Running out of battery is annoying. We all recognize that familiar warning beep that tells us something electronic is about to die — or worse, you don’t discover the battery has died until you attempt to use the device it once powered. Whether you always forget to charge up before your daily commute, or you’re simply planning a longer trip away from civilization, below are some handy ways to keep your devices powered up.
Badger Waterproof Solar Panel ($100+)
Make the sun your friend. It may make you sweat unbearably, but it also makes your food grow and it can charge all your gadgets if you have the right device. If your usual routine has you outside a fair amount, a solar charging solution can work wonders.
Designed by Brown Dog Gadgets, the Badger line of solar panels is tough as nails — or perhaps tougher given steel nails will probably rust if you leave them in a fish tank for two days. With an IP65 rating, these are good for the beach or your next wild water adventure. The largest of the three models touts a USB output of 2.85A, which enough to charge a tablet, along with a lightweight and compact build that you can strap to a pack or the side of a tent.
Incipio Ghost Qi Wireless Charging Battery Case ($100)
Incipio’s Ghost Qi has enough charging options that you’ll have no problem keeping it juiced up. The Ghost supports both Incipio’s offGrid dock and Qi wireless charging pads, and furthermore, comes with a standard micro USB cable and a headphone extender. The 2100mAh battery also nearly doubles the talk time of the iPhone 6, while the brushed aluminum finish looks as polished as it is sturdy.
Biologic Joule 3 Dynamo Hub ($130+)
If your time away from outlets is often spent on bike, your ride itself provides its own unique charging opportunities. The first is a dynamo hub. It’s classic piece of tech, handy for bike touring where the general idea is to get away from outlets, at least during the day. With a dynamo hub, the mere process of pedaling generates electricity. There are a few options in hub dynamos — such as the Schmidt, Shimano, and Shutter Precision — but the Joule 3 is one of the best. Made of 6061 aluminum, it can weigh as little as 356g depending on which version you choose. The hub also comes in either a 32-hole 100mm OLD drilling for modern bikes with disc brakes or a 20-hole 74 mm OLD version for alternative bikes like folders. Winner of a Eurobike Award in 2012, it runs at 73 percent efficiency, and more efficiency means less drag on the wheel. It has a 6V 3W output, too, and comes with a battery pack you can store the surplus.
Cydekick Pro ($275)
Hub dynamos are old tech; Spinetic’s Cydekick is the updated version. Usually, hub dynamos are judged by the amount of friction produced when pedaling — the harder it is the pedal, the less efficient the hub. Cydekick uses electromagnetic induction to get a frictionless ride while generating electricity, making your ride easier.
The thing about hub dynamos, in general, is they need to be installed on an existing wheelset or you need to buy a wheel with one already built in. The Cydekick is completely external to the wheel, though, so you can just pop it onto a bike that’s already in use. If you’re mechanically inclined, you don’t even need to visit a bike shop.
The Cydekick output specs are under wraps at the moment, but it comes in two versions: the Mini, which doesn’t come with the USB output component, and the Pro, which offers the integral add-on. Both come with a high-intensity LED headlight and are expandable, but if you want plug-and-play like USB charging ease, opt for the limited-edition Pro iteration. Back it on Kickstarter if you want to save a few bucks before it ships in September 2016.
Siva Cycle Atom ($130)
If you missed the Cydekick’s Kickstarter sale and don’t feel like spending enough to buy another bike, the Siva Atom gives the similar flexibility at a fraction of the price. It doesn’t use magnets the same way the Cydekick does, but the ride provides a comparable friction to the average dynamo hub. The upside to the Siva Cycle is you don’t need to buy a wheel or outfit it onto your existing rim; it just pops on. The 1650mAh removable battery and 5V 800MA charge rate aren’t enough to charge your laptop, but it will do right by your phone or cycling computer. It also fits on most frames around fenders, racks, and panniers.
Flip 20 Recharger ($43)
A battery pack is the perfect battery revival system — the trick is to remember to charge it beforehand. Goal Zero’s awesome little recharger packs 5200mAh at 3.6V, output and input USB, and allows pass-through charging, which means you can charge the Flip while you’re using it to charge another device. It comes with a USB to micro cable, too, which your phone is more likely to utilize. The Flip 20 takes about four hours to fill from a USB source, or up to 10 hours with a Nomad 7 Solar Panel (also made by Goal Zero). Goal Zero also recently announced a new version of the Nomad 7 that uses intelligent technology to regulate the output based on the environment and keep a steady safe charge.
