Last summer, I reviewed Goal Zero’s Yeti 1400. That was a 45-pound portable power station with a battery capable of running a full-sized refrigerator for over 12 hours. This time around I tested another new Goal Zero product, but this one was considerably more portable (and more affordable): the Sherpa 100AC Portable Power Bank.
Maximum Power, Portable Form Factor
The Sherpa 100AC was designed to be the kind of portable power bank that those who travel with a lot of gear can rely on.
At the heart of the system is a 94.7Wh Li-Ion NMC battery (25600mAh). That means it sneaks in under the maximum capacity for lithium-ion batteries on airplanes, as set out in FAA regulations. It weighs just 2.0 pounds. So what kind of charge capability are we talking? According to Goal Zero, the Sherpa 100AC can charge:
• Smartphones up to 10 times
• Tablets up to three full charges
• Laptops up to two charges
• Cameras up to 18 charges
Another traveler-friendly feature is the inclusion of popular charge cables (Lightning, Micro USB, USB-C, and USB-C to USB-C). Two of these can slot securely into the side of the Sherpa 100AC, so you won’t forget to pack them. There’s also a zipped travel case available as an optional extra.
Sheer capacity and a portable form factor are great, but the Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC also stands out for its flexibility.
The top of the case is a 2.4A Qi wireless charge pad. There are two 60W USB-C ports and a pair of 2.4A standard USB ports. There’s also a 100W AC outlet for devices with specialized chargers, like laptops (it’s not meant to run motorized equipment).
To recharge the Sherpa 100AC itself, you connect to those USB-C ports (they’re two-way). You can use your own USB charger, a 12V car adapter, the optional power supply (which will do the job in about three hours), or go off the grid and plug in an optional Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus solar panel (which should fully charge the power bank in 7-14 hours).
The front of the Sherpa 100AC has a handy, built-in OLED display. You can cycle through information including battery percentage left, time to recharge, and detailed port info. It’s not huge, but it’s very crisp.
Hands-On With the Sherpa 100AC
It was during the initial charging of the power bank that I ran into my primary complaint about the Sherpa 100AC. There’s no power adapter in the box, instead, it’s $34.95 extra. Goal Zero says that adapter will recharge the power bank in three hours, but the 2.4A USB charger I had handy took nearly all day.
In terms of charging mobile devices, the Sherpa 100AC could handle pretty much anything I threw at it. There was no problem charging three devices at a time, and if I brought this thing on a trip with me, it could keep my iPhone going for the better part of two weeks. I powered a 13-inch MacBook Air (using that AC outlet) for eight hours.
Then I flew too high… I plugged in a gaming laptop I had here for testing—one that’s rated to draw 135W. Its battery was dead, but plugged into the Sherpa 100AC it powered up, began charging and ran for 30 minutes. This caused the power bank’s cooling fan to blow loudly, but it held its own until I started up Fortnite with the graphics cranked up. After a minute or so of this, the Sherpa shut down and the OLED display showed a message saying maximum power had been exceeded and a restart would be required.
Still, pretty impressive. And good to know the fail-safes are there. After that restart, all was fine.
The Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC isn’t cheap. It’s $299.95, and if you want the extras, they can add up: $34.95 for the power adapter, $9.95 for the zippered carrying case, and that Nomad 28 Plus solar panel is $249.95 more.
However, if you travel at all and bring a collection of gadgets with you, the Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC is a great accessory. It’s very travel-friendly, very flexible, well designed, and eliminates worries about running out of power, even in the air.