REVIEW: Goal Zero Venture 30

We live in a very technological age. And even when we are ready to hit the trails and get away from it all we still depend on having our phones, cameras, GPS and other devices. Portable batteries have become common place, but most weren’t made to handle the trails or Mother Nature. For the last year we’ve been testing the Goal Zero Venture 30 and Nomad 7 products and they have you taken care of.

Goal Zero Venture 30

I utilize the same devices on the trails and camping as I do when I’m in the field training with the US Army, so before a field exercise I picked up the Goal Zero Venture 30 Recharger and the Nomad 7 Solar Panel. Both products are designed for the adventurer and whatever elements they might find themselves in.

Goal Zero Venture 30

The Goal Zero Venture 30 is a portable battery pack with an IPX6 weather rating. This International Protection Marking code means that the Venture 30 has been certified with testing against 10 minutes of dripping water, 5 minutes of spraying water, 5 minutes of splashing water and 3 minutes of powerful water jets at 100 liters per minute! And it’s operating temperature range is from 32-114 degrees Fahrenheit (0-45C). Weighing in at only 8.8 ounces it won’t add much to your pack. The Li-ion battery is 29Wh and 7800mAh. When looking at batteries, the bigger these 2 numbers are, the better. Wh refers to watt-hours meaning, in this case, the Venture 30 could power a 29 watt light bulb for 1 hour, or a 5 watt phone for 6 hours, etc.

Goal Zero Venture 30

The Goal Zero Venture 30 compared to a 4000mAh PocketJuice.

The Goal Zero Venture 30 has 2 USB ports and a built in mini-USB cable so many phones and cameras won’t even need to bring along extra cords. Apple devices on the other hand…I digress. Charging the Venture 30 from dead off USB power takes about 5 hours. We tested it through wall power, off a computer and off a 12 volt car plug all with the same result. Output is impressive too. We ran an Apple iPhone 6 through our normal work day only using the Venture 30 to charge it. We got two and half days off the Venture 30. Off a fully charged Venture 30 you should be able to charge a smartphone 2.5 times, a GoPro camera 5 times and a tablet once. To save on time you can plug devices in while the Venture 30 is being charged back up as well.

The Goal Zero Venture 30 has 5 LED lights across the front with a button on either side. Pressing one of the buttons will light up the LEDs in blue to indicate how much of a charge the Venture 30 has on a scale of 1-5. The opposite button will cause the LEDS to glow white as a backup flashlight. You can cycle through 3 brightness modes and 2 strobe modes.

Goal Zero Venture 30To give us the most versatility we also picked up the Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel. The Nomad 7 is a lightweight, weather-resistant, 7-watt solar panel that can be used to charge the Goal Zero Venture 30 or directly charge your smartphone, GPS or GoPro (no tablets). It has clipping points all around it to it can be easily strapped to a backpack or rack for charging on the go. The Nomad 7 will charge a Venture 30 from scratch in 8-16 hours depending on the amount of sun you are getting. You can chain multiple solar panels together to charge quicker. The Nomad 7 has a pocket built into itself to hold cables and the Venture 30 while it’s charging.

Goal Zero Venture 30

Goal Zero is a US company founded in 2009 and is focused on making power available whether you are off-grid or facing a natural disaster. They have a large line of solar panels, battery and recharge systems and accessories like lights and speakers all made to accompany your adventures. The Goal Zero Venture 30 has an MSRP of $99.99 and the Nomad 7 has an MSRP of $79.99. You can also buy them as a kit to save $10. I’ve bought and broken or lost enough of the cheap batteries packs to have paid for my Venture 30 already and those couldn’t withstand the outdoors. Goal Zero has done a great job with these two solutions. We haven’t found a better offering yet. To find your own check out #solarlife

Goal Zero

REVIEW: Shorai LFX Batteries

One area of the powersports industry that has seen a lot of change lately is batteries. Battery technology was developed in the mid-1800s and remained relatively unchanged until the mid-1990s when university researchers developed lithium batteries. Lithium ferrous phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are a perfect fit to the rugged uses found in the powersports industry. Several companies have been producing LiFePO4 batteries over the last few years including LFX Batteries by Shorai.

Shorai LFX Batteries

Like other LiFePO4 technology batteries, Shorai LFX Batteries hold many advantages over lead-acid units. First off, they are about 80% lighter on average helping to easily remove weight from your ride. There are also no harmful chemicals in a LiFePO4 battery making them safer and allowing them to be mounted in any position, including upside-down. Another great benefit is that they have a longer maintenence-free lifespan. A lead-acid battery constantly degrades while sitting idle. LiFePO4 batteries lose only a small percentage over an entire year. Good luck finding a lead-acid battery that will crank after sitting for a year.

We decided to try out Shorai LFX Batteries ourselves by upgrading our Polaris Hawkeye 300. The old lead-acid battery had just recently failed us and it was a great chance to upgrade during our spring maintenance. Shorai produces some 20 different battery models in their LFX line. Shorai’s website has a battery finder that allows you to select your powersports vehicle and see the appropriate battery selection. Our application called for the LFX14A5-BS12. With an MSRP of $159.95 it’s on par with most other similar LiFePO4 offerings.

