Advertised as the first fully integrated solar backpack, the O’Neill solar backpack was rolled out in 2005. While most would prefer to steer clear of the argument about who was first, everyone seems to agree that the O’neill solar backpack was definitely one model that offered excellent integration.
In a move that many subsequent manufacturers followed, O’neill integrated a headphone port into the pack strap to allow someone to listen to music and charge the device simultaneously. Going even farther, they integrated Bluetooth to allow the same functionality with a Bluetooth phone. While there are always arguments on the best solar backpack, the O’Neill solar backpack was a strong contender to the title.
Another feature that O’Neill included in their limited edition solar backpack was removable solar panels. This enabled people to turn the pack into a more low-profile item that would not draw attention. Since even the best solar backpacks require several hours of direct sunlight to charge, many consider the panels all but pointless and choose to charge directly from home outlets.
Pairing with ElekTek on the project, the O’Neill solar backpack integrated soft controls into the straps of the solar backpack. The special fabric sensors created a washable control panel with no moving parts. This feature allowed active users to control their music devices and cellular phones without ever needing to touch the actual device – a huge convenience when the device was in the pocket charging.
One more groundbreaking feature of the O’Neill solar backpack was the TSA step up converter for charging devices. This converter could actually measure the remaining charges on multiple devices and ensure that the devices that needed power the most would get it. As the device caught up to other devices being charged, the convert would then equalize the power so all devices charged together.
All of this came at a very hefty price tag due to the limited editions and cutting edge engineering.
Gone but not forgotten, the O’Neill solar backpack ushered in a new era of integration and quality manufacturing. Look at the best solar backpack today and you will find features that O’Neill included in its solar backpack.