Author Archives: Vsport

  1. VANLIFE POWER

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    Brody Leven focuses on simplicity as both an art and a science in his van build.

    Whether building for full-time van life or the occasional road trip, folks designing their own campervan customization often become overwhelmed by the elements and details. Regardless of whether they’re building it themselves or having a professional upfitter, it’s common for them to take a confusing, piecemeal approach of various manufacturers, tolerances, sizes, mounting situations, and proprietary components to their electrical system specifically. Some people enjoy this process of engineering and then troubleshooting the inevitable problems that seem to come with most homemade electrical builds. Others, like me, prefer simple, elegant solutions that are designed for the way I’ll be using them. For everything from my ski mountaineering to my van, I am obsessed with using the right tool for the job. In the long term, and in this case even in the short term, it also tends to be more cost effective.

    Through my various van builds and iterations of each, as well as other places in my life, I’ve focused on simplicity as both an art and a science. Engineering open space into my van and house (which are, fortunately, for the time being, two separate things) is very important to me. This open space creates a feeling of spaciousness and comfort, but it also allows me to actually use my van, instead of just standing in it and brushing up against showers, kicking extra seats, and hitting my head on poorly-located overhead cabinets. While some vans are designed with every single feature anyone could ever want in a van, that doesn’t leave space to live, to operate, to move. It doesn’t leave space to just toss a duffel bag into the van without it being in your way. It doesn’t leave space to carry a sheet of plywood, to share dinner with some friends after a day of climbing, or to quickly bring your bike in when it starts raining outside. My van has space that is functional and practical, and it’s something that I emphasize in design. Leaving space for the unexpected is more important than having some of the luxuries that are easy—and I daresay good—to learn to live without.

    Incorporating Goal Zero power systems into my vans is a solution that is not only practical and affordable, but simply more appropriate than many of its alternatives for the task at hand.

    My current van is pretty power hungry. In lieu of old school fuel sources (propane, kerosene, etc.), everything is electric. This increases safety, decreases smell, and maximizes simplicity. Each electronic part of my van is either 12v or 110v, and it’s all powered by a single, integrated Goal Zero system. It features a rooftop fan, various interior fans, USB and 110v outlets for charging and powering whatever is chosen to bring along, a dual burner induction cooktop, water pump, extensive interior and exterior lighting, a refrigerator/freezer, and even a central vacuum unit. There’s also an air compressor under the hood for inflating bike and van tires. I wanted to have power to spare, meaning I could cook a complete off-grid dinner without rushing and go to sleep with the fan running all night, and still wake up with plenty of battery power—before the sun rises and begins charging the system via solar—to make tea and cook a real breakfast. If my girlfriend needs to work on her laptop for five hours from camp, we don’t need to think twice about her power source. A friend needs to charge a headlamp, inReach, phone, and DSLR? No problem. For my power system, simplicity of function and appearance were important, as was limiting the amount of failure points. But mostly, I wanted a system we could actually use instead of just fearing, the way many van-dwellers live in constant fear of using too much power, with an eye always on the battery monitor.

    My ~400 amp-hour system charges via four Goal Zero Boulder 100 solar panels mounted on the roof of the van (which fit side-by-side absolutely perfectly, without an inch to spare, on a Sprinter van). Whenever the sun is above the horizon, my Yeti is being topped off by solar. With this 400 watts of solar, I can stay off-grid indefinitely without fear of ever running out of power, because even during the cloudiest summer days and shortest winter days, these efficient solar panels keep the batteries sufficiently charged, largely because I chose to put four Goal Zero Boulder 100 panels on the roof when, during sunny conditions, two would have been plenty. But again, I didn’t want to even have to think about running out of power. These solar panels charge a Goal Zero Yeti 3000X battery

    What I love most about Yeti batteries (of any size) is that they incorporate all of the features that other van-builders incorporate into their systems, but pre-packaged in a single unit with components engineered to work together. Additionally, if the power in my house fails, or I need to run a heat gun far back on my property to soften an irrigation hose that needs repaired (trust me here), or I am going to an off-grid event, I simply unplug two cables to easily pull the Yeti out of the van and boom, I have a fully-functioning generator. The Yeti 3000X also charges via a shore power plug drilled into the side of my van (which I’ve never even connected because the solar panels provide all the charging I need) and from the two Goal Zero Tanks that are in my system.

    Between battery storage, solar, shore power, Tanks, and the van’s alternator, I have virtually endless power for any practical use during road trips. Connecting my van’s power system was simple. An organized and well-engineered DIY system offering this same amount of power and options typically takes a giant custom wheel-well box worth of space in a Sprinter, Transit, or Promaster van. With the Goal Zero system I use, there is only a Yeti, two Tanks, and a few cables. That’s it. Solar charge controller, battery monitor, MPPT, distributor, inverter, DC-DC charger, main switch, and the other components used by DIY systems are contained in a single, reliable, lightweight unit that is completely pre-wired (and, importantly, all of those wires are out of sight). This system weighs just over 200 pounds and can easily fit around a single wheel-well. If I require extra storage space or less power, I can remove the tanks by disconnecting a single cable. The modularity, simplicity, and speed with which this system can be incorporated into even the most power-hungry van builds is staggering. And as someone who is only somewhat electronically-inclined, it’s nice to not open the rear of my van to see an intimidating mess of wires and batteries, and to not fear using my electrical system.

