How to stay charged up on adventure
Capturing the moment when you finally, finally, reach the peak, reach the end, or reach the campfire can be so meaningful, so hard won, you want to record the memory. Photos, video, posts to Insta – grabbing hold of a moment to savour for later is all part of the experience.
Your phone or tablet is usually the tool to render those impressions digitally – so what are the best ways to recharge devices on adventure? Or if digital isn’t your thing, you still need power for light and other gear. And a device with a flat battery is just dead weight in your pack.
Portable power solutions have come a long way, and there are power banks that are ruggedised to handle outdoor fun, plus solar chargers to give you endless power wherever the sun shines.
Here is our guide to choosing the right portable power solution for your next expedition.
- Choose quality – To make sure that your power system can handle it out there in the wild, focus on quality over pretty. It can never be overstated that quality is important everywhere but when it comes to power, it’s even more the case. You don’t want to have the system you are relying on for everything else to go bung just when you need it, leaving you without access to lights, phone, GPS and more. Quality brands are engineered to handle bumps, splashes and much more – and when the night falls, you will be glad that the torch turns on. Leading brands Mophie, Swiss Mobility, Braven, BioLite and Powertraveller have ruggedised models ready for our kind of day.
- Choose the right size – Its all maths. Your phone battery size is around 1200mAh and an iPad is around 9000mAh, so the battery size of the power pack you choose has to be a multiple of that, depending on how many recharges you expect from it before reaching the next mains power point. Expect some battery leakage so always underestimate how many recharges you will get from the power pack, rather than over.
- Choose the right type – look at the device you want to recharge, and understand its demands. An iPad or tablet needs a 2.1A recharge rate, so it won’t do to choose a power pack designed for phones only, with a maximum recharge rate of 1.1A. There are different styles to consider, for example, do you want a battery pack built into a protective case for your phone, or a universal power pack to plug into various devices?
- Consider solar – Endless power from the sun is a great proposition for outdoor adventure. Pair a solar collector with a power bank to recharge while the lux is there, and use it later when you are done for the day. It takes away the reliance on stored power, so you can carry a smaller, lighter rechargeable power pack.
How to use a solar charger
Whether you are using your solar charger out in the wild, or closer to home, there are some ways to make sure that you get the best from it.
- To increase the efficiency of your solar charger, make sure the panels directly face the sun at all times. As the sun moves across the sky throughout the day, adjust your solar charger accordingly. Most solar panels come with stands or hooks to be able to hang or place it in just the right spot for great light.
- The power of the sun’s rays depends on the season, as during summer the earth faces more directly towards the sun. As a result, solar recharge times can vary depending on the season where you are.
- The time of day is also an important factor to consider when using your solar charger. You will get the best performance when the sun is at the highest point in the sky, usually at noon. In fact, an hour charging at midday will give better charge than a few hours later on the same day.
- Extreme weather can affect your solar charger’s efficiency. If its baking hot, protect your solar panels until its a little cooler, ideally less than 45deg C.
- A great way to use a solar charger for your mobile phone or tablet while hiking or bushwalking is to WEAR IT! Strap it to your backpack and recharge your portable battery anywhere you go. Then its on hand to charge up your phone, camera, GPS or headlamp.
- Closer to home, leave it on the window sill or on the car dashboard through the day so you can recharge your devices off the grid at night. If you are charging through a window, windscreen, etc, be aware that the charging times will be increased, especially if your windows are tin