Posted by in Gear Categories: Gadgets and Gear tests.

Keep your smart devices juiced up on the road; always. We tested eight power banks to see how far they’ll take you on a road trip from Jozi.

 

Before you buy

Capacity is indicated by the milliamp hours (mAh) – the higher the number the more juice it can provide, but it’s also likely to be more expensive, bulkier and require longer charge times (often overnight). Note that a power bank will not always deliver its full capacity because energy is lost through heat and voltage conversion. As a ballpark figure, roughly 2500 mAh is required to fully charge a smart phone (an iPhone 5c for example).

The output and input rating of power banks is indicated in amps – higher amps mean your device (output) and the power bank’s battery (input) will charge faster. Note that some tablets cannot charge at all from low-amp devices.

 

Test conditions

To test, each power bank was fully charged on mains power and plugged into a flat TomTom GO 5000 – a nifty GPS device available for R4399 at Cape Union Mart. We then used each power bank on a trip from Joburg to surrounding areas to record the length of time it kept the GPS juiced up. For example, the 2600mAh Powerstick powered the TomTom for three hours and 35 minutes, all the way to Ladysmith.

 

1. 2600mAh Powerstick

R250, capeunionmart.co.za

Getaway Magazine - Power banks Tested - Powerstick

Gets you to: Ladysmith (3 hours 35 minutes)
Weight: 200g
Input: 0,5A
Output: 1A
Warranty: One year

 

Notes

The Powerstick’s power level stayed at four for a long time, but dropped quickly from three to zero. This unit is great for single-charge emergencies and, compact and light, can live in your backpack or handbag.

 

2. Energizer 5600mAh Power Bank

R449, makro.co.za

Getaway magazine - Power banks tested - Energizer

Gets you to: Hoedspruit (5 hours)
Weight: 151g
Input: 1,5A
Output: 2,4A
Warranty: Two years

 

Notes

A good-looking, palm-size unit (if a little dumpy) that has good capacity for its affordable price and dual USB charging ports. No frills here.

 

3. Red-E Powerbank 6000mAh Premium Edition

R389, actiongear.co.za

Getaway magazine - Power banks tested - Red-E

Gets you to: Pietermaritzburg (5 hours 15 minutes)
Weight: 131g
Input: 1A
Output: 2,1A
Warranty: Lifetime

 

Notes

A sleek well-designed unit with dual USB ports, it can charge three devices simultaneously. I’ve owned one like this for the past year and take it everywhere. Exceptional value for money and the only unit we tested with a lifetime guarantee.

 

4. 6000mAh PowerTraveller Powermonkey Explorer 2 Power Pack

R1299, duesouth.co.za

Getaway magazine - Power banks tested - Powermonkey

Gets you to: Howick (4 hours 30 minutes)
Weight: 286g
Input: 2A
Output: 2A
Warranty: One year

 

Notes

Ultra-tough, compact, water-proof and shock-proof, this baby belongs outdoors. Both the digital percentage indicator and the extra-length cables are examples of good design, but at a cost. The only thing I was bleak about is that it didn’t fit nicely back in its box after use.

 

4.1 2200mAh SolSave My-Powa Solar Battery Charger

The SolSave My-Powa Solar Battery Charger is a similar but more affordable option at R500 (Outdoor Warehouse), but only has a 2200mAh capacity, which will get you to Bela Bela (2 hours 10 minutes). 10 hours of sunshine will also fully charge the unit.

Getaway magazine - Power banks - SolSave My Powa Solar Battery Charger

 

5. 12000mAh GP Portable PowerBank 302C

R599, glagencies.co.za

Getaway magazine - Power banks tested - GP Powerbank

Gets you to: Three Sisters (8 hours)
Weight: 250g
Input: 2A
Output: 2,4A
Warranty: One year

 

Notes

This unit charges two devices at once. It also has a 2A input so charges quite quickly. A fair price for its capacity, it’s particularly good for charging tablets.

 

6. Modern Innovation 16000mAh Power Bank Charger

R825, powerbankcharger.co.za

Getaway Magazine - Power banks Tested - Modern Innovation

Gets you to: Touws River (11 hours 40 minutes)
Weight: 350g
Input: 2A
Output: 2,1A
Warranty: One year

 

Notes

The slick aluminium alloy shell is the same as that of the MacBook Pro. This is a good option for the design-conscious, but it took a while to charge up compared to the others listed here.

 

7. Lenmar Mutant 20800mAh Portable Power Pack

R1699, be-akin.co.za

Getaway magazine - Power banks tested - Lenmar Mutant

Gets you to: Anywhere in South Africa (ran for over 20 hours)
Weight: 493g
Input: 2A
Output: 2,4A
Warranty: One year

 

Notes

This is the big daddy. It’s amazingly compact for its capacity, but too heavy to pack for a hike. Best used for camping or as a charging station at home.

 
 

Did you know?

You can buy a power bank with enough juice to jumpstart your car? The Boltpower Auto Jump Starter G06 boasts 16500mAh, weighs just 1,2kg, comes with a special set of 12-volt clamps and can start up a dead battery. It can also be used to power a compressor. Pretty neat huh?
R2800, lumenoled.co.za

 
 

This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

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All prices correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at each supplier’s discretion.