The Sherpa 100: Thoughts From An Engineer

The Sherpa 100: Thoughts From An Engineer

We recently added the Sherpa 100 to our line of products and are very proud of this new Power Pack. A few days ago we took the time to sit down with Walker Ford, the Project Leader for the Sherpa 100, and ask him a few questions. 

What was your involvement with the Sherpa 100?
I was the project manager and lead electronics engineer and oversaw the development from prototype through to production.  My technical specialty is electronics and firmware.  We also have a fantastic team comprising industrial, mechanical, and electronics engineers.  The project involved many trips over to Asia. It was a bit faster to develop than the Sherpa 50, because the concept was already developed. But we wanted to make it significantly more powerful.  It was a major challenge to get it to power over 100 watts, because of the small space, but we figured it out, and can sustain 120W.

I also get to occasionally input on design details, which is pretty lucky for a hardware guy. The output ports that are colored, unique shapes and light up when on.  You’ll notice on the Sherpa 100 that the light rings are even a bit improved over the Sherpa 50.  So it is pretty fun to be that closely involved too.

What is the Sherpa 100 and who was it designed for?
The Sherpa 100 is the best lithium ion pack that we make. We had the passionate photographer/ Video producer in mind while designing it: people that need power in a small light package, wherever they happen to be. The Sherpa 100 is a better value than the Sherpa 50. It doesn’t take up that much more space and you get a lot more power. It’s really a fantastic product.

What do you think makes the Sherpa 100 unique to the market and to Goal Zero?
This pack can do 120 watts on its output, which is more than any other comparable pack. This high power capability is significant. It’s also the look, and it’s the fact that you get 12V, laptop power, two USB’s, and you’ve got the option for the inverter. I’m not aware of another pack in this size that has an inverter. You are buying a quality product. It was designed using quality components. The cells are brand name, LG Chem cells.  They’re not just going to die after a year. This same brand is used in some of electric cars. I’m really proud of that. I have a lot of confidence in the product.

What were some of the challenges and what were the most fun parts of the project for the team?
The most fun part was making the user interface system as simple as possible. We had a lot of that fun with the Sherpa 50 when we came up with the shapes, colors and layout of the ports. You take one of our cables and you know where it should go, even if your eyes were closed.

I mentioned some challenges above.  Another challenge was structural.  We wanted it as small possible, so we had to do a super thin case. There were a few revisions to strengthen the plastic in certain areas to make sure it would be durable if dropped.

It’s fun to have a product line or an idea that can expand or scale. We went from the 50 to a 100, and we would honestly like to do a 200 but the big reason we haven’t done that yet is because of airline regulations. They will stop you if you have a pack over 100 watt hours. We could have made this thing bigger if not for that rule. We wanted the experience for our customers to be easy, we don’t want them to worry about taking it on the plane so we already thought of that for them.

Why buy the 100? What are it’s selling points?
It’s the best value in a lithium-ion pack. If you’re going to go Sherpa because its output and weight are what you’re looking for, go with the Sherpa 100. It’s more powerful and not much bigger.

How will you use it in your life?
It’s great for even just charging your cell phone. I don’t have an outlet near my bed stand so I use it to charge my phone every day. I charge (The Sherpa) up on the weekends so I don’t have to worry about leaving my phone on the floor charging every night.

I also always carry it with me on the plane. You never know if your plane will have power. You might as well be completely backed up.

What do you like most about being a GZ engineer?
I like that we’re trying to create products that we’d actually use. These are relevant products. Also we’re technology agnostic. We are simply looking for the best technology that will give the best value for our customers and ourselves as customers. We get to research and stay on top of the latest technologies.

We’re also fortunate to have a broad product offering – meaning we have everything from small battery to large home power systems.  And we’ve got customers in every walk of life.  It really makes for a great variety in projects.

We also live in this great age where computers and connectivity are all around us, even in the smallest devices.  Parts are getting cheaper, more powerful, and less energy consuming.  We can brainstorm and literally implement almost anything we think of.  This means we’ve got a long list of awesome ideas that we will make as soon as we have the time to do them. Really there’s no boundaries to what we do — that’s fun!

What else do you want to tell people about the Sherpa?
I don’t know if they’ve landed in the user guide yet, but there are a couple easter eggs in the Sherpa 50 and 100. For those who are bothered by the colored lights at night, you can actually disable them through a series of button presses. Press the power button three times, then hold it down on the fourth time until the lights go off.

Another one is called “auto-on” mode, which can be useful in certain cases where you’ve set this outside to power something and it’s connected to solar. Let’s say it goes empty during the night, in the morning the solar will start to charge it, and then the Sherpa will turn back on.  Hold down the power button for about seven seconds to enable/disable this mode.  The LCD will indicate with a symbol that it is enabled.

