In all the months I’ve spent living on the road there are two things I never had quite enough of: battery life and socks. There seems to be no solution to the latter problem. You can pack as many socks as you like and, three months into your backpacking journey, all but one mismatched pair will have disappeared.
But battery life is another matter entirely. Just because airports and third world hostels don’t always have usable sockets doesn’t mean you have to be left without your music, e-books or road pornography.
Portable external batteries are a wonderful way to augment your gadgets for travel. Satechi’s 10,000 mAH portable energy station is the latest such product I’ve tried, and it has thus far exceeded my expectations in every way. First off, it has a cord with swappable tips that fit everything from micro-USB to 30-pin connectors for the iWhatever. That’s anywhere from 4-8 full charges for your phone or media player, and around 1-2 full charges for your tablet.
The Satechi’s main benefit is its size. When I’m not wearing my ass-hugging jeans I can fit both it and my smartphone (a Galaxy S3 with a big case) in one pocket at the same time. I’m also fiddling with an inside-jacket setup, where I use it to power my phone’s router to turn myself into a sort of nigh-perpetual walking hot-spot. As soon as I’m in a part of the world where wearing a jacket doesn’t turn me into a literal hotspot, I’ll be giving it a more thorough try.
$60 seems a fair price for the utility, but I have my concerns with the build quality. Though I’ve had no issues so far the front plate has a lot more flex than I am comfortable with, and it feels as if it might prove more fragile under daily use than I’d like for something that fulfills such a critical role in the field. If you want something robust to take on long treks through bush or stormy mountainsides, you might want to keep looking.
To the rest of you: I’m a big fan of this product’s functionality, size and style. Definitely give it a look.
Disclosure: Vagabondish received one Satechi portable energy station to test for this review.