Tiny Power: The GoalZero Flip 30 Review
GoalZero started in 2009 out of Robert Workmans work abroad to reduce poverty. He was frustrated with all the obstacles to helping people create sustainable lifestyles.
After almost giving up and leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he was helping at the time, he came to a realization:
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”
One of the issues was power. Getting reliable power opens a lot of doors for people in developing countries and helps those in need after emergencies like natural disasters.
Since the start with a focus on helping in developing countries and emergency situations GoalZero has really pushed into the outdoor market with charging, storage and lighting solutions for base camping and backpacking. Recent innovations have included partnering with tent makers for lighting and power storage built right into the tent.
The Flip 30 is another well-made power storage solution from GoalZero aimed at anyone needing extra power on the go. If you own a smart phone or tablet these days, that’s you.
What is the Flip 30?
The GoalZero Flip 30 is a USB battery pack for charging your USB devices. Charge it up with a laptop, wall outlet or solar panel and then take it on your adventures to power up other USB devices. It’s perfect for charging your phone, tablet, cameras or GPS.
How to Use the Flip 30
Using the Flip 30 is easy. Plug it in anywhere with the attached USB plug. The 4 blue lights on the side flash until it’s full. Each of the lights show 25% so 2 lights mean it’s 50% full.
When you need a charge plug in your USB device and press the charge button by pressing the USB plug into the side of the Flip 30.
If you need to know how much charge is left on the battery, click the USB plug button once and the lights will come on show a light for each 25%.
The GoalZero Flip 30 is a pretty simple device. Charge it up from a laptop, wall, or solar charger. Take it with you on adventures and use it to charge any USB device like phone, GPS or camera.
Here’s a few specs of the Flip 30:
- flip-out USB plug
- one 5V 2.1A USB output
- 5V 1.5A input to charge from laptop, wall or solar charger
- charge status lights
- 7800 mAh (3 phones charges or 1 tablet charge)
What’s a mAh?
All battery packs will have a size rating in mAh, or milliamps. It’s the rating for the size of the battery in them, how big their gas tank is. These numbers are important when you’re taking a battery pack on a trip to charge something. You’ll need to find out how much each of your devices takes to charge.
If I wanted to charge an iPhone 7, it’s battery requires 1960 mAh to charge so if I have 7800 mAh total in the Flip 30 then I’ll get 3 to 4 charges for the phone.
4 charges * 1960 mAh = 7840 mAh
That’s cutting it close and requires the Flip 30 to be brand new, working perfectly and fully charged. Most batteries capacity drop a bit over time.
If you wanted to charge an iPad mini that requires 6470 mAh, then you’ll get 1 charge and have a bit left over.
7800 – 6470 = 1330 mAh.
The Flip 30 is a small to medium sized battery pack these days. You can get 10,000 to 20,000 mAh charges in relatively small sizes. The bigger batteries will be heavier. Add up the number of charges for each device you’ll need on your trip for the total number of battery packs you’ll need.
Built-in USB plug
The best feature about the Flip 30 is it’s built in USB plug. You don’t need to carry around a USB cable to charge it, just flip out the plug and plug it in. I’ve forgotten the charger cable for other batteries I’ve had and been stuck carrying around a dead battery. Not as useful.
This flip out plug is a mixed blessing. Trying to plug the Flip 30 into something other than a laptop isn’t great, it hangs off the flip out plug. So far nothing has broken and everything is charging properly. I feel like hanging off a desktop computer or wall charger too much puts a lot of stress on the flip out plug and might lead to issues.
Some electronics feel cheap and like they’ll fall apart after a few uses. Definitely not the case with the GoalZero Flip 30. The case on the battery feels solid like it would survive drops from a good distance. I haven’t tried to drop mine to see how it would survive but it’s fallen to the ground a few times on the dirt or carpet with no issue.
The flip out USB plug is the only thing I worry about. Rotating out, the wires have to move. Only long term use is going to show how long the plug lasts. So far it’s worked great.
Long USB cord issue
The only issue I’ve had with the Flip 30 is an intermittent one. One of my 10’ long USB cords causes the Flip 30 to stop charging after a random amount of time. All my shorter cords have worked perfectly.
Usually I get 5 to 10 minutes of charging with the long cable and then it stops like it’s not connected to anything and I have to press the charge button again.
Chatting with a GoalZero rep, they are aware if the issue and are working on a fix. Normal length USB cords still work perfectly.
Alternative: GoalZero Venture 30
One alternative to the Flip 30 is the Venture 30. Another one by GoalZero the Venture 30 is pretty similar to the Flip 30 with a couple of differences.
The similarities are that it’s got a 7800 mAh charge, the same capacity as the Flip 30. Outside of that it’s got a few notable differences.
The Venture 30 is waterproof. IPX6 water resistant which means splash resistant getting a bit wet from rain or snow isn’t going to phase this battery. It’s not dunk resistant though. Don’t chuck it in the lake.
There are three connections on the Venture 30 compared to the Flip 30’s one. Two of the connections are just female usb ports and one male micro-USB port.
The downside to the additional features is that the Venture 30 is more expensive at $99 US and 2 oz heavier. If you need the waterproofness or additional connections though the extra cost is worth it.
- Solid construction
- No cord required with the flip-out plug
- Charge status lights
- Compatible with any solar charger with USB out
- Thicker than other batteries (but short)
- Doesn’t work with some long USB cords (will be fixed soon)
- Only one port
If you need power on the goal, GoalZero has a solution for you. If it’s waterproof then the Venture 30 is the one for you. Otherwise, the Flip 30 is less expensive and still has enough power for a few phone charges. It’s thicker than some other battery packs but much more compact. Depends on where you’re going to put it for what form factor you need.
Whether we like it or not, we’re dependent on the little gadgets in our pockets. You might have the willpower to leave your phone at home for all your hikes. I don’t. And then the battery dies. But not any more.