Portable Power for Backpacking or Bikepacking

This is a bit random. I didn’t go looking for this, I just stumbled across a tweet that interested me and followed the rabbit hole long enough to find it interesting.

So, I ran across this tweet for a Kickstarter campaign to produce a very small charger named the Megalo Mini.

Original Tweet

I guess I was drawn in by the size (first) and the clean design (second) and, of course, as someone who is interested in bike touring and backpacking with modern devices, I’m also interested in charging options. Over the years, I’ve noticed and briefly looked at options such as dynamo hubs, solar chargers, and rechargeable battery packs such as this. However, I’ve always found power outlets where I can charge my devices so I’ve not done anything on portable charging options except look on with interest.

Well, I began pulling a thread based on this tweet and I was surprised by what popped out at the end. I thought about how to evaluate devices like this. Of course, there are buyer ratings and reviews out there and those should be considered, but I’d not really seen hard data comparing the many versions out there. So, I decided to compare a number of these devices based on the power-to-weight ratio. To find my pool of devices to study, I began by looking on outdoors retailers’ sites such as REI and Dick’s. I then moved on to Amazon where all the top hits were brands I’d never heard of before. I finished off by searching Walmart and Newegg to get a couple of other perspectives. I did not pull in any devices that were more complicated than a simple battery pack, which means I excluded the solar, hydrogen fuel cell, wood fired, and hand-cranked chargers from this survey. Just pure, rechargeable battery packs. I also ignored any devices for which I could not find the weight. So, here are the results of the P/W comparison…

Product Price Weight (oz) Power (mAh) P/W (mAh/oz)
RAVPower PB07U-12000mAh $40 8.0 12000 1493
EC TECHNOLOGY New 22400mAh $50 15.8 22400 1418
RAVPower Deluxe 14000mAh $43 10.0 14000 1400
RAVPower Deluxe 8400mAh $30 6.2 8400 1353
Anker Astro E5 $50 11.2 15000 1339
Poweradd Pilot X6 $46 16.2 20800 1284
EasyAcc Ultra 16000mAh $50 13.0 16000 1229
Anker® Astro Mini $17 2.6 3000 1172
RAVPower Luster 3000mAh $20 2.6 3000 1154
Anker 2nd Gen Astro Pro2 $80 17.6 20000 1136
Poweradd™ Pilot X1 $14 4.6 5200 1121
IOGear GMP7K $40 6.4 7000 1094
Eton BoostBloc 4000 $60 3.7 4000 1081
IOGear GMP10K $49 10.4 11000 1058
EasyAcc 12000mAh Power Bank $38 11.4 12000 1056
Cobra CPP50 $40 4.8 5000 1042
Eton BoostBloc 6600 $100 6.5 6600 1015
Poweradd Pilot 2GS $26 10.1 10000 990
Verbatim Portable Power Pack $20 2.3 2200 960
EasyAcc 10000mAh Brilliant Ultra Slim $27 10.6 10000 943
Eton BoostBloc 2000 $30 2.2 2000 909
Mophie Powerstation $80 4.4 4000 909
Brunton Resync $150 10.0 9000 900
Verbatim Dual USA Power Pack $60 11.5 10000 872
Mophie Powerstation Mini $60 2.9 2500 862
Megalo Mini $34 1.7 1400 824
Brunton Inspire $72 4.9 3200 657
Duracell 2,600 mAH $25 4.0 2600 650
Duracell 4,000 mAH $30 6.4 4000 625
Brunton Metal $70 7.3 4400 607
Brunton Ember $60 5.0 2800 560
Mophie Powerstation Pro $100 16.0 6000 375
Eton BoostTurbine $45 7.0 2000 284

I think there are two things of note here: one I would have expected had I thought about it and one I did not expect.

First, you’ll notice that the smaller capacity devices did not rank as well as the larger capacity devices. I think this is obviously because electronics required for charging the batteries or external devices is relatively fixed and, therefore, constitutes a greater share alongside a smaller battery. In addition, some of the smaller capacity devices seemed to have one or more cables built in, which would further skew the results.

The second thing I noticed and did not expect was that the brand name devices (Duracell, Brunton, IOGear, Verbatim, etc.) did not rank as well in general as the non brand name devices. Now, maybe others are cynical and might say that brand names are all about advertising and not necessarily performance. But I’m of the opinion that many respected brand names can be trusted for quality. I think the issue here is probably that power-to-weight performance is not necessarily quality. But to be honest, power-to-weight ratio seems to be a metric that should not be influenced by brand or prices so I don’t really know what is going on here. Maybe the brand names are just more conservative in their ratings?

