Chris Townsend gives his assessment of the Freeloader portable charger as part of a comparative test of five models

The iSIS recharger is the only one tested out of five with a built-in solar panel. Freeloader say that charging the device with this takes up to 20 hours. That’s a severe underestimate in a dull Scottish summer like last year’s. Days went by with barely a flicker of power even though it was facing the usually invisible sun all the time. This wasn’t unexpected as I’ve found the same with other small solar panels. With guaranteed sunlight for hours on end the solar panel should work well. (I hope to find this out later in the year). Lack of sun doesn’t render this recharger useless however as it can also be charged via USB or the mains. The output is less than the other chargers tested but so is the weight. If you’re not charging devices regularly 4,000 mAh could be ample, especially on day or overnight trips. There are two builtin cables that lie neatly in grooves along the sides. One has a standard micro USB connector, the other a Lightning connector for Apple devices. There’s a micro USB input port for recharging the iSIS and a standard USB port for attaching another cable (not provided) at one end. The cable and micro USB connector fits all my devices including the headlamp – the cable isn’t as wide or stiff as the GoalZero one. The iSIS feels pretty tough but there are no waterproof or shockproof claims made for it. A gel case weighing 44g is provided, which does give some extra protection. The side cables can’t be used with the case in place though.