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 Hero 9 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 popular 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. USB PD (Power Delivery) is a worthwhile feature to look out for in a new power bank. It enables much faster charging (up to 100W!) and smart device compatibility, ensuring whatever USB PD-compatible device you plug in is juiced up just as fast as if it were connected to its dedicated wall charger.
But be warned, not all interchangeable lens cameras can be charged by a power bank. Your camera will need to support USB charging for this to be possible. Generally, most modern mirrorless cameras support this feature, and some can even be charged while in use - great for extending video record times. However, few - if any - DSLRs can be charged via USB, therefore ruling out any possibility of charging a DSLR with a power bank.
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.
With its huge 20,000mAh capacity, this power bank isn't the most compact option on our list, but the payoff for this bulk is it'll pack enough juice to refuel most phones at least 4 times. And thanks to two USB Type-A ports, a Micro-B port and a Type-C port, you're well covered for device compatibility. Quick Charge 3.0 and USB Power Delivery, along with a high 18W charge output from the Type-C port enable fast charging with compatible devices, and you can charge up to 3 devices simultaneously.
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.