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Phone charging for power users.

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Ah, the world of electronics. I have a fairly new Garmin that I paid upwards of $400 for. For about $300 I can buy useable usgs topo maps for the US, and for another $300 the same for Canada. The unit comes with free subscription for a site where you can download satellite imagery. Downloading the imagery is glitchy and you really need to budget days on end to download enough for a lengthy trip. The topo that comes with the unit is not useable. Then I have a SPOT which was about $50 but has a subscription of near $200 a year. I also have a waterproof digital camera, a Pentax WG3 which takes nice photos and videos. All these units take AAA bateries and can be recharged using a solar panel.

But then, I also have a smart phone. A Gaia subsciption costs, I dunno, $50 for 6 years or something ridiculously cheap, comes with all the satellite imagery, usgs topos, historic topos, and a whole mess of other map overlays. All can be downloaded for offline use. It also has a camera, that has better resolution than my Pentax, turns on instantly so I miss fewer wildlife shots and videos are pretty sweet too. It's getting old, it's a Galaxy S8, but still has a waterproof rating of IP68, which means you can chuck it in the water and leave it at a depth of 1.5 meters for a half hour. True, it does not allow the use of satellite communications but I can send a text whenever there is a line-of-site to a cell tower, which is more and more frequent these days.

So I could replace these other bulky, heavy devices with one slim phone, but it has an internal battery that needs some sort of charging. Does anyone else use their phone for navigating all day and have experience keeping it charged with power banks and/or solar chargers such as the Goal Zero?
 
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I'll be curious to know others experiences as well.

I recently bought a Jackery Bolt 6000mAh. $24.99 USD- https://www.jackery.com/products/bol...chargerbattery. It has an integral charging wire for my iPhone, as well as a USB cable with which one recharges the battery itself from a desktop computer (or other source with USB capability). In testing, it will recharge my iPhone8 two and 1/2 times. I have yet to use it "in the wild", but intend to download a map app, and/or tracking software for tripping purposes.
 
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I use an relatively obsolete cell phone as a bike computer, with gps navigation and various Bluetooth sensors. The set up is a power hog so I run a bigger power bank and could get 3 days of every thing running pretty easily. The power bank is an Anker product, and the one thing I will do differently the next time is to get a bank that allows pass through charging. That would be particularly important when useing solar to charge while under way.
 
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Perhaps not so surprisingly, I have a Lenovo 10,000mAh power bank that I have never bothered to try out. I bought it because I needed to spend just a little more money to get free shipping on my laptop, so it was essentially free. It has a micro USB input for charging the unit and 2 USB ports for charging a phone, one being a 10 amp. If the ratio is 6000 mAh for 2.5 charges, then I should get 4 charges from this. I may just have to try this out next week, I'll be out tripping for 5 days.
 
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I use Power Banks, best results with the Anker brand. DO NOT depend on cheap power banks, they are definitely sub-standard.


On a 50 day trip with 2 still cameras, 2 GoPro's, InReach and music player I used 1 x 22,000mah, and 2 x 10,000mah (lower quality for the latter), I was very close to being out of juice by the end of the trip.

1,5000 stills taken, about 40 hours of GoPro, InReach in tracking mode 6 - 8 hours per day plus half a dozen messages, 2 hours of music/day (I did have precharged batteries for the cameras), probably about 5,000mah combined so I used on average about 1,000mah per day.

I experimented with solar a few years ago but the results were very poor. For solar to work with so many devices one really needs the expensive thin-film panels AND pray for lots of reasonably sunny weather. The old Brunton panels I had were heavy, not much lighter than a single 20,000mah power bank.
 
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I have an Anker power bank as well and can get several zero to full charges on my newish iPhone. My phone is usually off on trips, but I always have it along.

Bob
 
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I don't have any recharge suggestions, but over time I have settled on just buying extra camera batteries, but I know that doesn't work for a smart phone. On mapping, I have the $20 subscription to Caltopo.com and have the app on my iphone and tablet. There is full coverage for various map and image layers for Canada and US. I can download all of the layers I want to my phone at this subscription level. More layers are available at the $50 level. You can also use caltopo on your computer web browser to trace routes and make .pdf map sets for printing, which is really what I use the service for. While canoeing, the stuff on the phone is just for backup and I rarely ever look at it if I even bring it. I personally prefer navigating with a paper map and compass. You can also map out routes and save them to your account, which you will have access to on any device, even when you're offline.

