Best Lightweight Backpacking Power Banks
Whether it’s for your phone, GPS tracker, camera, or headlamps, you are probably going to need some power during your backpacking trip. A backpacking power bank is simplest way to make sure your devices don’t die on you.
Luckily, power banks have gotten a lot lighter over the years and can get more than 1,600mAh of power per ounce. Some backpacking power banks are even durable and waterproof too.
Here’s the best power banks for backpacking. If you don’t know how much power you will need or what to look for then scroll down to read the complete guide.
- Best Overall:NiteCore NB10000 (10,000mAh, 5.3oz)
- Runner Up:Goal Zero Flip 24 (6,700mAh, 4.6oz).also available at REI
- Best for Ultra Light:NiteCore LC10 Charger (1oz 18650 battery)
Best Power Banks for Backpacking
Anker Power Banks
Choose If: You want a reputable brand with fantastic capacity-to-weight ratio
Anker is one of the best known brands for backpacking power banks (as well as other gear like portable solar panels). They have power banks in different capacities. All of them have a good weight-to-capacity ratio (or milliamps per ounce).
Another reason to choose Anker power banks is that they actually deliver close to their advertised efficiency. Whereas other power banks might only give 2/3 of their listed power, Anker gets up to 90% efficiency.
You can also expect advanced features like 2.4amp fast charging, durable design, and a good 18 month warranty. They are actually affordable too, so definitely worth buying instead of a knockoff brand.
Recommended Anker Power Banks for Backpacking:
Anker has dozens of different power banks. It’s actually confusing as heck trying to figure out the difference between them. For backpacking, these are their best options.
- PowerCore Compact 5000 (5,000mAh, 4.8oz): The mAh per ounce on this power bank is actually pretty low (just 1,040mAh per oz.). However, a lot of people like this one because of the 2A charging (in and out). Get it if you need to recharge fast.
- PowerCore 10000 (10,000mAh, 6.35oz): This has a very high mAh per ounce of 1,575. That makes it one of the lightest backpacking power banks available. Note it is NOT compatible with devices with an input below 50mA, such as some GPS devices.
- PowerCore 10000 PD (10,000mAh, 7.52oz): It is slightly heavier than the previous version, but has two outputs so you can charge two devices at once.
- PowerCore 20100 (20,100mAh, 12.6oz): Choose this power bank if you need to charge multiple devices at once quickly. It’s got 2 outlet ports at 2.4A each. It’s also got a great mAh per ounce ratio.
Choose If: You are an insane ultra-lightest and every ounce matters to you
This is very cool product. I love this as a solution for backpacking because it gives you so much flexibility at a very low weight. You really can’t get lighter than this for power.
It is basically an ultra-light charger for li-ion batteries. However, it works in both ways: Put a full battery cell in the charger and you can use it to charge micro-USB devices.
The charger itself only weighs 0.98oz. A single 3400mAh 18650 battery usually weighs around 1.8oz (using 18650 cells as a backpacking powerbank here.
- Both li-ion battery charger and power bank
- Charger weighs just 0.98oz
- Built-in emergency light: 6 lumens from 3400mAh battery with 3 brightness levels
- Insanely small and compact
NiteCore NB10000 Ultra-Slim (10,000mAh, 5.3oz)
Choose If: You are willing to pay a bit more for very lightweight power bank
Here’s a more standard type power bank from NiteCore. It’s the one I take with me on most backpacking trips and I’m really happy with it. As you’d expect from this brand, the power bank is insanely lightweight. It is 10,000mAh capacity but weights just 5.3oz, which breaks down to 1,887 mAh per ounce.
That’s lighter than any other power bank that I’ve found. The only drawback? It is the priciest option of all the backpacking power banks reviewed here.
Goal Zero Flip Power Banks
Choose If: You need a faster charging time and like the Goal Zero brand
Goal Zero is better known for their solar panels but they also make these portable power banks too. Their flip series are lightweight and have a good mAh to weight ratio. The weight isn’t as good as Anker but the power banks do charge faster. Currently, they have 6,700mAh and a 10,000mAh power banks available.
Goal Zero Venture 35
Choose If: Waterproof ness and durability matter to you more than weight
The Goal Zero Venture 35 power bank is 9,600mAh at 10.1oz. That is actually really heavy per mAh. But the power bank has some features which might make this worth it: An IP67 rating (it’s actually waterproof), a much more durable construction, fast charging with USB-C and multiple out ports. The charger also doubles as an emergency flashlight.