It’s just a good all around pack. Most of the relevant information is printed on its bottom side. You can also get to the user guide from the QR code printed there too.

Maybe the best thing about the Sherpa 100 is that it comes with the Goal Zero team behind it. If you’ve got questions, technical questions, user questions, suggestions we are actually available and we welcome responses from our customers and we respond back where we can. We appreciate feedback about it.

I look forward to meeting you in the airport carrying your Sherpa!


  1. Tom Keller 4 years ago

    I want a solar pack when we have a week long power outtage or an emergency situation to power up my Mac Pro, iphone and ipad. Which model do you feel I’m going to be most satisfied with for that need.

    • goalzero 4 years ago

      Hey Tom, thanks for reaching out. From the sound of it, the Sherpa 100 Solar Kit would work great.
      Here’s the link to that product page:
      If you have any questions feel free to give us a call at 888-794-6250.

    • Bruce A. Hansen MS PA 3 years ago

      I count on my Sherpa for the exact same situation. It’s bombproof; always there. To assure its maximum life potential, I leave it plugged in all the time at home when I am not out in the field.

  2. Jeremy Stone 4 years ago

    I frequently travel to Ecuador, and I need a kit that can withstand torrential rain and high humidity. Was the Sherpa 100 built with this environment in mind?

  3. Lance Mecham 3 years ago

    I see the “rated” hours of output for a cpap machine on the website for a Sherpa 120 that I understand is no longer offered. I need something that can really last 8 hours for camping/backpacking trips and can be solar-charged. Is this the unit that can do that? Looking for reality, not published numbers.

    • Author
      goalzero 3 years ago

      Hi Lance. We’ve seen a lot of CPAPs with different power requirements, especially when a humidifier is being used. Your best bet would be to call our customer service department at 888-794-6250, they’d be able to get you specifics on which power pack would work best for your setup. Thanks for checking out the Solar Life, happy travels.

  4. Xavier Deperthes 3 years ago

    Hi, I m a film makers and I bought a sherpa100 in USA for a documentary shooting, it s an amazing product !
    But I live in Europe and our AC is 220 V, how can I charge my sherpa now ?
    Should I buy a 220V AC Wall Charger ?
    thanks for answer with my best regards Xavier Deperthes

    • Author
      goalzero 3 years ago

      Hey Xavier, thanks for stopping by. We’d recommend you use a wall adapter that accepts a US plug while using the charging cord supplied with your Sherpa. Call our customer service if you need more info, they’re happy to help: 888-794-6250. Thanks

  5. Jeff J 3 years ago

    “It’s great for even just charging your cell phone. I don’t have an outlet near my bed stand so I use it to charge my phone every day. I charge (The Sherpa) up on the weekends so I don’t have to worry about leaving my phone on the floor charging every night.”
    I’m an RV-er. Your products are changing the way we travel. Once people realize how easy it is use and integrate Solar technologies into their life, the entire solar sector will benefit tremendously.

    Great work, guys.

  6. Stephen 3 years ago

    Can the sherpia 100 power a 100 watt radio safely?

    • Author
      goalzero 3 years ago

      Hi Stephen. The Sherpa should be able to handle the radio. However, it depends on the type of power it requires and its plug type. Call our customer service at 888-794-6250 and they can help you to be sure. Have your radio’s power consumption specs available if you can. Thanks for stopping by Solar Life.

  7. Dori 3 years ago

    I go to various outdoor events and provide on the spot photo items. I usually have to provide my own power source. the events are sometimes 12 hour days. I need to provide power for 2 small printers and a laptop. I was thinking of purchasing the Yettie 400 however…. I’m just not sure what would be the best product for my needs. Would you pleas advise…and also let me know where I can go view your products I would need in the Las Vegas NV area…. Thank you

    • Author
      goalzero 3 years ago

      Hey Dori. Give our customer service team a call at 888-794-6250, they’ll be able to answer your questions on power needs, they may also need the power consumption info for your devices so have that ready if possible. Also, to find a retailer near you check out our dealer locator here. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. radarphos 3 years ago

