Portable USB chargers; they all the same right? Well no. I’ve had a few portable battery charger devices by other companies and had reliability issues out of them and slow charging times. The issues usually showed up within a few weeks to a month. I occurred the marriage of these two issues on a Porcupine Mountains backpacking trip last year when I had used up all the battery on my phone taking photos along the Escarpment trail just to miss a photo of the last and most beautiful view of the whole trail as the sun was just breaking through the clouds. With all electronics quality of components are important.
Now an external battery charger isn’t just a device for your outdoor pursuits when you are far away from an electrical plug but a basic device to have given our dependence on phones and our on the go lifestyle when around your hometown or traveling as having an external battery just allows it to charge while you are on the move. It also gets rid of the need to bring your wall charger with you, and potentially forgetting it somewhere.
The RAVPower 6700mAH battery charger (RP-PB17) has been on my radar to buy for a while and finally took the plunge as spring outings start. The RAVPower is one of the lighter models of chargers in the 6000mAH range while still coming in a nice aluminum housing. The battery pack itself weighs 143g, 24″ micro USB cable 16g and the mesh bag included 6g. A total weight of 165g or 5.8 ounces. The thing I like about this size is it will allow me to atleast get two full charges for my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone along with a bit of reserve power. This amount of power gives me the ability to spend 2-4 days backpacking while taking lots of photos with my phone (in airplane mode) or a full day of GPS tracking via your favorite app such as Strava or Endomondo when doing bike touring given that most phones batteries won’t last more than 3-4 hours with heavy use of location services.
If two full charges is too much charging capacity for your needs and you may want to take a look at the RAVPower 3350mAH charger at 2.6 ounces or for the thru-hiker, super adventure seekers or for charging multiple devices then the RAVPower 16750mAH at 11.3 ounces might be just the size you need. Personally I am going to opt for two of the 6700mAH batteries to keep excess weight down by only taking what I need for a given outing. This would work for many people as well however if you are someone anticipating limited availability to electricity then charging two devices would require swapping the second one in the night or having two chargers and cables; so not an ideal solution for trips with brief access to electric to charge back up.
The RAVPower Luster series of chargers also uses a Smart charging technology that can determine the optimal charging voltage to give the fastest but safest voltage output to minimize charge speed. The battery cells used are also A+ Lithium-Ion batteries to ensure a long life which they rate to over 500 charge cycles.