The Long Riders' Guild

Solar panels, Laptop computers and Mobile telephones

Seen at left is a photograph of the state-of-the-art radio equipment taken on the 1923 mounted expedition which explored the Canadian Rockies. Click on photo to enlarge.

Long Rider Comments

Solar-power system

Because we have a camcorder and a laptop, we needed something to charge batteries while traveling in the countryside.  We bought a flexible solar panel and a 12 Volt motorcycle battery. 

We place the solar panel on top of the packsaddle, so it charges while we are traveling!

Our solar panel is a flexible Uni-Solar USF-11, 10.3 W. It measures 400x550 mm. and weighs less than 1 kilo (about 2 pounds).

The battery is a a YUASA NP7-12, 7.0 AH. It is sealed, rechargeable and weighs less than 2 kilos (about 4 pounds).

We have a snap-connection between the solar panel and the battery, and from the battery, it goes to two lighter plug outlets.

We can charge the batteries of the camcorder without having the solar panel connected. But when we want to charge the computer we need to have the solar panel connected, so it charges at the same time.  If we use the computer while the solar panel is connected, it provides sufficient power so we don’t use the computer batteries at all!  

After a while we also bought a 12 Volt, 9 watt fluorescent light bulb, and that is our biggest luxury.  No more messing with kerosene or candles. We use the excess solar power for light in the tent at night.

At night we have sufficient light for as many hours as we want. More importantly, the 9 watt light bulb illuminates as well a normal 60 watt bulb, which is even enough to break camp and saddle the horses at night!  

Howard Saether and Janja Kovačič

A note from the editors:

Solar Battery Chargers convert sunlight directly into electricity reliably and silently without fuel or moving parts. United Solar Systems manufactures solar cells by depositing multiple layers of silicon alloy materials onto a thin stainless steel substrate in a patented roll-to-roll production process. The resulting solar cells are processed and connected in series to provide the required voltage. Eleven cells are connected in series to produce the required voltage for 12 volt battery charging. The cell assembly is laminated (sealed) in flexible and durable weather resistant polymers that provide long life, high reliability. Bypass diodes are connected across each cell to produce exceptional shadow tolerance performance. 


Janja-computer.jpg (8720 bytes)

Click on photo to enlarge



Howard Saether and Janja Kovačič


We are not sure if we will recommend to carry a computer on a horseback trip or not.  With all the necessary equipment it weighs a lot, and it takes a lot of room, and it steals a lot of your time.  On the other hand, it is a very nice thing to have.  We use it for communication, our website, and to store digital photos.  We also have maps, 4 DVDs with the Complete National Geographic and a DVD encyclopedia, that really keep us away from a lot of arguing about things.  If you choose to carry one, you also need to bring with you all the original discs for your system, chargers for 12 V and 110/220 V, and we also carry a small CD burner to make back-ups and to store photos in a safe place.  We don't think it matters much what brand or make one chose.  We ended up buying a Dell Inspiron 5000, Pentium III, 128 ram, 18 GB hard disk with a DVD-rom.  To protect it we bought a Pelicase "bomb-proof" case, and while riding we put everything in one of our fiberglass boxes.  In spite of horses galloping, falling, banging in to trees and rocks, we haven't had any major problems with the computer.
One thing that we would recommend, which we don't have, is to have a network card installed.  Many places it is difficult to find a telephone line to connect to the internet, but today you'll find Internet cafés almost everywhere, and with a network card they'll probably let you connect to their network.  We make a contract with a local provider in every country, and that works well.
We are not sure if we want to bring all this equipment on another horseback trip, but it has worked fine, so far!
Satellite phone - a luxury for most of us, but if you are travelling alone in remote country, a satellite phone is worth considering.  Mine was paid for by the Leeds United Football Club - BUT make no mistake, the cost of making a call is horrendous!!!!

Mary Pagnamenta

Cell phone/Mobile phone: I am anti cell phone. First of all, I think it ruins the whole idea of the trip, secondly, when you need it, say you break your leg in a wilderness area, you won't have service. It's a bad idea to rely on a cell phone to make you safe.

Lisa Wood

Saddles, saddle-pads & saddle-bags Pack saddles Horse-shoes & hoof care

Bridles, bits & head collars

Feeding & Grooming

Horse training Tents Solar power & laptops Clothing Camping equipment

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