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  1. #1

    Default External battery packs for charging your devices on the trail

    I've been researching solar chargers vs. external battery packs and thought I'd share the info I obtained.

    First of all I decided against buying a solar charger. From what I've read of other people's experiences solar is not the right choice for a thru-hike on the AT. The nickname "the green tunnel" might suggest the larger of the issues. However, given the size and weight of solar chargers, the messing around trying to get them the proper sun, and the low output (related to not obtaining a full charge), it seems to me the external battery pack is the way to go. It sounds as if in order to get a decent solar charge you really need a large panel - larger than is feasible for a thru-hike. From the quick searches I've done they appear to get extremely expensive when you go big. I know there are those who will disagree with my rationale for choosing an external battery pack over a solar charger, but the main point of this post is to share the info I found pertaining to the battery packs.

    I looked at a few different makes (including the Brunton Inspire) and the best external battery packs I've found are by NewTrent. They are currently in the process of updating their website and swapping out older models with newer ones, so their website isn't entirely accurate (at the time of this posting). The following info I obtained from contacting their customer service department via phone and email.

    IMP500 - 3.9'' x 2.8'' x .69'' 5000 mAh 5.1 oz - $35 output [email protected]
    IMP50D - 4.3'' x 2.79'' x .64'' 5000 mAh 5.2 oz - $43 output1 [email protected]; output2 [email protected]
    IMP52D - 4" x 1 3/8" x 7/8" 5200 mAh 4.4 oz - $40 output [email protected] (only one port)
    IMP60D - 4 5/8" x 3 1/8" x 5/8" 6000 mAh 6.2 oz - $40 output1 [email protected]; output2 [email protected]
    IMP70D - 4.4'' x 3.45'' x .6'' 7000 mAh 7.0 oz - $46 output1 [email protected]; output2 [email protected]
    If your current phone wall charger is one where the cable separates from the plug (a USB connection) you can likely use that to charge these units from a wall outlet. The AC charger/plug for these needs to have 5V, 1A output. You simply use the plug from your current charger and connect the supplied USB cable to it.
    *D in the model name = dual port (except IMP52D)
    *The prices are the best I found doing a quick Google shopping search.

    For my purposes my phone's battery is 1300mAh, so I'd probably get at least three full charges out of one of these batteries (likely more with one of the larger units) using the low output port. The plan is to simply find a wall outlet to charge the external battery pack while in town. I've read accounts of people using these on the trail and getting at least 2-3 full phone charges out of them.

    Some of them have dual ports; one for low output, one for high output (i.e. high output to charge an iPad). They come with a USB charging cable and a mini & micro USB adapter (photo attached).

    I spoke/emailed with Robert in their customer service department. He was extremely helpful. I explained I had heard the specs weren't accurate on their website. He went to the warehouse, got each of the units, weighed them himself and sent that info to me. A coworker of his had recently re-measured the units so he sent me those dimensions. I also verified with him the capacity and model names of each unit and asked for the high and low output levels, which weren't listed on the website.

    By the time you read this they may have updated their website, but I thought I'd share my findings for those who may be interested in purchasing an external battery pack, since it took quite some digging to get all this info.

    Below are photos Robert took with his phone of the items he gathered from the warehouse. One shows all the units lined up; the other shows the included cable and adapters. The order of the units (from left to right) are: IMP70D->IMP60D->IMP52D->IMP50D->IMP500

    NewTrent battery packs.jpgNewTrent cables.jpg

  2. #2
    Backing Back into Backpacking
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    I got a "Goal Zero" solar panel and battery pack combo. Field tested both of them. The battery pack is by far more effective than the solar panel. The weight of the pack with two extra set of batteries is much lighter (and compact) than the solar panel. Three sets of batteries should be more than suffcient for most weekend warriors and section types. Those doing longer section could recharge the batteries in town whilst on resupply.
    The key to success in achieving a goal is focusing not on how far you have to go, but rather how far you have come.

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Phil 4:13

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    How much does your power pack weigh?

  4. #4
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    Why don't you just buy three spare cell phone batteries? They are small and light. Mystery solved.

    Sent from my GT-N7000 using Tapatalk
    Let me go

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.S.Kobzol View Post
    Why don't you just buy three spare cell phone batteries? They are small and light. Mystery solved.
    That's a great idea. When the battery is removable.

    Many removable lithium batteries should be able to be charged with a tiny & lightweight charger like this:
    29qfokz.jpg

  6. #6
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Tru TS but some Iphones are not switchable.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

  7. #7
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    ouch. the iphone. sorry. all my phones always had removable batteries. On Samsung Note right now. fwiw from my experience those external chargers are pita.

