The 15 Best Portable Chargers & Power Banks

Feb 17, 2021

Category: Tech

As time goes by, more and more of the everyday carry gear we haul around requires power of some kind. The trouble is: the batteries don’t always last for as long as we need them to and access to power outlets, especially when out and about or on travel, are not always easy to come by. Thankfully, you don’t simply have to accept that your gear will power down — so long as you have a means of keeping it juiced up while on-the-go.

That’s where portable chargers and power banks come into play. You see, by adding one of these simple devices to your everyday carry, you’re afforded the ability to keep your most-used tech powered-up and going strong — sometimes for days at a time without access to an outlet. We’ve also included a quick primer outlining the specific differences between portable chargers and power banks so you can make an informed decision when purchasing one of the best of them found in the buyer’s guide below.

Photo: Native Union

Portable Chargers vs. Power Banks

All About Power

At a surface level, it can sometimes seem like portable chargers and power banks are one and the same. However, there are some very distinct and important differences between the two. To ensure that you’re getting the device you need and not one that will only cause frustration, we’ve outlined what separates the two tech categories below.

Portable Chargers: Put simply and at its basest level, a portable charger is little more than a power converter that plugs into a wall outlet in order to transfer a charge from said wall outlet safely into a piece of electronic technology. This can be an integrated charger that has its own built-in cable or it can be something as seemingly small and simple as the outlet-to-USB “blocks” that come with every Apple device. These devices do not necessarily have the ability to store power in an onboard battery for charging at a later time.

Power Banks: In essence, a power bank is a standalone battery that stores power, which can then be transferred over and used by varying pieces of electronics and/or technology. While their format can change from brand to brand, the basic concept of a power bank remains mostly the same. Sometimes, these devices plug directly into a wall in order to charge themselves. Other times, they might have a USB port that can be connected to any powered USB port in order to juice up. The primary intention of these devices is to store power onboard so that you can access and utilize that power at a later time when you do not have access to a power outlet.

Hybrids: More and more, brands are choosing to combine the two above pieces of gear into single devices — the intention being that people don’t want to carry around more power-focused devices than necessary. As such, hybrid devices can either function as a wall charger, a portable battery, or both — often with the ability to charge themselves while simultaneously charging up your portable technology. It’s important to note, however, that power banks can theoretically function this way, but unless they’re specifically made to be a hybrid device, using them as such could potentially negatively impact their performance over time — reducing their active life and limiting their ability to hold a full charge.

Eton ARCCR100R_SNG American Red Cross Charger

Not every charger needs to be plugged into the wall to work. Take, for instance, the American Red Cros charger you see here. This simple device actually uses a hand crank to generate energy, which makes it ideal for emergency usage when you might not have access to power outlets that work. It will charge consistently for as long as the handle is cranked and actually doubles as a hand-cranked flashlight, which is a nice bonus. Granted, it will charge slowly, but it’s still much better than losing all access to power.

Onboard Power (In mAh): N/A
Charge Speed (Amps): N/A
Size (At Widest Point): 5.7″

Purchase: $12

Anker PowerCore 5000 Portable Charger

The Anker PowerCore 5000 has been a mainstay of the portable power pack industry for years and years for a couple of very simple, specific reasons. For starters, it holds up to 5000mAh — which is almost enough to fill up an iPhone 12 battery fully twice. Second, it is remarkably portable — measuring up at a minuscule 3.94″ on its longest side, making it perfect for stashing in your pocket, backpack, glove compartment, etc. It might not be the most modern, high-tech option around, but it more than makes up for that with its small stature and, therefore, extreme portability.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 5000
Charge Speed (Amps): Up To 2A
Size (At Widest Point): 3.94″

Purchase: $20

Native Union Smart Charger

To be very clear: Native Union’s Smart Charger is not a power bank — meaning it cannot charge any device without being plugged directly into a power outlet. However, it does have a slew of other things going for it. That includes, most impressively, its ability to detect any device you plug into it for the ideal fast-charging speed. It also boasts twin output ports, so it can charge two separate devices at once. And it’s very portable and packable thanks to its slim silhouette.

