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Power banks are handy devices that will keep electronics running when you don’t have access to a power outlet. These devices are a key component of off-grid survival gear, and they vary in size and capability. Power banks will range from pocket-size devices that can charge a phone or GPS, up to large, high-capacity power banks that can run non-rechargeable equipment, like a CPAP or a small refrigerator.
The power banks I chose here are easy to pack and carry and are geared mostly for smaller electronics. If you’re looking to run a fridge or TV, you’ll need to upgrade to a large unit.
- Best Overall: The Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
- Best for Backpacking: Goal Zero Venture 75
- Best for Camping: Tainbat 30000mAh Solar Charger Power Bank
- Best Portable: Goal Zero Yeti 150
- Best for iPhones: Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 11
Best Overall: The Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
Why it made the cut: It’s a versatile and reliable power station that will keep everything charged and not take up a lot of space making it our choice for the best power bank overall.
- Built-in AC inverter
- Multiple output design for all your gear
- Solar charging capability
- Lithium-ion battery
- Easy charging options
- Built-in carry handle
- Longer recharge time
- Weighs over 13 pounds
You and your buddies have a lot of tech that you need to keep charged, from phones to fish finders to medical equipment. This 500W Jackery has all the outputs and power you need to keep them all going for a 2-3 day off-grid trip. It sports a 3-prong AC outlet, one 12VDC (10A) car plug, two 12 VDC (7A) pin ports, and three standard USB (2.4A) ports. It also has a suite of protection circuitry to guard the battery and your gear from damage, including over-charge/discharge, over-voltage, overheating, over-current, and short-current.
While it weighs almost 14 pounds, it’s easy to carry with the integrated handle. It is capable of simultaneous port use, so everyone can plug without drawing straws. The battery is powerful enough to run a small TV for over seven hours, a laptop for 30 hours, a mini fridge for nine hours, and charge a phone more than 50 times. With the Jackery, you won’t have to sacrifice the creature comforts in the field.
Best for Backpacking: Goal Zero Venture 75
Why It Made the Cut: This new power bank has a fast charging time, plus an emergency 50 lumen flashlight making it the best power bank for backpacking trips.
- 19,200 mAh Li-ion NMC battery
- Weight: 20.35 ounces
- High charging capacity with fast charging ability and three charging ports
- Dustproof and waterproof to stand up to the elements
- Integrated emergency 50 lumen flashlight
- Does not support simultaneous charging
Goal Zero has a well-earned reputation in the outdoor industry for quality and reliability as well as constant innovation. The 19,200 mAh Li-ion NMC battery will charge a phone five times, an action camera more than once, a tablet twice, and even a laptop once. While it doesn’t support simultaneous charging, it does come equipped with two 3A USB-A ports and one 60W USB-C fast charge Power Deliver port.
At 6.1 x 3.8 x 1.1 inches, it’s easy to pack. The housing and ports are sealed to an IP67 rating that makes it dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 3.3 feet for up to 30 minutes, with a wide operating temperature range from 32 to 113-degrees F. It charges in two hours using a regular wall charger. In the field, you can pair it with a solar panel and recharge it in six hours.
Best for Camping: Tainbat 30000mAh Solar Charger Power Bank
Why It Made the Cut: This waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof power bank has LED flashlights built in and can charge two devices simultaneously.
- Capacity: 30,000 mAh
- Two charging ports
- Weight: 14.99 ounces
- Multiple outputs that can simultaneously charge devices
- Integrated dual LED flashlights
- Compact design, measuring under 7 inches long and 4 inches wide
- Only suitable for smaller electronics
This power bank has two output ports, a massive battery capacity, and a solar panel to recharge the battery when needed. It is extremely durable with plastic caps to protect the ports when they aren’t in use. You will be able to run camp lights and charge similarly sized devices like a handheld GPS unit, a radio, and an action cam. It’s ideal for a small group of people charging small items, which is often the case on a camping trip making it the best power bank for camping trips.
It has an integrated flashlight with three brightness levels and an SOS distress signal for emergencies. The impact-resistant housing is dustproof and weatherproof. The housing design lends itself to packing, measuring just 6.4 x 3.3 inches, so you’ll be able to squirrel it into your pack or bag without having to sacrifice another piece of gear or attach it on the outside with a carabiner.