BioLite PD Power Banks
Choose If: You want to charge multiple devices quickly
While not as light as Anker, BioLite PD power banks have more features. They are much faster, have 3 out ports (2 are USB-A and one is USB-C). The battery life indicator button is reliable. Some people said they had issues trying to charge headphones with it though.
Charmast Power Bank
Choose If: You want a display screen which shows remaining battery
I don’t know much about this brand and am hesitant to trust them (though they do have a lot of great reviews). The reason it is worth considering is because it’s one of the few power banks with a digital display. The display is very useful when you are carefully rationing your power supply. It’s also got lots of other nice features like quick charging. I wish it had a USB-A port though.
What About Power Banks with Built-in Solar Panels?
I used to think these were awesome and practical. Then I actually tried one. Guess what? Turns out it is NOT a good idea to leave a power bank out in the blazing hot sun! The model I had worked for a while and then quickly died. I’ve heard the same from other users.
On top of that, most have no power display so there’s no way of knowing the charge level. You can easily over-charge the power bank, meaning it gets fried. But leave it out too little and it won’t have enough power for your needs.
If a reputable brand (instead of cheap Chinese generic brands) started making one of these, I might give it a try. Until then, I’ll keep my power bank and solar panel separate.
Power Bank Capacity and Backpacking
Power bank batteries have capacity measured in Milliamp hours, or mAh. This stands for how much power the battery can provide per hour.
For example, if your device requires 1000 Milliamps per hour, then a 3,000mAh battery will (in theory) keep it going for 3 hours.
Important: No power bank delivers its full capacity!
Because of efficiency issues, most power banks will only deliver 66-74% of the listed capacity. So, a 10,000mAh power bank may only really give you 6,666mAh. (1, 2)
Some better power banks are more efficient, like the Anker power banks that deliver around 80%-90% of their listed capacity. Take this into consideration when calculating your power needs.
What Capacity Power Bank Do I Need?
The amount of capacity you need for a backpacking trip ultimately depends on which devices you’ll bring and how often you use them.
- Tally up the mAh/day amount for each gadget you are bringing.
- Multiply this number by the how many days your backpacking trip will be (or how long until a refuel).
- To play it safe, assume that the power bank will only deliver 66% of its advertised capacity.
- Divide the total mAh you need by 0.66.
Example: You need 3,000mAh of power to keep your phone charged for a 3-day backpacking trip.
3,000/0.66 = 4,545mAh
Other Things to Look At When Choosing a Backpacking Power Bank
Aside from capacity, you’ll also want to look at the weight of the power bank, you’ll want to look at:
- mAh per ounce
- Charging speed
- Number of outlet ports
- Brand quality
- Other features
mAh per Ounce
It’s pointless to get a lightweight power bank if it won’t meet your power requirements. So, when it comes to weight, you should really look at mAh per ounce. Aim for at least 1,400 mAh per ounce. If you need special features, then you might only get 1,000 mAh per ounce.
Look at both the input and output speeds of the power bank. Most will be 1A to 3A. Note that, if there are multiple out ports, the speed is usually divided between the ports. So two devices plugged into a 3A power bank would only charge at 1.5A each.
Faster isn’t always better with power banks though. You’ll lose efficiency at higher speeds, meaning your power bank will drain much faster. You probably don’t need to charge anything quickly while backpacking, so a slow outlet speed is fine.
For long thru-hikes, recharge time matters!
If it takes forever to refill your power bank, you will go crazy waiting in town. One backpacker even noted how he had to stay at hotels in order to refill his power bank, so it ended up being expensive too.
Note: How fast a power bank can charge also has a lot to do with the cables. So make sure you invest in some good quality cables and not the cheap Chinese knockoff ones.
Number of Outlet Ports
If you need to charge multiple devices at once, you’ll need more than one outlet. Just note that charging speed typically reduces when you plug in multiple devices.
I’ve learned my lesson about buying cheap knockoff brands of power banks. While some do work well (at first), they tend to lose their capacity quickly. I had one completely stop charging on me. Luckily it was on a camping trip and not a long backpacking trip.
Some other nice features which are worth paying extra for or even worth the extra weight are:
- Digital displays or power level indicators (LOVE this feature)
- Durable casing (will add extra weight though)
- Wireless charging
What About Solar Panels?
If you have very high power needs (such as if you are doing a lot of photography), even a 25,000mAH power bank probably won’t cut it. You’ll want a portable solar panel to keep charged.
Bear in mind that solar panels are often hyped up. They are cool, but require very sunny conditions to work well. They can also be heavy, bulky, and annoying to worry about. But, there are plenty of reliable solar panels which range from ultralight 5 watt solutions to higher wattages. See these best ultralight solar panels for backpacking.
