Powering Up: Bring Electricity with you to Charge your Devices

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Guest blogger, Matt Bancroft.
The AIDS/LifeCycle rides through some of the most beautiful countryside in California. And you’re

with 3,000 of your closest friends. So, of course, you want to document it all. That and your Garmin needs to charge each night, too. But in rural areas there are lots of shrubs but few outlets. So what can you do? Bring your own electricity, of course!

I’ve not found a solar charger truly up to the task. They are bulky and the surface areas on the solar cells is often prohibitive. So instead, consider bringing a stand-alone battery pack.

Today, guest blogger Matt Bancroft graciously allowed me to repost the following on this topic. Enjoy!

Hi All, I thought I’d fully outline my testing notes from the Power Bank battery pack I ordered and plan to use for ALC. There is little to no power available in camp each night so it’s a good idea to invest in a battery pack. 


The pack is a 12,000mAh battery that should charge an iPhone 5 (1440mAh) 8.3x from dead (12000/1440=8.3). This model has 4 USB ports for simultaneous charging of 4 devices. Weighs less than a pound. 


http://amzn.com/B008YRG5JQ ($40) 


  1. I did not charge the pack before testing. It arrived showing 4 bars of power, 100%.
  2. I charged my iPhone while it was on, connected to WIFI and Verizon.
  3. I did not charge my Garmin 800 (800mAh) during this testing
  4. I used the iPhone as I normally would, which used more power than leaving it in airplane mode like I will during ALC.


I was able to get 8 partial charges out of the pack before it got to 1 flashing bar of power ( < 25%). I plugged my iPhone in with about 20% left and charged it up to about 96% most days, while leaving the phone on and connected (it will charge faster and with less energy if turned off or in airplane mode). The 8 partial charges means the pack was able to charge my iPhone 537% (a little over 5 full charges, if the iPhone was dead). 


  1. 8 partial charges of the iPhone = 5.3 full charges from dead.
  2. Partially charging the iPhone 6x (each night on ALC) leaves me with enough power to charge my Garmin 800 2.4x from dead (I don’t expect it to die every day).
  3. With 1 bar blinking, the battery pack still has less than 25% charge. 


I think this is enough power to keep my devices charged during ALC. Your mileage may vary based on your phone and Garmin, and amount of use. 


This pack worked perfectly! I was able to charge my iPhone and Garmin every night on the ride and never ran out of power!

I’ve been using a similar product from Anker since the beginning of the ride. The one I purchased in 2011 lasted for two years and I just replaced it with this one. FYI: the higher the mAh, the more charges you get out of it. I carry two chargers with me, a smaller one and a larger one. They were enough to charge my iPhone and my Garmin for 80% of the ride (I recharged them both at one camp).

Your Bear


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