There is one fundamental problem with modern “Social Hiking 2.0” is battery power – on a single device you have gps switched on, you are navigating using Viewranger (which is also updating your position online and updating the position of your Viewranger buddies on your phone), you are also sending, reading and replying to Tweets, uploading photos, reading and responding to Facebook comments and updating your blog.
All this leaves your average phone dead by the end of the day (by teatime if it is a touchscreen phone) – and that is where Powertraveller’s excellent portable power device the powermonkey comes in!
I have owed a powermonkey eXplorer for a couple of years now – and I almost always have it with me when I am out and about to provide an instantly available charging point for my phone. Each fully charged powermonkey can charge my phone about one and a half times.
On Offa’s Dyke however I will have two phones and a camera to keep charged for 13 days. My Nokia N79 will be in use during the day with Viewranger and my lovely HTC Hero will come out in the evening. Without charging, neither phone will last the second day, and there is no guarantee there will be anywhere to charge in the evenings. With a single powermonkey, I could probably stretch this to upto four days – still 9 days short!
The powermonkey eXplorer comes with a small solar panel – I have never really had the opportunity to test it fully, but I am not sure I can rely on there being enough sunshine in April to build up a sufficient charge during the day.
I also looked into wind powered devices – however all the ones I can find on the market rely on a minimum speed. This minimum speed is great if you are driving or cycling, but just doesn’t seem that reliable for walking. Someone suggested putting a small wind charger on the tent – but hopefully I will be camping somewhere sheltered without sufficient wind speed to charge!
The easiest option I can think of is having multiple powermonkeys – they are light and small, so not too problematic to carry, and they hold their charge. I can charge them all up at the start, which should cover us when other charging facilities aren’t available throughout the whole trip (and as a backup the support vehicle can take a couple away to charge).
I am delighted that Powertraveller have kindly agreed to support our challenge by loaning us some extra powermonkey Classics! Their support is very much appreciated. I am pretty sure that with their support, we will be able to share our adventure on the internet for the whole trip!
On our next training trip, in a few weeks time to the Brecon Beacons, I will pay a bit more attention to how the powermonkey’s fare, and will do a more detailed review on this blog.