Editor: Randy Johnson
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff

Basic Description:
The GOALZERO NOMAD 3.5 Solar Panel combined with the Switch 8 Powerpack is a very small, lightweight, portable, yet powerful powerpack kit that is capable of powering smart phones, flashlights, GPS, tablets, and other electronic devices, etc, so they are functional far away from power sources.

GoalZero’s® Switch 8 recharger kit is so convenient and portable that mountain hunters, backpackers and recreationalists will use it on a regular basis when a power source is not available. This kit should become a “must have item” for those who spend a great deal of time outdoors, for every traveler and to place in emergency kits at home.

goal zero with stick

Simply defined, the Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel collects the sun’s energy and channels it into the Switch 8 Powerpack. The Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel alone does not hold a charge and will not charge a smartphone or tablet without the use of the Switch 8 Powerpack.

goal zero diagram

Facts and Technical Feature:
• Small but capable of carrying a major punch, the GoalZero Switch 8 portable recharger breathes life into your phone, music player, or tablet enabling you to take it with you wherever your adventures may lead.
• A powerful lithium ion battery is light and robust. It can hold a charge for up to 6 months. Simply charge it up from the Nomad 3.5 solar panel included in the kit.
• USB port in and out offers a simple and straightforward design for simplified use.
• Lay out the light and portable Nomad 3.5 solar panel and use the sun’s power to charge the Switch 8 battery pack for recharging devices.
• The compact, weather-resistant solar panel is smaller and more powerful than other comparable panels.

randy hiking

My Story:
As a Mountain Hunter, backpacker and long time wild sheep guide/outfitter I spend a tremendous amount of time out on the mountain in some of the most isolated, rugged, high desert terrain that there is in southern Utah. In many instances, I am out in these areas for multiple days at a time. Having the ability to communicate with my cell phone or other electronic devices is imperative for safety issues. Without access to electrical power to keep my phone charged etc, it can become a dangerous situation. This is precisely why the GoalZero Nomad/Switch 8 Solar Charging Kit has become an invaluable piece of equipment that I always carry with me on my adventures.
GoalZero’s Switch 8 solar recharging kit combines the Switch 8 battery pack with the Nomad 3.5 solar panel to allow me to gather and store solar power when I’m out on the mountain enabling me to recharge my cell phone in almost any remote situation where I’m far away from the comforts of civilization.

goal zero on rock

When purchasing GoalZero’s Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit, I got the Switch 8 battery pack and Nomad 3.5 solar panel. Backpack hunting demands that my equipment be lightweight, compact and dependable. In my opinion GoalZero hit a home run with this product, as they have designed a way that provides me with functionality in an extremely small, efficient unit. When deploying the Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel with the Switch 8 recharger out in the wilderness I’ve found that the most important component is the Switch 8 recharger. The Switch 8 is a very small, cylinder shaped product that is capable of storing enough power to charge my Galaxy 5 cell phone. The lightweight cylinder has been designed from aluminum and is about the size of a very small flashlight. It is strong and houses a 3.6V, 2.2Ah lithium-ion battery that stores power for charging. A simple four-LED fuel gauge located on one end of the housing provides for me the remaining charge available with just the press of a button. I’ve found this design is perfect for my use and was engineered to offer multiple features. When looking at the Switch 8, each end of the unit features a threaded receptacle into which I can screw various interchangeable switch tips. When purchasing the Switch 8 you receive a flip-out male USB tip that is used to charge the internal ion battery as well as one female USB tip into which almost any portable device that requires a 5 Watt power source to be plugged. Although I haven’t purchased it yet, GoalZero also makes an LED flashlight tip for the Switch 8. With the kit you also receive a USB extension to connect to your Nomad Solar Panel.
In regards to the Nomad 3.5 solar panel, I appreciate the fact that GoalZero designed the unit to be as compact as possible without losing functionality. With the Nomad there are two mono-crystalline solar panels stitched into a tough nylon case that folds like a binder, secured together with a velcro strip. Covering the panels is a plastic sheeting that will protect it from scratches while still allowing for adequate light transmission. On the back of the Nomad there is a mesh zipper pocket designed for storage of the Switch 8 and any cables required for charging. Integrated into the pocket is the small USB converter. I appreciated the simple directions that are screen printed onto the inner nylon lining. Some additional very critical details in the design of the case/solar conversion folio are the multitude of loops that make it easy for me to attach the solar panel to my backpack, tent, or a branch, etc, so that I can position the panels to capture the most sunlight.

The Nomad 3.5 solar panel and Switch 8 battery kit is exactly what I was personally looking for to charge my cell phone when I am out in “nowhere” and can’t get to a power source. Featuring a combination of being lightweight at 11.2 ounces, simple, self-contained and affordable (entire kit $79) I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the purchase.

What They Could Do Better:

I appreciate GOALZERO’s vision for designing solar-based charging equipment that can not only be used extensively by those of us who spend a tremendous amount of time out on the mountain but also for everyday consumers. I would like to see GoalZero continue to work on the Nomad 3.5/Switch 8 Kit so that it is capable of giving my Smartphone a complete 100% charge

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability