Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gear Review: SunJack 14W+8000mAh Solar Charger & Battery

Folded up, the portable SunJack 14W+8000mAh Battery attaches to a backpack with ease.

Harnessing energy is awesome! The power of the sun gave strength to Superman, so why not use solar energy for our own transportable power in the backcountry? For years I have used my cell phone, GPS unit, and other electronics in the field and have needed to rely on battery power alone. More than once, I ran out of juice and it was tiresome. I needed a reliable source of power, and that is where SunJack comes in. I was given the opportunity to field test the SunJack 14W+8000mAh Battery for the past few weeks and living in an area with the sun shining all day long, I figured it was one I could not pass up. This is a solar charger and it comes with a rechargeable battery.

Unfolding the SunJack 14W is simple.

The SunJack zippered compartment holds the battery, carabiners and a little room left over.


Here is what came in the box:

  •     SUNJACK Portable Solar Charger with USB output port
  •     SUNJACK Fast-Charge Battery Pack
  •     SUNJACK Fast-Charge Cable
  •     SUNJACK Carabiners (2)
  •     Quickstart Guide
 
The website description states: Every SunJack provides wall outlet charging speeds in direct sun, and can charge a smartphone in just 90 minutes.

14W + 8000mAh Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 Battery - Ideal for the typical phone or tablet user. Fully charges SunJack battery in five hours of direct sun and holds enough juice for 4 smartphones or 1 tablet.
 
One of the things that intrigued me about the SunJack was the battery pack that comes with it. I found that the SunJack was actually more efficient that the website claims. That's a good thing! In fact, the first time I set the solar panels out, it was cloudy. The battery pack charged in nearly 6 hours. On a cloudy day in SoCal (there are a few), the battery charged and that was a good thing. We don't usually see many cloudy days, but they do come around from time to time. In full, direct sunlight the battery pack charges in just under five hours.

Usually, when I am hunting, I don't need to charge my phone until later in the day or evening after my hunt. When I charged the battery full a second time, I disconnected the battery and it sat for a few hours as I wanted to be sure it wouldn't lose the charge. It held a full charge for hours and then I plugged in my nearly dead iPhone. I was able to charge my phone and my wife's phone on one battery charge with plenty of power to spare. What impressed me even more was how quickly they charged up. The phones charged in just over an hour. That's from being near fully drained of power. Impressive!

There is also a built-in flashlight that works very well in a pinch. I didn't use it that often, but it's a great little added feature that can come in handy in the woods.

Here I charged the SunJack battery and my Action Cam at the same time.

There are two different USB ports that you can use at the same time. I attempted to charge up my Action Cam and the SunJack battery at the same time. I loved being able to charge two things at once, but that was short-lived. The issue with this is that you MUST keep the solar panels facing directly into the sun at all times, and it works much better when the sun is strongest. One of my tests was to try and charge the battery and my Action Cam in the evening. The sun was strong, so I connected both units and left them out for two hours. The battery charged some and the Action Cam only charged a quarter battery life. At first I was disappointed, but I figured out that at that time of day, you may not get a full charge. Plus, once I connected the battery to the Action Cam, it charged to full in less than 45 minutes with plenty of charge power left. The battery is where it's at! You can also charge up other battery units with the SunJack, which is another plus.

The claims for charging four smart phones or one tablet are pretty much right on. I charged four smart phones on one battery charge and still had a bit of power left over. I also charged up my daughter's Kindle from 10% to 100%, all while she was still using it, and I still had a quarter of the power left in the battery. I used that to charge my phone to full. Again, charging up the battery is the key, in my opinion.

Unfolded SunJack attached to my pack.
 
The SunJack takes up some real estate, but soaks up solar energy quite well.

