Reviews on the mighty Power Banks.
When you are out on the trail in nature you are hard press to find a power source to plug into. Part of the beauty and attraction to being on a trail is to not have the modern technology and to just have a break from it, but in this day and age it is so very hard to not need some kind of technology or need to charge a device.
Most people would carry a phone with them whether it is to stay in touch with loved ones, use a navigation app on the phone, take photos with it or just play their music or read a downloaded book. Boy how the world has changed. Many also have GPS watches, like myself, or maybe carry a camera, an I-pad or even a laptop, whatever the device it would all need a power source to charge it up.
Often on the trail, as I’m a freelance writer and now documentary maker, plus I have my blog and various social media sites I find it extremely important to be carrying some of these devices. When on a trail overseas I would carry my mini I-pad, camera (occasionally my drone) and my GPS watch and if travelling with my husband we also carry his phone.
Here in Australia if I go interstate to hike I carry my mini I-pad and or I-phone, camera and GPS watch. I can be on a trail for a few days, weeks or even months at a time and with little chance of recharging from a main power source. Overseas however I would often end in a town each day, so it isn’t so bad.
So, what do I do when on the trail to recharge my devices? I carry a power bank. Now there are many on the market and it as everything is confusing and hard to decide what sort would suit your particular needs. In this post I want to break it down just to help you decide what type you may need for your time on the trail.
What to look for in a Power Bank, (PB).
The first question you need to ask yourself is – What do I want to charge with my Power Bank? And how long are you on the trail for? This will determine what size mAh you may require.
What is mAh? This basically is the measure of energy capacity of the battery pack. The higher the number of mAh the larger capacity the pack will have, for example if you have a power bank that is 3000mAh.
- If you are only on the trail for a day or two and you only require a phone charge then you could get away with using a PB of 3000mAh,
- If you are on the trail for say a week or more and only require a phone charge, then you would look at 10000mAh.
- If you are on the trail for a week or more but have the opportunity to re charge your power bank and are using other devices like a camera, Gps watch etc then you really want to consider a PB of 20000mAh or one that has a solar panel connected to it.
The other feature of a Power Bank you would want to consider is what power ports do you require. It is no good having a PB that you cannot connect to. You will find different PB’s offer different ports, some more than others.
Another determining feature of the PB you choose for hiking is the size and weight. Some are very heavying and quite cumbersome while others are light and compact. I have carried quite a few different styles from time to time and as I need the power source, probably more so than a typical hiker, the weight and size isn’t the strongest concern more the function and size of the mAh.
An important feature I feel to consider when choosing a PB for your hiking adventure is it’s durability to withstand the weather and knocks and drops it may receive. You will want it to be waterproof to a certain degree and dust proof as well, especially if it is one that has a solar panel with it. You will want to check out its performance if the temperature is too cold or too hot. Some just simply don’t work in the extreme temperatures, so check with the manufactures especially if you are hitting a trail that you know will you be experiencing extremes.
Below I am sharing some of the Power Banks I have used over the time whilst hiking and I will give you the pro’s and con’s that I have found with these products. Do remember this is of my opinion and what I have experienced and just a guide line to perhaps help you with your decision on what to get.
An important thing to remember about carrying your Power Bank on a plane is to check first with the airline you are flying with. Most the time you must carry it in your hand luggage and depending on the size mAh and the airline to whether they are allowed or not on the plane.
Xiaomi 20000mAh Mi Power Bank.
Whilst preparing for my 1000km Bibbulmun Track Journey I did some research into a power bank that would suit my needs while out there. The Bibbulmun Track journey had me on the track for 54 days with only 9 track towns where I could re-supply and recharge my equipment. Now when I say equipment I had a few things with me as I was filming a documentary and writing an article for a magazine at the time of walking, so it was crucial to get the right product.
A fellow hiker from the east coast put me onto this power bank and I am so glad he did. I never ran out of charge, it didn’t fail me once and I loved it so much I have since bought another one for my husband.
I found it recharged all my gear super fast and never failed once. When I recharged the power bank it would take at least 10-12 hours but that was ok as I did this over night. The longest the PB charge out on the track lasted for me was 8 days, and I was charging every night fully my I-phone 7, and my Suunto GPS watch and every second day my Go-Pro and camera and I-Pod.
The gear I had on the journey was my
- Suunto GPS watch,
- Nikon digital camera,
- I-Phone (for writing and voice recording),
Let’s break it down –
Product – Xiaomi 20000mAh Mi Power Bank.
It’s features and specifications according to their website are –
- Lithium-ion polymer batteries Panasonic / LG high-density battery cells
- Weight 290g (though the website says 338g mine isn’t)
- Dual USB ports with fast charging support
- Automatically adjusts output level based on the connected device
- Compatible with smartphones and tablets from Mi 4, Apple, Samsung, HTC, Google and BlackBerry, as well as a variety of digital cameras and handheld gaming devices.
- Temperature Resistance
- Short-circuit protection
- Heat resistant (90°C) – I found despite the weather I have had not issues (though not had it in below -2°C)
- The 20000mAh Mi Power Bank is rated at 72Wh, which is in line with most aircraft regulations. Please check with your local CAA regarding battery restrictions on flights.
- Light weight.
- Dual Input Ports.
- lasts a long time whilst charging many devices.
- Compatible with multi devices and will charge I-pads, lap tops including Mac.
- Temperature friendly.
- Very quick charging.
- Never failed to charge.
- A little bulky.
- Not water proof or dust proof.