Mighty Purse ($100)
The clutch is huge on Amazon, though, the purses are pretty small. Each Mighty Purse hides a 4,000mAh battery with a LED level indicator. Apple users need an adapter, but everyone with a micro USB port should be fine, and it even comes with its own USB charging cable. The downside is the battery takes up a good deal of the space inside some of the models, so if you have a larger phone, you won’t be able to carry much else besides the bare essentials.
Next Page: Seven more of the best gadgets to keep you charged on the go
The Kraftwerk looks like a cross between a butane refill canister and a portable power bank. In fact, it’s kind of both. The Kraftwerk uses compressed gas, either in the form of a lighter or standard camping gas in a fuel cell setup, to recharge anything outfitted with a USB port. There’s only one port on the device, but the convenience of this little gadget is that you can easily recharge it with lighter fluid in about three seconds, whereas you’re generally screwed with other power banks if you forgot to charge them before you stepped out of the house. The Kraftwerk offers 2W of continuous output at 5V, and according to Kraftwerk’s developers, that’s enough to get 11 iPhone charges out of it before it needs a refill. If you really want one ASAP, back their Kickstarter and you might be able to grab one before February for $100. If not, it’ll cost you an extra $50 when it hits retail shelves at the end of Q1 2016.
Bluesmart Luggage ($395)
Depending on the nature of your journey, smart luggage just might be enough to get you through the interminable airport hassles without the need to hunt for an outlet. The tough triple-layer polycarbonite casing, the four wheels, the digital scale built into the handle, the digital lock, and the built in bluetooth to track your luggage make Bluesmart’s line cutting edge quality stuff. It’s the massive 10,000mAh battery and two USB ports that make it easy to stay powered up. One port is situated on the outside of the bag near the handle, the other on the inside to charge your larger gadgets that need to be ready when you get where you’re going. Bluesmart blasted through its crowdfunding goals last year and is due to began shipping this month, August 2015, for $370.
Phorce Freedom ($179)
Almost all of us carry a bag to work. It would be great if that bag did more than hold your work stuff and collect old receipts. The Phorce briefcase does just that. With a 15,000mAh battery, it will tack on an extra 60 hours onto your iPhone 6 or an extra 55 onto your Galaxy S6. The bag itself also fits a 13-inch laptop and is adjustable. You can carry it the traditional boring way by its handle, by the long strap across the shoulder, or with the two backpack straps. It will survive wet commutes given it’s made from padded heavy-duty treated canvas with waterproof zippers, but unfortunately, that quality comes at a premium cost.
BioLite Camp Stove ($130)
Wouldn’t it be cool if charging your phone were as easy as picking up a stick? The BioLite Camp Stove turns firewood into electricity, so it kind of is that easy. It converts heat to electricity via a thermoelectric generator, which also conveniently powers an internal fan to increase the heat of the fire as well as power a USB charging outlet. This little biomass genny can produce a continuous 2 Watts at 5 Volts, and even features a scalloped top designed to hold a pot of boiling water. It’s a must-have for camping, one that’s 8.25 inches tall and weighs roughly 2 pounds. That said, it doesn’t add more bulk to your pack than it’s worth.
BioLite BaseCamp ($300)
This is the BioLite Camp Stove’s big brother. It’s like a mini electric grill that runs on firewood. It weighs nearly 18 pounds, but it also sports a 13.25-inch diameter grill and comes with its own bucket handle. The integrated USB offers a 5W charge, along with a Smart LED dash. Add to the biomass burner a 2200mAh li-on battery for power storage, and you’ve got a reliable source of power that also touts a grill-to-boil lever, which concentrates the flame in a central area when needed.
Candle Charger ($65)
Intended as a survival item, the Candle Charger looks like a burner you’d use to heat fondue. Pour 5 ounces of water in the top receptacle and light the candle underneath. The difference in temperature between the surfaces of the generator — kept cool on one side by the water and heated by the candle on the other — produces electricity. The device will put out a steady 2.5W to the USB output and peak at 3.3W. With the included candle, you get six hours of charging time. You can buy other, long-burning candles easily online or in stores.
The Candle Charger Kickstarter campaign is over at the end of August. However, a $65 pledge will net you a Candle Charger charger and one six-hour candle. The regular price will be $100.
The Candle Charger is the little brother to the FlameStower, which uses a charging plate with a USB connector in addition to the water reservoir. Intended for outdoor use, FlameStower doesn’t come with a candle and is a little larger than the indoor alternative. Its Kickstarter campaign is long over, but you can grab one directly for about the same price as its larger brethren.
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