I’ll admit it: When I first got a Goal Zero Venture 30, I thought it was a little hokie. But, I didn’t buy it, so it was okay. Instead, my wife won ours in a contest run by the popular outdoor blog Semi-Rad.com, which challenged readers to post pictures of themselves camping outside. While I am sure they received many beautiful pictures of tents in the nation’s most scenic locations, her winning photo featured the two of us along with two other friends from EMS piled into a rental car at the Bunny Flat trailhead in Mount Shasta, California, trying desperately to get some sleep amidst an incredible amount of baggage after a long day of travel.

Group Camping & More

Although, at the time, I didn’t know my wife’s picture would be the winner, nor did I have any idea what a Goal Zero Venture 30 was, it was this trip that first opened my eyes to what a valuable piece of equipment it could be. The rental car had only one plug, and our group had four phones, four GPS watches, four headlamps, two GoPros, and one camera to charge. And, when you consider that we mostly camped and used the car minimally, to say there was competition to plug in and power up when we did run the car would be an understatement.

As time has passed, the Goal Zero Venture 30 has become more than something for big trips and groups. For us, it’s now a staple of weekend climbing trips to Rumney, N.H. If I charge the Venture 30 from either a wall outlet or off my computer before leaving, both my wife and I can use our phones to take pictures all day Saturday, plug them in overnight, and wake up Sunday with them fully charged, ensuring they have plenty of juice to take hundreds more photos that day and still have enough power to stream music on the way home.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

Packing a Big, Versatile Punch

On a trip to the Cascades this past spring, the Venture 30 further proved its merit and made me very happy I had packed it. With uncooperative weather and no hotel in the budget, my climbing partner and I spent an inordinate amount of time “camping” in our rental car, hoping for the weather to clear.

The only thing that kept our spirits up was streaming music, surfing the web, and playing games on our phones, as we prayed for sun—or for it to at least just stop raining. It was on this trip that I was incredibly thankful for the unit’s waterproof construction, as, at some point, everything I owned was somewhere between “damp” and “totally soaked through.”

With a battery that isn’t much larger than a deck of cards, the Venture 30 packs a big punch. Goal Zero claims small electronics like a watch or headlamp can be charged between five and 10 times, an action cam up to five times, and phones two or three times. In my experience, I would say these numbers are pretty close to accurate, and may even be underselling the battery’s ability.

Sure, the Goal Zero Venture 30 isn’t going to be the sexiest piece of high-tech gear you own. It can’t compete with a GoPro, a GPS watch, or the latest and greatest high-power headlamp for bragging rights in the gear closet. But, it will make many of those items easier and more reliable to use. In the end, you might find yourself like me, appreciating how useful this “silly little battery” really is.