The Savage 20000mAh Power Bank by Outxe.
I had the chance to give this product a road test for Outxe while out on a 4-day hiking trip just recently and do a review for them. Below is my review for them –
‘I love that it is a very strong rugged design and is water-resistant as this is needed when in the outback. The fact that I can accidentally drop it and know it is not going to break is reassuring, also it is dust proof which is another great feature for hiking and camping. I fully charged it before heading out, it didn’t take long to do so, and as I was only out for 4 days it still had charge of 2 bars left when I returned. I was charging my Suunto Traverse watch and I-phone 7. I found however it would randomly stop charging on occasions and I would need to keep checking. Not sure why. I had it placed on the top of my backpack during the day and put it in the sun on my lunch breaks, so I think this helped keep the charge. Found the Flash light great as you can have it bright or not so bright while in the tent. The down side is this product is extremely heavy and too heavy to hang in my tent. At just over 500g it is a very heavy item for any hiker to carry. Loved the straps and carabiner set up made easy to put on the top of my pack but again too heavy as every time I bent forward it would cluck me in the head. It is a good feature to have the dual input esp. micro USB, this is something other power banks don’t tend to have. As I only went for 4 days on this trip and it is winter here in Australia, I would like to give it a good run on a longer trip and in the summertime as I think it would be handy whilst out bush for weeks at a time with no other power source. The biggest negative for me however is the weight as everything I pack on my long trips I carry on my back, so I have to be weight conscious, still I willing to give it another go.’
Let’s break it down –
Product – Outxe 20000mAh Savage Solar Charger 4A Dual input Type C and USB (Quick Charge).
It’s features are –
- Water proof
- Dust proof
- Shock proof and crush proof
- 2W solar panel
- Dual Input Ports and output ports
- Quick charge
- Non-slip case
- Padded corners for protection
- Bright 3 set light
- Two side straps with carabiners for hanging on the pack
Its specifications according to their website is –
- Capacity – 20000 mAh
- Battery type – Li-polymer Rechargeable Battery
- A waterproof rate – IP66
- Solar Panel – 2W, 400mA
- Flash light luminous Flux – 200lm
- Micro USB input – DC 5V/2A (max)
- Type C USB input – DC 5V/3A (max)
- Quick charge Output – DC 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A (max)
- Smart Output – DC 5V/2.4A (max)
- Dimensions – 170×86×30 mm / 6.7×3.4×1.2 in
- Weight: 525g /18.5 oz
- Water proof
- Dust proof.
- Dual Input Ports.
- Bright 3 set flash light. Easy to see around the campground at night.
- Shock proof and crush proof.
- Solar Panel – though need to be in an environment that gives full sun.
- Two side straps with carabiners for hanging on the pack.
- Weight: 525g /18.5 oz – this is extremely heavy.
- Solar Panel – you really need to be in an environment that gives full sun or it’s a useless feature.
- Would randomly stop charging on occasions with no reason.
- Doesn’t like to charge when temperatures are below 0 degrees C.
- Bulky and awkward sitting on top of the pack and if you bend forward it hits you in the head.
- Unable to hang in the tent to use the light as it is too heavy.
Goal Zero – Nomad 7.
I am always on the look out for a great way to charge my gear. As I hike a lot of long distance trails, and writing as a freelance writer also I have a Blog/website (means I carry most the time my mini I-pad), I also take a trillion photos and film for my various media sites and my You-tube channel, this means I am always needing to recharge of my devices.
I decided to give the Goal Zero a go as I had seen it quite a bit pop up on various hiking sites and because it is solar. Now I do now that using solar isn’t always the best as it really does need the sun and a lot, so having it on a hike where I am in the bush under trees a lot it is no good, having it in an environment where it is consistently raining and grey skies above is no good but I wanted to give it a go. Lets face it I’m in Australia and we have a lot of sun.
This solar pack came with a re-charger pack (Guide 10 plus) that store charge with 4 x AA batteries. This is handy if you have a head-torch etc that use these batteries but also you can recharge you devices from it and the re-charger pack charges from the solar panel.
The Guide 10 plus re-charger pack features according to their website are –
- USB port and a USB 2.0 mini B port.
- Flash light.
- Hook for hanging.
- Weight is 155g
Goal Zero Nomad 7 features according to their website are –
- Charges USB devices directly from the sun.
- Charges most devise in 2.5 – 5 hours.
- 12V port.
- Rugged and Modular. Weatherproof layering and angles for optimum sun.
- Attaches to your back pack nicely.
- Auto restart, the ability to track power flow history and knows the difference between a device that has reached a fully charged state and one that disconnects due to environmental causes, i.e. lack of sunlight, shadow, etc.
- Solar Intensity Indicator + Junction Box, LED indicator displays strength of solar conditions. Receive immediate feedback on panel-to-sun placement to improve solar charging experience.
- Power rated 7W.
- Open Circuit Voltage – 8-9V.
- Cell Type is Monocrystalline.
- Weight is 459g
- Folds up flat for easy storage in your pack if not using.
- Has a net pocket attached at the back for neat storage of cords and the Guide 10 plus power pack.
- Has rechargeable AA batteries you can use on other devices.
- The Guide 10 plus has a flash light and a hook to hang in your tent.
- Free power from the sun.
- Sits really well on your back pack to charge whilst hiking with plenty of attaching hooks.
- Bit pricey at around $210 AU for the Solar panel and the Guide 10 Plus power pack.
- It is on the heavy side, though you don’t notice it so much.
- No good when there is no sun.