    As a professional adventurer, my time spent on trails is valuable in many ways. Simplifying and minimizing wherever possible allows me to maximize time outdoors. Because for me, the van isn’t an end in itself, but a means by which I can explore.

    NOTE: Brody’s van build is unique and was designed and installed by a qualified professional engineer. Goal Zero has not tested this use case and does not recommend it. All users are cautioned to follow the instructions and warnings contained with Goal Zero’s products. The Yeti Link Vehicle integration kit Requires installation by a qualified professional.

  2. SOLAR POWERED ARCHEOLOGY EXPEDITION IN PERU

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    Looking out over the lake, a team of archeologists, scuba divers and mountain climbers saw the wind pick up as the waves on Lake Sibinacocha turned to white caps and dark clouds appeared on the horizon. The team descended Mt Yayamari, a sacred peak looming above the lake, arriving at an archeological site just in time for the storm to pin them down in a boulder field. In the high Andes of Peru, storms like this can arrive without warning, turning a sunny day into thunder, hail and zero visibility.

    The multi-disciplinary team was gathered in Peru from around the world to study a unique archeological discovery in the mountains outside Cusco, where an environmental scientist stumbled upon Inca ruins and artifacts within a high-alpine lake. They would be the first professional archeologists to examine the site, and documentarian Jim Aikman joined the expedition for National Geographic. But the coverage was not easy.

    “This is one of the most challenging locations I’ve ever worked in,” said Jim. “Our base camp is at 16k feet, already higher than anywhere in the contiguous US, and we only go up from there – or down, into the icy water of the lake, where conditions become even more complicated.” The team would be ascending the surrounding peaks and descending into the lake to properly explore this landscape, with Jim a step behind.

    But for him, the work was not without its rewards. The chance to join a cutting edge archeological expedition in one of his favorite countries was a once in a lifetime opportunity, combining his background as a climber and his love of history and anthropology. Not only that, these scientific studies and Jim’s documentary could be the area’s only hope of survival. Its fragile ecosystem was under constant threat of mining, and the only thing standing between a healthy watershed and total annihilation was the cultural significance of their findings.

    “Nothing is easy up here,” Jim said. “So there isn’t any time to worry about equipment. I have to trust that everything is up to the task, miles from the nearest power outlet.” The only solution for working in this remote landscape is a mobile power system that has the energy storage and charging capacity to keep all of their equipment running: cameras and sound gear, dive computers, GPS devices, specialized drones, communications equipment, and more. “Without Goal Zero’s Yeti battery system and Boulder solar array, we would be dead in the water. But thanks to this gear, we’re able to stay charged and capture these incredible moments in the field.”

    Look for the film “Lost Temple of the Inca” playing on the National Geographic Channel worldwide.

  3. 70 DAYS AND 1000 MILES IN THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN

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    By: Ben Kraushaar

    “WE GOT A FLIPPED BOAT!” Cody yelled over the roar of crashing waves and boiling rapids.

    I looked downstream. Amid the most violent and unforgiving whitewater I have ever seen, a tiny blue speck was bobbing in and out of sight. My heart sank. I was petrified. Our most experienced oarsman and his passenger (a 70-year-old woman) were in the water, fighting for their lives in one of the deadliest sections of river in the United States. We were 41 days into a 70-day river journey – deep in the bowels of Cataract Canyon more formitably known as the Graveyard of the Colorado. The river was raging at 54,000 cfs and we were undeniably at the whim of mother nature. We were riding a fine line between life and death; glory and chaos.

    We were in what everyone called, “the media boat”, part of a multidisciplinary river expedition led by the United States Geological Survey and the University of Wyoming. This year marks the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers. In recognition of Powell’s legacy, a collaboration of scientists, writers, artists and voices from the Colorado River Basin embarked on a 70-day, 1000-mile trip down the same rivers to revisit Powell’s legacy and re-envision the future. As filmmakers, it was our goal to document this journey and help tell the modern-day story of the Colorado River Basin.

    Filming on a river for tireless months was no easy feat. Safeguarding our production equipment from the elements was top priority. If we ruined gear, our production would be over. No more filming. No more story. All our hard work and years of planning would be for nothing. This can be a game of chance when running Class V water. Even the most experienced oarsmen are not immune to flips and there are situations on the river that are literally out of your control.

