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External Battery Chargers: How do you keep charged on the road?

electrically charged external battery charger, external battery chargers for travelers

External battery chargers: Keeping charged on the road

How many times have you kept your mp3 running the entire flight only to touch down in a country and realize you’ve got one bar left and it’s dwindling quickly? Maybe you’ll be away from a power source for days, don’t have time to power your devices or perhaps you’re staying in a hostel where outlets are shared by others.

In this wireless world, we just have more of a reliance on technology and social media in our lifestyles and that carries over to travel. Chances are when you travel you’ll be carrying at least one to three of the following items: a smart device (phone), a DSLR (and/or pocket camera) and/or a laptop (or tablet, reader, etc..).

These days, I rely a lot on my iPodTouch as access flight timetables, hotel reservations, directions, subway maps,.. a lot of important things. To see my battery go down to a bar or hit red when I’m nowhere near an outlet or when I  have 1/4 a day left in sightseeing… is alarming.

So how do you keep charged on the road?  What travel gadgets do you use?

External battery chargers & keeping charged on the road

For me, external battery chargers have been my new god-send in travel gadgets I’ve been trying these out for the past two years.  Here’s my take on them.There are three external battery chargers on the market. I’ll go from my best to worst. 

• Electrically -charged charger

So far,  electrically-charged external battery chargers are my top choice.  I love my electrically-charged battery charger, such that I named mine, The Wookie (I like nick-naming my things).

As long as I can get to a computer or a wall outlet and leave it in for the duration of at least an hour, the result is consistent. Depending on the mAh of your charger, you’ll have juice to recharge your device once or several times.  There’s no extra batteries to carry around or buy and the entire set from charger to battery is minimal and light.

Con: The only foreseeable setback is if you’re going camping for days.  If you’ve bought a charger with a high mAh capacity, you may be covered a few days. But if it is too low you may only get a one to a couple of charges out of it, before needing to find an outlet again.

external battery charger reviews

Here’s my Wookie. Unfortunately, I bought this in Korea, so I can’t tell you how else to get it. But I’d recommend it.

What’s a mAh?

mAh is the battery’s power capacity. Imagine a bank.  Each bank has a spending limit assigned to it and the larger the number, the more you can spend. That’s how the mAh concept works. The larger the number, the more times you can withdraw from it.

When I bought my charger, I didn’t really know what mAh to look for. I just saw that higher the mAh, the higher the cost and I wasn’t ready to spend $50 on a backup external charger, nor did I want to load my bag with extra weight. So I got a chicken’s worth of 1,800 mAh at around $22 USD.  It’s enough to fully charge my pocket camera (that I use for shooting video) or iPod Touch about 1.5 times.  Not bad. Some chargers can go up to as high as 15,000 mAh or higher. Of course, they’ll be larger in size and weight. Check out Aussie Nomad’s Gum Duo Drive (capacity: 12,000).

external battery charger review,

 

• AAA battery operated external charger

AAA battery-operated external chargers are another feasible option. They’re consistent in charging, as well.

My Griffin Tune Juice charger comes in handy, when I don’t have an outlet or if I’m  trekking in the woods for days on end. I got around 1-2 charges out of it for my iPod Touch.

However, batteries have gotten to be expensive in the U.S. ; not to mention, if you get a family pack of batteries (which is a recommended backup precaution) that obviously means extra weight in your bag. You could buy rechargeable AAA batteries to off-set the cost of buying batteries, but then your charger is an added weigh on top of batteries.

Con: A heavy choice and potentially, costly choice.

aaa external battery chargers, travel technology and gadgets, Griffin tune juice battery charger

Good, but a heavy choice.  PS Notice the dust on the top of this. It hasn’t been used since I bought my Wookie.

• Solar-operated charger  (*inconsistent*)

Solar-powered battery chargers claim to get it’s charge from the sun and makes it seem like the ideal, cost-efficient charger. Seems is the operative word, so you’ll be tempted to buy it.  I was tempted.

