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#194200 - 03/12/16 08:57 PM Which external battery pack to choose?
les404 Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/10/16
Posts: 2
Hi all,

My name is Leon. I am new to this forum. I enjoy hiking and camping. I go hiking year round for 2-3 days to the parks and forests near me - I live in Ottawa, Canada.

I am thinking of buying an external battery charger/pack for hiking. This battery charger will be used to power smartphones and tablets that we take with us. I am considering two models: Innergie PocketCell Duo and Anker Astro 5600. Has anyone used these batteries before? What did you like/didn't like about them?

Based on your experience, what are the most important features for an external battery pack for hiking?

Thanks,

Leon

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#194228 - 03/14/16 01:03 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: les404]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I have never used either, but the Anker has good reviews.

I don't bring a battery recharger. I just bring a few extra primary batteries for the things I need. I turn my phone off, and my camera battery will last all week for the amount of photography that I do.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#194245 - 03/14/16 07:56 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: les404]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I too try to use minimal batteries. I don't take my cell phone because, at least out here in the west, most places I hike are out of cell phone range. In fact, I usually get out of cell phone range while driving my car to the trailhead. The only items with batteries that I take are my camera and my headlamp. I take one extra set (2 A cells) for the camera. For the headlamp, I start with fresh lithium batteries which will last several weeks.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#194257 - 03/15/16 09:29 AM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: les404]
AlanL Offline
member

Registered: 02/24/16
Posts: 36
Loc: North Carolina
Most of the time I leave the electronics at home. But some times we like to shoot some fun video so if I take anything, I take one TYLT USB charger - I'll use it to recharge my GoPro, video camera, phone. Got mine at Costco.

http://www.costco.com/TYLT-3%2c200mAh-Portable-Cell-Phone-and-Tablet-Charger-2-Pack.product.100244845.html


Originally Posted By les404
Hi all,

My name is Leon. I am new to this forum. I enjoy hiking and camping. I go hiking year round for 2-3 days to the parks and forests near me - I live in Ottawa, Canada.

I am thinking of buying an external battery charger/pack for hiking. This battery charger will be used to power smartphones and tablets that we take with us. I am considering two models: Innergie PocketCell Duo and Anker Astro 5600. Has anyone used these batteries before? What did you like/didn't like about them?

Based on your experience, what are the most important features for an external battery pack for hiking?

Thanks,

Leon

Top
#194279 - 03/16/16 11:06 AM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: les404]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1144
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
Based on your experience, what are the most important features for an external battery pack for hiking?

I doubt that many have experience with more than one of these devices, so it's difficult to get a good comparative review.

I would suggest that the key factor for the typical backpacker is just weight of the unit as a ratio to the amount of charge it delivers.

How you use your phone and/or tablet makes a big difference, both in terms of apps/functionality, and things that you do to minimize power drain. Do enough of that and I would suggest that for 2-3 days you don't need an external battery pack. But if you're only thinking of short distances to hike or just car camping, then sure --- don't worry about it, toss one in.

My own approach is to use a smartphone that has a replaceable battery; in my case that's a Samsung Galaxy S5. More recent models of the Galaxy 'S' line have eliminated that (for me key) feature, so I'm done with Samsung phones now I think, except for hanging on to the S5 for a good long time. If I were buying a smartphone today, I would have a look at the LG G5, which does offer a removable battery. Carrying a spare battery is always a lighter weight option than an external battery pack, and you don't lose power in an unneeded device-to-device transfer, just plug in a new one and go.

OTOH, my S5 is highly water resistant (IPX 67 rated), which is great. But it was rarely a big problem putting earlier smartphones into a snack sized ziplock bag on rainy days. Only real downside for me is that I take pretty much no pictures on rainy days, but don't tend to take a lot of pictures on such days anyway.

Tablet: I'll take a tablet on vacations or biking trips, but can't imagine taking one hiking. IMO the extra screen size isn't worth the weight when hiking, plus I always have my phone anyway because of the actual phone functionality. Maybe a phablet, if I had one.
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#194488 - 03/24/16 12:25 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: BrianLe]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 630
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
+1 on the Galaxy S5 with extra batteries. That's what I use. Plus, if you're out of a service area, which you likely will be, put it in airplane mode. It's shocking how long the charge will last in airplane mode. My last outing was roughly 48 hours from the time I unplugged it from the car charger to the time I plugged it back in and it still had 75% charge. I had been using it a lot for pictures as well.

