I haven’t had an opportunity to get excited about any new gear lately, but I came across a product that I finally got to do some extensive field-testing with and wanted to share my results with everyone. It’s the Eton Scorpion; a solar powered digital weather radio flashlight combination.
I imagine that like myself most everyone who is using a VHF marine radio also has a weather band as well, so maybe a bit of back-story is in order.
In general I subscribe to the notion that all gear needs to perform at least two functions. More is even better. But in the case of my VHF I’ve never been very comfortable on extended trips using it for weather reports. Especially when paddling an area I’m exploring for the first time, as I may have to cycle through the reports a number of times to build a comprehensive picture in my head as to what Mother Nature is going to be throwing at me. Should I need my VHF for an emergency I want it fully operational and fully charged.
So when I heard about a weather radio that was solar charged I got interested and would have purchased in on that merit alone, but here’s a list of the other features on this unit:
- Digital AM FM Radio Tuner
- NOAA Weather Band
- Built-In LED Flashlight
- Large Solar Panels
- USB Cell Phone Charger
- Crank Powered
- Carabineer for securing
- Bottle Opener
I was a bit skeptical about the solar panel on this unit actually being able to provide enough power to keep up with a normal to heavy usage. I was wrong.
During the 2 weeks I was in Alaska I used the Scorpion multiple times during the day. At least twice for weather reports and the LED light at night to read by. In the morning I’d place it where it would receive some light and it would be good to go that evening. It charged even on overcast days, which was 12.5 out of 14 days.
On heavily overcast days it would maintain it’s current charge, it never dropped below the 50% mark on the charge indicator. On the one sunny day we had I returned to find it fully charged. I never had to resort to cranking.
The reception was surprisingly good. We where way out there, at least 70 miles from the nearest possible transmitter and I was able to grab clear weather reports daily. (It does come with an retractable antenna)
The LED light, there are 3 bulbs, is powerful. More then enough to read by or chase bears out of your camp with (that another story coming soon). It’s sturdy, rubberized, seems to be weather proof and will charge an iPhone to boot (although to charge your phone or similar device you have to crank; also the iPhone won’t show it’s charging indicator but I have verified that in a pitch it will work).
Some might find it a bit pricey but for the peace of mind it provides and multiple functions I have no reservations about recommending it.
Let me put it this way. If I lost this one I’d purchase another; not something I’d say about every piece of gear I own. You can read about the Eton Scorpion here.