Holidays and work trips often involve carting around gadgets galore. Portable battery packs are great for keeping devices powered up when you don’t have access to a power outlet or don’t want to be tethered to the wall.
The key thing to look for in a battery pack is the milliampere-hour rating (mAh), which tells you how many times you can use it. The bigger that is, the better. If, say, the pack has 4000mAh and your phone has an 1850mAh battery, you can probably get two full charges out of it.
Other factors to consider are the battery pack’s physical size, the number of USB ports and whether one of the ports delivers a current of 2.1 amps or higher for tablets and other devices that need more power.
Belkin MIXIT Power Pack 4000, $29.95
The 4000mAh MIXIT Power Pack lets you charge one tablet or two phones at the same time. It’s small enough to slip into a back pocket and, thanks to the larger 12-watt charging capability, you can charge devices as quickly as you would from an AC adaptor plugged into the wall. It’s also pre-charged out of the box, making it a handy emergency power source.
Lenmar Mutant, $199
A sizeable 20,800mAh capacity and four USB ports lend the Lenmar Mutant beautifully to family holidays, when there are multiple phones, tablets, wireless headphones, speakers, GoPros and so forth that need to be charged on a regular basis. It’s a bit heavy to stash in a handbag but sits well in a backpack, thanks to the flat design.
The Laser PB-CJ12000 is a 12,000mAh battery pack (big enough to keep your phone charged for up to a week) that comes with jumper cables so you can resuscitate a flat car battery. The addition of an LED torch, multi-tip charging cable and USB car charger makes this perfect for camping trips and weekend getaways.
Swiss Mobility’s flagship battery pack is a good compromise between size and functionality. Its 18,000mAh battery doesn’t hold quite as much charge as the Lenmar Mutant’s but, at half its physical size, the unit is a better option for people who travel light. Plus, it’s cheaper. Even with the lower capacity, it can charge a smartphone up to 10 times. ￼