A lightweight battery charger & torch
Portable chargers are now an essential item of equipment for many walkers, particularly for smartphones but also for GPS units, e-readers, headlamps and more. How powerful a charger you need depends on the length of your trip and the items you might need to charge. The key figure is the mAh, which stands for milliamp hour and measures the amount of energy in a battery. The higher the mAh the more energy a charger can transmit to your device.
However the more powerful a charger is the heavier it is – a charger being just a battery in a case with ports on the sides. For a multi-day trip a big heavy charger could be justified. For a day trip it’s just unnecessary weight. The WakaWaka Power+ charger reviewed here is 2200 mAh and weighs 150g. Other chargers I have weigh 275 grams for 4000 mAh and 307 grams for 13,000 mAh. My smartphone is 3000 mAh so the Power+ will provide a 75% charge. For me that’s more than enough backup for an overnight trip.
The Power+ has a solar panel on one side that can be used in sunny weather to recharge itself. WakaWaka says this takes 12-24 hours. I found two days on a south-facing window, around 16 hours of sunshine, fully charged it. Outdoors it can be attached to the top or back of a pack. The Power+ can also be charged via USB, which takes 4 hours.
The Power+ is bright yellow and so hard to mislay. It’s made from 100% recycled high impact resistant thermoplastic so it’s pretty tough though not waterproof. There are four LEDs on one side that indicate how much power is left and how fast it is being recharged. An adjustable stand means you can angle the solar panel towards the sun.
As well as a charger the Power+ is a torch. There are two LEDs and four settings that provide from 5 to 75 lumens and 10 to 150 hours of light. As a stationary light, using the stand, the Power+ is fine. Its shape makes it a little awkward to hold though so I wouldn’t want to walk far using it as torch.
As a charger for short trips or when it’s sunny and as an emergency light I think the Power+ is excellent, especially as it’s so light.
The company WakaWaka (which means ‘shine bright’ in Swahili) is a social enterprise working to abolish energy poverty. Proceeds from the sale of the Power+ and other products (these include a solar-powered torch and a 10,000 mAh solar charger) are used to provide solar chargers and lights for free to communities in crisis situations.