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#194644 - 03/30/16 03:12 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: les404]
dylansdad77 Offline
member

Registered: 03/12/14
Posts: 158
Loc: New Jersey
I've used both the Anker and Jackery Bar with good results from both. The Jackery Bar offers more size options with the ability to recharge a Samsung Galaxy S5 1.5 times to more than 4 times. However, as the charge capacity goes up, so does the weight.

For day trips, I use a small Jackery Bar as 1 recharge is more than enough (my MapMyHike app draws a lot of battery). For overnight and multi-day trips, I bring a larger Jackery Bar with up to 3 recharges available...or I leave it home.

From a weight perspective, the Anker is lighter than the Jackery Bar for the same level of charge, but the difference is only a few ounces - hardly enough to scoff at unless going on a long trek and every ounce counts.

The long and short (or perhaps heavy and light) of it is that I don't think you could go wrong with either of these options...
_________________________
Did you know that 83.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot?

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#195415 - 05/20/16 11:28 AM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: les404]
starscream Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/17/16
Posts: 4
Loc: North Carolina
Hi, I'm new to this forum. Been reading for a few days but never posted.

I've had my eye on this external pack after seeing a review of it on youtube by a fellow backpacker sintax77:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MQSMEEE?ref_=ams_ad_dp_asin_3
RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Power Bank.

Has anyone else had any experience with this brand or model? Thanks.

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#195416 - 05/20/16 11:38 AM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: starscream]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 630
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Though I admittedly haven't used an external battery before, 10.88 ounces definitely sounds excessive! How long are you planning to go between having access to an outlet? The ad claims you can charge an iPhone 6 times. What are you going to charge, and how long does it take you to run it down?

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#195418 - 05/20/16 11:54 AM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: 4evrplan]
starscream Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/17/16
Posts: 4
Loc: North Carolina
It is a little excessive for what I need, but I figured it could serve for travel purposes with the family. I wouldn't need it for more than a three day trip as backup for a phone, gps, and small video camera. Just the phone if I can get away with it (not sure about using it as a primary gps though).

I was also looking at this model, which is less juice, weight, and a bit cheaper:
http://www.ravpower.com/dp/B00XC1WAQ6


Edited by starscream (05/20/16 11:56 AM)

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#195419 - 05/20/16 12:03 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: starscream]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 630
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Do you plan to put your phone in airplane mode? Many wilderness areas don't have a signal anyway, and it makes a huge difference in power consumption. It might not matter much if you're using the built-in GPS though. You should do some tests, maybe a day-hike or two or an overnight using your devices the way you plan to on longer trips and see how much power you actually consumer per hour or per day. Then compare that with the capacity of your device(s) internal battery(s), given in mAh, to estimate how many times they would have to be recharged on a longer trip and what capacity of external battery you would need.

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#195420 - 05/20/16 12:09 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: 4evrplan]
starscream Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/17/16
Posts: 4
Loc: North Carolina
Definitely will be in airplane mode. All features will be off except for GPS and camera. I'll definitely have a chance to give the phone a test in the next couple of weeks. I just purchased a Galaxy s7 a few weeks ago and am still figuring it out somewhat.

Thanks for the reply!

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#195421 - 05/20/16 12:27 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: starscream]
scratchtp Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/12
Posts: 64
Loc: New York
One more thing to consider with external batteries is that they usually don't have 100% efficiency, more like 70-80%. I have used a outdoor tech kodiak mini (2600 mah) to recharge a cell phone with battery of 2600 mah, but it only charged the battery to 71%. From what I read on the topic, this can depend on the battery, the phone itself, and the length of the cable used to connect the battery to the phone (shorter ~6 inches being more efficient than a longer cable). Some of those things you can control, some you can't. Supposedly anker has more efficient batteries but that might also just be marketing. A higher quality, shorter cable should also make a difference (hypothetically).

