Microlink FR160

The Microlink FR160, from Eton, may be a niche product, but it’s indispensable in the right situations.  Which situations would that be?  There are two big ones that spring to mind.  One is if you live in an area where power outages are common.  Two is if you are heading out into the wilderness where there is no reliable cellular connection.

I have been eying it for the latter reason.  My son and I are avid hikers and frequently spend time in areas where cell towers are uncommon, to say the least.  With a hope of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2012, we will need a way of getting, at the least, weather updates wherever we are.  We need something small and light, since everything will be carried on our backs.  We need something that can be charged via solar, since batteries are weight and chargers don’t plug in when you’re in the wilderness.  And lastly, I need a way to charge my cell phone so I can let my wife know we’re alive on those occasions when we are in range of a connection.

So here’s what you get with the DR160:

  • Solar Charger
  • Hand Crank
  • AM/FM/NOAA Weather Band
  • USB Phone Charger
  • Flashlight
  • 2.5″ x 1.75″ x 5.25″ dimensions
  • 0.85 pounds weight

The keys here, for me, are the NOAA Weather band, Solar/hand crank chargers, USB phone charger, size and weight.  That’s everything you need on a trail or during a hurricane.  The flashlight is a bonus, and having an extra never hurts.

The best part is the price – $29.95 on Amazon.  Not bad, considering all of the options you get here.  And, for those who care about such things, it even comes in colors – green, blue, red, and black.

Soon we will be heading into Shenandoah National Park for a hiking and camping trip.  I know from experience that I have no cell connection there.  So, I am hoping to pick one of these up beforehand to test it out.  I have heard good things, but you never know for sure until you get your hands on the product personally.  If it fits in the pack and does what it claims then I will be a happy hiker.