We decided to test and review some of the best USB power banks and battery packs of this year. Overall, the Anker PowerCore 20100mAh is a fantastic choice for frequent travelers, students, busy parents, and anyone who might want a device capable of charging a camera or tablet reliably along with their phone.
Though not the tiniest battery pack we reviewed, the Anker PowerCore is a solid performer in the realms of durability and power. With 20100 mAh capacity, the PowerCore can charge a phone and table for a several-day trip without breaking a sweat.
Table of Contents
Top 5 Best Battery Packs
|Anker PowerCore||2 USB Ports||20100||Check Price|
|SOLICE||2 USB Ports||20000||Check Price|
|RAVPower||3 USB Ports||26800||Check Price|
|Lumina Ultra Compact||1 USB Port||5200||Check Price|
|Jackery Bolt Portable||1 Apple Lightning Charger; 1 Micro USB; 1 Open USB||6000||Check Price|
1. The Overall Best Battery Pack
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
The great thing about the Anker PowerCore line of battery packs is how many different options there are. You can get lower or higher mAh, but for the average traveler we thought that the Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh was the perfect amount of energy at a great price.
With two USB ports that channel up to 2.4 amps each, you can get a fairly quick charge on two devices. It has wide device compatibility (anything with a micro-USB) but does NOT work with Qualcomm Quick Charge.
If finding the lightest external battery pack out there is the most important thing to you, this might not be for you, since it weighs 12.5 ounces. That’s still pretty light though, and it’s compact enough to fit in a small pocket of your bag.
You can probably get 5-7 full charges on your phone out of the PowerCore 20100, so it’s great for trips or busy professionals and students who don’t want to be hunched over an outlet.
Our favorite thing about the Anker line is its durability. It continues to receive a full charge years down the road and doesn’t overheat easily – keep in mind that you should plug it into the wall outlet for recharging without your devices plugged into the battery pack.
- 5-7 Phone Charges
- Pocket Sized
- 2.4 Amp USB Ports
- Extremely Durable
- Multiple mAh Options
- Doesn’t Work with Qualcomm Quick Charge
- Not the Lightest Charger Out There
2. The Best Battery Pack with a Flashlight
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
Built-in flashlights are a novelty, you say? Just wait until you’re trying to charge your phone at 1am in the middle of a camping trip or an unfamiliar international hotel – then you’ll be thankful for the SOLICE 2000 mAh Battery Pack, which holds enough juice to keep two devices powered for several days.
While charging the unit initially takes some time (you might want to leave it plugged in overnight) once the battery pack itself is full you can charge your phones, tablets, and other devices pretty quickly. Subsequent charges to the SOLICE don’t take as long as the first one, more like a couple of hours.
Keep in mind that one USB port delivers more amps when both are in use, so if you have two devices you might want to make sure that the bigger one is plugged into the higher-charged port.
This battery pack is definitely on the heavier side, at slightly over one pound. If you mainly want something on the higher-mAh range and the built-in flashlight it a useful feature for you, then it may be a good pick.
Overall, the SOLICE is a good choice for anyone who needs a mostly at-home external battery capable of charging high-drain devices, like newer tablets, camera batteries, or personal medical devices.
- High mAh
- Built-In Flashlight
- High amp on one USB port
- Initial Charge Takes 12 Hours
3. Best Battery Pack with Super-High mAh
RAVPower Portable Charger 26800
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
If you’re looking for the battery pack that can hold the most power possible and still be fairly portable and affordable, then we recommend the RAVPower 26800 Battery Pack.
This battery pack has three micro-USB ports with 2.4 amps each or a combined total of 5.5 amps if you’re using all three at once. This is a nice feature if you want to charge a phone, tablet, and camera at one time, and the 26800 mAh storage has the juice to power all of those devices at least a couple of times.
It supports pass-through charging, which is fairly unusual for a battery pack, so you can charge other devices while it’s plugged in itself. This is helpful if you want to top off the battery pack when you happen to run into an available wall outlet.
This charger weighs just under a pound, so it’s fairly portable for all of the charging power you’re getting. It is small enough to fit in a pocket easily.
Keep in mind that if you want to restore the battery pack to it’s full charge, it will probably take 12-17 hours for the first time. Topping it off after that is usually much quicker, which is common for battery packs.
The RAVPower is a good choice either for those wanting to charge low-power devices for a long time, like a week-long trip in the woods, or a few power-hungry devices over a long day, like at work or school.
