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Old 05-09-2020, 12:16 PM   #1
forest dweller
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Lightest and most efficient portable phone chargers for backpacking?

Have any of you done any research on the lightest, most compact, most efficient (most amount of full charges) phone chargers for backpacking? I may try to do a week backpacking trip in Banff or Jasper this summer and I'd like to keep my phone charged the entire time for Gaia GPS navigation and as my camera.
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Old 05-09-2020, 02:26 PM   #2
DSettahr
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I would recommend looking at Anker-brand batteries. They seem to be the best in regards to quality. Even then, though, I'd anticipate that enough juice to get you through a full week is probably going to add at least a pound to a pound and a half to your pack weight.

Depending on your phone's battery size, a full charge can be anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 mAh. So a 20,000 mAh battery could give you anywhere between 4 and 10 charges. Frustratingly, a lot of online listings for chargers indicate "extra hours of phone use," which I would take with a grain of salt. There's a good chance that these numbers were calculated assuming limited use of the phone.

I personally would suggest also making some considerations regarding phone usage patterns with regards to limiting battery usage... i.e., using the phone's GPS and navigation apps only as a backup to map and compass where necessary, turning the screen brightness down and also setting the automatic screen turnoff time to the shortest possible interval, keeping your phone in airplane mode and even battery saver mode at all times, turning it off at night, etc.

Another consideration that you may not have thought of: Portable chargers are allowed on planes (as carry-on only, they cannot be checked) but FAA rules limit them to 100 Watt-Hours. Watt-Hours can be calculated by dividing the milliAmp-Hours by 1,000, and multiplying by the batteries voltage. Apparently, this is the "nominal voltage," which is an average between the max voltage at full charge, and the minimum voltage at just about dead charge. In other words, this is not the voltage listed in the specs for the battery, which is usually the max voltage at full charge. One internet source indicates that the nominal voltage for most lithium batteries is 3.7V, which would indicate that the max mAh you can have in a single battery is roughly 27,000 mAh. There are a lot of portable chargers out there rated to 26,800 mAh and this would explain why- as this is probably a good max mAh rating that is still safely within the FAA-approved limits. (Also, FAA rules do allow you to carry up to 2 batteries provided that neither exceed that limit.)

FWIW, I own a 26,800 mAh Anker portable charger that I will sometimes carry with me on longer backpacking trips. Simple math indicates that my smart phone, which has a 3,000 mAh battery, should get 8.9 full charges out of it. Based on my use of it, I'd say that around 8 full charges is probably a bit more realistic (although honestly, I've yet to be on any trip where I've needed that number of full charges- I'm actually considering investing in something with less mAh that is a bit lighter). But for a 7 day trip, assuming active use that demands 1 full charge per day, this is what I'd probably pick to carry- it would give me the 6 guaranteed full charges I needed (assuming the phone is starting fully charged on day 1) plus some extra wiggle room just in case.

My 26,800 mAh Anker charger weighs 1.3 pounds. I can find no shortage of lighter offerings with the same mAh on Amazon, but they are all brands that I would question the reputations of (especially given the extremely low prices of these offerings).

One final consideration: Pay attention to the charging port on whatever you end up getting. If it's not the same kind of port as your phone (USB-C vs. micro USB vs. lightning), it may mean having to carry an extra charging cable with you on your trip. While this may be a minor annoyance at best, it's still worth considering, IMO.
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Old 05-10-2020, 10:34 AM   #3
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Again, FWIW: I followed through and pulled the plug on this Anker 15000 mAh charger. 2 of these would give you 30,000 mAh (more than enough) while still weighing less (combined) than my 26800 mAh charger (and while still being plane-legal as it is 2 separate chargers that each fall well below the limit). They don't have Qualcomm Quick Charge so I'm expecting the recharge times to be a bit slower, but honestly this isn't a huge issue for me (since I usually plug my phone in to recharge while I'm sleeping).

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Old 05-11-2020, 08:38 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for our reply DSettahr, appreciate it.
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Old 05-13-2020, 12:14 PM   #5
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I know we have discussed this before, but there are locations where no cell service is available in the Park, even with a SAT phone. Unless it is a SAT phone link with a parabolic screen like the SEAL phones. But hopefully that will be changing as more repeaters are added to the park.
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Schultzz View Post
I know we have discussed this before, but there are locations where no cell service is available in the Park, even with a SAT phone. Unless it is a SAT phone link with a parabolic screen like the SEAL phones. But hopefully that will be changing as more repeaters are added to the park.
Yeah, not overly concerned with that. I just want to be able to use my phone for its camera and GAIA GPS, which work without a signal.

I am looking for a satellite communication device for when I do trips in more remote areas in the future.
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