The physical size and weight is not going to be for the ultralight backpacker, but for a hunter it should be no problem. The entire set up weighs nearly two pounds, but if you are planning on being in the backcountry for more than a day, it would be well worth packing to have power. Unfolded, it is REALLY long (31"), and while you can keep it on your backpack while hiking, I am not sure I would do that regularly because of the movement and also the need for direct sunlight. I would be afraid of sun glare for the folks behind you, or the solar panels being damaged. I am going to test out folding the panels in half, from four to two, and see if that works to charge the battery while I am hiking.

The unit is very rugged and took a beating. I dropped it, tossed it, and stood up to the torture. Everything is built well, too. The case and all is structurally sound and the zipper pocket works great.

I also wanted to mention that SunJack has a Full 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, which means if for any reason you are not satisfied, contact them and they'll take care of you.

Overall, I was pleased with the performance and usefulness of the entire kit. Would I recommend it to my fellow outdoorsmen and women? Not only would I recommend it, I highly encourage you to pick one up. The SunJack 14W+8000mAh Solar Charger and Battery retails for $150.00 and that's a reasonable price for what you get and how well it functions. I am considering an extra battery, too. The extra battery is $30 and would give my just a bit more power. That way I can have one fully charged BEFORE I hunt, just in case there isn't much sun on any given day. These are great for hunting, fishing, camping, and any other excursion outdoors where you need battery power. As always, if you have any questions, please leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Want to buy?SunJack has offered my readers a 15% discount on anything in their online store
Just use the code " SoCalBowhunter " at check out! 

Follow SunJack on Facebook and Twitter.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the SunJack 14W+8000mAh Battery for free from SunJack in consideration for a gear review. The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.  All content © The SoCal Bowhunter. No reproduction, in any form, w/o explicit written permission.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

SHARE Program Offers Big Game, Upland Hunts in Santa Barbara County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for big game and upland game hunts this fall at several locations in Santa Barbara County.

For the fourth year, fall hunts for deer, bear, turkey, quail and dove at Jones Ranch and Sleepy Creek Ranch will be offered to the hunting public. These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley encompass 1,000 acres between them and will offer separate hunting opportunities. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannah, riparian, juniper-sage woodland and chaparral habitats. The ranches are adjacent to public lands, providing additional hunting opportunities not easily accessible to other hunters.

For the first time, Baeke Ranch will offer deer, quail and wild pig hunts. Overlooking the Santa Ynez Valley just northwest of Solvang, Baeke Ranch is located in Ballard Canyon Ranches, known locally as "Hog Valley.” The property is approximately 20 acres surrounded by open space and encompasses maze of game trails winding through chaparral scrub and coyote brush with large oak and pine cover.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Successful applicants for each property will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or a non-hunting partner depending on the hunt.

These opportunities were made possible by the SHARE program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive monetary compensation and liability protection for providing limited public access to or through their land. The goal of the SHARE program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Range Day Intruders Doing Fly-Bys

Weeks have passed and my rifle has been begging me to head back to the range. This isn't any normal range though. It isn't limited to 100 yards or specific targets. No, this range is out in the desert where we can set up our own targets and take our time sighting in. It is a fantastic place, but on this particular day we would experience something none of us had ever encountered before.

Let's review the past few months for a minute. I have been building a 300 Win Mag for hunting longer ranges and to learn more about long distance shooting. I am always trying to learn more when it comes to hunting. The rifle has been built for a time and the last time I ventured to the range, I spent a great deal of time sighting it in. It was a tiresome ordeal as it was difficult to see the hit marks and track them. I needed something that would allow me to track the shots, but also not force me to use a spotting scope or walk 100-300 yards each time to see my hit. After careful research, I contacted Bullseye Camera Systems (BCS) owner, Nick S. I asked him multiple questions, watched his videos, asked more questions (he is very patient) and decided I needed to get one to see if it was worth the money. Plus, I am not getting any younger and I wanted to be sure my rifle was zeroed in and that I could reduce my frustration. My Long Range System arrived two days before our trip to the desert and I was ready.

The drive to the range was full of hunting conversation between Brett and I. We were excited to sight in our rifles with our new MINOX long range scopes and that we would be testing the Bullseye Camera System. Unbeknownst to us, there was already an unwelcome party waiting for us.

