There’s two schools of thought when it comes to batteries for all your various plug-and-play EDC gear. The first says batteries are batteries; you just find the cheapest one and go on with your day. Then there’s the ideology that by finding the perfect battery pack you can extend the utility of all your devices indefinitely. Either one has merit, but the truth of the matter these days is that if you don’t have one of the 6 best EDC battery packs, you’re half-dressed and just begging the gods of electricity to frown upon you.
We’ve compiled the best in the business, but we also want you to know how to choose a better battery, because an ignorant consumer is ripe for being ripped off.
Specs To Know
Battery packs might not be as different as snowflakes, but there’s a few pieces of jargon to know, and a few items of interest to keep in mind when you do your battery pack shopping. These are the ones that matter to you as a buyer:
mah: The first thing to look for is a battery pack’s mAh (milliampere-hour – Don’t worry, just knowing the abbreviation is enough.) That’s going to tell you the battery’s capacity. The more mAh, the more power a pack can push, or the longer it can run.
Amp (A): Output is the other major specification to keep in mind. These are measured in amps and volts, though you only truly need to worry about the amps (represented by an A). A device with a 1.8A input is best used on a 1.8A (or higher) output. The more output a battery pack has (i.e. the higher the A), the faster juice can get into your device, and the faster you can be back to work, or talking and texting. The good news is, the speed of the charge is determined by the device, so even if the output on your battery pack is higher than your device’s input, it will still work without frying it.
Power Up: When shopping for EDC batteries, conventional wisdom says to find a battery pack that will give your devices 50% of their life, but we’ve seen too many tragedies. We say you double that and get a battery pack that recharges your primary device (be that smartphone or EDC tablet) fully. A 2000 mAh phone needs a 2000 mAh battery pack or greater. As to output, just make sure the battery output on the pack is the same number or higher than your highest device’s input.
Bulk Up: Get a battery pack that is tough. Battery packs are square boxes that catch corners and get knocked around. It’s true that batteries are durable, but they are not indestructible. Getting a quality case surrounding the actual power storage cells is just as important as finding the proper specifications.
Slim Down: Don’t immediately think bigger is better. Using enough battery for your cause in a tough case that also fits your lifestyle is the complete goal of having a daily-carry battery.
Get the proper connectors or adapters for all your Lightning cables and micro USB and whatever else, because a battery you can’t plug in is less useful than your average concrete brick. Also, seek out additional features, as those can turn an average power block into a luxury find.
Now that you know what to spot, see what we can recommend as the true top tier of portable batteries for everyday carry.
Best EDC Battery Packs:
Pro: Smart power level display
Con: QC is hit or miss (might run for years, might die in hours)
Believe the Hype: Anker is a name you’re going to find often when hunting for battery packs, and when it comes to pushing the limit of what a lipstick battery pack can contain, Anker does it. The Astro is a good sample of their stellar power-to-size ratio. The smooth edges move force around the body, so heavier impacts go around it, rather than landing directly, keeping it safe from brutal baggage handlers. About 2A worth of charging speed will dump the 6700 mAh capacity into your tablet in a couple of hours.
Pro: Warranty service is exceptional
Con: It is likely to stop holding a charge and require warranty service
Good to Go: Slender as a large phablet-style phone in a case, EasyAcc built in a USB plug for charging most basic devices, so you are never stuck with a dead battery and the wrong cord. 2.4A worth of charging power can come out of the device, making it mighty enough for many tablets, with a body that’s built to reduce collision damage and enhance easy mobile operation. It’s a contained solution with 6000 mAh (charge your iPhone 6s 3x) that can go in your bag or the pocket of your JNCO jeans.
Pro: Limited power bleed
Full Metal Jacket: Given an impact rating of IP-65, the BOLT can take more than your average jostle before showing signs of wear and tear. Water-resistant ports complete with their own gaskets make this relatively impermeable if it’s used properly, and with 9000 mAh under the hood, you’re going to want to keep it protected. The cells are grade-A, and will lose power more slowly than any lesser competitor.
Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus
Pro: Batteries literally included
Con: Generates significant heat
Home & Away: Inside the Guide 10 is not only a 2300 mAh battery that can recharge your devices, it can renew your standard batteries as well. A removable tray lets users recharge their AAA NiMH batteries, or the AA included, just as easily as plugging in an E-reader. It also has an LED light for emergency situations and can be charged with some modular solar panels, creating a standalone pocket disaster kit.
Pro: A+ Lithium-Ion battery
Con: Slow charging
Buddy System: Three USB ports to access the 26800 (yes, that is the correct number of zeroes) mAh pack from RAVPower allows this portable piece to get our award for the most social battery we’ve ever seen. Rather than prevent the 2A output from being squandered on a sole survivor, this is good for all your friends; or at least all your friends that plug into a wall. iSmart technology makes it the Swiss Army Knife of portable chargers.
mophie Powerstation 2X
Pro: Pass-through charging
Silver Lining: The powerstation comes in any capacity you want, starting at 2,000 mAh and running up to 15k. We like the 4000 model because it works as a pocketable accessory. Each size has the same anodized aluminum body which prevents dents as well as fights off weather, allowing the internal components a greater seal for more longevity. The batteries themselves will give up the ghost long before the frame, and those are ready to go the distance. More than working well, it looks sharp enough to recharge at a business/martini lunch.