    We had a full production house onboard our 18-ft raft. Laptops, hard drives, gimbels, microphones, and 10 cameras, some of which were more valuable than a new car. For power, we utilized four Yeti 1000’s and four Nomad 100 panels. A gas generator wasn’t a sustainable option for this production. There was not enough room. A generator would be too noisy and we didn’t want to run the risk of spilling toxic gasoline into the water. We relied entirely on the sun to keep our cameras rolling. Our power system still contained electrical components and were vulnerable to extreme heat and water – a daunting task considering the nature of our journey.

    One of the Yeti 1000 power stations was rigged within the boat that flipped in Cataract Canyon. As we watched the capsized boat get churned in waves and bounce off rocks, we hoped that the dry boxes remained watertight. The last thing we wanted was an electrical fire on a boat floating down an unforgiving river in the middle of nowhere.

    After a multitude of near flips, two lost oars, and nearly a half hour of the most chaotic and exhausting rowing, we confirmed that our swimmers had been rescued by another boat. We eventually caught up to the flipped rig that had come to rest in an eddy packed full of driftwood, debris and swirling foam and our expedition regrouped under the blazing desert sun. After hugs, tears, and some celebratory beers, we set up a z drag (a rope and pulley system used to flip boats) to right the 2000-lb raft. This would be the moment of truth. Did our power station survive the flip and the journey in the water? What kind of mess would we find in the drybox? To our immense relief and surprise, the dry box actually stayed dry. Not one single drop of water punched through the rubber seal.

    Everyone we consulted about filming in remote and rugged conditions told us a solar system wouldn’t support our power needs. Filming everyday, for 70 days, rain or shine, people said there would be no way to pull that off without a gas generator. We proved them wrong. Our set up worked flawlessly and the Goal Zero system was a critical component of our daily routine. We successfully shot for 70 straight days, backed up footage, and kept a constant rotation of camera batteries charging. Day after day, from Wyoming to Nevada on the Green and Colorado River, Goal Zero kept powering our production.

    To learn more about our voyage and to keep tabs on the progress of the film, you can follow BenCody and Powell150 on Instagram or check out the trip website.

  4. First Look: Yeti 500X

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    First Look: Yeti 500X

    We were stoked to be able to take the new Yeti 500X with us on a recent weekend camping trip.

    The Yeti ran our 80 Litre Companion fridge throughout the three days. The fridge proved very efficient, no doubt helped by the winter temperatures, and we still had more than 10% charge left in the Yeti 500X when we started our trip back home.

    This was pretty fortunate as the sun wasn’t our friend over the weekend and we didn’t even get the solar panel out!

    We didn’t have phone coverage, so the phones stayed in the car and we didn’t need to use the Yeti USB ports for charging. My sister left her drone at home (doh!), so we didn’t even use the Yeti’s built-in 300 Watt inverter.

    We are looking forward to getting out for some more camping as the weather warms up and the Yeti 500X will be one of the first things we pack!

  5. FROM THE ENGINEERS: THE NOMAD 5 SOLAR KIT

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    FROM THE ENGINEERS: THE NOMAD 5 SOLAR KIT

    For those trips where every gram counts, Goal Zero created the Nomad 5 Solar Panel. Designed to be a lightweight, yet durable solar charging solution, this panel integrates seamlessly with a Flip power bank to keep your devices charged while hiking, backpacking, or on the move.

    To understand the “why” behind the new design and how it all works, we caught up with Product Manager Robbie Kerback.

  6. HOW TO BE READY FOR AN EMERGENCY OUTAGE

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    As we have learnt over the past few months in Australia, emergencies can happen anywhere at any time—and while no one likes to be a pessimist, it’s truly better to stay prepared than to be caught off guard without a plan. No matter what the emergency power outage may be, here’s what you can do to keep you and your loved ones safe:

    CREATE A PLAN

    Gather your family members and create a plan for a number of different situations. Explain the dangers and discuss how you can prepare, react and help one another should disaster strike. Create a map detailing your home and where you all can meet outside of your home if you are separated or lost. Make sure your escape plans are accessible to all members of your family, including the young ones, seniors and those with special needs.

    Ensure each family member has each other’s phone numbers, as well as local emergency numbers programmed into their cell phones. It is also recommended that designating an “out-of-town” contact who each family member should contact with their location and status in the case of emergency.

    PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT

    Now that you’ve got a plan, you should put together an emergency kit. It’s worth noting that modern technology allows many older recommendations, like spare batteries, can be replaced with a solar generator kit, which uses solar power to create power for your other electronics.

    • 3-4 litres of water per person per day for at least three days. This should be enough for drinking and sanitation purposes.
    • A three-day supply of non-perishable food for everyone in your family — and any pets — as well as a manual can opener.
    • A first aid kit that includes enough bandages, and prescribed medications for everyone in your family. 
    • Spiral-bound, laminated copies of local maps. They’re more durable than paper.
    • portable power station that will help you keep all your family’s electronics, medical devices, and lights charged. Find a style and size that works for you, and be sure to bring any cord adapters you might require.
    • A torch with fully charged batteries or rechargeable lantern
    • A cell phone and a power bank.
    • A whistle to signal for help in the case of a crisis.
    • Spare clothes for cold or wet conditions.
    • Stay informed You’re prepared with a plan and with a kit, now all you have to do is stay informed. First, learn everything you can about where you live. Understand what weather patterns you can expect and how you should react when they occur. 