About the author /
Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.
Optimus 4000mAh Power Bank Torch
This convenient battery backup will not only keep your mobile devices charged up but will also light up your next event.
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Optimus 4000mAh Power Bank Torch
This convenient battery backup will not only keep your mobile devices charged up but will also light up your next event. The 4000 mAh internal battery has enough life to fully charge an iPhone, giving you about 8 hours of additional talk time. Available in 11 vibrant colours. The 5V/1A USB output means that it charges at the same rate of most wall chargers. Includes a USB to Micro USB connecting cable which can recharge the battery backup or be used to charge up devices like Android Smartphones from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Nokia, and others. Includes microfibre pouch black window box for easy transportation and keeping your cables and charger together.
- Lithium ion battery
- Capacity- 4000mAh
- Cycle Life – = 500 cycles
- Input current 5V/0.8A
- Output current 5V/1A
- Discharge time-2.5hrs
- Recharge time: 6hrs.
- Safety: over voltage, over current, over load short circuit protection.
Black, Blue, Lime Green, Orange, Red, Turquoise, White
What Is a Power Bank? Everything You Need To Know About Charging On The-Go
Running out of battery can be a big problem, especially when you might not have access to a wall outlet to charge your phone. Cue power banks! A power bank can keep your phone full of battery without an outlet, so you’ll never have to miss a selfie opportunity or a call from your mom. It’s time to get charged up to learn all about power banks, from their purpose, the different types, and why you need one!
What is the Purpose of a Power Bank? Top
The purpose of a power bank is to recharge battery-powered electronics when you’re on-the-go! A power bank can be small enough to fit in your or they can be larger with a higher capacity.
Power banks are used to charge cell phones, tablets, speakers, and even laptops! If you can plug it in a wall to charge, chances are a power bank can charge it.
When Was the First Power Bank Made? Top
The first portable power bank was created in 2001 by a Chinese company called Pisen. The original design was two AA batteries pieced together by a circuit! It made its public debut at the Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show.
The first power bank was bulky and had a short battery life. Today, there are much more sophisticated and compact designs with far superior battery life. Most modern power banks can fit in the palm of your hand and charge your smartphone several times before running out of battery.
Who Invented the First Power Bank? Top
The first power bank, the Power King, was invented by a Chinese company called Pisen. An Antarctic Expedition Team requested a portable charger for their video cameras and other devices. Cold temperatures would compromise the battery life of their equipment, so a power bank was a necessity for the trip.
What Are the Different Types of Power Banks? Top
Power banks come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Some power banks have multiple uses in addition to charging your electronic devices!
The different types of power banks include:
- Block power bank
- Credit card power bank
- Keychain power bank
- Wireless power bank
- Flashlight power bank
- Speaker power bank
- Novelty power bank
- Bluetooth earbud power bank
- Lantern power bank
- Solar power bank
- High capacity power bank
Block Power Bank
Block power banks are one of the most common types of portable chargers. The blocks can come in the shape of a slim rectangle, a log, or a wider rectangle. This type of power bank is great for keeping in your bag or backpack for those moments when you need some extra juice on-the-go.
Credit Card Power Bank
A credit card power bank is a portable charger with a slim rectangular design, hence its name. This kind of power bank fits comfortably inside your without feeling bulky. The discreet design allows you to slip it inside small places like a wallet or padfolio without taking up a ton of room.
Keychain Power Bank
You never know when you might find yourself with a phone on low battery and no wall outlet. A keychain power bank is compact enough to add to your keyring and take with you everywhere! The next time you need a quick charge, you’ll have your power bank easily accessible.
Wireless Power Bank
Keeping track of cords can become a nuisance. A wireless power bank works by simply resting the back of your phone on top, and letting your battery charge. Before you get a wireless power bank, be sure your device is compatible with this type of charger.
Flashlight Power Bank
If you go camping, fishing, or hiking, a flashlight power bank is a necessity. Not only does the flashlight provide safety at night, but it can also charge your phone. It’s also a good idea to keep a flashlight power bank in your home in case of a power outage.
Speaker Power Bank
Next time you head to the beach or to a picnic, don’t forget to grab a speaker power bank. Keep your phone charged while listening to your favorite playlist with this compact power bank. It’s also handy for bike rides or while working on an outdoor project.
Novelty Power Bank
There are some power banks that don’t look like a power bank at all, like this Rubik’s Cube! The best part is you can twist the colored blocks while your phone charges. It’s still compact and fits in the palm of your hand, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space in your bag.