'I've been here a minute and I already have a bee in my SUV,' was the first thing Mike said to us when we arrived. As Brett and I began to unload, bees began zeroing in on us. Within minutes we had a dozen doing fly-bys. It was 6:30 AM and we knew this could turn out to be a very long day.

Brett and I headed up the rocky hillside to set up the Bullseye Camera System. The camera itself weighed next to nothing and comes in a convenient plastic ammo-can carrying case. At 200 yards we began to set up when a swarm of bees appeared and were relentless! We left the target, but took the camera with us to set up at 100 yards. I have never seen bees so incredibly aggressive. Back at 100 yards, we quickly set the camera and connected everything. I had the foresight to turn on and connect the wifi back at the benches to save time with the bees. I sure am glad I did.

With the camera set to view the target, we began shooting. I cannot tell you how great it was to see our shot locations appear on the iPad. (I'll do a complete review of the system later.) We continued to shoot and verify our hits on the target via the BCS. This system is something people have been needing for years. I truly mean that!

We learned rather quickly that shooting shooting uphill to sight in was a problem and that we needed to shoot flat at first. Unfortunately, the bees took over and drove us out. My friend Mike got tagged twice by the bees and I got one in the hand and a miss on the leg. Thew damn bee attacked my leg, but he died tragically before he could deploy any venom. We could see that the swarm was growing by the minute and we decided to pack up and get out. We moved as fast as we could, but the swarm kept growing and the bees became more aggressive. We tossed everything into our trucks and took off.

Brett and I have plans to now hit one of the local shooting ranges to utilize the Bullseye Camera System and sight our rifles in properly. We will then video the process and share the experience.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nonlead Ammunition Implementation Phase 2 Starts July 1

I am posting this press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a reminder because we all need to be aware of the mandatory changes in nonlead ammo. I have said it before, I am not a fan of the change, but it's here to stay and we hunters need to abide by the law.


Starting July 1, 2016, nonlead shot will be required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun in California, except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game birds taken at licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot will be required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds and any wildlife for depredation purposes.

Existing restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the California condor range, when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife areas and ecological reserves remain in effect.

The next phase of the implementation goes into effect July 1, 2019, when hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose. There are no restrictions on the use of lead ammunition for target shooting purposes.

Nonlead ammunition for some firearm calibers may be in short supply so hunters should plan accordingly. Hunters are encouraged to practice shooting nonlead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately with nonlead ammunition.

In October 2013, Assembly Bill 711 was signed into law requiring the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. The law also required an implementation plan designed to impose the least burden on California's hunters while adhering to the intent of the law.

In order to determine what was least disruptive to hunters, CDFW coordinated question and answer sessions at sportsmen's shows, held meetings with hunting organizations, and hosted a series of eight public workshops throughout the state. Incorporating the public input from these workshops, CDFW then presented draft regulations to the Fish and Game Commission.

In April 2015, the Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW's proposed regulations and implementation plan.

More information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.

Media Contacts:
Craig Stowers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3553
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Friday, June 17, 2016

SHARE Program Offers Elk Hunts in Northern California, Including New Properties

Who wants to hunt elk in California? This is a great opportunity.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program is now taking applications for 37 elk hunting opportunities. The hunts will take place August 15 through December 13, 2016 on 21 properties in Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Siskiyou counties. Applications go on sale Friday, June 17 through July 25.

The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. CDFW is excited to be offering elk hunts on 15 new properties for 2016. The specifics for all 28 elk hunts can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE#elk

All elk tags will be distributed through a random draw process. These hunts are in addition to those issued through the big game drawing and no preference points will be considered or used. Applications can be purchased by anyone with a valid California hunting license from any CDFW license office or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales

An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt application. Successful applicants will be notified on July 29.

Elk hunters are reminded it is legal to take only one elk in California per year. 

These opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their properties. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California.