Shorai LFX Batteries

Our battery arrived by mail packed in its retail box, tucked in by foam shims. It also contained a manual, two sets or terminal screws and a collection of Shorai stickers. The physical dimensions of the battery were very similar to the OEM lead-acid battery we removed. Our OEM battery was 6.5″H x 5.25″L x 3.5W while our Shorai measures are 6.3″H x 5.28″L x 3.15″W. This actually makes Shorai LFX Batteries larger than most other LiFePO4 batteries we have seen though they are still perfect for your OEM swap. If there is any spare room in your battery compartment, the included foam shims can be cut and placed inside the compartment for a solid fit.

As far as weight is concerned, there is a big difference between lead-acid and LiFePO4 batteries. Our LFX battery weighs in at only 2.31 pounds compared to our 10.4 pound lead-acid rock. Racers looking to gain a little speed will have a hard time finding an easier or cheaper way to lose 8 pounds. But don’t let the lightweight fool you. This battery still produces 210 cold cranking amps (CCA).

Perhaps one of our favorite things about the Shorai LFX Batteries is the terminal posts. The posts are designed in an “L” shape and have locations to simultaneously use 2 sets of terminal screws. This makes it easy to add accessories without stacking. We placed our winch leads on one set of terminal screws and the Polaris’s electronics on the other.

Shorai LFX Batteries

Shorai LFX Batteries ship charged and ready for your ride. While they generally don’t need to be maintained you can use traditional battery chargers as long as they do not use automatic desulfation mode. Shorai does produce its own charger that is designed to balance each individual cell and can increase the life of the LFX battery.

Shorai LFX Batteries have a 3 year warranty. That’s longer than the entire life span of a lead-acid battery and much more than the warranty period. Ours has performed great so far. We will provide updates here if we see any performance changes and also to let you know exactly how long our Shorai LFX Battery lasts. To locate your own Shorai LFX Battery check out their website at

REVIEW: Ballistic EVO2 Performance Batteries

So you’re all set for a weekend on the trails. Your buddies are packed and headed over to load you up. You step out to crank up your ride. A turn of the key and your mighty beast should respond with a roar, but instead you just get a disheartening ‘click’. There is a good chance you are suffering from a dead battery.

The Ballistic EVO2 Performance Batteries Lineup

It’s an annual affair for most. Traditional lead-acid batteries have a life span of about a year and a half to two at best. But the powersports industry has had a growing trend of lithium batteries like the Ballistic EVO2 Performance Batteries. Lithium ferrous phosphate, aka LiFePO4, is based on technology developed by researchers at the University of Texas in 1996. The end result is a smaller, lighter, safer, maintenance-free, longer-lasting battery.

The 8-cell Ballistic EVO2 Performance Battery

We decided to upgrade the battery in our Yamaha Big Bear 250. The battery finder on Ballistic’s website recommended the 8-cell unit for normal environments or the 12-cell for primarily cold areas or units with lots of accessories. With most of our riding taking place in the southeast US we picked up the 8-cell (P/N 100-011). The battery puts out 13.6 volts and 275 burst cranking amps. It is designed to work in temperatures from 0-140 degrees F. Inside the package was our battery, foam material for shipping and installing, and a few Ballistic stickers.

The 8 cell LiFePO4 battery versus the OEM lead-acid.

Our new battery came in at a mere 4.5″L x 2.5″W x 4.25″H and 1.7 pounds compared to our OEM battery at 5.25″L x 3.5″W x 7″H and 10.4 pounds. That’s a savings of almost 9 pounds making this the easiest and least expensive way to shed weight off your ATV and potentially gain a little speed. Since the Ballistic EVO2 Performance Batteries are also a great deal smaller than their OEM counterparts they risk bouncing around inside the battery compartment. To resolve this simply use the foam packaging that the battery came with. It trims easily with a serrated blade and helps secure the battery in place.

The Ballistic 8 cell ready to go.

Ballistic batteries come with a Battery Management System (BMS) port on top. While not necessary, a charger is available from Ballistic that helps balance each cell on the battery to extend the life of the battery even further. A standard trickle charger can be used as long as it has auto-shutoff to prevent over charging. Ballistic EVO2 Performance Batteries ship at 70% of their charge, more than enough for a good start. Put to its first test it did not disappoint and has been running great during its first week. They are claimed to only lose 10% of their charge during a static year compared to as much as 1% per day for lead-acid batteries.

Ballistic EVO2 Performance Batteries come with a 3 year warranty and are made right here in the USA. LiFePO4 batteries do have a higher price than lead-acid batteries. The MSRP on the 8-cell Ballistic is $169.95, about 3 times the cost of an equivalent lead-acid battery. However, the features and convenience make it a great option. We’ll provide updates here during the life of our battery, but don’t count on that being anytime soon. To find your own Ballistic EVO2 Performance Battery check out their website at