- High mAh
- Pass-Through Charging
- Three USB Ports
- 5.5 amp Total
- Long First-Time Charge
- Might be More Power than Casual User Needs
4. The Best Ultra-Light Battery Pack
Lumina 5200 mAh Ultra Compact
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
If you’re looking for a battery pack that is super lightweight and can still charge your devices in a pinch, then the Lumina 5200 might be a good pick for you.
With one USB port that can charge 2 amps at a time, the Lumina is a no-frills model that can quickly charge your phone and at only a few inches long, it’s small enough to fit inside of a wallet or even your jeans’ pocket.
We noticed that it takes a little bit of time for this battery charger to power up your phone – maybe an hour or two – but it’s small enough that you can leave it connected to your devices for a while.
This could also be a great backup charger if you tend to run through battery packs quickly and want an extra one to throw in with your gear.
Now, you probably won’t be able to go days at a time with just this little guy, but it’s a great pick if you just need an extra charge or two to get you through a busy day. If you don’t have access to a wall outlet to recharge it every other day or so, it might not be the best pick for you.
- Good Backup Charger
- 2-Amp Charging
- Slow Charge Time
- Only One USB Port
5. The Best Battery Pack with Built-In Lightning Chargers
Jackery Bolt Portable Charger 6000 mAh
Reviewed by: Max Perzon
One frustrating thing about most battery packs is that you have to supply your own charging cables. We liked that the Jackery Bolt Portable Charger comes with two built-in lightning chargers. While it’s built especially to provide Apple devices with a high-speed charge, it’s equipped with a universal micro USB cable that works with just about everything else.
At just 5.3 ounces, the Jackery Bolt is tiny and the weight is decreased even further since you don’t have to pack cables. Since all three cables have different device compatibility and amp output, it can be a little tricky to keep track of which is which.
It’s capable of pass-through charging, which is a nice bonus if you want to top off the battery pack whenever the opportunity presents itself.
With only 6000 mAh capacity, you probably won’t be able to keep three separate devices charged for very long (though you could give three devices about half a charge), despite the three separate cables. It’s more useful as a multifunctional battery pack that can be used by the whole family, office, or anyone in the car on a long road trip.
You can probably recharge your phone to full about twice with 6000 mAh, so the Jackery Bolt is a good choice if you have a long busy day but can probably access a conventional outlet at night to refill the battery pack.
- Built-In Chargers
- Pass-Through Charging
- Lower mAh
- Varying Energy Levels on Three Cables
What Are USB Power Banks and Battery Packs?
Most of us carry at least two personal electronic devices at any given time, so we liked the Anker PowerCore for it’s two USB ports. There’s a huge range of storage capacity on battery packs, so take a look through our Top 5 Roundup to find the option that fits your lifestyle the best.
Lithium ion batteries are what’s powering your smart phone and a lot of other personal devices, and they’ve only been around a couple of decades. While the science behind how a rechargeable battery works is super cool, suffice it to say that the electric charge can move back and forth in a rechargeable battery, rather than just one way with a disposable alkaline battery.
With most rechargeable batteries, it’s good to “top off” the charge occasionally, rather than letting the battery go completely dead. If you’re routinely in a situation where it’s hard to plug the charger for your phone, tablet, GPS, camera, or laptop into a wall outlet, then a battery pack might be a good idea for you.
USB Power Banks and Battery Packs are two names for the same thing. You might also hear them called Portable lithium battery pack, which is just a more specific way of saying that it’s a pack to charge lithium batteries.
A power bank is simply a reservoir for energy. You fill it up by plugging it into an electric outlet, bring it with you wherever you’re going, and then plug in the device you need to charge.
How Powerful are Battery Packs?
As with other charging devices or batteries, it’s hard to make a time-based claim like “it lasts 2 years!” or “it can charge 5 tablets twice!”
The output depends on how depleted your battery is, how many mAh the battery pack can store, and what the self-discharge rate is.
Self-discharge just means the amount of energy that a battery loses when not in use. All batteries have some amount of self-discharge, and they tend to keep more of their power when they’re in regular use and not just sitting in a box in your closet.
So What’s mAh?
In all of the rechargeable battery packs that we reviewed, you’ll see the term “mAh” used to describe how much power a unit can hold. Before you panic at the alphabet soup of acronyms that can be used to describe electronics, here’s a quick explanation.
- mAh stands for millamp hour
- It measures power over time
- Higher numbers mean more power can be stored
- The rate of depletion depends on how much power your device draws.
As you probably know from experience, a larger device like a tablet or DSLR camera draws more power than a smartphone, and even a phone uses more energy if you have multiple apps open.