Onboard Power (In mAh): N/A
Charge Speed (Amps): 3.1A
Size (At Widest Point): 7″

Purchase: $20

Anker PowerCore III Fusion 5K

At first glance, you might think Anker’s PowerCore III Fusion 5K looks a bit like the power converters that come with larger Apple devices. However, it’s actually a good deal more useful than those proprietary, single-device wall chargers. Yes, this device can plug into the wall and convert power for any of your electronic devices. But it also doubles as a standalone portable everyday carry power pack with a serviceable 5000mAh battery (nearly two full iPhone 12 charges). Furthermore, it will automatically prioritize powering your devices from a power outlet before charging itself.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 5000
Charge Speed (Amps): 3A
Size (At Widest Point): 3.15″

Purchase: $28

TravelCard Charger

Sometimes, the best charger isn’t the one with the largest capacity; it’s the one that you have with you. And if you slip the TravelCard into your wallet — yes, it is small enough to stash in a credit card slot of most wallets — you’ll always have a bit of extra juice at your disposal. It doesn’t have enough power to fully juice a modern smartphone — clocking in at just 1500mAh — but you’re getting extreme portability in exchange. We wouldn’t suggest using this as your primary everyday carry power bank, but it works exceptionally as an emergency backup. It’s even TSA-compliant for travel purposes.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 1500
Charge Speed (Amps): 0.75A
Size (At Widest Point): 3.58″

Purchase: $29

Q Portable Charger

If you like the slimness and portability of the option above, but you’ve soured on the limited capacity, the Q Portable Charger you see here might be a happy medium — or at least an alternative worth considering. It’s not quite wallet-sized, but it is definitely slim and small enough to fit into even crowded pockets. Mate that to its ability to function as a plug-in portable charger as well as an impressively capacious 10000mAh power bank and it’s clear to see that this is a true contender in its category.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 10000
Charge Speed (Amps): 2.1A
Size (At Widest Point): 6.29″

Purchase: $34

mophie PowerStation Keychain

If they’re not already on your radar, the geniuses at mophie are about to pique your interest with their PowerStation Keychain. Yes, this micro-charger is small enough to fit on your keychain and still boasts 1200mAh of juice — perfect for a bit of extra power when you need it most and aren’t near an outlet. For reference, that’s about eight hour’s worth of power for most mobile devices — unless you think of a laptop as a mobile device. It also has an integrated cable to save you from needing to carry around excess gear, it will prioritize charging your devices when plugged into a power outlet, and it comes with a handy carabiner — in case you don’t have a keychain of your own or you want to attach it to a bag.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 1200
Charge Speed (Amps): 2.1A
Size (At Widest Point): 3.15″

Purchase: $37

Nomad Ultra-Rugged Lightning Battery Cable

Not everyone is willing to sit right by an outlet while their charger is plugged in — especially if you’ve got a big hotel bed to lay on. Well, with the Nomad Ultra-Rugged Lighting Battery Cable, you get a ballistic nylon-wrapped MFi-certified charging cable with a kevlar core that has its own 2350mAh integrated power bank. For reference: that tough-as-nails construction also serves to make this cable practically indestructible in normal use. It also makes it great for travel, even off-the-grid. You will, however, need a power converter if you don’t have access to a USB port, as this particular cable doesn’t include one.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 2350
Charge Speed (Amps): 2A
Size (At Widest Point): 5′

Purchase: $50

Nitecore NB10000 Power Bank

Thanks to the brand’s use of carbon fiber in the construction of the NB10000, this Nitecore power bank holds the throne as the “most compact and lightest” 10000mAh mobile power device. For reference: that amount of power can charge up most modern mobile devices at least three times, if not more. Better still, that carbon fiber shell is also quite protective, making this the perfect power bank for outdoor adventure (so long as you stay away from big bodies of water). Furthermore, it’s also a nice addition to your EDC loadout as your go-to portable charger, since it’s so utterly lightweight.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 10000
Charge Speed (Amps): 3A
Size (At Widest Point): 4.8″