TL;DR Keep in mind that if you plan on charging a battery of 10,000 mah to 100%, you'll need a battery with at least 20% more capacity (possibly more), at least 12.000mah. A 5600 mah battery would probably only provide 4500 mah of "real" charge at most.

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#195422 - 05/20/16 01:35 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: scratchtp]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Of course the alternative, for this luddite, is to minimize the number of electronic gadgets! laugh I take only my camera and my headlamp, neither of which uses rechargeable batteries. I take an extra set for my camera, but since I can turn off the LCD screen and use just the viewfinder (I deliberately bought one of the rare cameras that has this feature) I rarely use up the fresh batteries in the camera even if out for 10 days. By putting a fresh set of lithium batteries in the headlamp before the trip, I don't need to take extras for that. I also take a Personal Locator Beacon, but that battery can be changed only at the factory, and of course it's for use only in dire emergencies.

Since where I backpack there is no cell phone reception, I usually hide the turned-off phone in the depths of my car. I won't need it until returning from the trip--once I've driven into cell phone range (which may be up to an hour after leaving the trailhead), I use it to call the person to whom I've given my itinerary.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#195424 - 05/20/16 01:51 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: OregonMouse]
scratchtp Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/12
Posts: 64
Loc: New York
Also a good idea of course! I generally just take my cellphone and leave it in an airplane mode, but I do like to record GPS tracks of the hike, use it as a map (supplemented by paper maps), and mark nice campsites, interesting waterfalls, etc, in case I return and want to find them again. Since it also functions as my camera, if I'm doing more than an overnight I have started bringing a light external battery as well.

It's a good point though, if you find yourself taking multiple gadgets that need to be recharged with a heavy external battery, it might be worth considering which ones are necessary. Could the phone take the place of whatever functionality the tablet is giving you? Maybe a slim paperback instead of kindle/tablet + extra battery? It all depends on how many things you are willing to carry/tinker with. If it's worth it to you, then by all means, HYOH.

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#195425 - 05/20/16 02:06 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: scratchtp]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 630
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Scratch, may I ask what type of phone you carry and how long a charge lasts using it as only GPS and camera? I haven't used mine as a GPS yet, because I suspect it would run down the battery very fast.

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#195426 - 05/20/16 02:11 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: scratchtp]
starscream Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/17/16
Posts: 4
Loc: North Carolina
If I can get away with it, I'd like to just take my phone. It has gps with the back country navigator and the camera on the s7 is pretty good too. I'll have it on airplane mode the whole time I'm out, and probably turned off the majority of the time. The downside to the new Galaxy phones are that you can't bring a backup battery anymore (at least it's beyond my technological capabilities).

Thanks for the replies everyone. Something to think about. As mentioned previously, I'll be able to test the limits of my phone battery pretty soon while on a car camping trip with the family to better assess what my needs are.

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#195427 - 05/20/16 02:30 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: 4evrplan]
scratchtp Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/12
Posts: 64
Loc: New York
4everplan, I use a sony xperia z3 compact. I have been impressed with the battery overall, it seems to last longer than my previous phone at least. Usually if I make sure to stop the track recording when we stop for lunch or take long breaks and over night, it will get me through almost 2 full days of use as GPS and camera (down to 10% by the second evening on my last trip). I use backcountry navigator pro for the mapping functionality. I also keep the screen pretty dim and don't take a ton of photos, which might help a little bit with battery consumption. Most of my trips are 2-3 days unfortunately, but almost the perfect length for my phone!

It really seems to depend on the phone (and how much you use it); I know my old phone would have lasted a day at most with the same usage. Best I can say is give it a shot and see how it works for your phone!

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#195429 - 05/20/16 09:04 PM Re: Which external battery pack to choose? [Re: OregonMouse]
ndsol Offline
member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 673
Loc: Houston, Texas
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
I take only my camera and my headlamp, neither of which uses rechargeable batteries. I take an extra set for my camera, but since I can turn off the LCD screen and use just the viewfinder (I deliberately bought one of the rare cameras that has this feature) I rarely use up the fresh batteries in the camera even if out for 10 days.


I know that this sounds counter-intuitive, but the EVF on my Sony DSLT actually uses more power than the LCD screen.

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