I was also interested in how the price affected rankings so I decided upon a metric of price-to-power ratio and here are the results of that ranking…

Product Price Weight (oz) Power (mAh) $/P
Poweradd Pilot X6 $46 16.2 20800 $0.0022
EC TECHNOLOGY New 22400mAh $50 15.8 22400 $0.0022
Poweradd Pilot 2GS $26 10.1 10000 $0.0026
Poweradd™ Pilot X1 $14 4.6 5200 $0.0027
EasyAcc 10000mAh Brilliant Ultra Slim $27 10.6 10000 $0.0027
RAVPower Deluxe 14000mAh $43 10.0 14000 $0.0031
EasyAcc Ultra 16000mAh $50 13.0 16000 $0.0031
EasyAcc 12000mAh Power Bank $38 11.4 12000 $0.0032
RAVPower PB07U-12000mAh $40 8.0 12000 $0.0033
Anker Astro E5 $50 11.2 15000 $0.0033
RAVPower Deluxe 8400mAh $30 6.2 8400 $0.0036
Anker 2nd Gen Astro Pro2 $80 17.6 20000 $0.0040
IOGear GMP10K $49 10.4 11000 $0.0045
Anker® Astro Mini $17 2.6 3000 $0.0057
IOGear GMP7K $40 6.4 7000 $0.0057
Verbatim Dual USA Power Pack $60 11.5 10000 $0.0060
RAVPower Luster 3000mAh $20 2.6 3000 $0.0067
Duracell 4,000 mAH $30 6.4 4000 $0.0075
Cobra CPP50 $40 4.8 5000 $0.0080
Verbatim Portable Power Pack $20 2.3 2200 $0.0091
Duracell 2,600 mAH $25 4.0 2600 $0.0096
Eton BoostBloc 4000 $60 3.7 4000 $0.0150
Eton BoostBloc 2000 $30 2.2 2000 $0.0150
Eton BoostBloc 6600 $100 6.5 6600 $0.0152
Brunton Metal $70 7.3 4400 $0.0159
Brunton Resync $150 10.0 9000 $0.0167
Mophie Powerstation Pro $100 16.0 6000 $0.0167
Mophie Powerstation $80 4.4 4000 $0.0200
Brunton Ember $60 5.0 2800 $0.0214
Brunton Inspire $72 4.9 3200 $0.0225
Eton BoostTurbine $45 7.0 2000 $0.0225
Mophie Powerstation Mini $60 2.9 2500 $0.0240
Megalo Mini $34 1.7 1400 $0.0243

These result are similar to the power-to-weight rankings in my opinion with some non-remarkable differences. (Maybe I’ll stare at it two weeks from now and see something entirely different.) In general the larger capacity devices ranked higher as did the off-brand devices.

For my final look, I decided to combine the two rankings into a composite and see if there were any surprises from that. To create a composite ranking, I simply multiplied the power-to-weight and price-to-power rankings (1..n) together. Therefore, any device that ranked #1 on both would be 1 on the composite; any device that ranked #n on both would be n^2 on the composite; any device that ranked #1 on one and #n on the other would be n on the composite; and so on. Here are those results…

