All modern devices are power-loving machines. If you want to stay in touch with technology through an extended journey or a cross-country flight without charging your phone, tablet and gaming device, then you will have to carry that handy portable battery pack to keep them going. We will discuss battery packs that will keep the electrons flowing and your screens glowing.

What is a portable battery pack and why should you own one?

Generally, when you need to charge your smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices, you connect them to wall sockets or use the USB port to juice them up. Then you leave your device as it charges, and go about with your other business.

But there are fat chances of that when you are traveling. You need to sit or stand with the charger in hand for excruciating minutes inside the train compartment or station. If you let your eyesight slip for even a few seconds, there is always a chance that your precious device might get stolen!

This is where the portable battery pack comes in handy. It is an external battery that stores a charge and transfers it to your gadget in need.

They vary in size from as petite as a chap-stick (to touch up a small battery phone) to as big as a paperback novel (good for keeping your tablet going for days or sharing with a team of friends).

Instead of plugging your charger into a wall outlet or computer, you simply plug it in the battery pack.

But you need to consider several factors to find the right battery charger that fits your application and fulfills your power needs.

The following are a few pointers to help you choose wisely:

Gauge Your mAh

Before investing, you need to estimate the juice you will need. The amount of charge which a battery pack or a device battery can hold is measured in mAh (milliampere hours). This helps you determine the investment for each pack.

First, round up all the devices that you want to top off with your portable battery pack. Then find their stock battery capacities (in mAh).

Now you can do some number crunching using the following equation to find out the size of the pack:

(Total mAh needed to charge all devices) X (percentage of battery life extension in decimal format) = Size of pack

If you wish to squeeze more life out of them (like charging multiple times) then the capacity of the pack will increase.

For an iPad to double its life, you need a battery pack of 11,560 mAh.

Low capacity devices are light and small. If you need higher capacity devices, then you will have to carry more weight. The chapstick sized battery packs store 2,000 or so mAh in them. They can easily be slipped into your purse or pocket.

A 14,000 mAh battery pack to keep your iPad going would weigh around 2 pounds. It definitely won’t sit too comfortably in your pocket! If you are looking to just juice up your phone, 10,000+ mAh packs will be a complete waste.

Select the right amperage

In addition to battery capacity, you also need to figure in charging amperage when investing.

The larger and more power consuming need to have the proper amperage to keep them revved up.

Like wall-warts and computers, external battery packs can provide a charge in two amperages: 1A and 2.1A.

If a device can hold the only 1A of power, then it will limit itself to 1A on a 2.1A port by default.

Conversely, if a 2.1A device is in a 1A port, then it will charge at a much slower rate. Most portable battery packs feature a 1A as well as a 2.1A port.

For overnight trickle charging, the amperage does not matter much.

The 2.1A charges the device faster, but if you are not using the device at all while topping off, then the speed hardly matters.

The amperage becomes crucial if you wish to work on your device while it is charging. For instance, if you want your battery pack to keep your iPad juiced up while playing Need for Speed and taxing the system, then you will surely be needing a 2.1 port.

Using packs with 1A during device usage will have you burning battery life faster than the battery pack can replace it.

Ports for friends and family

If you are investing for yourself alone, then a single port (2.1A and 1A port) will do fine.

However, if you need to beef up your own smartphone plus that of your traveling companions, then you will need a larger pack size.

It would be best to invest more money to get a battery pack with dual high draw 2A ports. You can even buy battery packs with 4+ 2.1A ports if your friends and family members are avid tech-geeks too.

You need to invest just a little bit more to get a better pack with an extra port or two and come across as a savior to your family members and business partners.

Some battery packs come with built-in LED flashlights that are handy during night trips.

Shopping checklist for a battery pack to meet your needs

  • Note down your overall mAh usage and multiply that value by the percentage of battery life extension (0.5 for 50%, 1.0 for 100%, 2.0 for 200% and so on).
  • Figure out the number of gadgets you want to charge simultaneously to calculate the number of ports you will need.
  • Think about the number of high-draw devices you will be needing (smartphones, iPads, Kindles, tablets). When in doubt, get at least one1 port.
  • Select the extras you will need (more cables, LED flashlights, more ports, etc.)

These pointers will give you a frame of reference. Now, you will not be taken in by the endless varieties of battery packs available on the market. Find the right mix of mAh, amperage, and ports to suit you.

Meet some battery pack models:

  • ZeroLemon ToughJuice rugged portable charger (30000 mAh)
  • RAVPower Deluxe (14,000 mAh) Power Bank
  • iWalk Extreme trio power bank (10000 mAh)
  • Jackery Giant Power Bank (10,400 mAh)
  • Blitzwolf Qualcomm 2.0 power bank (10,400 mAh)