A quick search should tell you the number of mA (millamp) your device typically draws so you can figure out how many mAh in a battery pack are enough for you. For example, 6000 mAh is relatively low power for an external battery pack, so you could probably get about two full charges on your smart phone before it needs to be replenished through an outlet.
Even just two full charges, however, is quite a bit if you’re just looking to keep a phone going through a busy day.
Keep in mind, too, that’s it’s not a good idea to let your battery get completely depleted, since that can reduce the battery’s ability to carry a full charge. So what that means in practice: if your battery charger has 20 hours life, don’t necessarily plan on using every last second before you recharge.
How Do Battery Packs Work?
The nice thing about battery packs is that they’re insanely easy to charge. It’s generally best to plug them into a wall outlet, but most can also be charged through the USB port in a laptop in a pinch.
Since a battery pack will act as an external power source for your devices, you want to fill it up completely. Some battery packs are shipped with a partial charge, but it’s a good idea to charge it up to 100%.
Most battery packs take a long time to charge the first time. We’re talking at least overnight, if not 15-17 hours. We recommend ordering your external battery pack several days before you think you’ll really need it – like before a big plane flight, for example.
Subsequent charges to the battery pack don’t take quite as long, usually only about an hour or two.
Read the specifications of your battery pack carefully, since some high-speed chargers aren’t compatible with them. Using charging cables and batteries that aren’t compatible with each other can damage the delicate electronics inside and damage both devices, so compatibility is important.
Now that your battery pack is charged, it’s not too hard to get the power into your devices when you need it.
Here are some tips on using your external battery pack:
- Don’t let it sit idle too long – all batteries lose power over time
- Top off whenever possible – this won’t hurt the battery but letting your phone’s battery get all the way to 0% can damage it.
- Try to keep the battery cool – excessive heat damages batteries
- Check to see if it supports pass-through charging – some models can, but if it’s not set up to charge devices while receiving a charge itself, it can damage one or both devices.
Every battery pack is a little different, so make sure to read the specifications carefully. Even an upgrade to a previous model you owned could have different capabilities, and batteries of all shapes and sizes tend to be finnicky about being used properly.
Should I Get a Battery Pack?
Battery packs are a great backup or emergency option for almost all of us, but they’re an absolute necessity for some of us.
Battery packs aren’t just useful if you’re in a spot with absolutely no access to conventional outlets, like on a camping trip or on a plane. They’re also super useful if you don’t want to be awkwardly hunched by a wall outlet in a classroom, at work, at a conference, or even at the grocery store (yes, we’ve seen people do this!) because you’re desperate to charge your phone or GPS.
- For Adventurers – If you are going hiking, biking, camping, mountain climbing, or anything that takes you far out into nature, then a battery pack is an absolute necessity. Even if you plan on going off-grid for your trip, you should definitely bring some extra battery packs in case of emergencies
- Frequent Flyers – If you travel once a month or more for work, then you’re probably aware of how quickly your device’s batteries can run down, between the poor coverage inside an airport and the time it takes to find your hotel. External battery packs are perfect for frequent travelers who may have to go days without a convenient outlet.
- Students – We get it, your day is packed with back-to-back classes, work, and campus activities, and most professors don’t take kindly to chargers littering the aisles. It might be hard to find an available outlet, plus it might not be secure to just leave your phone plugged in and charging where you can’t keep an eye on it.
- Busy Parents – If you have kids, then your phone or tablet is probably more of a command center than just a communication device. An external battery pack is a necessity if you frequently need to navigate, answer texts, and record those super cute park moments.
- Offices – There’s always that one person who needs to borrow a charger, so it’s a nice gesture to keep a battery pack around the office that can be used by anyone who’s in need of some power. This applies to groups of friends and road trips too – keep everyone charged up.
- Medical Needs – some personal medical devices, like insulin testers, come with rechargeable batteries. Obviously, it’s super important to make sure that your health devices are ready to go at a moment’s notice, so a battery pack can give you peace of mind.
If any of these descriptions sound like you, then a battery pack might be just the thing you need so you don’t have to rush back to your car to charge your devices every couple of hours.
While we thought the Anker PowerCore is just the right amount of power for most of us, take a look at how much energy you use in a normally busy day or on a long trip. This will help you figure out how much mAh you need to use your devices worry-free.
Also make sure to double-check the number of USB ports available and decide if you want the ability to charge two or three devices at once, or if you really just need one port free at any given time.
Portable battery packs are a safe, convenience way to keep your devices up and running and they’ve come well within the price range of most of us, so really everyone should have one as a backup energy source.