    Ask where your local law enforcement officers are. Ask those officers how they will contact you during an emergency and what kind of directions you can expect from them.

    Sign yourself up for emergency alerts, breaking news notifications and severe weather warnings. These will keep you up-to-date on the latest information you need to stay safe and aware of your surroundings.

  7. GOAL ZERO YETI POWERS: CHARGING EDITION

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    We’re showing you all the ways to recharge your Yeti—from the wall outlet to your vehicle to solar. Goal Zero Product Manager, Robbie Kerback, walks through how to charge a Yeti at home and while on the move using a number of different charging options. Watch the video to find out which recharging options are right for you.

  8. LITHIUM EXPLAINED

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    Tesla’s doing it, cell phones became viable with it, and now Goal Zero’s Yeti has gone the way of the lithium battery. It’s expensive, seems to catch fire sometimes, and can you throw it away in a regular trashcan when it’s time? Well don’t do that, much like larger lead acid batteries, you need to dispose of these properly, not in your standard recycling, but taken to a certified facility.

    As a battery company, Goal Zero has investigated and produced products using multiple battery technologies. We have seen both successes and failures within the emerging market of portable power, but most importantly, we have learned a lot in doing so. Many are wondering what the main differences between lead acid and lithium technologies are, and why the whole world is currently moving in the lithium direction.

    First and foremost, we must talk price. No longer an exotic futuristic technology that costs an arm and a leg, lithium has arrived in the realm of attainable, available, and affordable. The future is now, and the price of lithium has dropped dramatically in recent years. Lithium is closing the gap in price per watt compared to Lead Acid, especially when factoring in # of cycles and depth of discharge. This allows the other benefits of lithium to exude a much greater value proposition.

    Secondly, plain and simple, smaller + lighter= better. Compared to its lead predecessor, lithium is up to 2/3 lighter, while giving the same amount of power (energy density). This allows a better user experience simply from a labor standpoint. The smaller form factor allows for a versatile use case with convenient portability to get more power to more places and more devices.

    A deeper depth of discharge enhances user experience. Lithium can be discharged further before harming the battery, essentially increasing its potential power output and overall life. Because lithium holds a steady voltage, it can deliver 99% of its stored power! Lead acid’s continuously dropping voltage sees product functionality issues as voltage gets lower, leaving a little “gas in the tank” so to speak. Also, lithium operates in a much larger temperature window. Safety goes up because of this, where we only see failure in extreme thermal conditions that simply exist less in the real world. However, when lithium exceeds its limits, it fully shuts down… or catches fire, whereas most of the time lead acid will function, just with less capacity. All in all, lithium is more reliable as a byproduct.

    As far as lifetime, lead acid and lithium don’t have a huge difference. Only LFP, lithium iron phosphate, has a reliably significant increase in the number of cycles it can handle. Oddly, most devices are not using this technology, opting for the smaller size of other lithium technologies over the larger, heavier LFPs. Otherwise, heavy use sees only a few hundred cycles in non-LFP lithium cells, which can scale up to a few thousand with much lighter cycling (depth of discharge), just like lead-acids. Either way, you will get many years of good use out of your battery before needing to consider a replacement, so its perceived value over time is present nonetheless. As a bonus, the idle shelf life of lithium is significantly better (it can sit longer unused until the battery self-depletes). This just means that a lithium battery will probably still work if it has been sitting in your garage all winter, once again increasing value and lifetime.

    The few drawbacks found in the lithium world are getting smaller. Lithium prices have dropped significantly over the past few years, but still remains more expensive than lead acid. Chaining multiple lithium batteries isn’t as easy as lead acid and is a hurdle currently being overcome, no big deal. We are also beginning to see lithium batteries becoming replaceable, so you don’t always have to throw away your device when the battery dies. Finally, the international availability of replacement batteries is still dominated by lead acid. As Goal Zero prides itself on humanitarian work around the world, this cutting edge technology remains rare in the dark corners of the planet. Now, a lead acid product can live longer around the world only because lead acid batteries are readily available. Otherwise, there aren’t many reasons not to go the way of the lithium battery.

    From a safety standpoint, the world has learned to use lithium properly… mostly. As with any learning curve, we must find out the bad in order to prevent it. The knowledge and safety protocols available within this sector are growing every day. Now we can limit most harmful issues, so besides dealing with TSA and UPS, the hassles of lithium are largely over. The impact of our obsession with lithium is changing the way we look at power. From pocket batteries to micro grid community backup, lithium is working its way into our lives on multiple fronts. We should no longer be wary of this emerging technology. Smaller, lighter, and more powerful are the way of the NOW. Enjoy the new power revolution!

