Every year electricity gets more and more important for our daily lives. This is especially true in the wilderness. Whether you are stuck in a blizzard at home or bugging out in the wild, going without power is tough. Power banks are a fairly recent invention that help solve this problem. In this article, we will discuss why power banks are important and what type you might want.
Why Power Banks?
For the longest time, people who wanted electricity without the grid had to rely on disposable batteries. Unfortunately, batteries would only work on the smallest appliances like radios and flashlights. Power banks were created as a non-disposable, rechargeable batteries that hold much more power per cubic inch of device than disposable batteries.
By far the most important electrical device we have for survival is our smartphones. This lets you communicate with others and track on GPS where you are headed. However, I also have apps on my phone for a flashlight, a weather radio, a compass, and a mushroom ID guide. You can literally Google any survival topic and get some good advice. Keeping power to your cell phone is important.
Unfortunately, most cell phones will die before a single day is out. Power banks can help keep your phone charged. In addition, you can charge electric arc lighters, headlamps, flashlights, weather radios, and just about any other electric device you have with you in the wild. If you are at home, a large power bank can power all of your most important appliances.
How Do They Work?
Power banks are simply Lithium-ion batteries that are designed to be charged through a USB port. Then they can send out that power via USB port to another device to charge it or power it. Large power banks often have standard wall outlets for larger appliances. Some even have 220V outlets for electric dryers. They range in capacity from about 1000 mAh to 50 Ah or more. The higher the capacity, the more power they can store.
Large VS Pocket Sized
There are two primary types of power banks that you will see these days. The more popular option is pocket sized power banks. These are designed to power small devices like smartphones and tablets. We own six or seven of these little guys, and they are quite helpful. When we go camping or hiking, it is nice to still have power. Even on my wilderness survival challenges, I try to always take power banks.
On one of my long-distance survival challenges, I made the mistake of forgetting my charging cord. I had the power bank, but no way to charge my phone. I brought a map and compass with me to navigate, but the map got wet in the rain and was falling apart. I had just enough power on my phone to call my wife and have her bring me the cord. This allowed me to pull up a satellite image of my area and help me get to the creek to navigate further. Without that power bank, I may not have made it back out of those woods.
The other type of power bank is a larger, home use one. These are normally at least the size of a car battery, and are much heavier than their pocket counterparts. These monsters are designed to hold large amounts of power for extended use. They are typically used for blackouts to power lights and appliances in homes. However, you can use them in a survival scenario as well. I often see contractors using these instead of generators to power their power tools.
Solar and Generator Power Banks
The other types of power banks that we should discuss are those that are attached to solar power systems and generators. Our gas generator has a large built-in power bank so that we can save the power that we generate. For example, I can run the generator at home before a camping trip to charge the power bank. Then when we go camping, I can just use the power without running the generator. It gets pretty loud, so it is nice to not bother the neighbors with the noise.
Over the winter, we had a bad snowstorm that had everyone stuck in their homes for over a week. During this time, fallen branches and ice caused power outages across the area. Many people had no heat, light, or any way to cook for the entire time. I had plenty of people ask to come over since we had a generator, but the roads were too bad for anyone to get here. It is a nice resource to have.
Solar systems often have power banks too. This means that any extra power that is not used by your home is stored in a power bank for later use. Even if it is stormy or dark and you cannot generate power from the sun, you can still have lots of power stored in the bank. This can power your entire home, or just select appliances.
There are also portable solar systems that have built in power banks. I have a pocket-sized power bank that has solar panels built in. They also make larger, folding solar panels with power banks. While these tools give you a way to recharge your power bank without the grid, you should temper your expectations. These smaller solar panels take a very long time to charge a power bank.
In the end, it is easy to say that power banks are an important resource for survival. These days we need electricity to cook, stay warm, light our home, and power our phones. Whether stuck in your home without power or hiking through the wilderness, you should incorporate some sort of power bank into your gear. Just take the time to do your research. You can see huge differences in cost depending on how much capacity the power bank has. No matter which power bank you choose, you will be more prepared in the end.