I tried a few brands and realized, they’re good in concept but many have felt like inadequate toys to me. The result is inconsistent and the solar-powered aspect only carries 1/3 the power you’d expect for the amount of time it’s spent in the sun.

I’ve tried two keychain chargers and returned them both, within a week, putting them off forever. Then I got an Earth-Friendly Charger as  Christmas present and it wasn’t returnable. My Earth-Friendly charger, supposedly, charged three ways: (1) direct sunlight *emphasis on direct, (2) cabled to the computer via USB, and (3)  plugged into an electrical outlet.

Initially, when I charged it via the computer the first couple of times, it charged well. But then, I took it on the road and put the solar-powered promise to the test. It was inconsistent. In direct sunlight, I could only charge my digital camera 1/4 the battery and if you know, that’s not enough last even an hour of shooting. So to salvage my device from the trash, I decided maybe I could just use it by charging it from my laptop or electrical outlet. Total fail. On the road, I need consistency and I need it to come through especially when I’m in a pinch.

I had to resort to my electrically charged charger. The only thing this has been good for is as a solar-charged flash light.

Solar powered external battery charger with USB connection, earth-friendly charger review, travel technology and gadgets

Solar powered external battery charger with USB connection

If anyone has had a different experience, please tell me which brand you’ve used.

How do you keep charged when you travel? What are your favorite  external battery chargers?

Note: This post contains a couple of affiliate links. I receive a eensie-tiny percentage if you purchase anything from this site. This is at no additional cost to you, so it’s a win-win situation.

14 Comments

  1. I am glad I came across this post. I am just wondering whether the Gum Max Duo is suitable for Android phones too? It looks like a great device. I’ll check out the other ones too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mansi says:

    Thanks for sharing your good idea while traveling, but i am always carry my laptop with good source of charging.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Perfect timing for us – we have been looking for the best back up charging system and I think based on this post we will look more into the electrically charged charger. We will certainly need it while on the Camino next Spring.. Thanks for the great advice!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Cheryl: Can you see me turning green right now? The Camino de Santiago? Wow, how long for?

  4. Jess says:

    I usually rely on my computer as a backup charger for anything with a usb – of course, that only lasts as long as I don’t want to use my laptop for anything else, since I have to reserve the power.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Jess: ha ha… yeah, it’s all about figuring out where you need the juice the most. Ran into that issue once of weighing which I needed charged most- my laptop or my digital camera. BTW- there’s cheap plug adapters that you can just add onto your USB so you can use a wall outlet. 😉

      • Cheryl says:

        We had been using our iPhone as a GPS in a very remote area of Italy and about 1 hour from reaching our destination the low battery warning came on! PANIC! Popped open the laptop and plugged it in for charge on the go. Not ideal long term, but it saved us getting hopelessly lost no doubt!

        • Christine Kaaloa says:

          @Cheryl: OMG- a GPS conking out is kinda terrifying. Laptops are a great workaround charger!

  5. Chris says:

    The Gum Max Duo external battery has been one of the best additions to my travel kit. I get around 5 charges of my iPhone which functions as my camera, notebook, navigation and internet connection making it impossible to go without these days.

    Don’t think I’d ever trust the solar or battery operated units.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Chris: Mine looks like a toy compared to yours– 5 charges will definitely go a long way!

  6. Jackie S. says:

    Great post, I think I’ll get one!

  • […] From pocket cameras, to mobile phones and iPads.. the  Lumsing Power Bank (LUM 008-01) external charger help extend the lifetime of your tech driven world, by giving your tech gear its power juice, when it’s run out. They come in all shapes in sizes and in solar powered or electrical powered. There’s a few good ones, like the elegant Lumsing Power Bank, which charges from a 10,400mAh battery and weighs 8.5 ounces. Read more about external chargers. […]

  • […] more efficient and consistent solutions to staying powered up, when we travel. That’s where external battery chargers come in.  While the Anker Astro Series (3E) at 10,000 mAh  and New Trent iGeek at 11200 mAh may […]

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