If you carry electronic devices, such as a Smartphone, a small tablet, or a rechargeable flashlight, as part of your everyday carry (EDC), or as part of your get-home bag, bug-out bag, or evacuation kit, you should have some way to recharge those devices. The size and type of recharger will depend on whether it is a daily trip, or extended excursion. The longer you are gone, the more reserve power you will require. Of course there are various types of devices available for this purpose. I will identify some that are quality products, perform as intended, and have worked well for my purposes.
For my EDC (Everyday Carry) I carry an Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini, 3200 mAh lipstick sized portable charger which is also an external battery power bank. It measures only 3.7″ long by 0.9″ in diameter, and weighs only 3 ounces. I like it because it gives you a small charging station in the palm of your hand.
The Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini has a Power IQ which detects your device and its amp-adjustment technology intelligently identifies your device and delivers its fastest possible charge. It will add over a full charge to an iPhone and other Smartphone’s, and almost one full charge to a Galaxy S5.
If you travel daily by personal vehicle, then you will want a way to recharge your devices in the vehicle. There are various types of 12 Volt car chargers that plug into the vehicle’s accessory outlet. They offer both single USB out to multiple. You simply plug them into your accessory outlet and plug your USB cable into them.
If you are in an extended type of emergency or bug-out situation, where you might not be able to get to electrical power, or if the power is out, you might want to carry a 12 Volt outlet that has alligator clips on it. This can be used if you are able to access the battery of an abandoned vehicle. You simply connect the outlet directly to the battery and insert your 12 Volt to USB adapter to charge your device.
If the Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini will not provide you with enough recharges, or you carry more than just a Smartphone, Anker offers a larger device, which I carry in my evacuation kit. It is called the Anker 2nd Generation E4 External Battery that provides 13000mAh yet measures only 5-7/8″ x 2-1/2″ x 3/4″ and weighs only 10.2 ounces. It provides an incredible amount of backup power to recharge various devices, yet is small enough to carry in a bag. It also has the Power IQ and two USB outputs for charging. It can be charged using any USB charger. I have a standard USB cable and an Apple Lightning to USB cable. This allows me to also charge my iPhone, or even the iPad if it was included in an evacuation. I also use it to charge my OLight S20R Baton flashlight which I carry as part of my EDC.
The next item is a very handy device because in offers various options. It is called the GoalZero Guide 10 Plus Recharger. The Guide 10 Plus Recharger is a go-anywhere, rechargeable battery pack that keeps your handheld gear going strong. Charge AA/AAA batteries from the sun or any USB port, then power your phone, MP3, GPS, or perk up your tablet in a pinch. Directly charge a Smartphone in 1 hour. The built-in LED light runs for 150+ hours per charge, giving you an extra flashlight. You can charge removable-rechargeable AA/AAA NiMH batteries from a USB port or the sun, using any of the GoalZero solar panels (which I will discuss later).
There are also various lights which can be plugged into the USB output to provide you with other than a flashlight. One of these is offered by GoalZero and is called the Luna Light. I like this light as it uses LED’s and provide for extra illumination in an emergency situation.
For a bug-out or evacuation kit, you might need the ability to recharge for a longer period of time. If normal power is not available, portable solar might be an option.
The GoalZero Guide 10 Plus Recharger is also offered as a solar kit including a small foldable solar panel. The included Nomad 7 provides you with an ultra-compact yet powerful solar panel that enables you to charge your handheld devices directly from its USB and 12 Volt DC charging ports. It collects 7 Watts of power from the sun, is foldable, has a rugged design, and is weather resistant. The Nomad 7 will directly charge most USB and 12V devices (not tablets). The Nomad 7 Solar Panel can be chained together with other panels for increased collection. Ports provided are: USB Port: 5V, up to 1A (5W max), regulated Solar Port (blue, 8mm): 15V, up to 0.3A (5W max), regulated Mini Solar Port (2.5mm): 6.5V, up to 1.1A (7W max). The Nomad 7 Solar Panel is 7 Watts, with an Open Circuit Voltage of 8-9V. The Cell Type is Monocrystalline.
I carry the Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit as part of my evacuation kit which is normally kept in my vehicle. I include the Anker 2nd Gen E4 external power pack as there is room in the zippered net pouch which is attached to the Nomad 7 solar panel. Together, it provides me a lot of recharging ability as well as various other options.
If you are interested in a larger system that provides more power I recommend the GoalZero Sherpa 50 Solar Recharging Kit. Although larger and heavier than the Guide 10 Plus kit, if you have the room it can be a real asset.
The GoalZero Sherpa 50 Recharger Solar Recharging Kit (available with or without an inverter) is an ultra-portable power supply to keep laptops and tablets, and other electronic devices charged up anywhere you go. Being it has a 12V output as well as a 5V USB output, you can even use it to run a 12V television panel, as well as other 12V devices. It also has a 19V laptop output with charging cable.
The Sherpa 50 is a lightweight power supply to keep cell phones, laptops, and tablets charged up anywhere you go. Because it offers a 5V USB output, a 19V laptop output, and a 12V output, it offers versatility not found on other power supplies. With the addition of the AC Inverter the capabilities are awesome! The Sherpa 50 Recharger is easy to pack and light to carry so your gear now goes the same distance you do and quickly recharges from wall, car or sun.
The included Nomad 13 Monocrystalline Solar Panel allows you to charge devices directly from the panel via USB (5V, up to 1A (5W max), regulated) or 12V output, or to recharge the Sherpa 50 Power Pack (as well as a Guide 10 Plus Recharger, if you have one). The Nomad 13 will directly charge most USB and 12V devices. Most handheld USB devices include: Cell phone, smart phone, GPS, MP3 player. There is a zippered pouch on the back of the panel with a junction box and cables, as well as plenty of room to store other items. It will charge a Guide 10 Plus in 2.5-5 hours and a Sherpa 50 in 6-16 hours. The panel can be chained with other GoalZero panels for additional power.
GoalZero offers various other sized portable solar panels which can be chained together for additional power. They can be included in various kits, depending on the size. Of course there are various other manufacturers that make decent portable solar but I have been satisfied with GoalZero and like the fact that all of their panels can be chained together for more power options.
One thing people often forget as part of their recharging kits are the various cables and adapters which provide you with options for charging different type devices. If you package them properly they can fit into a small bag to be included in your kit.
Last, but not least, you may be bugging in during an emergency situation. Of course all of the above devices and techniques can be used. Power supplies can be recharged with a generator if you have one. I have a Portable power pack which I always keep in my truck for jumping my vehicle or for additional 12V power when camping. It can also be used in the house when the power is out to recharge various devices.
If you have other types of 12V batteries at home, like those used for an alarm system, or those being charged by solar panels, they can be used with a 12 Volt outlet with alligator clips and a 12 Volt adapter. This can provide you another resource for recharging.
As you can see, there are many ways you can recharge your various electronic devices when on the road or even when at home without power. There are various sized devices which should allow you to find a recharging option that fits your needs and the size of your kit.
Hopefully you have found this article both interesting and informative. As always, Be Prepared To Survive!
© 2015 by John D. McCann