Podcast Episode March 4, 2022

Episode 56 | Portable Battery Chargers for Backpacking

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In this episode, we chat with longtime Backpacking Light contributor Rex Sanders about his ongoing tests of portable battery chargers. Also, Ryan and Andrew chat about vandalism on public lands, electronic device management, new gear from Atom Packs, and the benefits of freeze-drying.


  • Why is vandalism so bad on public lands right now?
  • What organizations are promoting responsible stewardship?
  • What is a portable battery charger?
  • Why is it important to test portable battery chargers?
  • Why is it challenging to test portable battery chargers?
  • Which performance metrics are about the same across different brands and models of portable battery chargers?
  • Should I leave my iPhone plugged in overnight when camping?
  • What’s going on with the portable battery charger market?
  • What are some common failure points on portable battery chargers?
  • Are Nitecore carbon fiber battery packs any good?
  • What are some portable battery charger best practices?
  • Is portable battery charger price an indicator of quality or capacity?
  • How is portable battery charger capacity measured?
  • How can I pick a portable battery charger for backpacking?
  • Are solar battery chargers worth it?
  • How can portable battery chargers be improved?
  • How can the outdoor industry improve its marketing and standards ethics?
  • What’s the best way to design at-home tests for outdoor gear?
  • Are cables an important part of managing electronics in the backcountry?
  • What are some device management strategies when backpacking with electronics?
  • Is the Atom Packs Nanu a good pack?
  • Is the Durston Gear X-Mid Pro 2 shelter a good shelter?
  • How does freeze-drying work?


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Home Forums Episode 56 | Portable Battery Chargers for Backpacking

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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  • #3742294
    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: Episode 56 | Portable Battery Chargers for Backpacking

    In this episode, we chat with longtime Backpacking Light contributor Rex Sanders about his ongoing tests of portable battery chargers. Also, Ryan and Andrew chat about vandalism on public lands, electronic device management, new gear from Atom Packs, and the benefits of freeze-drying.

    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians


    BPL Member


    RE vandalism, like you Ryan this viscerally enrages me seeing ugliness in the back country.

    Tags are like ants. They have gravity. One attracts more. Kill them all and then future frequency is greatly reduced, and my main corridor I clean weekly, so the delinquents have come to know their tags wont last long along the 33 and re-tagging has dwindled.

    As such, I take it upon myself and encourage everyone to ‘erase’ it. I carry gray or brown spray paint and paint over any tag I can – usually not on my first visit, but I frequently hike the same routes and take note of where I see tags. On a return trip I will disguise the tags as best I can with natural colored paint and can often do a good enough job that you dont notice the tag until you’re very close. Although this is still not ideal, its better than a gang tag and I have found it deters future tags.

    An even better option – if the tag is on an impermeable surface such as a sign, post, guard rail, etc, I will carry rags, some lacquer thinner, and nitrile gloves. Most paint pens and some spray paint can be easily removed with a lacquer thinner rag, and is even better then ‘disguising’ tags. But this is usually only possible on man-made features.

    Another pet-peeve is stickers. I always carry a Spyderco Para3 Lightweight and the blunt corner on back of the knife works great to scrape off stickers from signs, posts, and rails. Luckily most stickers can be removed completely, and like tags they have gravity that attracts more of them.

    Last, there is an area near the mouth of the canyons on highway 33 that was covered in tags. Huge tags up to 20’x8′. Many hundreds of them of all shapes and sizes. I bought paint out of my own pocket and rolled over about 80% of them so far (im ~27 gallons applied to date. Mis-tint paint at home depot or lowes sells for $9/gal or less and if you mix a bunch of colors it easily becomes a natural gray or brown color). Now new tags rarely appear and the ones that do are quickly erased by me. The re-tag frequency has slowed over time as well.

    In an ideal world I would caravan in on some mules with a portable sand blaster so I could leave only natural rock behind, but this is not practical in a wilderness setting. I guess this is what I will do when I win the lottery.

    I ask everyone to personally own the problem. Pick up litter. Hike it out. Scrape off stickers. Lacquer-rag erase tags on solid surfaces. Paint over tags with naturally appropriate colors. Its nice when agencies take the lead, but the scale of the problem greatly outweighs resources to remove tags.

    Anyways, this is a point of passion for me and I view scrubbing away the signs of delinquents as my obligation. No one else will if you dont. Sorry for the rambling rant :)

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Good on you Marcus! I agree 100%.

    We get people tying pink tape around branches on some local tracks. Many is the time I have got home with a pocket quite full of tapes I have ripped off.




    Re: vandalism of rocks, one approach I’ve seen is just having an artist paint over the graffiti to make it look like a rock again since it can be nearly impossible to remove graffiti from rock. Not sure if this works everywhere, but out on Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, there’s a boulder just before Skywalker Ranch that was so covered in graffiti that was the only way to restore it. It just looks like any other boulder now.

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