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Lifeproof iPhone and iPad Cases

Taking your technology with you on a campout or hiking adventure is something that you can’t always avoid. While I like to unplug once in a while, I also have a hard time giving up my cell phone since I use it for GPS, hike/bike tracking, photos and a variety of other things. The bad news is that I’m pretty rough on my phones. I’ve had cell phones for more than 25 years and have had countless drops, spills, cracks just at home or the office not to mention out in the woods or on a job site. I’ve purchased just about every “rugged” case you can find. Most of them are bulky and add too much weight so I usually end up using a non-ruggedized case or no case at all.     

IMG 2270AA

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Rothco Military MOLLE Foldable Solar Charger

As technology advances, so does the need for energy to power all of that cool gear. Obviously having some spare batteries handy can make all the difference, but what if we’re talking about a cell phone and or a tablet, things that use rechargeable batteries. Last I knew, most people still don’t carry around backup batteries for their phones.

One example might go like this, you’re camping deep in the woods and you forget to turn off your cell. Now that you’re out of reach of the nearest cell tower, your battery drains twice as fast while the phone searches hard to find a cell tower to connect to. I’ve done this a few times and I can safely say that it takes just a few hours to go from a nearly full battery to having a useless brick sitting in your pocket. That being said, having the ability to charge your electronics will in the field can become a very inviting prospect. Enter the Rothco Military MOLLE Foldable Solar Charger.

For those who don’t know, Rothco has been around since the late 1950’s and they sell a very large variety of military clothing, outdoor and public safety gear and other related items as well. You can almost get lost looking at all the cool stuff on their website. For this particular review, I received their MOLLE Compatible Folding Solar Charger, and I was pretty pumped to get it outside and start testing it out.

My first impression foldable charger was the quality of the canvas material used. The body is made from a rugged synthetic material that you might find on other military-grade packs or canvases. Dirt seems with wipe of easily and small water spills are easy to wipe off. There’s really not much more that can be said about the material itself, other than it would certainly not be easy to wear or puncture it in any way.  All of the edges are double-stitched and the stitching itself is clean with no pulls or strings hanging off.

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As the name suggests, you get two long MOLLE straps that run down the middle of the back part of the case (when closed). Like most of today’s tactical packs and vests, you probably already know that MOLLE equipment is designed to be easy to attach, unattach and carry a load easily. To test the carry system, I got my favorite tactical pack, a Drago Tracker, and utilized the build in PALS webbing to attach the panel. As expected, it attached well and didn’t add any weight to the pack itself.

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To keep the unit closed when not in use, Rothco has added two sturdy straps that pass through a plastic buckle and flip up to be snapped shut. It’s a good system for keeping everything in place, plus you could snap the closure around a tree branch or even to the back of your pack if you are hiking and would like to keep you electronics charged and ready. I thought it was pretty neat when I hung the panel from a long branch and had the panels facing towards the sun and my Android Smartphone plugged into it. The charge was a little slow due to the lack of a strong sun, but it worked.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a ton of knowledge in the solar power industry, so I can’t tell you a lot about the actual panels themselves that come with this unit. According to the manufactures website, you have 5 volt  / 320 MAH times four pieces. So unless my math is wrong, when conditions are ideal, you’re looking at around 1000 MAH, peak. That’s easily good enough to charge any smart phone, tablet, iPod or anything of the like with a compatible USB slot. The connection to the charger is provided by a standard female USB slot. Just remember to pack the proper cords when you’re getting ready for your adventure, the solar panel becomes very useless if you can’t hook it to your device..

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Charging times vary in a big way. During a full-on sunny way with no clouds, I was able to charge my Samsung Android Smartphone (starting at 1/4 battery) in just under two hours. Not too bad considering my phone holds a pretty big charge. Without full sun, your charging ability greatly diminishes fast. If you have clouds covering the sun in any way, you may as well forget about it. UI was able to get a somewhat unstable charge with the sun peeking through the clouds, but still pretty bright. It would have taken most of the day to charge at that rate, but that’s better than nothing at all.

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The dimensions for the unit are as follows, when closed completely, 9.5″ X 5.1″ X 1.5″. Unlatched and fully open, you are looking at 23.73″ length  X 9 3/8″ width. Like I said earlier, it’s so light; you forget it’s there when packing it

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When all is said and done, I would recommend this to the adventurer or the prepper who wants to keep their portable handheld electronics charged while away from an electrical outlet. When you have full sun, this charger is pretty amazing and does just what it advertises. With little to no sun, you’re better off keeping your gear turned off and using it as-needed. A quick seach on some popular reseller sites lists the Rothco Black Military MOLLE Solar Charger at $78 and it goes up from there. I would say it’s worth the price and think that it’s good to have around. I very special thanks goes out to Camping Survival for allowing us to review this charger. Check out their huge line of indoor and outdoor gear.


