GPS, watch, camera, phone and so on – today it feels like most people can’t leave their beds without a bunch of energy hungry Electronics.
For my Greenland trek 2018 I needed to get my electric energy consumption under control. With us we had two cameras, two watches, two phones and one drone which all of them needed to be recharged along the way, so I started to look for a new power bank. Quickly I realized there are almost too many to choose from so I had to do some research in this jungle of power banks. Hopefully sharing my work will help you find the power bank fitting your needs.
First of all, if you are the type of person who prefere getting outside instead of staying by this article, I have a short cut for you! Xtorm Power Bank Discover with 15 000 mAh. I can really recommend it and you will probably not get disappointed!
Brunton Resync 6000, Brunton Resync, Xtorm Power Bank Discover, Brunton Impel 2
How big capacity (mAh) do you really need?
Well, I guess this is the most difficult question to answer. As always – be smart and don’t consume more energy than you need. Turn off all screens when you don’t use them, don’t scroll through all your pictures every time you have taken som new ones, put your phone in flight mode or even better turn it off when you’re not using it. By making sure you act smart and put all your energy consumption products in the most suitable energy saving mode hopefully you don’t need to bring unnecessary big power banks. For example, for outdoor activities like trekking I always put my Suunto 9-watch in a mode that don’t measure my hart rate, no blue tooth Connection on, the screen don’t have to shine the brightest and I don’t have to update my GPS-position every second. By doing so I will easily double the battery time.
Running out of battery can actually even be dangerous. In the best case of running out of energy you will just miss the picture of you life and your watch will stop recording your track. In worst case, if you are using your phone as your only emergency divice (I would not recommend it, get a PLB instead) you will not be able to let any one know that you are in need of help.
In the end how much capacity, how much mAh you need depends on you, no one can give you that answer. I ended up with a battery with a capacity of 15 000 mAh.
Brunton Resync 6000 IPX5 rated with a protective cover over the connections. Xtorm Power Bank Discover without any protection agains weather.
Rugged and waterproof or not?
You will find some rugged and water proof power banks on the market. Most of them will have a cool look which might appell to some buyers. For sure, durable equipment is a must in the wilderness but so far I never really needed a rugged and water proof power bank. I always store my power bank in a pretty secure place in my back pack and most of the time I recharge my equipment when i reached my night camp in the tent, under my tarp or at another safe place.
If you know you need a rugged and waterproof power bank have a look at Powertraveller Mini-G (12 000 mAh) or Xtorm Power Bank Waterproof Xtreme (10 000 mAh). Both of them seems to be solid built with good features.
I’m not an ultra light trekker who counts every gram but all the power banks who where rugged and waterproof which I looked at had less mAh/gram compared to the onces that wern’t so therefor I favored power banks without ruggedness and waterproofing but with higher mAh/gram.
Brunton Resync 6000 with a built in solar panel.
With or without solar panels?
On the market you will find power banks with built in solar panels. An example is Solar Powerbank from Arctic Tern. Don’t confuse the power banks with solar panels with solar panels with built in power banks, as an example the BioLite SolarPanel 10+. The first ones are power banks with a tiny solar panel built on top of the power bank and the second category are serious solar panels with a power bank attached to it.
I have an older power bank from Brunton witch has a small solar panel and fore sure it works but not satisfying enough for being worth it. The small solar panels might be enough to give you some extra energy if the shit hits the fan but the small solar panels will not give you enough output to really charge your power bank. Arctic Tern are honest in their product presentation and writes that you shall consider the solar panel as an emergency feature.
Honestly, I didn’t even consider buying a power bank with built in solar panels. I was looking for a power bank with enough energy and if I would do an adventure where I would need solar power I would buy a real solar panel like Powertraveller Falcon 21, weighting 470 g and giving you 21 watt during a sunny day.
For me the conclusion was to buy a good power bank with enough energy. If I need solar power I will bring a serious solar panel with me.
Xtorm Power Bank Discover with 2 x USB + 1 USB-C and Brunton impel 2 with 1 USB + 12V/16/19V output.
Which type and how many outputs do you need?
I was looking for a power bank suitable for primary charging my gps-watch, phone and cameras at Greenland. Xtorm Power Bank Discover, which I brought with me has three outputs, one USB Type-C and two ”old” USB Type-A. Most of the time I only used one output, a few times two but never all three at the same time. For most people I guess its more than enough with two outputs.
What I think is more important than the number of outputs is the power the outputs will give you. Some of the power banks with two outputs will give you 1A in one USB and 2A in the other. With a lot of devices to charge I think 1A its too little. My advise is to look for a power bank with at least two 2A outputs which will charge your devices faster. If your devices, perhaps your phone, can handle Qualcomm Quick Charge you might want to get a power bank with Quick Charge output. It will charge your device much faster. Both Powertraveller Sport 25 and Xtorm Power Bank Discover support Quick Charge output. If you want to recharge your power bank at a high speed you have to make sure you have a suitable AC-adapter and cable.
Another thing to take into consideration is how fast your power bank will get recharged. If you are out on a longer trek where you occasionally have a possibility to recharge your power bank, you will appreciate a fast charging power bank. A power bank which can handle high power inputs will get charged faster than one with a low power input. The difference between a slow recharging power bank and a fast one can be hours.
Ospreys Ultralight Washbag Padded is great product to keep all your electronics protected.
Which one I bought?
I ended up with an Xtorm Power Bank Discover with 15 000 mAh capacity. It’s not rugged or water proof but has high power, both out and in. It also has a good ratio between capacity and weight, 46.9 mAh/g. And the price is fair, in Sweden you will get it for about 695 kr (about 70 Euros). So yes, I recommend it.