    By David Rosner

  9. HOW TO CHARGE A YETI FROM YOUR VEHICLE

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    Need to quickly charge a Yeti Lithium Power Station while on the move? We’ve got you covered. Goal Zero Product Manager Robbie Kerback walks through how to charge your Yeti right from your vehicle’s alternator using the Yeti Link Car Charging Kit.

  10. FROM THE ENGINEERS: THE GOAL ZERO YETI LITHIUM WIFI

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    FROM THE ENGINEERS: THE GOAL ZERO YETI LITHIUM WIFI

    Want to control your Yeti power station from virtually anywhere?

    Now there’s an app for that.

    Paving the way for an even more connected future, we’ve launched a new version of our Goal Zero Yeti Lithium power stations, now with WiFi connectivity. In the video and interview below, we caught up with Goal Zero Engineering Supervisor Sterling Robison and Firmware Engineer Alex Stout to find out what went into the making of our mobile app enabled Yeti Lithiums, and what exactly that means for you.

  11. GOAL ZERO YETI POWER: CAMPING EDITION

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    GOAL ZERO YETI POWERS:
    CAMPING EDITION

     

    Just because you’re off the grid doesn’t mean you have to disconnect. Whether you’re living on the road or camping for the weekend, there are plenty of devices and appliances you might want to power. In the latest instalment of our “Yeti Powers” series (see also, Home Edition), we put our power stations to the test around the campsite, running everything from laptops and camera gear to blenders, heated blankets, and more. Watch the video to find out how our Yeti power stations fared in a van, a pop-up trailer, and a good-old-fashioned tent.

  12. GOAL ZERO YETI POWER: HOME EDITION

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    GOAL ZERO YETI POWERS:
    HOME EDITION

    Ever wondered what exactly can run off of a Goal Zero Yeti? In our “Yeti Powers” video series (see also, Camping Edition), we put our portable power stations to the test in a variety of scenarios, from the home to the campsite to the workshop and everywhere in between. For this first instalment, we took a Goal Zero style tour of a house, testing multiple Yeti Lithiums in nearly every room along the way. We plugged in coffee makers, slow cookers, blenders, fridges, fireplaces, computers, TV’s and more. How did Yeti power hold up? Watch the video below to find out.

     

     

  13. GOAL ZERO YETI TIPS AND TRICKS

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    GOAL ZERO YETI TIPS AND TRICKS

    Whether it’s powering the campsite for a weekend or hitting the road in a van or RV, the ways in which people use a Goal Zero Yeti Power Station vary greatly. However, no matter what your usage might be, Yeti care and maintenance remains the same. We’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Yeti experience, and keep your portable power station running through whatever comes your way.

    KEEP IT CHARGED

    Try to keep your Yeti power station topped off at all times. This is an easy trick to always ensure your Yeti is ready for anything; however, it’s also the number one thing most Yeti owners forget to do on a regular basis. In addition, we recommend using your Yeti periodically to keep its battery in best working condition, even if you don’t necessarily need a constant source of big power. For example, we suggest getting in the habit of using your Yeti as your phone charger each night.

    THE STADIUM EFFECT

    When recharging your Yeti, or any battery for that matter, you’ll notice your battery quickly filling up in the beginning, then very obviously slowing down when trying to charge up the last several percentages. Why does this happen? It’s called the stadium effect. Think of how quickly a stadium fills up when the doors first open – there are hundreds of open seats so it’s easy to find the one you want. Eventually, there are only a few open seats scattered about the stadium and people must maneuver around to find the spot they want. Thus, filling those seats takes longer. The same theory applies to recharging your Yeti power station. At first, it’s easy for energy to flow in and take up empty space. As time goes on and there is less space available, it takes longer for the energy to fill in the holes.

    COLD WEATHER USAGE

    If you’re planning on using your Yeti in cold (sub-freezing) conditions, there’s a possibility you’ll run into some issues. When Yetis are too cold (32°F), they will stop accepting a charge, and if they’re even colder (-4°F), they’ll stop outputting power. A simple solution – keep your Yeti in a cooler. That extra layer of insulation and the natural heat created by the Yeti during use or while charging will help keep your Yeti working well in those frigid temperatures.

    HOT WEATHER USAGE

    Just like the Yetis don’t particularly enjoy extreme cold, they don’t operate at peak performance when placed in extreme heat either. They can stop accepting a charge at around 113°F and stop outputting power at around 149°F. Keeping proper ventilation around your Yeti at all times will help mitigate any potential mishaps while working in extremely hot conditions. In order to better protect them, we’ve also added special features into the Yetis, such as automatic cooling systems. If you have a Yeti power station in the back of your car on a hot summer day and you hear a noise, it’s probably the fan kicking on to keep it cooled off.

  14. THIS IS GOAL ZERO

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    Goal Zero was born out of a desire to help people better their lives. Our first products were a battery, solar panel, and LED light that equipped people in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the power and light needed to run businesses, provide for their families, and ultimately, become more self-sufficient. After seeing the impact that portable power could have on both individuals and a community at large, we assembled a team of designers and engineers to create a line of solar power products that could improve life across the spectrum of human experience.

