There is nothing worse than your phone battery slowly (or in some cases very quickly) dying mid-hike when you need it to stay in touch with the world. I have heard countless stories of people losing power at a vital moment when they were just powering up google maps to help them get home! This is where the best power bank for backpacking can save you a load of time and hassle whilst costing a pinch!
The vast majority of walkers, campers, cyclist and mountain bikers will agree that technology has played a huge roll in helping us discover new adventures and go to places we dared not venture before. If, like me, you have put away the ordinance survey maps then you will know how (over) reliant we have become on this modern day tech. That is why having a best power bank for backpacking is no longer a desirable item but an essential one.
There are a few important considerations you need to make before you choose you best portable power bank for backpacking such as:
- Charge time
- Size and weight
- Solar recharge option
- Number of ports
I cover all of these extensively in the buyers’ guide so if you want to read more scroll down to the bottom before making your choice!
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Why do you need a power bank when hiking?
There are a couple of reasons you should take a power bank when backpacking. The first is the most serious: if you have an accident, get lost or are in need of assistance, the last thing you’ll want to see is your phone battery flashing as ‘low’. It’s annoying at the best of times!
Hiking takes at least several hours, and you may be away from people and power supplies for a few days. You’ll need to find a way to keep your batteries going whilst you’re backpacking, and a power bank can be really helpful. Your battery may drain faster if you’re in a hot area, as this affects the way your device works. Another thing that uses extra power? Having locations turned on! This will be necessary if you’re using a phone or navigation device to find your way. If you assume that your battery won’t last as long as it does on a normal day and adjust accordingly you’re much less likely to get caught out.
If you’re off backpacking, you might be staying in a tent for a night or more. Some campsites will have power outlets you can use, but it’s a good idea to have a backup. Making arrangements for your devices can be the difference between you running out of batteries on the second day or being able to do your whole trip and always be in contact with people.
Finally, if you’re hiking you’re likely to find areas that are extremely beautiful, and you’ll want to photograph them. Making sure your phone or camera has a full battery means you can take as many pictures as you like without worrying about it dying. Solo hikers might also want to listen to podcasts or music, which you can only do when your devices are working. So, pack a power bank and make sure your devices are ready to go, for whatever you need them for!
Features to look for in the best power bank for backpacking
There are several things you should look for when selecting a power bank. Firstly, it should be really durable and shouldn’t break easily. The odd scratch won’t affect the performance, but if you have to wrap it up carefully and keep it totally away from water it probably won’t be suitable for backpacking. It’s also a good idea to make sure that it charges quickly, in case you don’t have access to a power source for a long time. You should be able to compare charging times on the product descriptions, and we would recommend finding one that charges as quickly as possible. It is possible to get solar powered power banks, and these can be great if you’re going really off-grid. Plus, they’re better for the environment! However, do think about how sunny the area you backpack through is: in low light areas, solar panels won’t work well and you’ll be left with a useless, heavy lump. We would recommend a hybrid that can be charged with sunlight and through being plugged into the mains, where possible.
You’ll also need to be considerate of how big it is. Every backpacker has to be super conscious of the space available in their bag, and how much of it is allocated to essentials. A large power bank might last longer, but if you have to leave something else behind or it’s really heavy then it may well not be suitable. Another good thing to check is how many ports it has. If you’re bringing several devices that need charging, try to find one with a few different ports and then you can charge them at the same time.
Calculate Your Power Needs for a Backpacking Trip
So, you’ve decided to take a power bank on your backpacking trip. Great! Now let’s work out what sort of capacity you need. It can be tempting to just get the biggest one you can, but they can get heavy and it’s not always necessary.
The capacity of power bank batteries is measured in mAh, or milliamp hours. This is how much power your power bank can provide over one hour. So, if your phone/device needs 1000mAh, and you have a power bank with 5000mAh it will keep your device’s battery working for five hours. You’ll need to look at your phone/device’s specific requirements, and remember that batteries tend to work better when they’re new, so you might need extra mAh if your phone/device is older. The average smartphone has a 3000mAh capacity.
When you’ve worked out how long the power bank will keep your battery charged for, think about how long you’ll be between places for. If you’re assuming that you’ll be away from power sources for a few days, you’ll need to consider taking a bigger battery or finding a way to spread the power.
How else can I save phone battery?
1) Turn it off! If you know where you’re going, and you don’t need to check anything, just switch if off for a few hours. You can also do this when you’re going to sleep, even though usually you’ll leave a phone switched on and charging, it’s not worth it. If you use your phone to tell the time, we’d recommend bringing a watch along instead. It will stop you from checking your phone regularly, which will save the battery.
2) Use airplane mode. If you’re not willing to turn your phone off because you’d like to take pictures, this can be a nice compromise. It will stop your phone from receiving calls, texts and internet access, and will disable GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. If you’ve got music downloaded you should be able to play it without any problems. (Clara’s note- I don’t know if you can call emergency services with this and I couldn’t find an answer online, but if you know maybe we could add a sentence.)
3) Turn down your screen brightness. Make sure you can still see, but it’s better for your eyes to look at a dimmer screen and it will make the battery last a lot longer. Also, make sure you’ve closed any apps you’re not using so they’re refreshing in the background and wasting any power. You could also check and see if there is any battery-saving advice in your phone’s instruction manual, for advice specific to the particular mode.
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