Mark
 
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I took a real good look at taking power into the bush ... short story, the best bang for the buck are power banks, none of the solar solutions even come close based on power versus weight and volume.

The caveat is that the longer you are out for, the smaller the difference becomes, somewhere around the 3 week mark ... they even out and for longer periods the solar solutions become the better choice.

So for most trips the power banks are best, for those folks doing much longer trips ... solar solutions maybe the better option.

Brian
 
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I had a SPOT Gen3 device that I carried on backpacks for safety and mostly so I could send my wife a prerecorded "I'm OK" text when I got to camp each night.
That worked well until they jacked up the subscription price to $200 per year. I called to cancel and they dropped the price to $100. So it's actually negotiable.
But I had to renegotiate every year so I dropped it in favor of a Garmin InReach Mini. The InReach uses an internal rechargable battery that I haven't run down
between trips so I can't tell you how long it lasts. The BEST thing about the InReach is that, while the interface on the device is really clunky, you can pair a
smartphone to the InReach and use your smartphone keyboard to write texts. Also if you do, God forbid, need to use the SOS then you can communicate
with the Search and Rescue by text. Buying the Inreach also includes downloading the maps that the included Earthmate App for your smartphone uses for
free. None of that Garmin GPS expensive maps crap. ( I have a Garmin eTrex 30 that I have about $300 invested in regional maps for).
You can use the earthmate app with map in Airplane Mode and the charge on my Samsung last 3-4 days before recharging. BTW you can use the Earthmate App
without having your InReach on. I just make sure before leaving on a trip that I have the appropriate map areas downloaded over the WIFI.
There is a definite Learning Curve to using the InReach but I think it's been worth it.
Larry S
 
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Forgot to mention that I am happy with my Anker Powerbanks. I have a 10,000mah and a 20,000mah model.
I think my phone recharge takes about 2800mah and I just carry a spare battery or two for the camera.
Larry S
 
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I just got back from a five day trip to Allagash Lake. I use GAIA on my iPhone XR and also used the phone as a camera. I didn't need to do heavy navigation but did pull up maps I had already downloaded and took a bunch of photos and videos with the iPhone. I had to recharge the iPhone once using an ancient power cell that's probably 3500mah.

I also took my Zoleo satellite messenger with me, which communicates with the iPhone via Bluetooth. The Zoleo was set to check messages every hour and over five days it barely got below 50% despite it checking for messages every hour, me sending probably 5 "check in" messages plus also sending/receiving a half dozen or more text messages with the Zoleo. If you set it the Zoleo to only check for messages when you manually prompt it to do so, I'm thinking the Zoleo would easily last 2 weeks or more with no recharge. It's the iPhone (which communicates with the Zoleo via Bluetooth) that would conk out long before the Zoleo. You can still sos or check in without the phone. But 2 way messages require phone power.
 
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Another vote for a power bank.

I don’t use much electronica when tripping. My wife and sons do, even when car camping.

A couple years ago I asked the same question here, and did a bunch subsequent of recharging research; a power bank was the answer and I bought them an Anker. Takes plenty care of charging their various devices for a long weekend trips.

On a really long, remote trip a solar panel that could recharge devices, or a power bank, might be a good idea, and I have a friend who uses lightweight, fold out solar panels, but he is almost always in no-shade coastal areas or out in the desert.

We have a small, low power requirement device with a built-in solar-panel. Under the trees, even with with constantly moving it from shade to sun, it takes too much babysitting effort. In clouds or rain, forget it.

Some durable, lightweight, fold-out-able solar panel that could be affixed to the bow of the canoe on open water sunny days might make more sense than in-forest use

But I think you answered your own question

I have a Lenovo 10,000mAh power bank that I have never bothered to try out. I bought it because I needed to spend just a little more money to get free shipping on my laptop, so it was essentially free.
I may just have to try this out next week, I'll be out tripping for 5 days.
 

Zac

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I've had a few cheap power banks and I've had best luck with the RAV brand. I've never had an Anker. I've tried waterproof/shockproof ones before but the ports haven't held up. Mine has it's own dedicated ziploc bag for tripping. I use it quite frequently year round, and drain it completely before charging. They are not an item you want to throw in the 'camping' tote for the winter as they should be charged at least monthly. I see they have a new 20k one that is slimmer than mine... still weighs 15.7 ounces though. I've never had problems with any of them other than when I let a couple freeze when they were fully depleted. That unfortunate incident was in 2017 and the ~24k RAV I bought to replace them is still going strong today.