    Our company grew from an ethos built on zero apathy, zero boundaries, and zero regrets; driven by a passion for empowering human potential, a commitment to exploration and innovation, and a belief that breakthroughs only happen to those who dare to risk.

    Since those early days, we’ve delivered power to all kinds of people, around the world and close to home. We’ve powered expeditions in some of the most remote regions on earth, kept communities safe in the face of disaster, and helped people connect with friends and family, whether that’s off the grid, around the campfire, or in the backyard.

    With the innovation of the Goal Zero Yeti power stations, we set a new category of portable power in motion; one that provides a safe, clean alternative to traditional gas generators and presents a new way forward in everything from preparing for emergencies to running off grid events.

    As we grow and evolve, we recognize the need for power is universal. It is our mission to meet that need by creating smart, portable power solutions designed for everyone, everywhere. This means our products are as relevant at home as they are in the great outdoors; they are as useful to the city commuter as they are to the travelling explorer.

    We are motivated by a vision of the future in which no one is without power. An ambitious goal it may be; however, our values reflect those of a company fueled by ambition – and we believe we are able to make a bigger impact because of it. Supporting humanitarian projects has been in our DNA since the beginning. Each year moving forward, we will commit to putting a portion of our profit towards continuing to fund projects around the world – whether that’s installing solar in remote villages high up in the Himalayas or providing power to people in the wake of a hurricane.

    We aren’t just a company but a team of passionate people who live life to the fullest, with a shared desire to help others do the same. We’re mountain bikers, skiers, and climbers, world travelers and weekend warriors, technology mavens and creatives, moms, dads, commuters, coaches, and everything in between. We rely on our products to power the things that matter most in our own lives and are proud to stand behind them.

    Our goal is to make power products that meet the needs of everyone, everywhere. We will provide power for your greatest adventure and your moment of need, for bringing people together and every day on the job.

    This is who we are. This is why we exist. This is Goal Zero.

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  15. VAN LIFE | REPPING ON THE ROAD

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    VAN LIFE | REPPING ON THE ROAD

    Living and working full time on the road comes with its own unique set of thrills and challenges. After three years traveling the country in their home-on-wheels and doing field marketing for brands including Goal Zero, Ian and Lisa share their story with us.

    WHAT KIND OF VAN DO YOU HAVE AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING IN IT?

    We have a 2006 Chevy Express 2500 named Mr. Daisy. We set sail in September of 2014 and have put over 80,000 miles on the van over the course of three years, traveling everywhere from Squamish, British Columbia to Clearwater, Florida, to Joshua Tree, California.

    HOW DID YOU MEET AND DECIDE TO PURSUE VAN LIFE?

    It was a breezy summer afternoon at a picnic table outside of the workplace. Two adventurers sat across from one another, locked gazes, and forbidden love permeated the air. Kindred spirits they were, with lofty goals of forfeiting their worldly possessions to live slightly above poverty level and explore the country in 72 square feet of steel magic. The purchase of an aging cargo van solidified the plan and the rest is history.

    TALK TO US ABOUT THE NAME OF YOUR VAN. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH IT?

    Mr. Daisy was named on his/her maiden voyage from Boulder, CO to Joshua Tree, CA. Before we did any kind of build-out, we wanted to make sure that van was worthy of the long haul. So, we fabricated a makeshift bed and headed west. As we got a feel for the van, we thought it handled much like a cow would. A good name for a cow, we thought, is Daisy. Then, while motoring up the mountain passes, we noticed that newly named Daisy was starting to run a bit hot – as if her aging engine was experiencing “hot flashes.” Thus, we scientifically concluded that Miss Daisy was actually in transition to becoming Mr. Daisy, since his manly characteristics were pronounced but his feminine side could not be ignored.

    WHAT KIND OF WORK HAVE YOU DONE WHILE ON THE ROAD?

    Mr. Daisy Van became a business as soon as we hit the road. After working with the in-house side of the outdoor industry, we realized that a lot of brands were over-extended and short staffed. When it came to participating in events and field marketing opportunities, they wanted to get involved but often couldn’t because the logistics created too many challenges. We aimed to fix that for our partners and pledged to offer professional staffing, coverage, and follow up of the events that we attended. We expanded on that with content generation and “recon” for new opportunities and being as flexible as we were, could capitalize on new ideas and ways to activate for our partners throughout our travels. Our goal was to be on the road for a year, and three years later, we were still cruising.

    ANY CHALLENGES YOU FACED? FAVORITE PARTS ABOUT THE JOB?

    Our favorite part about the job was all of the people we met along the way. It was fascinating to see the different backgrounds people came from and how everyone shared the same interests when coming to an event. It was constantly refreshing to feed off the enthusiasm of people who were discovering something new for the first time, whether that was rock climbing, trail running, or just being outdoors.