Product Price Weight (oz) Power (mAh) P/W (mAh/oz) $/P P/W Rank $/P Rank Comp
EC TECHNOLOGY New 22400mAh $50 15.8 22400 1418 $0.0022 2 2 4
Poweradd Pilot X6 $46 16.2 20800 1284 $0.0022 6 1 6
RAVPower PB07U-12000mAh $40 8.0 12000 1493 $0.0033 1 9 9
RAVPower Deluxe 14000mAh $43 10.0 14000 1400 $0.0031 3 6 18
RAVPower Deluxe 8400mAh $30 6.2 8400 1353 $0.0036 4 11 44
Poweradd™ Pilot X1 $14 4.6 5200 1121 $0.0027 11 4 44
EasyAcc Ultra 16000mAh $50 13.0 16000 1229 $0.0031 7 7 49
Anker Astro E5 $50 11.2 15000 1339 $0.0033 5 10 50
Poweradd Pilot 2GS $26 10.1 10000 990 $0.0026 18 3 54
EasyAcc 10000mAh Brilliant Ultra Slim $27 10.6 10000 943 $0.0027 20 5 100
Anker® Astro Mini $17 2.6 3000 1172 $0.0057 8 14 112
Anker 2nd Gen Astro Pro2 $80 17.6 20000 1136 $0.0040 10 12 120
EasyAcc 12000mAh Power Bank $38 11.4 12000 1056 $0.0032 15 8 120
RAVPower Luster 3000mAh $20 2.6 3000 1154 $0.0067 9 17 153
IOGear GMP7K $40 6.4 7000 1094 $0.0057 12 15 180
IOGear GMP10K $49 10.4 11000 1058 $0.0045 14 13 182
Eton BoostBloc 4000 $60 3.7 4000 1081 $0.0150 13 22 286
Cobra CPP50 $40 4.8 5000 1042 $0.0080 16 19 304
Verbatim Portable Power Pack $20 2.3 2200 960 $0.0091 19 20 380
Verbatim Dual USA Power Pack $60 11.5 10000 872 $0.0060 24 16 384
Eton BoostBloc 6600 $100 6.5 6600 1015 $0.0152 17 24 408
Eton BoostBloc 2000 $30 2.2 2000 909 $0.0150 21 23 483
Duracell 4,000 mAH $30 6.4 4000 625 $0.0075 29 18 522
Duracell 2,600 mAH $25 4.0 2600 650 $0.0096 28 21 588
Brunton Resync $150 10.0 9000 900 $0.0167 23 26 598
Mophie Powerstation $80 4.4 4000 909 $0.0200 22 28 616
Brunton Metal $70 7.3 4400 607 $0.0159 30 25 750
Mophie Powerstation Mini $60 2.9 2500 862 $0.0240 25 32 800
Brunton Inspire $72 4.9 3200 657 $0.0225 27 30 810
Megalo Mini $34 1.7 1400 824 $0.0243 26 33 858
Mophie Powerstation Pro $100 16.0 6000 375 $0.0167 32 27 864
Brunton Ember $60 5.0 2800 560 $0.0214 31 29 899
Eton BoostTurbine $45 7.0 2000 284 $0.0225 33 31 1023

No real surprises (outside those seen in the results of the first test) were waiting here either.

I’m wondering if I’m seeing the entire picture here. I’m wondering if there is any technology contained in one brand or the other that makes charging the internal batteries faster or maybe ensuring more efficient power transfer to external devices. I love to hear from someone if they have information on this.

Were I to decide to purchase a device soon (I won’t), I would probably lean toward those at the top of the power-to-weight ratio with a consideration to reviews, ratings, price, and overall weight. Of course, I’d be less concerned with overall weight on a bike tour than backpacking.

At some point, I’ll probably do similar Interweb-powered research on the solar chargers out there so stay tuned to this channel.

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This entry was posted in Backpacking, Bicycle Touring, Hiking Equipment. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Portable Power for Backpacking or Bikepacking

  1. lughnasadh says:

    Something to take into account is efficiency.
    Those cells will not provide the power advertised due to resistance etc.
    Anker as an example claim a 20% loss in capacity meaning the E5 will only provide around 12000mah of power. This is, apparently, very efficient for a battery and may be why the top brands power to weight ratios are lower – if they claim a capacity nearer to the output rather than the battery capacity (although I doubt it as industry standard is to qoute the latter and I can not imagine Duracell shooting themselves in the foot).
    Another consideration is how quickly they can charge a device – they can vary from below 0.5A output upto 2A or more which would be a huge difference in charging times to your device.

  2. ericrobo says:

    I bought a Maplin 6000mAh pack, to charge my Garmin Edge 800. I sent details of the Garmin battery to Maplin’s technical team:
    Rechargeable Li-ion rating 3.7V, 1100 mAh, 4.1 Wh
    They said it should charge the Garmin 4 to 5 times.
    It let me down badly in the Highlands. When I got home I tested it and after charging the Garmin twice, it was stone dead.
    (taking it back tomorrow to see if they’ll refund it)

  3. dellwilson says:

    lughnasahd,

    Thanks for stopping by to comment and an interesting comment it is. I guess the efficiency refers to how efficient the system is at getting power out of the battery bank, through the circuits, and into the device while converting as little power as possible into heat?

    I looked at a couple of manufacturer sites and did not see any claims regarding efficiency. Where do you see such claims?

    Dell

  4. Pingback: Portable Power Revisited | Bike Lane Ends

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