I split my time between writing freelance, playing music, and helping my entrepreneur wife run her makerspace. So as you can imagine, I’m on the go a lot. I visit a steady rotation of local cafes, bookstores, and libraries — laptop and smartphone in hand so I can do my work, stay in contact with clients, and work on music.
So needless to say, there are two things I absolutely need: a quality bag and access to power.
While most of my usual workspaces have power outlets available, I can’t always count on them. There have been several times where I have walked into a coffee shop, ordered a drink, and found that all of the outlets have already been claimed. When that happens, I generally work off of battery power until either someone gives up their plug or my laptop dings me with a low-battery warning and I have to find an outlet somewhere else.
Recently, I stumbled upon this Birksun Boost 2 Solar Backpack on Amazon. If I could combine my need for a quality bag with my need for power, I would save myself a lot of headaches.
Eco-Friendly, Portable Power
By now, we’ve all heard about the appeal of alternative fuels. And with the climate change discussion looming over everybody’s heads, many of us are trying to help however we can.
Solar has been the most popular alternative fuel for a long time. But harnessing that power has been cost-prohibitive for a long time. Solar panels were bulky, ugly, and expensive.
But in the last few years, the cost of solar panels has plummeted. Ten years ago, a 6kW system for a home cost over $50,000. Today, that same system costs just over $18,000. In that same time, they’ve seen a huge boost in efficiency. Between just 2015 and 2017, solar panels doubled in efficiency, from 22% to 44%. So not only are you paying less for solar power, but you’re getting more for those dollars. This growing efficiency has gotten a lot of people wanting to know more about solar power. And I was one of them.
Personally, the appeal of solar was two-fold. Naturally, I wanted to do my part to help the environment by switching over to clean solar power. But I also wanted to free myself from the limited availability of wall plugs. And the Birksun Boost 2 does, in fact, deliver on that front.
The bag features a built-in lithium-ion battery that outputs the same power as a wall plug, so I never have to fight over an outlet. That battery life is pretty impressive—I haven’t taken it to its limit, but I haven’t found myself frantically closing my laptop and rushing out to find a plug either. However, I did have to get an adapter before I could use it with my laptop.
According to the product listings, two minutes in the sun recharges 1% of battery life, meaning it gets fully charged in two hours.
A Sleek, Utilitarian Look
Remember what I said about ugly, bulky solar panels? That’s absolutely not the case with the Birksun Boost 2. It features a small, flexible solar panel that actually contributes to the bag’s overall aesthetic instead of detracting from it.
The fabric is a sleek matte black which looks fantastic. And since I basically dress in all black anyway, it suits my vanity just fine. The bag is finished with high-quality stitching that makes it feel sturdy, which I need. I’ve lost track of how many times I had to repair my last bag because the stitching came undone.
The interior is lined with a soft fleece which feels great and keeps my laptop safe from scratches. The bag is just big enough to hold my MacBook, but it doesn’t have much room beyond that. Luckily, I don’t need to carry much besides my laptop and a notebook. But if you’re one of those people who practically live out of their backpack, this might be a little small for your needs.
A Few Limitations…
While this solar backpack entirely delivers on its promises, there are a few limitations that I forgot to consider.
For example. This is a solar backpack. It powers itself by exposure to sunlight. That is, it needs to sit in the sun in order to charge.
But for the most part, I work indoors. While I can just pick a window seat, that’s not always a possibility: my favorite coffee shop is in a remodeled factory with no windows and low light. Even in the writing spots with windows, those seats are often taken. Even if I can snag those window seats, I live in South Bend, Indiana, which averages a mere 172 sunny days per year.
My lifestyle prevents me from getting the most out of this backpack almost by default. Luckily, the battery can also be charged by plugging it into a wall. I’ve gotten in the habit of charging it overnight just in case of shaded seats or overcast days. But that sort of misses the whole point. Besides—there are plenty of battery-pack backpacks I could have gotten for less.
That said, I can see that this bag could be a lifesaver at music festivals, when I’m camping or hiking, or on long trips. It just isn’t as useful for my day-to-day activities as I thought it might be. But that’s on me, not on the product.
The Birksun Boost 2 Solar Backpack retails for $149 and it is available on Amazon.
Source: Personal purchase
What I Like: Looks great, works well; Backpack is sturdy; Solar panel performs well
What Needs Improvement: The bag can’t fit much besides a laptop and a book; If you need a spacious bag, this isn’t it