    Does GZ make its own Li-ion batteries, or purchase them? How long do these batteries sit (in a general way) on a shelf at the Supplier’s location, before sitting on a shelf at your location, before arriving at the customer’s location? How does pre-sold shelf-life negatively affect the longetivity of Li-ion batteries? Doesn’t every battery have a life-span “bell curve” power performance, where early in its life it is most powerful (say, 100% powerful) for recharging, but later in its life its power strength begins dropping, such as to a 90% power capability, and later an 80%, etc. until it becomes too weak to recharge items in the time frame you advertise that already involves considerable hours? What stalls me in making a purchase is the answer to these questions, because many products that I have bought and used utilize Li-ion batteries that seem to be good for maybe two years (if I’m lucky), but by the end of the second year they are frustratingly weak. And, what does a customer have to do to get a new Li-ion battery for a GZ product? Is it to send the whole unit back to GZ for a battery upgrade (?), or trash the GZ product and buy another one? Talking about how many charges one can get is fine for people who are regularly away from AC power, who need recharging; but it is a lot less fine for us who occasionally go hunting, camping, and have daily access to AC power. We want to know what the “good use” life expectancy is of the ability of the Li-ion battery to hold a decent charge. Any comment (beyond call customer service) will be appreciated.

  9. Chris Ross 3 years ago

    Hi Goal Zero do you sell a lead for charging my MacBook air from a Sherpa 100?

  10. Renee 3 years ago

    I use my sherpa daily to charge things like my cellphone. Last night i went to use it and it will not charge anything. the 12v and laptop port light up and blink and an exclamation mark shows up next to the battery monitor. Could you tell me why it is doing this and what i can do to fix it?

  11. TERI 2 years ago

    what would you recommend for heating a cup of water (for tea)? sometimes, it would be nice just to plug one of those heater coils into a battery-type thing, without having to think about stoves, or handy plugs, etc. I’ve been impressed with all the GoalZero things I’ve gotten so far…


  12. Ronnie D Brown 2 years ago

    Do you by chance offer Military Discounts
    By chance do you offer military discounts

  13. Jose 2 years ago

    I have a nomad 20 and a sherpa 100. When I charge the sherpa through a window versus direct sunlight the charging time takes a lot longer, would you be able to explain why?

  14. Jeff Bragg 2 years ago

    Jose: When I was in Michigan, suffering Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter depression), I researched the factors that affect light transmission. Using a pro light meter, I discovered that clear glass (thin eyeglasses) reduced transmitted lumens
    by about 20%. This reduction affected both visible light and ultraviolet. I also found that being outside was more therapeutic than sitting inside next to a big window. I do not know whether glass, clear or tinted, also reduces transmission of infrared. If your windows have reflective coatings to reduce the heat gain from sunshine, you may suffer an even greater reduction in transmitted lumens.

  15. Ed 2 years ago

    Hi Great products I’m looking into something I can use for portable charging in the UK.

    Just one note in general on airlines you are allowed a max of 2 batteries over 100WH I think the limits is 180WH so you could make a beefier one :D

  16. phil mccammon 2 years ago

    Has goal zero thought of adding just a 100 watt-hour lithium ion battery pack without all the ports just to extend the capacity by using a blue charging cable to be able to connect to the Sherpa 100. It would double the capacity at a lower size, weight and cost if it were just a battery pack that you could plug into a Sherpa 100. As a bonus maybe it would allow you a way to pass the airline restrictions also? I’m really still in search of a back pack-able battery that will extend my use of a Transcend CPAP machine to 5 or 6 days without the need for solar, the Sherpa 100 is about 1/2 the way there now.

    • Author
      goalzero 1 year ago

      That’s a good suggestion Phil, we will pass that along. :)

      • Tim Lutz 12 months ago

        I spoke with a GoalZero rep by calling in a couple months ago. They told me that the Sherpa 100 is the largest GoalZero battery that FSA will allow without a preauthorization process. Is that not correct?

        • Author
          goalzero 12 months ago

          That is correct.

  17. Angus Scott 1 year ago

    I have a Brunton 26 watt solar panel. They stopped maki g big battery packs. Could I use that 26 watt Solaris panel to charge the Sherpa 100?

  18. Lisa -queticogal 1 year ago

    I will be traveling to NT or Manitoba this summer for 2-4 weeks -will be carrying the following which will need to be charged:
    4 ENEL15 batteries for D7200 Nikon.
    Rechargeable AAA batteries for head lamp
    Needs to withstand wet, cold weather. Please advise.

  19. Thomas Joiner 2 months ago

    I am a advent hunter and am looking at going to Utah on a week long elk hunt, but i need something that can charge my prosthetic leg. i have been looking at the sherpa 100 with the nomad 20 panels, i was just wondering if the sherpa 100 will do the job?

    • Author
      goalzero 2 months ago

      Thanks for reaching out! Please feel free to reach out to our solutions center team by phone at 1-888-794-6250 or by email at They would be happy to help you out!

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