Sure, you can fill your pockets with spare batteries for your mirrorless or DSLR cameras. You can also take a big portable battery on photography trips, road trips and while camping (and constantly fret about how much charge that has left, too!). Or you could just invest in the EcoFlow RiverMax and have 576Wh on hand in the back of your vehicle.
Few photographers really need a portable power station like the EcoFlow River Max, but if you’re after the ultimate in off-grid convenience then this portable power station is an incredibly useful item to have on hand.
Outputs: 1x USB-A fast-charge (18W), 2x USB-A (5V/2.4A), 1 x USB-C (100W), 1x 13.6V cigarette lighter, 2x AC (600W), 2x DC
Inputs: 1x 12V, 1x AC (500W)
The EcoFlow RiverMax is a portable power station that has a total of 576Wh capacity. Its headline X-Stream feature means it can be recharged from the mains – before you set-off on a photography trip, or perhaps in a hotel room – in just 96 minutes (most similar-sized power stations take about five or six hours). It can do that because it uses a smart inverter and It has two separate 288Wh batteries that simultaneously recharge, but there's a lot more to like about it than speed.
Elsewhere the EcoFlow RiverMax is bursting with ins and outs. On its side are two AC inputs (our unit was a UK plug, but whatever region you purchase it in it will come with the correct plugs – though do check), which are perfect if your camera’s batteries come with a proprietary wall charger. Ditto if your laptop has a power brick that you usually need to attach to the mains. Thanks to a 2,000W pure-sine wave AC inverter, all your devices are supplied with 600W while being protected from being overloaded, with a 1800W boost mode just in case you want to run home appliances such as power tools, a hairdryer, a TV or even a microwave.
The EcoFlow RiverMax also has an LED light on it, though sadly it’s fixed so is likely to be annoying if used around a camp. Beside it on the front of the EcoFlow RiverMax there’s every conceivable slot you could wish for. There’s a 100W USB-C for recharging laptops, a USB-A for fast-charging phones and a couple more for standard duties, as well as a 13.6V ‘cigarette lighter’. There’s also a 12V input and, of course, an AC input for actually charging up the EcoFlow RiverMax before you leave home.
Build and handling
The EcoFlow RiverMax is easy to carry. We like the fact that it has two separate 288Wh batteries inside it, one of which can be taken out to make the EcoFlow RiverMax half the weight (and half the capacity). However, we’ve not convinced that modular design is strictly necessary since at 7.7kg/17lbs it’s easy enough to carry from home to car, and then possibly to camp, and back again.
The compact design does have one slight letdown in the shape of a separate power brick, which will likely have to travel with the EcoFlow RiverMax. Some rival portable power stations have that built-in, with just a kettle lead to store.
Upon set-up and first use we couldn’t stand the EcoFlow River Max’s incessant beeps and a weird LED ‘power up’ light right across the middle of the chassis. Luckily there’s an app for that. Downloaded and connected to the EcoFlow River Max’s own WiFi network (yes, portable power stations sometimes now create their own WiFi networks!), not only does it let you switch all of that off, but it also tells you exactly what power is being delivered through each output. It’s overkill, of course, but it’s good to know where you are if you’ve got a lot of devices connected to the EcoFlow River Max.
Recharging it from the mains in just 96 minutes is really useful because you no longer have to think about it the night before – you can decide to go on a trip, put it on charge and go pack your stuff. It’ll be ready when you are. In practice it’s even faster than that because it only takes an hour to get to 80%, which will probably do for most trips.
However, we also found another way to recharge it when on a photography trip; 12V. Traditionally called a ‘cigarette lighter’, most cars have one either up front and/or in the boot/trunk. The EcoFlow RiverMax actually comes with the requisite cable to attach to a 12V supply, which will top it up as you drive and recharge from empty in about five hours. That’s insanely useful if you’re off-grid, your camera is flat but you’re driving between shooting locations. That said, we wouldn’t leave home without the EcoFlow RiverMax being fully charged.
Do you need the EcoFlow River Max? You probably don’t and yet to have a 576Wh (or even ‘just’ 288Wh) on hand in the back of your car is seriously tempting if you’re on a long photography trip. As well as recharging cameras, camera batteries and accessories, it can also be used around camp, it’s easy to carry and it’s fast to charge with plenty of options for a top-up while on the road. If you can’t stand the thought of a flat battery in your camera or your smartphone then the EcoFlow River Max should be on your dream kit list.
• Many thanks to Hampshire Generators in the UK who kindly let us the EcoFlow River Max for this review.