How to Choose the Best Portable Charger for Your Phone and Electronics

When it comes to keeping your electronics charged, a portable power source is just what you need. Here’s how to choose the right model for day hikes, long weekends, or extended trips off the grid.

Man holding smart phone
Make sure you've always got enough juice to use your phone when you're away from power outlets.Fredrik Solli Wandem via Unsplash

Time was when bringing any kind of electronic device into the woods would have been frowned upon. But today, we rely on so many electronic devices—GPS units, headlamps, flashlights, tablets, cameras—it hardly seems natural not to have them along. And while no one recommends checking your email or text messages every five minutes when you’re trying to unplug for a couple of days, who doesn’t like using their phone for quick photos or videos along the way?

All of our favorite electronics won’t stay charged forever, however, which is why carrying some kind of portable charging device makes a lot of sense. And with today’s technology, back-up chargers can keep your gadgets going for days and even weeks depending on the model. Problem is, how do you know which one to buy? We’ve broken chargers down into three groups to make your choosing a back-up power source much easier whether you want to stay out for a day, a long weekend, or a lot longer. Here’s what to look for.

A Day On The Trail

INUI portable charger
This handy charger is perfect for day trips. It will fully charge your iPhone 8 three times over. It also has two USB ports and a built-in flashlight function.Amazon

Even if you're just heading out on a day hike, there's nothing worse than having your phone or headlamp quit when you want it most. Having a lightweight power source along as a back-up can give you (and the group you're hiking with) great peace of mind. Look for models that will carry enough power to charge your phone several times over. Make sure your devices and your back-up power source are fully charged before you head out. If it's cold, carry your electronics and charger inside your clothing as cold weather will drain batteries quickly.

Weekends Away

RAVPower portable charger
This unit offers 11 days or power to charge an iPhone X 7.1 times, Galaxy S8 for 6.4 times, iPad Mini 4.3 times, or an iPad Pro for 1.8 times. And it has a lifetime warranty.Amazon

When you're going to be out for a few days, you may need to recharge more types of electronics, like headlamps and GPS units. Look for portable chargers that have the capacity to charge something like a phone at least 6 to 8 times over. It goes without saying that units should be rugged enough to handle minor bumps in the back of a pack, but look for models that are dustproof, drop-proof and waterproof. Better units have multiple ports for charging different types of devices. They may include a built-in flashlight and some units even have a built-in solar panel so they can recharge themselves—an excellent way to guarantee you always have power.

Extended Escapes

Jackery portable charger
For extended power needs a portable power station like this can charge everything from smartphones, tablets and laptops to cameras, Nintendos and drones.Amazon

Going to be gone for a week or more? You'll definitely want to look for larger models that store more power. These are particularly nice if you're car camping and weight isn't a factor. Ideally, larger units should allow you to power up cameras and tablets to laptops and drones. Larger units also include AC outlets as well as a wider variety of USB and other outlets. Look for units that are rated to charge a cell phone up 10 to 15 times and a laptop computer at least twice.