Never run out of battery when you’re travelling
We regularly go camping or to festivals where we have no access to electricity for days at a time. Yet, thanks to portable chargers, our phones are cameras are always fully charged – no matter where we are or what we’re doing. If you’re going into nature to escape from technology for a while, then that’s fine but it makes sense to bring your camera at the very least.
It’s also so easy to get lost in the countryside, or separated from friends at a music festival so it’s just common sense to take your phone with you, for personal safety at the very least.
Many people bring along an old “brick phone” (think, Nokia 3310) in place of their modern smartphone; losing or breaking it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and the battery life can easily last for a week. Your £700 smartphone, on the other hand, is made of glass, is easy to break and will last about 16 hours (if you’re lucky) – that’s without taking hundreds of photos for Instagram.
If you want to be able to use your gadgets whilst gallivanting around outside for days at a time then there is a simple solution. One of the best investments we made was buying a couple of these portable charging devices for around £20 and never leave the house without it.
The lowdown on portable chargers
In our experience, the smaller ‘power bars’ are just not good enough for a high-end smartphone such as a Samsung Galaxy s7 or iPhone 7. They’re not able to charge it from 0-100% but they are sufficient for topping your phone up a bit.
A 20,000 mAh charger, such as this one by iMuto, will usually have 2 USB ports, so you can charge two devices at once. One of these ports is capable of fast-charging your compatible devices.
This 26,800 mAh charger by Anker has 3 USB ports, so if you’re travelling or hiking as a group this would be ideal.
It’s completely possible to rely on portable chargers on your adventures or for day-to-day use. It completely takes away the worry of having to find a wall socket to charge your phone. I’m so surprised that more people don’t rely on these the way we do.
You can charge your phone, iPad, Kindle, Tablet and camera batteries several times before you have to recharge the charger itself. This takes about 12 hours from near-empty to 100% for the 20,000+ mHa battery packs.
Portable solar panels are excellent
If you’re travelling, hiking or camping for a longer period, we highly recommend this Ankor solar charger. We’ve relied on this several times and it works extremely well – we even use it in the garden on sunny days! This has two ports as well, so can charge two things are once.
We use it to directly charge our phones etc, but we also recharge the large portable power packs using the solar charger too! In sunny weather (even in the winter) it works very well.
You do need to make sure your device doesn’t get too hot when it’s charging as you’ll likely have the panel in direct sunlight; try to keep your phone or whatever you’re charging in the shade if you can.
The only real negative about the solar charger is the panel itself, it feels quite delicate and is susceptible to scratches. Ours is slightly scratched from us putting it away with grains of sand in-between the panels after going to the beach. This doesn’t seem to affect its charging ability, but it may do if it gets too damaged in the future.
Also, the USB charging cable supplied with it is very short so you might want to use longer ones which you’d need to buy separately. It does not come with an iPhone charger.
Good places to put the portable solar charger
- In your car windscreen;
- Strap it to the back of your daypack when you’re walking around;
- When you’re at the park or the beach;
- When you’ve stopped for lunch; or
- Inside a window in direct sunlight
You may be thinking “Why would I need this inside?!” – in the interest of saving the planet, of course! Or, in some countries – power cuts can be common and in that situation, this charger would be very useful, but only during the daytime.
Unfortunately, it does not store power for future use. It only charges items when it’s in direct sunlight. It does work if it’s cloudy, but only intermittently and not as well as when it’s in the sun.
Maximise the charging power
Here are some tips to make the most out of these portable charging devices:
- Switch off your phone/camera/tablet/kindle whilst its charging – it will charge faster and prolong the life of the charger;
- Don’t store your portable charger completely empty or completely full. If you want your charger to last longer, then it’s better to store them at around 40-60% charge; and
- Keep spare USB cables – you’ll probably have realised that over time, USB cables can get worn and damaged. The cables supplied with these portable chargers can be flimsy so it’s a good idea to keep a spare.
Let us know by leaving a comment if you heavily rely on portable chargers and if so, which are the best?