Gear Guide 2012: Mophie Juice Pack Plus Outdoor Edition

A bomber iPhone case that also recharges the battery.

Problem 1: Continuous use of your phone’s GPS functionality quickly drains its reserves.

Problem 2: iPhones are fragile.

Solution: The latest Mophie Juice Pack, a burly update of the version that won a 2010 Editors’ Choice Award. “I shot four days of photos and videos on a single charge in Chile,” raves our gear editor. “That’s almost double the previous performance.” The Juice Pack’s rechargeable lithium-polymer battery (thinner and lighter than traditional lithium-ion batteries) brought another editor’s dying iPhone back to full power in less than three hours deep in the backcountry, even though her phone was simultaneously running a navigation app in the background. The plastic housing has a soft-touch coating for solid grip, and a TPU band around the edge increases impact protection.

“I fumbled my phone while trying to snag a photo on a blustery ridgeline at 10,000 feet,” says our gear editor. “No nicks.” The case attaches to the iPhone at the bottom through Apple’s standard 30-pin connector, and a small switch allows you to toggle between standby and charging modes. Testers also liked that they could check the Juice’s battery life by pressing a button that ignites LEDs (four lights means fully charged).

Bonus: The Outdoor Edition comes with a one-year subscription to Mophie’s Outdoor nav app ($30 value), which lets you record tracks and waypoints, geotag photos, search for nearby trailheads and points of interest, and cache AccuTerra topo maps for offline viewing. Cons: The case isn’t waterproof, there’s no screen protector, and it’s only compatible with iPhone 4 and 4S. A $19/year subscription is required to continue using the app after the first year. $120; 3 oz.;