Freeloader Pico 2010 solar panel

The Freeloader Pico is a tiny solar panel with a built-in internal battery. So it needs to be charged from the sun before its power can be discharged to a device. It comes with a set of adapters that allow it to charge mobile phones as well as GPS receivers. It can also be linked to the Freeloader AA/AAA battery charger for an extra £15. It is very small and light, and a gel cover can be used to protect the device, which allows it to be attached to rucksack straps. A larger Freeloader SuperCharger (£23) can be attached to the Pico to charge it quicker as well.  But up to 10 hours of good sunlight is required to charge the internal battery (more in cloudy weather). So the Freeloader Pico really needs to be left outside a tent all day or attached to your rucksack when walking.  The manufacturer does not recommend the device gets wet either. As with the Freeloader Pro the unit cannot power a device while charging the internal battery, so it needs plenty of sun before it is of use.

Vital stats
Charging time
10 hours in full sun, 20 hours in cloud, 30 hours behind glass or 4-5 days on a shady windowsill to charge internal battery
Power output 35 hours’ talk time on mobile phones or 1.5 hours of use of a GPS receiver.  Freeloader internal battery can be discharged in 30 minutes to a device
Packed size 10x4x1cm
Weight 49g
Stores in the UK 700+
Stockist details – tel. (0116) 234 4644;

The Freeloader Pico is a neat and compact solar-powered battery that is good for charging a mobile phone on the move in sunny weather.  It won the ‘Best Value’ award in our test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine June 2010