This guide will walk you through our picks for the best power banks available right now. These portable batteries will make sure you never run out of power on a photography trip.
It's an interesting time for power banks. Portable batteries for recharging smartphones and action cameras have been around for years, and they’re always getting smaller and higher capacity, but something is changing. More and more bits of kit can be powered via USB – which means now you can now use these power banks to charge your laptop and interchangeable-lens camera too.
The tech you need to know about is the mAh – milliamp hours. This figure tells you how much charge a battery can hold. A 10,000 mAh battery equals two full charges of an iPhone or Google Pixel, one full charge for an 11-inch iPad Pro, or about eight charges for a GoPro HERO8 or compact camera.
It’s always tempting to buy the biggest mAh battery you can afford, but beware. More power equals less portability, so there is a trade-off to be made, especially if you want to be able to fit it easily into your camera bag. Just as important is how many USB ports the power bank has, and how fast they recharge your devices.
Also, bear in mind that the bigger capacity battery you go for, the longer it will take to recharge itself. For example, the fast-becoming-common 10,000 mAh size takes approximately nine hours to refuel via micro USB, though if it has a USB-C PD port, that reduces to 3.5 hours if you buy a USB-C PD wall charger. Talking of USB-C PD (power delivery), know that it’s a relatively new feature, but useful for recharging a laptop. Some portable batteries have wireless charging, too.
With so many features to choose from, we’ve gathered together some of the best portable batteries and best power banks available to help you find what you need to keep your photography equipment going for longer.
Belkin keeps it simple with this portable Pocket Power 10K battery for any small device. Wrapped in a sleek-ish and relatively slim chassis, this portable battery packs in 10,000 mAh, so it’s good for a day or two on the road. There’s nothing clever here, just two USB-A slots for attaching cables to charge whatever device you have, though they are both 2.4-amp rated for fast-charging. It’s also got a 2 amp-rated micro USB slot for a quick recharge between uses. This power bank is available in black, rose gold and silver, so it’s obviously got smartphone users in its sights.
Sometimes you just want to cover all of your bases and take no chances – for example, if you’re heading off-grid for a few days. That's where Anker’s PowerCore+ 26800 will come in handy. As well as storing a mighty 26,800 mAh of power (enough for at least six recharges of the average smartphone), its proprietary PowerIQ system delivers 5V/3.0A power via USB-C (x1) or USB-A (x2) to drastically reduce charging time for your devices. The box also includes recharging cables and a travel pouch.
Here’s a great example of a new brand on the block that’s selling great value, big batteries that will suit photographers after some serious power. There are no wireless capabilities here, but this Ugreen 10,000 mAh portable battery boasts USB-C PD for recharging laptops, as well as USB-A. The highlight, however, is an LCD display that shows the charge remaining as a percentage. In practice that’s an incredibly useful thing to know. The Ugreen is small and chunky and feels reasonably bulky in the pocket, and is best considered as something for a camera bag.
Anker makes some of the best value portable batteries around, and it has hit the jackpot again with this versatile and reasonably advanced model. The PowerCore Slim has a useful 10,000 mAh of charge inside, plus a USB-C PD port for recharging laptops, and dual USB ports (one a 2.1-amp fast-charger) to charge two devices simultaneously. A slimline and phone-sized chassis that fits nicely into a backpack, and just about squeezes into a pocket, the PowerCore Slim also has a useful LED light-wheel that displays battery level.
This is the option to go for if you want lots and lots of power - with a huge 50,000mAh it could keep phones, cameras and laptops charged up for a whole trip. And it also makes a great choice if you are away with a group, and want to ensure everyone keeps logged on and ready to shoot. With six sockets, there will be no need to fight out who is using it either. There are four USB ports, plus 12V and 20V outputs for use with a variety of laptops (14 different connectors are provided).
Like things to match? If you travel on photography trips with a recent MacBook Pro, you’ll undoubtedly know that you can recharge it from a portable battery via USB-C PD. The on-trend and ultra-slim anodized aluminium Moshi IonSlim 10K boasts a plentiful 10,000 mAh and a USB-C PD port that can send 30W into a MacBook Pro. It’s also got a fast-charging USB-A port and can recharge two smaller devices simultaneously.
An intriguing idea, though completely non-essential, the PhotoGrip Qi is essentially a snap-on grip for a smartphone, which adds four features that smartphone photographers will find useful. The first is an ergonomic grip, the second a tripod thread, the third a removable Bluetooth shutter button for hands-free group shots, and the fourth a built-in 3,000 mAh battery boasting Qi wireless charging. It’s that last feature that makes the PhotoGrip Qi worth considering if your medium is a smartphone. It fits all phones above 4.5-inches in size.
For more info, read our Adonit PhotoGrip Qi review.
A lot of portable gadgets that run on batteries like to offer up their services as an emergency recharger for a phone, but most are less than generous. With a 7,500 mAh capacity battery side, this portable (and completely waterproof) JBL Charge 4 Bluetooth speaker actually makes it worthwhile, with two USB-A slots to simultaneously recharge two devices. The speaker itself is too big to be considered a permanent fixture in your camera bag, but if you’re the kind of photographer than goes on long and lonely trips and will already be taking a Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Charge 4’s generosity with its battery makes for a novel two-in-one gadget for travel.
In the near future, all smartphones will be charged wirelessly all the time. Until then we’ll be forced to travel with pockets stuffed with cables. Cue Moshi’s IonBank 5K, a mid-sized, but extremely practical portable battery that’s ideal for recharging a phone quickly on the go. This 5,150 mAh portable battery has a brushed aluminum casing with a faux leather hood that hides fold-out an Apple Lightning/USB-C and a USB-A cable – the former for fast-charging a phone and the latter for recharging the battery itself. It’s also got pass-through, so you can use the entire device as a glorified USB-USB-C/Lightning cable to charge and sync from a wall charger or a laptop. A standard USB-A slot is also present, to which you can attach a cable and simultaneously charge something else.
A massive 19,500mAh portable battery with three USB-A ports, the Mophie PowerStation is the battery to take with you if you’re going off into the wilderness for a few days. With enough charge to replenish phones and action cameras for a couple of busy days, the PowerStation XXL also has a USB-C PD output for lending another 14 hours of battery life to a MacBook laptop. An LED shows how much power is left, but it's the PowerStation XXL’s neat fabric wrap that really catches the eye. However, it is a bit of a heavyweight, and not cheap.