Bluetooth Earbud Power Bank
This power bank not only works as a portable charger for your phone, but it’s also a port to store and charge wireless Bluetooth headphones! One end of the power bank has the connection to charge your device, and the other has two slots for the earbuds.
Lantern Power Bank
Anyone who is outdoorsy will want a lantern power bank. Use the light when you need it, and then charge your phone at the same time. With this power bank, you can use a charging cable, or you can place your phone on top to wirelessly charge it.
Solar Power Bank
Go green with a solar power bank! Leave your power bank in the sun to charge it up, and then connect it to your phone. A solar power bank is great to use over an extended period because you don’t have to worry about needing a wall outlet to recharge it.
High Capacity Power Bank
High capacity power banks provide a lot of power and have a battery with 20,000 mAh or higher. These power banks can charge multiple devices at once, or one device multiple times before needing to be charged.
There is truly a different type of power bank to satisfy every need. Whether you end up having one favorite or multiple models for different occasions, a power bank is always a good item to keep on hand.
What Does mAh Mean? Top
mAh means milliamp hour. It is a unit of measurement used for electric power, specifically for batteries. A battery that has a higher mAh will have more power and battery life.
For rechargeable batteries found in power banks, the mAh shows how much charge the battery can hold, and how long it can power another electronic before needing to be charged.
How Do I Know My Power Bank Capacity? Top
Before you invest in a power bank, you’ll want to know how long the battery will last. Knowing the capacity of your power bank will help you make sure you get one that will meet your needs. Use the equation below to find the approximate battery life of your power bank.
If your power bank has 10,000 mAh, you would divide that by the mAh of the device you want to charge. A quick online search can tell you the mAh of your device if you aren’t sure or can’t find the battery. For example, an iPhone XS uses a 2,658 mAh battery. Using the equation, it would take 3 hours and 7 minutes of charging your iPhone XS before your 10,000 mAh power bank ran out of battery life.
Which Type of Power Bank is Best? Top
The best type of power bank will have a mAh that is higher than the device you want to charge. The larger the battery is on your phone or other electronic device, the more power you’ll need from your power bank to charge it.
For example, if your electronic device has a battery with 2,000 mAh, you’ll want to get a power bank that has at least 2,000 mAh or more. That way, you’ll be able to get at least one full charge for your device without having to recharge the power bank.
What Is the Difference Between a Power Bank and a Portable Charger? Top
There is no difference between a power bank and a portable charger. Both names can be used to refer to the exact same battery pack you use to charge a device.
A power bank has several nicknames including:
- Battery pack
- Fuel bank
- power cell
- Back-up charging device
- Wireless charger
- Portable charger
Regardless of the name you want to use for your power bank, you’ll be thankful you have it handy when your electronic device needs some extra juice!
What Power Banks Are Allowed on Planes? Top
According to the Transportation Security Administration, power banks containing a lithium ion battery must be packed in a carry-on bag. The reason why power banks are not allowed in checked bags is because the battery contains potentially hazardous flammable materials.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow any type of battery onboard an aircraft that exceeds 27,000 mAh. Keep these guidelines in mind before flying and be sure to properly pack your power banks!
What Are the Advantages of Power Banks? Top
Now that you know what a power bank is, you might be wondering if a power bank is worth it. There are several advantages to having a power bank you should consider before getting your own.
The advantages of power banks include:
Most power banks can fit in the palm of your hand, making them easy to take with you anywhere! You won’t have to worry about it taking up too much space in your bag or
Power banks come in a variety of colors and styles you can choose from. You can also add different designs to your power banks to make it your own.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a quality power bank. Most power banks are under 20 and will keep your phone charged whenever you need it.
Each time you need to charge your electronic devices, you don’t have to get a new power bank. You can recharge and reuse the same power bank over and over.
We don’t always have time to wait for our phone battery to charge. Thankfully, you can take a power bank with you to quickly charge your phone on-the-go.
Reduces Worry of a Dead Cell Phone
No matter where you are, you won’t have to worry about your phone running out of battery as long as you have a power bank handy.
Power banks are an accessory worth having! If you have smartphone or other electronics that you need to keep charged, then you’ll want to have a power bank with you.
The Bottom Line
A power bank can make a huge difference while camping, traveling, or attending a festival. It can help prevent your phone, tablet, or other electronic device from running out of battery. You never know when you might be stuck without a wall outlet, so keeping a power bank nearby can save you in the long run.
