Have you ever had an important phone call cut off by a dying battery? Even worse, have you ever had a Strava KOM interrupted when your cycle computer cut out? In our increasingly connected age we are more reliant than ever on mobile electronic devices in our daily lives. While it’s often possible to manage our devices by connecting to computers and wall socket chargers to keep our devices topped up, once we’ve escaped the built environment that option is no longer available. Whether travelling, bike packing, or out on an all-day riding adventure, managing battery usage for GPS navigation and mobile phones for routine or emergency use starts to become more front-of-mind.
Powerpod has been one of the first to market with a range of convenient backup rechargers for mobile devices and has a number of models that enable the travelling cyclist to choose between weight, convenience, and capacity according to need.
Powerpod Allnighter charging a Garmin
I was provided with two models, the Allnighter at 3000mAh capacity and the Overnighter II at 5200mAh capacity, both powered by lithium ion cells.
The Powerpod Allnighter measures approximately 95 x 28 x 29mm and weighs in at 82 grams, the Overnighter II 94 x 49 x 29mm and 150 grams. Each unit comes with a USB to micro-USB cable, mini-USB and iPhone 4 adapters. Apple Lightning adapters are available as an optional extra. The supplied cable is a recharge cable only and does not allow data transfer.
Ports on the Overnighter II and Allnighter Powerpods
Cable accessories to recharge various electronic devices
Specifications are printed on the battery units
The Allnighter is light and convenient, easily able to fit in a jersey pocket without feeling like an uncomfortable additional weight that was out of place or pulling my jersey to one side. While its capacity was not quite sufficient to recharge my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone completely, it was good enough to get me to 75% from dead flat, and more than enough to recharge my Garmin Edge 810 GPS bike computer (though obviously not both devices from one charge).
Recharge time for the Allnighter is just over 3 hours from fully exhausted. Connecting to a power supply is a simple matter of reversing the cable and inserting the micro USB end into the charger’s inwards port and hooking the other end into any computer USB port or mains wall socket USB port.
The Overnighter II will also fit in a cycling jersey pocket, but the weight is more noticeable. It helps counterbalance the Bontrager pocket tool and CO2 inflation kit I carry, but some riders might find it a bit bulky and heavy. Time to charge a connected device is 1% per minute, in other words fully recharging your device in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Recharge time for the Overnighter itself is proportionately longer due to its greater capacity.
The upside of this extra capacity is that it will easily provide a full recharge to all current model large screen mobile phones; it coped admirably with the demands of my S4. Smaller smart phones should be able to be recharged twice. This will provide comfort to mountain bike and road riders out on an all-day ride who may wish to use Strava or other phone applications to track their ride, or Garmin users wishing to use the LiveTrack functionality to let others know where they are in real time.
Capacity to recharge the Samsung Galaxy S4 twice
Both devices use LEDs built into the bezel around the switch to indicate charging status and how much life is left. The larger unit also has a small white LED for use as a torch.
Overnight II with small LED flashlight
In addition to its cycling applications, I have found the Powerpod Overnighter II very handy on recent long distance driving trips where the driver’s GPS unit needed priority access to the USB charge point in the car.
One beef I have with the units is with the use of blue as the status LED colour. Recent research covered in the popular press points to blue light suppressing serotonin production in the human brain, a hormone important to promoting good sleep. If you need to use the unit to find your way out of bed or your sleeping bag to a safe place to take a “natural break”, you may find it difficult to get back to sleep. Red would have been a better choice for the status LEDs. If this is recharging overnight in my bedroom, I have to use something to block the light.
Blue charging LED on the Powerpod Overnighter II
Overall I think both models are highly useful for cyclists and travellers, and are excellent value for money. If you are cycle touring, camping, or doing all day rides, backup batteries for your electronic devices are a good idea and the Powerpod fits the bill.
• Helps lift the limitations on battery life while away from mains electricity supply
• Small and lightweight
• Convenient and easy to use
• A different LED colour to blue would have been preferable
Powerpod portable rechargers are available directly from http://powerpod.net. The smaller Powerpod Allnighter retails for $29.95 and the larger Powerpod Overnighter II for $44.95 with shipping at $4.85. They come in a range of colours: black, sliver, red, blue, and purple.