  8. #8
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    A few months ago, I reasearched this subject, and chose NewTrent. After 1 charge, the thing died. Wouldn't hold a charge anymore. What a pain in the beehiney. Customer service was no help,,, emails were responded to from someone obviously from another country who couldn't respond in typical english. Just my experience.
    NOBO section hiker, 1066.4 miles... & counting!!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.S.Kobzol View Post
    Why don't you just buy three spare cell phone batteries? They are small and light. Mystery solved.
    #1 - I'm due for a new cell phone by the time I'm done with my hike. Why spend more money on a 2-yr old phone that's just about to be replaced? The NewTrent battery will power my current phone as well as any phone I have in the future.
    #2 - Spare cell phone batteries will only power my current cell phone, rather than ANY USB powered device as with the NewTrent battery pack. I intend to use this unit with more than merely my phone.
    #3 - Three extra cell phone batteries will cost me much more than one of these external battery packs. I've researched extra 'standard' phone batteries as well as 'extended' phone batteries (which also require the purchase of a different back cover).
    No mystery here. I've already solved that (speaking for myself).

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Dawg View Post
    A few months ago, I reasearched this subject, and chose NewTrent. After 1 charge, the thing died. Wouldn't hold a charge anymore. What a pain in the beehiney. Customer service was no help,,, emails were responded to from someone obviously from another country who couldn't respond in typical english. Just my experience.
    Ouch, that would definitely be a bad experience. I've heard positive stories from some using them who reported they worked fine, but it's great to hear about any negative stories as well. Anyone else experience this issue where they die while still being new? I'd love to hear more feedback from anyone who has used this brand in the past.

  11. #11
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    Keep on believing battery packs. Come back and tell us how it went.

    Quote Originally Posted by hoosch View Post
    #1 - I'm due for a new cell phone by the time I'm done with my hike. Why spend more money on a 2-yr old phone that's just about to be replaced? The NewTrent battery will power my current phone as well as any phone I have in the future.
    #2 - Spare cell phone batteries will only power my current cell phone, rather than ANY USB powered device as with the NewTrent battery pack. I intend to use this unit with more than merely my phone.
    #3 - Three extra cell phone batteries will cost me much more than one of these external battery packs. I've researched extra 'standard' phone batteries as well as 'extended' phone batteries (which also require the purchase of a different back cover).
    No mystery here. I've already solved that (speaking for myself).

  12. #12

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    Here are 2 that I looked at getting.....http://richardsolo.com/9000mahmobilecharger.aspx (10.2 oz) 9000 mA
    http://richardsolo.com/usbpowerstation.aspx (5.5 oz) 5000 mA

    You can find them as "unbranded" products much cheaper. I did a ton of research and the unbranded are the exact same, minus the carrying case and RichSolo name. I almost got the 5000mA due to the weight difference, but I bit the bullet and went for the 9000mA. Even tho it weighs double, you get almost twice the capacity and the shell is made of metal. I've now had it on 3 or 4 section hikes and it's been great! Gives me more than enough juice for 4 days of heavy use as well as giving a quick jolt to my companions phone(s).

    I bought if from dealextreme for just under $45 shipped. I believe that site as well as ebay has the smaller one.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.S.Kobzol View Post
    Keep on believing battery packs. Come back and tell us how it went.
    T.S.Kobzol, do you have any constructive criticism to share with us? It sounds like you have owned/used one of these battery packs before. Which one did you own? Did it completely fail? How did you use it and how did it let you down?

    Simply putting down the idea isn't all that helpful. If you have experience with these devices why not share it so we can make educated decisions? Of course the manufacturer is going to say they work perfectly, but I'm looking for reviews of actual use...especially on a thru-hike. The point of starting this thread was to inform those who are in the same boat as me. I'm merely trying to help others out (as I learn myself).

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by dturb View Post
    Here are 2 that I looked at getting.....http://richardsolo.com/9000mahmobilecharger.aspx (10.2 oz) 9000 mA
    http://richardsolo.com/usbpowerstation.aspx (5.5 oz) 5000 mA
    Thanks for the info! Great to hear it worked well for you. I'll look into that.

    A buddy of mine has a Goal Zero solar charger and while it worked when we were in the BWCA over Labor Day weekend when he could lay it out on a rock all afternoon in the sun, it didn't work so well a few months later when the sun was intermittent. I'm looking forward to doing a side-by-side comparison on our next trip together. The Goal Zero certainly takes up more room, weighs more, and requires a certain amount of messing around (and costs at least three times as much). I also plan to use the battery pack on my winter camping trips, where there's hardly any sun to speak of (in MN).

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