The options available to us for keeping our electronic devices charged while in remote regions continue to grow. A couple of weeks back I took a look at the Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator and found it to be a powerful and full featured – if a bit heavy – method for staying charged while on the go. Now, I’ve gotten my hands on another portable generator called the EcoFlow River that will be available soon, and it brings some more intriguing possibilities to the market.
Currently, the River is only available for preorder on Indiegogo, but the device is already fully-funded and should begin shipping in July of this year. In fact, the River has been such a success on the crowdfunding site that it’s designers had hoped to raise $30,000 to get it into production, but have already raked in more than $400,000 with more than two weeks to go before the campaign ends. In other words, people already want this gadget and it is a major success before it even goes on sale.
I’ve been lucky enough to get to test out a pre-production model of the River, and have found it to be an incredibly well made product. Everything about the generator screams high quality, from the excellent case (complete with handle on top), to the LCD screen that provides info on the amount of power in the device, and how it is being used, to the plethora of ports to keep our gadgets charged. In terms of lightweight, portable generators with lots of power, this is the most well thought out and best designed version I’ve seen yet.
With its 116,000 mAh battery and 500-watt output, the River is capable of recharging a smartphone up to 30 times and a laptop as many as 9 times depending on the model. Additionally, it can power a projector or mini-refrigerator for 10 hours, and recharger a drone 4-8 times as well. This makes it a great tool to have at base camp, whether you’re working in the field or spending an extended amount of time in the backcountry. And since it is waterproof resistant, offers built-in surge protection, and weights just 11 pounds, its an excellent companion for use on our adventures.
What I love most about the River is that it has plenty of power ports, something that can’t be said about all of the competition. In fact, it has 11 different ports to plug into, and can actually recharge 11 different devices at once. Those ports include two USB-C ports, two standard AC wall jacks, two DC output ports, and four fast-charge USB ports. In other words, there are enough options to keep smartphones, tablets, computers, cameras, headlamps, GPS devices, and just about anything else with a rechargeable battery up and running at all times.
The River itself can be recharged via standard AC outlets, the DC port in you car, or a solar panel too. I didn’t have a chance to test it with a solar panel, but plugging it into the wall or DC car port is as fast and smooth as you would imagine. It takes about six hours or so to charge from the wall and nine ours from your car, which is about on par with what I would expect from a battery of this size. EcoFlow says that a solar panel requires 10-15 hours, but I’ve generally found that those estimates tend to be conservative when you consider the variables involved.
Unlike most other germinators of this type, the River is also capable of holding a charge for up to 1 year. Similar devices from the competition start to have the charge degrade after just a couple of months, which means that you might not have a much power stored up when an emergency situation arises.
I’ve been using the River extensively over the past few weeks and have found it to be fast, very convenient, and easy to use. I’ve tested it with my iPhone, iPad, and laptop, and even recharged a USB battery pack as well. It is fantastic to have so much power in such a small package that you can take with you anywhere.
So how does this stack up to something that you might get from Goal Zero, the acknowledged market leader in portable power for the outdoors? Quite well actually, as the River slides into a niche that falls between the products offered by GZ. The smaller, more portable Sherpa power packs don’t offer anywhere near the performance of the River in terms of power and the number of ports, but the River also isn’t as large and heavy as the new Yeti Lithiums either. If you happen to need a power solution that fits into this in-between category, the River is an excellent choice.
When it goes on sale in July, the River is expected to sell for $699, but you can order one through the Indiegogo campaign for as little as $499 right now. If you’re in the market for a portable power station, and can wait a few more months for deliver, I think you’ll be very happy with what EcoFlow has put together here. It is a fantastic product built for the road warrior.
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