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Gear Reviews

2016 Portable Power Preview

The 2016 portable power options we're previewing at the Outdoor Retailer Show are lighter, faster, and waterproof.

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charge electronics outdoors

This foldable, two-panel solar charger has a 55-mAh battery that connects to your smartphone with an integrated micro-USB cord.

charge electronics outdoors

The Pronto’s battery only takes an hour to fully charge, and a smartphone hooked up to this battery will reach full charge in just 5-10 minutes.

charge electronics outdoors

The goBAT rechargeable battery, which comes in two different sizes, is water and dust-proof and can hold a charge for years without draining.

charge electronics outdoors

Outdoor Technology’s new charge sports a rubber casing and waterproof ports that can charge two devices at the same time.

Note: This is a preview of new technologies being introduced at the Outdoor Retailer show. We have not yet tested any of these products, and they won’t be available until 2016.

Whether you’re a professional photographer, serial selfie-taker, or looking to keep your GPS watch alive, your options in portable power continue to grow.

But just powering your tech isn’t enough anymore; companies are doing so with style. Batteries and chargers are changing shape and capacity to cater to a variety of users, from tough cases for extreme environments to smart chargers that monitor sunlight.

Solar has been around for awhile, but it’s no stranger to innovation: StrongVolt’s solar panels feature a proprietary technology that monitors the sun’s power output and turns off the charger when clouds or shade interfere. Voltaic Systems’ Fuse 6W solar panel ($129) has clips for easy mounting on a backpack, so it can charge your devices while you hike under the sun. Brunton’s new Explorer series offers a variety of solar panels to accommodate space and power requirements. The 6-watt Explorer 6 is made for handheld devices, while the slightly larger Explorer 12 can power action cameras and GPS communicators. The four-panel Explorer 24 offers four times the watts of the 6 and still folds down to fit into a pack.

charge electronics outdoors
This foldable, two-panel solar charger has a 55-mAh battery that connects to your smartphone with an integrated micro-USB cord.

For something more compact, Olympia Outdoor’s SB5500 Solar charger with Micro-USB Port ($60) is a foldable two-panel charger barely larger than a walkie-talkie. The 55-mAh battery can charge up small electronics like smartphones and tablets via the integrated micro-USB cord.

Power Practical is addressing one of users’ biggest complaints: how long it takes to recharge.

“We have always thought that portable batteries are a lifesaver,” said Kenyon Ellis, Power Practical’s vice president of marketing and design. “The only part that we really didn’t like was that they take a VERY long time to charge up. Some bigger capacity ones take 10-plus hours to charge completely.”

charge electronics outdoors
The Pronto’s battery only takes an hour to fully charge, and a smartphone hooked up to this battery will reach full charge in just 5-10 minutes.

Power Practical is bringing two batteries that only take an hour to fully charge, the 4,500 mAh Pronto 5 and the 13,500 mAh Pronto 12. Ellis claims that a 5-10 minute charge will give a Pronto battery enough power to fully charge a smartphone.

charge electronics outdoors
The goBAT rechargeable battery, which comes in two different sizes, is water and dust-proof and can hold a charge for years without draining.

Both Scosche Industries Inc. and Outdoor Tech are bringing shock- and waterproof batteries. Scosche’s goBAT 6000 ($55) and 12000 ($80) are IP67-rated to be water and dustproof, and feature zero self-discharge, meaning they can hold a charge for years without draining. You heard us: years.

charge electronics outdoors
Outdoor Technology’s new charge sports a rubber casing and waterproof ports that can charge two devices at the same time.

Outdoor Technology’s 10000mAH Kodiak Plus sports a rubber casing and waterproof ports. The battery’s dual USB outputs can charge up two devices at the same time … after sitting at the bottom of a river for 30 minutes.

These are just a few of the new products to debut at Summer Market. Be sure to check for more news and trends in the O.R. Daily, Days 1-4, published live at the show, and available digital format each day of print at www.snewsnet.com/ordaily.