Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 portable power

The latest portable power options are lighter, faster and waterproof. Check out what's ahead for retail shelves in 2016.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8

Whether your customers are professional photographers, serial selfie-takers or they’re looking to keep their GPS watch alive, the portable power category continues to grow.

But just powering your tech isn’t enough anymore; companies are doing so with style.

Batteries and chargers are changing shape and capacity to cater to a variety of users, from tough cases for extreme environments to smart chargers that monitor sunlight.

Solar has been around for awhile, but it’s no stranger to innovation: StrongVolt’s solar panels feature a proprietary technology that monitors the sun’s power output and turns off the charger when clouds or shade interfere. Voltaic Systems’ Fuse 6W solar panel (MSRP $129) has clips for easy mounting on a backpack, so it can charge your devices while you hike under the sun. Brunton’s new Explorer series offers a variety of solar panels to accommodate space and power requirements. The 6-watt Explorer 6 is made for handheld devices, while the slightly larger Explorer 12 can power action cameras and GPS communicators. The four-panel Explorer 24 offers four times the watts of the 6 and still folds down to fit into a pack.

For something more compact, Olympia Outdoor’s SB5500 Solar charger with Micro-USB Port (MSRP $60) is a foldable two-panel charger barely larger than a walkie-talkie. The 55-mAh battery can charge up small electronics like smartphones and tablets via the integrated micro-USB cord.

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Power Practical is addressing one of users’ biggest complaints: how long it takes to recharge.

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“We have always thought that portable batteries are a lifesaver,” said Kenyon Ellis, Power Practical’s vice president of marketing and design. “The only part that we really didn’t like was that they take a VERY long time to charge up. Some bigger capacity ones take 10-plus hours to charge completely.”

Power Practical is bringing two batteries that only take an hour to fully charge, the 4,500 mAh Pronto 5 and the 13,500 mAh Pronto 12. Ellis claims that a 5-10 minute charge will give a Pronto battery enough power to fully charge a smartphone.

Both Scosche Industries Inc. and Outdoor Tech are bringing shock- and waterproof batteries to the Summer Market show floor. Scosche’s goBAT 6000 (MSRP $55) and 12000 (MSRP $80) are IP67-rated to be water and dustproof, and feature zero self-discharge, meaning they can hold a charge for years without draining. You heard us: years.

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Outdoor Technology’s 10000mAH Kodiak Plus sports a rubber casing and waterproof ports. The battery’s dual USB outputs can charge up two devices at the same time … after sitting at the bottom of a river for 30 minutes.

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--Billy Brown

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