to get the job done. I think the casing is just a little too heavy/robust than it needs to be.


I would like to thank Brunton and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.



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Read more gear reviews by Derek Hansen

Reviews > Electronic Devices > Solar Chargers > Brunton Torpedo 2800 > Test Report by Derek Hansen



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