Weighing in at 428g, this portable wind turbine comes packed down in a tough case about the size of a lunch box. The unit is simple and intuitive to put together (no instruction manual required!), and it delivers consistent power as long as there is anything more than a breeze – the company say as low as 15mph. It connects via a 3 pin cable to a standard USB connector, and the output is 5V at 1.5-2Amps, which is certainly enough to power phones, tablets and some digital cameras. It’s also dust and water resistant (IP65 rated).
In use, at a windspeed of 18 MPH, the turbine gave me 1% of charge to a Moto 5 phone about every 30 minutes… so it’s not fast. Another test, at a gusty camp, and I couldn’t get the wind turbine to revolve at all, despite using the clamp (sold separately) to attach the unit to an upright walking pole. Windspeeds were viable this time, between 5-15mph, so it needs constant wind to get it to spin.
The tripod extends and the legs lock off very deftly indeed, but bear in mind that the unit is fairly light in order to make it portable, so in stronger wind you’ll need to have it attached to something or weighed down. The blades are also designed to be a very tight fit, which does mean that deconstructing the unit isn’t at all easy in the field. I ended up just packing the 3 blades attached to the ‘nose’ of the turbine in my pack as one. It’s incredibly tough so I wasn’t concerned with breakage inside the pack.
With these things in mind, I think the Infinite Air is best placed to provide low impact electricity in situations where it doesn’t need to be moved that often. It’s not really light or efficient enough for UK backpackers who will move camp everyday (you’d get about 15% charge on a phone on an overnight charge), but those using sleds, kayaks or based in a remote camp or village, where it can be left in situ all the time may well find this indispensible.
I paired the wind turbine with this tough little battery, which provides 3000mAh for a weight penalty of 116g. The output is by USB and 5V at 2 amps, so again, designed for phones, tablets and smaller cameras. The battery is foldable, magnetic and waterproof (IP67) with the cable being dust and water resistant (IP65). It’s easily stashed in a pocket and copes well with the cold without losing too much of it’s charge.
I liked that the cable has both power in and out, so you can charge the battery as well as something you need to charge. There’s also a handy blue indicator light to tell you how much charge is left. To charge from flat via the mains took about 3.5 hours. My main issue with the Tex Flex 3 is that 3000mAh isn’t really that much juice – for my phone, it’s only a ¾ charge. The company make a more powerful unit (Tex Flex 10 – 10500mAh, £95), which will also power laptops and DSLR cameras via a switchable voltage controller, and can be ‘stacked’ in multiples to provide serious power. I think this would make a good partner to the turbine. There are also hand cranks and solar panels that can be used in conjunction. If you have serious expedition logistics, Tex Energy are clearly making very efficient and durable tools to assist your mission. DL
► Verdict: incredibly tough, well designed and modular power solutions.
► Best for: Remote expeditions, out for a number of weeks or more. Base camps, disaster relief, off grid camping.
Review by David Lintern @davidjlintern