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Kaito Voyager NOAA Weatherband Radio

With everything we tote out to our campsites on a regular basis, somewhere in there is usually a radio. Some folks bring it along just to listen to music, some for emergency information should things go poorly, and lots of folks just like to have access to the most recent weather report. In this review, Woods Monkey takes a look at the Kaito Voyager. The Voyager is a medium sized AM/FM, Shortwave, and NOAA weatherband radio capable of functioning by a myriad of options.


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The Vapor Pro Black Ops iPhone Case

Being an iPhone fanatic, I usually get a call from friends telling me about the crazy cutting edge things they find for the iPhone. The call I never expected was from the Monkey! They called and said they had a Black Ops iPhone case and they wanted my opinion on it. My first chance to write for Woods Monkey and an iPhone case review, that’s a no brainer.


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Goal Zero Sherpa 120 Battery and Nomad 27m Solar Panel Review

Power…. It’s an awesome thing. We take it for granted every day. Wake up with an alarm clock, turn on the light, and hit the TV or radio button. All needing some form of power. Our cell phones, tablets, laptops, or computers require the life blood of electricity to power them. Without it they are nothing more than a means to hold paper down and gather dust.    GZeroSolar-1a


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TANK – for the iPhone – By Case Mate

TANK from Case Mate

Us Monkeys love our smart phones but we always are looking for better solutions to keep ’em safe when we’re in the woods. One of the latest to catch our attention is the Tank iPhone case from Case Mate.

TANK from Case Mate 

tank iphone 4 case


rugged case 

  • Shatter resistant polycarbonate coupled with thick, silicone interior
  • Easy-Slide polypropylene retractable screen door
  • Soft touch exterior
  • Available colors include Black/Black, Black/Pink, Green/Orange, White/Pink

hard shell iphone case


It takes a beating. The TANK iPhone 4/4S case brings an extreme approach to defending the iPhone with a rugged case that completely protects the iPhone from screen to back.


Science shows that a hard exterior combined with a soft exterior transmits less force to your phone when dropped. TANK’s polycarbonate hard shell combines with a silicone-cushioned interior for the ultimate in tough cases. The TANK tests number one in impact resistance against the leading brand and meets or exceeds US military standards.


67% of iPhone failures are due to cracked screens. Don’t let your phone be one of them! TANK has a unique, retractable screen that shields from impacts, cracking and condensation.

iphone 3g/3gs rugged case

  • Polycarbonate hard shell with silicone-cushioned interior is the best technology for absorbing impacts and protecting your smartphone
  • Retractable screen shields from impacts, cracking and condensation
  • Meets or exceeds US military standards – so you have the Department of Defense’s confidence in TANK’s rugged performance
  • Premium, soft grip texture won’t stick in your pocket, with fun colors for everyone
  • Holster clip allows you to keep the phone easily accessible; included for iPhone 4/4S only

TANK from Case Mate TANK from Case Mate TANK from Case Mate

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Must-have Camping Tech – Pelican & Etón

While camping or bunking in a cabin this winter and spring, you’ll need specific gear to keep yourself and favorite gadgets safe. That’s where Pelican ( and the Rover ( come in – must-have camping and safety tech for your upcoming outdoor adventures.

Pelican i1015 Case

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PowerFilm F15-600 and R14 Portable Solar Panels

Power Film Portable Solar ChgargerWhile we all like to get away from the powered devices in our life when we head for the hills it’s inevitable that we’ll bring along some sort of electronic gadget. Between cell phones, GPS, two-way radios, range finders, and an assortment of other personal electronics, we all carry something from time to time. Woods Monkey takes a look at two solar panels by PowerFilm designed to keep those personal electronics up and running while out in the wild places.

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Magellan Explorist GC Review

Explorist-009aOne of my favorite pastimes as a child was to go treasure hunting, and as a consequence to those activities, I buried a few treasures of my own.  I had a set of the old Planet Of The Ape dolls and thought it would be a great idea to bury them and dig them up later on or let someone else do it.  My plan didn’t work too well since my cartography skills weren’t up to snuff.  I wish I’d known about geocaching and the Magellan Explorist GC back then..those things are worth a lot of money now!

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