Purchase: $60

RAVPower 32000mAh Power Bank

If you’re looking for sheer capacity out of the power bank of your choosing, you’re definitely going to find interest in this offering from RAVPower, as it has a monster of a battery boasting a 32000mAh total capacity. For reference, that’s more than 10 full charges for most modern mobile devices — like iPhones or your favorite iPhone alternative. Honestly, that capacity might be enough to earn it a spot on this list, but it does get better. This power bank also has three USB outputs, a smart LED indicator to let you know how much juice it has onboard, and even comes with a pair of Micro USB cables.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 32000
Charge Speed (Amps): 2.4A
Size (At Widest Point): 5.98″

Purchase: $76

Goal Zero Venture 30 Power Bank

This particular power bank has one thing going for it that literally none of the others on this list can offer: survivability following being completely submerged in water. Yes, you could literally dunk this portable battery into a body of water and, when you retrieve it, it will still safely power your devices with its full 7800mAh capacity. If you’re keeping score, that makes this perhaps the most adventure-ready portable power device on this entire guide. To further that, you can even pair it with Goal Zero’s portable solar panels and you’ll be able to stay away from civilization indefinitely.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 7800
Charge Speed (Amps): 4.8A
Size (At Widest Point): 4.49″

Purchase: $80

mophie Powerstation Plus 8K PD

Next up in our mophie trifecta is the PowerStation Plus 8K PD. While the name is a bit of a mouthful, this portable charger is actually pretty streamlined in its design and functionality. For starters, it can charge up your iPhone entirely wirelessly. Of course, if you’d rather go direct, it also has its own integrated Lightning cable to power up your mobile device or AirPods. You can also combine those charging methods and juice up more than one device at a time. And it has a handy battery power indicator light, so you always know how much juice this bad boy has whenever you add it to your everyday carry loadout.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 8000
Charge Speed (Amps): 2.1A
Size (At Widest Point): 5.91″

Purchase: $100

Native Union Jump+ Wireless Powerbank

If you like the overall styling of the aforementioned Native Union Smart Charger but you absolutely need something that can provide a charge when you’re away from power outlets, we’ve got some good news: you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the Jump+ Wireless Powerbank. It’s not quite as compact — a symptom of its onboard battery pack — but it makes up for that with an impressive 12000mAh overall capacity. Better still, it can charge up to three devices simultaneously, thanks to its wireless capability and integrated ports. And it even comes with its own power cable, as an added bonus.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 12000
Charge Speed (Amps): 3A
Size (At Widest Point): 5.79″

Purchase: $100

mophie Powerstation All-In-One

As mentioned, mophie is a portable charging powerhouse. And all of their devices have significant merit therein, including the clever Powerstation All-In-One. You see, while this device doesn’t have the largest battery capacity on the market — measuring up at a respectable 8000mAh — it does do something that few if any others can replicate: it can wirelessly charge your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. Traditionally, users would need a wall charger to manage the same feat, but this one can do it fully remotely. You can also plug directly into its USB-C PD port if that strikes your fancy. And it’s still compact enough to slip into the front pocket of your favorite pair of jeans.

Onboard Power (In mAh): 8000
Charge Speed (Amps): 2.1A
Size (At Widest Point): 6.48″

Purchase: $140

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 AC Portable Power Bank

Goal Zero’s Sherpa 100 AC is so massive in its storage capacity, that the brand doesn’t even measure the total onboard storage in milliamps — but we did the math and it breaks down to about 110,000 mAh, which is the equivalent of nearly 40 full iPhone 12 charges. Yes, you read that right: 40. That makes this perhaps unequivocally the absolute king of portable chargers. Granted it’s a bit bigger than the rest — clocking in at 7.5″ on its longest side — but even its somewhat cumbersome format can be excused by its unmatched capability. This isn’t a portable charger so much as it’s an emergency power hub for literally all the tech you might carry on a single day. It can even fully charge up a modern laptop… more than once.

Onboard Power (In mAh): ~110,000
Charge Speed (Amps): 2.4A
Size (At Widest Point): 7.5″

Purchase: $300

The 10 Best Keychain Chargers For EDC

Not everyone has space in their everyday carry for a full-sized power bank and/or wall charger. But that doesn’t mean you have to wander into the world without any means of acquiring power for your devices, especially if you add one of the best keychain EDC chargers to your loadout.

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