    WHAT’S A MEMORABLE MOMENT/TRIP THAT YOU HAVE HAD IN YOUR VAN?

    There’s so many. Movie night at Hound Ears where Mr. Daisy Van hosted his first sleep over. Once on a cold afternoon in Joshua Tree, we had 13 people pile into the van to get cozy and warm. And of course, nacho nights. Lots and lots of nacho nights to feed hungry climbers all across the map.

    BREAKDOWNS ARE INEVITABLE. WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY FOR WHEN YOU RUN INTO VAN TROUBLES?

    We blew out two flywheels early on in our “advanture”. While this type of breakdown essentially renders the vehicle useless, we managed to limp into an auto shop for repairs with minimal drama on both occasions. The exciting part of Mr. Daisy Van is the unsuspecting death wobble that can occur at any time but seems most likely to occur when barreling down a steep mountain pass. In this scenario, apply minimal braking, as attempting to slow the vehicle to acceptable speeds only exacerbates the situation. Maintain directional control of the vehicle and hold on for a wild ride as the contents of the cabinets and stored items fly about the cabin. As the grade rolls out to level, activate hazard lights, pull off the highway into the shoulder, and begin unsuccessful troubleshooting of how and why things went wrong.

    EVERYONE WHO RESIDES IN THEIR VEHICLE HAS AT LEAST ONE SKETCHY VAN STORY. CAN YOU SHARE YOURS?

    When you end up in a place you’re not sure you’re supposed to be, sleeping soundly can be challenging. We crashed in a parking lot one night, not 100% sure it was legal for us to be there, and were woken up at 5 am to the sound of a large diesel with its reverse horn beeping. We thought for sure we were getting towed away like a couple of sardines in a can, but when I peeked out the window to confirm, it was just the garbage man. This scenario has happened to us at least three times throughout our trip. That said, we’re pretty fortunate that this is the sketchiest story we have to tell. Unless, of course, you want to start talking about the death wobble…

    HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR VAN LIFE AND WHAT IS UNNECESSARY?

    If it fits, and doesn’t cramp your style, it’s necessary. If you haven’t touched it or seen it in a month, get rid of it. Unless it’s seasonal. Don’t throw away your puffy coats in the summertime. We also live by the “one in, one out” rule. If we buy a new shirt or new shoes, an old one has to go. This really helps put into perspective what you need vs. what you want.

    HOW HAVE YOU — — USED GOAL ZERO PRODUCTS IN YOUR VAN?

    Goal Zero products have been a critical part of our setup. We started out using two Boulder 90 panels to power our Yeti 1250, which in turn ran our small RV fridge, Goal Zero Light-a-Life Lights, and all of our electronics. When the Yeti Lithiums were introduced, we swapped out the Yeti 1250 for a Yeti Lithium 1000 but kept the original Boulder 90 panels because, well, they’re bomb-proof.

    WALK US THROUGH YOUR BUILD-OUT AND INSTALLING POWER.

    Installing Goal Zero products is about as easy as eating apple pie. It really is plug and play. We had to consider drilling a hole in the roof of the van, which was scary, but we ended up mounting our solar panels on cross rails and thus minimized the amount of drilling required. We designed our “kitchen” so that our Yeti power station would have a home and we strung Light-A-Life lights behind the framework in order to minimize the number of visible wires. If/when we get tired of the setup, we can simply rearrange it and have an entirely new look.

    WHAT DOES A DAILY ROUTINE LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

    One of the biggest challenges of living the “van life” is that there really never is a routine. You can potentially wake up in a new place every morning and have an entirely new setting to adapt to outside your door. As strange as this may sound, you really have to stay motivated about seeking out new adventures. It can be exhausting for some people to have no regularity. We were fortunate in that luck stayed on our side with respect to repairs and maintenance for the van, and we have so many amazing friends and family across the country for support. We felt at home everywhere we went and rarely was there a day when we couldn’t find something to do or somewhere to be.

    WHAT DOES YOUR FUTURE HOLD?

    We have settled into a temporary living situation here in Las Vegas for the time being. We’ll still be living out of our van on road trips, but they’ll be spaced out a bit more as we go back to school to brush up on some learning. Our partnerships in the outdoor industry remain strong and we look forward to working with brands like Goal Zero as Mr. Daisy continues to push onward into his golden years.

    ANY WORDS OF WISDOM TO PASS ALONG?

    If you’re thinking about trying out van life, do it! Whether you plan a one-week road trip or go all in and sell your furniture and TV, you will have the experience of a lifetime. You’ll do new stuff, see new places, learn new things, meet new faces. You’ll be scared at times, you might get lost, you’ll find new roads you’ve never crossed. You’ll see the world in a brand new way, and you’ll appreciate every brand new day.