Esposito, Felipe. (2019, September 17). iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro have up to 3,969 mAh battery capacity and 4GB of RAM. Retrieved on March 3, 2020, from https://9to5mac.com/2019/09/17/iPhone-11-and-iPhone-11-pro-battery-size/
Bryan. (2020, February 4). What Does mAh Stand For in Batteries? Retrieved on March 3, 2020, from https://www.powerbankexpert.com/what-does-mah-stand-for-in-batteries/
SWICAD. (2018, September 17). History of the Power Bank. Retrieved on March 4, 2020, from https://medium.com/@swicaid/history-of-the-power-bank-262684b706a6
Brease, Tom. (2017, November 13). Pisen: From power bank invention to power bank innovation. Retrieved on March 4, 2020, from https://www.gizchina.com/2017/11/13/pisen-from-power-bank-invention-to-power-bank-innovation/
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Ready Hour Wireless Solar PowerBank Charger 20 LED Room Light
This wireless solar charger is rugged and dependable, perfect for emergencies, natural disasters and power outages. It’s waterproof too. Take it camping or on a hunting trip. Keep in your RV or cabin.
Any time you’re outdoors and need to charge your devices or gear, you’ll want a powerful device like this.
A TRUE POWERHOUSE
High-Powered Charging : Stay connected with sustainable power to carry you through the unexpected! No sub-standard power here. With 20,000 mAh power capacity (triple lesser competitor units. be sure to compare).
Power the devices you depend on, anytime and anywhere—three devices at once with 2 USB ports 1 USB-C port or a single device like a cell phone four times before recharging.
Whole-Room Light : Or count on the bright, long-lasting LED bank of lights. Once you see this unit, you’ll want every member of your family to have one.
Fast Charging : Two of the three USB ports on this device are fast chargers, so you won’t have to sit around and wait for hours. Or, set your device or cell phone on the wireless charging surface!
BUILT TO LAST LONGER
Water Drop-Proof Casing : Carefully crafted with a premium silicon protective case. a durable build with side grips that makes it easy to hold or use the lanyard clip. waterproof and shockproof.
High-Energy Density Lithium Ion Battery : Put through rigorous testing to ensure durability
Charge on the Go. 3 USB Cable Outputs. Output 1: 5V/3A; Output 2: 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A; TYPE-C Output 3: 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A.
Fast Charging. Solar Panel, Micro-USB USB Type-C input to charge, charge and discharge more than 800 times; include a 4-stage power-level indicator; can recharge in approximately 60-90 minutes by wall outlet, depending on power adapter block.
LED Bank of Lights. Hold on/off button to turn on a bright panel of LED lights with a flashing red light S.O.S signal mode, puts out 520 lumens
Dimensions. 4 x 1.2 x 7.38 and weighs 1.55 pounds
What’s in the Box. Wireless Solar PowerBank Charging Unit, micro-USB cord, manual
Storage: Optimal storage conditions range from 30-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not expose to temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Battery Care: As with all battery-run devices, proper upkeep is critical for the prolonged function of this unit. If the unit is left to sit for long periods, the battery can drain and even become inoperable. Make sure to charge the battery every few months to extend its life and performance.
The solar panel with this unit is primarily intended to power your LED flashlight. A couple hours of intense sunlight equals a couple hours of LED flashlight power.
Although the power bank will charge via solar panel, that is not the primary intent on having the solar panel. The conversion rate for this size of solar panel under optimal, full sun conditions is 550 mAh per hour. It would take on average about 40 hours to fully recharge the 20,000 mAh battery once the sun’s rays are intense enough to reach the maximum conversion rate. On a full battery, the LED flashlight can last up to 72 hour. It is recommended to have this unit standing by, fully charged by by an electrical outlet, ready for use during emergencies.
Power bank with torch
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The Rugged Power Bank 20.000 is the ultimate survival gadget to keep you going during your outdoor adventures. It allows you to quickly fast charge your mobile devices, wherever you are.
IP65 Water Resistant This power bank has been designed and tested to be IP65 water resistant, meaning you don’t have to worry about unpredictable weather or accidentally dropping the power bank in shallow water. Perfect for any situation when exploring the outdoors!
Recharge your phone 5x Don’t let the compact design fool you, this power bank packs a powerful 20.000mAh battery that’s large enough to recharge your phone up to 5x.
Fast charge any device The power bank features a USB-C Power Delivery port capable of 30W in-/output, as well as two regular USB ports with Quick Charge 3.0. This means you’re able to fast charge almost any smartphone – Android devices, as well as Apple iPhones. Even the power bank itself can be fully recharged in just 3.5 hours!
Powerful integrated flashlight Having a powerful flashlight integrated into the power bank means you always have an emergency flashlight at hand when you need one.
Note: The wattage of the device you want to charge must be lower than the wattage of the product you are using to charge it. Devices with higher wattage, cannot be charged with this.