Attempting to contact a cell tower that just isn't there is a huge battery drain, make sure to put your smart phone in Airplane Mode to conserve battery power.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I do have a potentially relevant reply, but first I must confess that I've never used a cell phone or charged anything on a canoe trip. Nor will I ever. My camera and Garmin GPS with topo maps use batteries, and I just bring enough batteries to last the trip.

However, I did by a portable power pack jump starter, on sale for $70, for my several ancient vehicles whose batteries keep dying from non-use. It works great and is much cheaper and faster than calling AAA. It also has USB ports that I used to charge my phones and computers for several days when we had a big power outage last year. And finally it serves as a powerful flashlight on one end and flashing red emergency signal on the other.

As a multi-use tool, I could see carrying it in the magic bus canoe van and then, if I were a power power user, bringing it in the canoe sans the jumper cables and carrying case.
 
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The amount of power generated by solar, wind and water is so low in comparison to the weight AND the amount of time it takes to harvest that charge ... I found it just wasn't a practical solution, unless you stay in one spot to charge the devices ... which is sorta why you leave the city, to get away from all the usually hub bub and electronics, that just chains you in the woods to your charge device.
 
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Ditch the Garmin and use your phone.

On two, ten-day trips in 2019 I took a 24000 mA CXLiy power pack. I kept the phone in airplane mode except about once a day, when we camped, to check for cell service, of which there was none at campsites. I used the phone with downloaded Gaia maps, and for photos, although I also carried a camera in my PFD which I used for most photos while boating. A nice feature of the CXLiy is a digital readout of how much juice it has left. In ten days, it used less than half the charge capacity, and I also used it to recharge the phone a couple times.

With the phone in airplane mode, it uses very little power, mostly to drive the display. So, I think battery life will heavily depend on how much you are using the display.
 
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I have an iPhone 8X......As several others have already mentioned, an Anker power bank not much bigger than my phone will fully recharge it about 3.5 times. I keep it in airplane mode...there is typically no cell service anyway......what I use the phone for:

- Usually have several downloaded books on it for layover days and nights in my hammock
- back up maps and emergency gps (Avenza app)...I prefer paper maps and compass for my primary navigational aids
- my only camera....I carry it in a waterproof case around my neck that I can take photos thru for those sudden photo opps that pop up when your buddies can't get their nice cameras out of their pelican cases fast enough or their camera is on the other side of the portage or camp.
- emergency flashlight
- bluetooth keypad for my Delorme in reach mini
- back up compass
- I have borrowed my wife's go-pro a couple of times and can use my phone as a remote for it
- I usually download the International Space Station schedule to my phone for reference during my trip.....It's kind of fun to watch for on those clear/dark evenings


That's all I can think of right now.......I only started carrying it with me the last 3 or 4 years....my daughter actually shamed me into it when she saw me packing a couple of paperbacks in my pack for a trip.....daughter-"Daaaaddd, why don't you just download books to your phone?" Me- "Because I don't bring my phone....." Daughter- "Why not? Get with the times dad, don't act so old...."

I caved......

Mike
 
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I recently got back from 9 days in the BWCA (trip report pending) and I took a 26800 mAh solar-capable power bank to recharge my inReach. When my camera died on day 2, I used my phone for pictures and never thought to put it in airplane mode. I turned off both devices at night, recharged them every other night and finally ran out of juice in the bank on the way home. I tried out the solar charger a few days later after the Garmin was completely dead and the 19W solar panel was able to bring it up to 26% after about 5 hours in direct sunlight so, it seems that I would need some serious layover time to make the solar work out but it WAS better than nothing.
 
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When listing and lamenting the cost of electronic devices and subscriptions, why doesn't anyone report the cost of a "smartphone", including the initial purchase price plus the monthly charges?

For marathon canoe racing (e.g. Yukon 1000) and tripping including over land navigation (mostly off trail) hiking travel I use a Garmin GPSmap60CSx (now considered obsolete by Garmin but very inexpensive on eBay) loaded with free maps from gpsfiledepot.com. Its batteries last far longer than the newer Garmin models purchased for my SAR unit. New paper topo maps can be had for around $7.00 (after a recent price increase, although my original stock cost half of that), or downloaded for free and printed for a few cents. My compass uses no batteries and after a small initial purchase price, it continues to operate for free.
 
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