  16. BEHIND THE SCENES | SOLAR POWERED FILMMAKING

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    BEHIND THE SCENES | SOLAR
    POWERED FILMMAKING

    After graduating from university with a degree in Film Theory, Mads Beier set out to make films that would both challenge and inspire people. Based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, his production company is comprised of a crew that travels from the mountains of Europe to the streets of New York City to tell bigger, bolder stories. Currently, Mads is working on a documentary called Our Deepest Fear that explores anxiety and depression against the backdrop of the great outdoors. In order to film the documentary the way he intended, he needed a solution for powering a large supply of camera gear and equipment while off grid and in remote locations. A Goal Zero portable power station and solar panel was the answer.

    We talked with Mads about the creation of his production company, the inspiration behind his latest project, and how portable solar power proved to be a game changer.

    WHAT FIRST DREW YOU TO FILMMAKING?

    When I was in the 10th grade my friends and I decided to watch a movie marathon for 24 hours straight. When 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick came on at four in the morning after 20 hours of watching films, I was completely sucked into it and forgot everything else that was going on for the entire two and half hours. It was one of the most creative and inspiring experiences of my life. Ever since then I have wanted to tell stories through filmmaking.

    HOW DID YOUR PRODUCTION COMPANY COME TO BE?

    I graduated from university with a masters degree in Film Theory with Practise and had absolutely no idea what to do with it. Everyone said I should get a job as a runner in a production company and start working my way up, so I began applying for jobs left and right, sending CV’s to every production company in and around London where I was living. Out of the 50+ emails I sent, I got four politely written declines in response.

    I felt like I was chasing after something I didn’t really want and even felt relieved at not getting the jobs, as odd as that may sound. I realized I didn’t want to work for another production company and felt that there had to be a better way. So, I decided to start my own one man production company instead. I acquired some basic filmmaking equipment and started making films about everything and anything that interested me.

    After working on Our Deepest Fear together, I joined forces with another cinematographer. Based on the success of what we had just created we knew that there was an opportunity to expand the documentary into something much bigger. We named our company “Burning Boat” because we feel that by eliminating the possibility of retreat, we are giving ourselves no other option than succeeding. If you want to take the island, burn your boats.

    TALK TO US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND OUR DEEPEST FEAR.

    A few years back my younger brother dropped out of his senior year of high school two months before graduating because his battle with anxiety and depression had gotten to a point where he would become physically ill just leaving the house to walk to school. I felt pretty useless living in a different country; but felt that I might be able to help him, even in a small way, by asking if he wanted to talk about how he was feeling over Skype. I made a short documentary out of recording these Skype conversations.

    The response we got was overwhelming. Close family members and distant friends started reaching out, telling us that they had always struggled with similar issues. I came up with the idea of exploring my brother’s battle with anxiety and depression while on an amazing outdoor trip. The film is called “Our Deepest Fear” based on the poem by Marianne Williamson that starts…

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

    I am fascinated by the idea that we all know deep down that we are capable of great things. Our greatest fear is knowing that we might get in our own way of accomplishing those things.

    Maybe if my brother was taken out of his everyday routine and environment he would be able to look at his issues with different eyes. I wanted to challenge his notion of what he thought he was capable of by convincing him to run an 18 km obstacle course, kayak a whitewater river, summit a mountain, and skydive all in the same week. My brother had never run further than a few kilometres, never climbed anything other than a tree, and was afraid of flying. I wanted to document this trip cinematically with the help of a crew and some proper equipment.

    With no money I decided to try crowdfunding the project, asking for €45,000 in funding. After an intense month-long campaign I managed to crowdfund €47,000 with the help of nearly 200 individual backers. We got an overwhelming amount of support and we’re excited to begin filming!

    WHICH GOAL ZERO PRODUCTS DO YOU — — USE AND HOW DO THEY HELP YOU?

    When filming the first portion of our documentary after our crowdfunding success we used the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 to help us power our filmmaking gear while going off grid. For eight days we traveled through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland climbing mountains, kayaking rivers, and sleeping in tents. We wanted to get away from the everyday hustle of modern life and reconnect with a different part of ourselves. The Goal Zero Yeti made this possible because we still needed to be able to charge 3 DSLR’s, 4 GoPro’s, a drone, motorized slider, three-axis camera stabilizer, LED light panels, sound recorders, 2 laptops, 6 power banks, a couple of phones, and an external monitor.

    Harnessing the energy of the sun to power our gear allowed us to stay away from hotels, restaurants, and shops for the entire duration of the trip. I cannot imagine how different it would have been had we not been able to sleep under the stars, wake up next to a river, or cook dinner by a fire.

    WHAT DOES THE WORD “EMPOWER” MEAN TO YOU?

    To me the word “empower” has to do with having the courage to do what you already know to be the right thing. Empowerment is about showing other people that they are capable of doing the things that they dream of regardless of how big they are. If you are empowered you are filled with a sense of confidence that what you are about to pursue can be achieved.

    For a behind-the-scenes look at how Mads and his crew used portable solar power to film in off-grid locations, watch the film above. To see more from Burning Boat, visit their YouTube channel.

     

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