Its integrated solar panel is strictly for backup, as its size won’t be able to recharge the bank in a timely manner. You’ll need to plug it in at home and make sure it’s fully charged before you head out for maximum effectiveness.
Best Portable: Goal Zero Yeti 150
Why It Made the Cut: It’s not prohibitively heavy, has AC and USB ports, and can be charged with a solar panel.
- AC & USB charging ability
- Replaceable battery
- Integrated safety circuitry
- Deep cycle battery delivers power for days
- Built-In AC Inverter and multiple charging ports for all devices
- Easily replaces a small generator
- Long recharge time
This is the best portable power bank because it not only offers standard USB charging, but also has a 12 volt car charging socket and an AC outlet. This flexibility gives you the ability to power and charge virtually any device. It utilizes a deep cycle 12 volt 14Ah AGM lead acid battery to deliver reliable long-term power that is on-par with many small generators—without the noise and exhaust.
This power bank weighs in at 12 pounds, so it’s not something you can pack in, although measuring 7.75 x 5.75 x 6.75 inches will help fit it into a car or truck that is loaded with all your other gear. Since the battery is essentially a marine battery, you need to prepare for your trip a day or two in advance because it’ll take six hours to charge from house power, or eight hours in a car or RV. If you have a compatible solar charger, it’ll take up to 10 hours under optimal conditions to recharge it in the field.
Best for iPhones: Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 11
Why It Made the Cut: Convenience, convenience, and convenience. Install the Juice Pack on your phone, and you’ll barely feel the difference from your old case.
- Custom-fit for your specific phone
- Doubles as a case for protection
- Easier to use versus external battery packs
- Easy to install and use
- Your phone will retain access to all buttons and camera lenses
- Compatible with most wireless chargers
- Phone specific
Nowadays, everyone is constantly on their phone. Whether it’s making calls, taking photos, shooting videos, posting to social media, or reading news, your battery is likely to drain quickly. As the best power bank for iPhones and smartphones, the Juice Pack gives you portable power so you can keep your device charged all the time in the field or on your commute. This model will charge your phone at least once from being fully depleted.
If you change phones, you’ll likely need to grab a new case, but the good news is that Mophie is committed to keeping up with the latest releases. It doesn’t matter if you have an iPhone or an Android from a wide variety of manufacturers, there’s likely a Juice Pack for it, even if your new phone is a hand-me-down.
I’ve been camping for years, and in that time, I’ve had many different experiences with several different power banks. These have given me insight into the best features of a good power bank.
When researching my picks, I combed through several dozen manufacturers and models on multiple platforms, read through reviews, and applied my own first-hand experience to determine what works best in real-world applications. Reliability and versatility are the primary focuses of my picks, and below are other key factors that went into my recommendations.
- Size and weight: Will it fit in your bag or backpack, and how much weight will it add to your pack?
- Capacity: How much power will it hold? This determines how long it can power a device and/or recharge other things.
- Output type: What type of USB ports does it have, and now many? What’s the amp output for them?
Q: What is a power bank?
A power bank is a device that will charge any battery-operated electronics. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Users should consider their priorities before purchasing a power bank to determine what features will serve them best.
Q: How does a power bank work?
A power bank works by being charged from a power source, whether it be an outlet, solar panel, or car. Once charged, the power bank can serve to recharge different electronics, often on the go or in remote places where electricity isn’t accessible.
Q: How long does a power bank take to charge?
Every power bank is different, and there is no one set amount of time it will take to charge. Size, battery capacity, and brand are just a few of the factors that determine how long a power bank will take to charge. It is a good rule of thumb to prepare and allow for plenty of time to charge your power bank before heading on your adventure, if possible.
Final Thoughts on the Best Power Banks
There’s no magic bullet for choosing the best power bank. Looking strictly at capacity doesn’t tell you the whole story. If you need to charge multiple devices, look for more output ports. If size is a consideration, pay attention to the weight and dimensions. The most important thing is to carefully consider your essential gear and what you need to get out of a power bank.