I had quite a few adventures planned, and knew that most of them would not involved easy access to a plug to charge my phone.
Now, I’m one of these people who relies heavily on my smartphone day to day, and that’s an aspect of my life that gets ramped up even more when I travel. It’s my camera, my music, my reading material, and if somebody needs me, I guess they can try calling it.
I was planning an adventure to India, visiting some of the remotest parts, and knew I needed to figure something out. Before that, a friend had invited me to a music festival, which is equally poor for power supplies, so I took that as the opportunity to get myself sorted with something to use as a trial run.
I had seen plenty of the cheaper options available. I had heard the mantra “If you pay half price, you’re paying twice” and I do believe in that, and that you always get what you pay for. With this in mind, I wasn’t at all convinced that the cheaper $10 phone chargers would do what I needed.
They’re fine for charging your phone a little if you’re on the subway from Coney Island up to the Bronx, but I felt I needed something considerably more rugged, and essentially designed and built for the type of travel I was undertaking.
In my research for the best solution, Powertraveller was a brand that kept cropping up as being a reputable name in travel power supplies. There is a very high chance that the model name itself drew my attention.
I was caught between a couple of their models, but eventually opted for the Powermonkey Extreme. I’ll admit, it did seem a little bit pricey, and certainly more than I was expecting to pay, but, I knew what I was looking for, and this ticked all the boxes.
I didn’t recall ever coming across a solar powered charger before. Although there wasn’t a great deal of sun where I was living at the time, so that would have made it a massive waste of time.
However, in India, where I was planning on spending a lot of time travelling, it seemed like an ideal solution to just leave it in the window of my transport, let it charge up, ready to charge my phone when appropriate.
I try and endorse environmentally-friendly products when I can anyway, so that was another box ticked on my part.
So, when it first arrived I felt like it was in quite a big box. Even though I had read plenty of reviews, I still felt kind of surprised by some of the features. Maybe I was so excited I hadn’t taken them in properly?
The big box was to fit all of the “bits,” some of which I would probably never use, others which would depend on the adventure I was going on.
For example, it came with all kinds of connections, but I’m a dedicated Android man, so that was the iStuff already getting left at home. The Powermonkey can be charged up from the mains, as well as by solar energy, and it comes with three different pin formations that you can use, depending on where you’re travelling too. I thought that was pretty cool.
It took a minute to get my head around how it worked. It essentially revolves around the power pack. That’s the bit you charge up, and that you use to charge your device. You charge it up via mains, or, via a charged up solar panel. Do you follow? Once it has some charge, you can take it on the road, and charge devices as you please.
You can also just put the micro-USB adapter on the plug, and charge your device directly from the mains.
I’ve had my Powermonkey for a while now, and it definitely is a serious piece of kit. I’ve had it across all manner of road trips and festivals. The pin alternation aspect has been a particularly favorite aspect.
I think my one complaint is that the barrel for adapting to micro-USB is quite loose. I haven’t lost it yet, but I’m certainly very paranoid about it.
When I first got my Powermonkey extreme, I was using it with a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, and it worked perfectly well with that. I also had a Google Nexus 7, which it worked equally well with.
However, as my personal tech has become more advanced, I feel like the Powermonkey may not quite be keeping up with it.
My current smartphone is a Samsung Galaxy S6, and the Google Nexus 7 has become an Asus Chromebook Flip. It definitely struggles with my phone, to the extent that I haven’t even bothered testing it with my Chromebook.
Yes, it’s been wonderful for me, but if you don’t do tents or dirt or adventure, there are plenty of more appropriate alternatives.
Despite it struggling with more recent phones, I don’t think I’d be inclined to bring my best phone on an extreme adventure anyway. I think I’d use something a few years old – I’d happily use another S3 Mini.
So to conclude, this is a great product, but think about where you’ll use it, and what you’ll use it with. For me, it’s become an integral part of my travel equipment, right there with my pocket knife and dry sack.