IT’S called a Brunton Heavy Metal 5500 re-charger. It costs about £65 and, no, it has nothing to do with rock music. However, it could make life much easier for power-hungry outdoors folk.
Many of us take digital cameras, GPS units and smartphones into the wild but there is one big problem with that. When the unit runs out of energy you’re stuffed. It’s unlikely you’ll find a power supply in a bothy and certainly not in a backpacking tent.
There are a number of these re-charging units on the market and I’ve even wasted a lot of time trying to get energy into my iPhone via tiny solar light packages. These worked well in sunny countries but have singularly failed me here in Scotland.
Bruntons Heavy Metal is a compact, USB chargeable Lithium polymer portable back-up battery that is simplicity itself to use. It comes complete with integral USB and Mini USB output cables and a standard USB socket that you can use to charge any compatible electronic equipment.
When your smartphone or GPS runs flat simply plug in the Brunton (assuming it’s fully charged and ready to go) and re-charge it. Preferably overnight. The unit holds enough power to re-charge an iPhone 4 or 5 times.
The re-charger itself is pretty smart and is made from machined aluminium, so it’s pretty tough. The USB and mini-USB outputs slip neatly into the side of the pack so there are no trailing cables. The unit itself is 246gms, not particularly light but well worth its weight if your GPS runs flat.
I’m not sure whether weight-conscious backpackers would want to carry a unit like this but on my various multi-day bikepacking trips I’ve found the Brunton to be a superb addition to my usual kit. Likewise I use it a lot in my campervan when I don’t have hook-up facilities. It means my iPhone, which is loaded up with OS 1:25,000 maps, can be re-charged overnight. I also use it to re-charge my iPad in the campervan.
The Brunton unit itself takes about 6-7 hours to re-charge from a normal domestic power supply. Check it out at www.brunton.com