Wherever you’re reading this in the world chances are, like me, you’re still in some state of COVID-induced lockdown. However, with vaccines finally being increasingly rolled out there’s a glimmer of light that we might soon be able to contemplate being able to venture back out into the wilderness doing what we love and far away from the all too familiar four walls that for too long have held us captive.
Personally, I feel like getting as far away for as long as possible and enjoy as much freedom as I can. However, one of the constraints that has usually held me back from being completely relaxed during a prolonged amount of time off grid and away from it all has been the accessibility of a reliable power source. Something to charge up my accompanying kit such as camera, tablet and smartphone (I know, I shouldn’t switch it on but what can I say – I’m weak!). In-fact whenever I do manage to get miles away from it all there’s always one niggling concern I have at the back of my mind… what if my vehicle battery runs flat and I find myself stranded here in the middle of nowhere?!!
Well help is finally at hand thanks to the clever guys and girls at CTEK in Sweden. Ever since launching the first smart battery charger over 20 years ago they’ve been leading the way in battery management systems, good enough for brands such as Mercedes Benz and Ferrari to be confident enough to use their own brand names on their products, and they’ve just launched their latest product, and it’s a real game changer.
Called the CS FREE, it delivers a most elegant solution to my conundrum and means the days of me worrying about getting stuck without power are now a thing of the past. Measuring just 25cms x 10cms x 8cms and weighing only 1.4kgs this sturdy, portable box of tricks means you can head off grid for as long as you wish safe in the knowledge that this piece of kit will not only make your stay more comfortable, by supplying charge to all those bits of techy kit you just can’t live without, but if when you pack down and turn the key in the ignition to leave camp you find you’ve got a flat battery you’re not going to be needing to make any humiliating calls to a vehicle rescue service.
Straight out of the box you simply charge up the CS FREE’s internal battery, which takes around an hour off the mains, and unused it’ll remain fully charged for up to a year. However, should you find yourself with the dreaded flat battery the CS FREE’s revolutionary Adaptive Boost technology automatically analyses the state of your battery and adjusts to the battery’s voltage level. Then it automatically works out the safest and quickest way to give your battery the power it needs to start your vehicle within just 15 minutes and can do so with any 12V lead acid or lithium vehicle battery.However, as annoying and worrying as flat batteries are, thankfully they tend to be fairly rare and so day to day the CS FREE really comes into its own when you’re off grid and looking for a solution to keep all that techy kit you’ve got with you fully charged and working. Equipped with both USB-C and USB-A outputs you can simply plug in your charging cables for smartphone, tablets and laptops and charge them up. There are no tricky modes to select, just turn it on and a simple countdown function will show you how long it will be before your battery is fully charged.
The CS FREE unit itself can be charged from mains, a 12V battery or via the use of a solar panel. One of which comes in amongst the CS FREE’s accessory kit and for me this is a must have because when combined with the CS FREE it makes it truly possible to stay off grid for as long as you want.Since its launch just a few weeks ago in February 2021 I was lucky enough to get my hands early onto this brilliant bit of kit. So far I’ve only had opportunity to use it, and the various accompanying accessories, close to home to test it out. Having said that it’s already come into its own, effortlessly starting my Land Rover Defender on my driveway when I found the battery had run flat following it standing unused for a couple of weeks due to this seemingly un-ending COVID lockdown, in the freezing weather. But already I know it’s going to be one of my favourite bits of kit for both its capabilities and peace of mind it’ll afford me when I can finally head back out there and be free again, and I can’t wait!