Remember when it was a novel idea to bring an electronic device with you on a camping trip?
Before smartphones and tablets invading our lives, we usually just elected to leave such gadgets at home and turn off our old-school cell phones whenever we ventured into the backcountry. Nowadays, however, we usually go armed with an array of items powered by rechargeable batteries, including cameras, drones, GPS units, smartwatches, headlamps, and a host of other products.
This has prompted us to seek ways to keep those devices charged while living off the grid, which fortunately has become much easier thanks to an ever-expanding number of battery packs and portable generators. The latest of those that have come through my office is the Rockpals 300W Portable Power Station, which offers a lot of convenience and functionality at an affordable price. Still, it doesn’t necessarily break much new ground otherwise.
Equipped with a 280 watt-hour rechargeable lithium battery, this portable generator is designed to provide enough power to keep your small devices up and running and provide juice for larger electronic items. For instance, one of the biggest uses of these power stations is to provide energy to turn a CPAP machine while on a camping trip.
This allows users of such devices to get a good night’s sleep, even while away from home.
The Rockpals unit can also power an LCD television, a mini-refrigerator, laptops, fans, or other small appliances. In fact, the company says it’s power station can recharge a MacBook more than five times, run that mini-fridge for over five hours, or keep a CPAP machine going for more than seven hours.
Compact in Size
Those specs are even more impressive thanks to the power station’s compact size and weight. The unit weighs 7.3 pounds (3.3 kg), making it a bit on the heavy side for carrying into the backcountry, but light enough that you won’t think twice about using it while car camping, day outings to the beach, or anywhere around the house.
It’s also fairly small, measuring 7.5×5.9x 5.5 inches (19x15x14 cm), making it easy to not only store but to carry in a vehicle or even a backpack, depending on your circumstances.
Versatile and Convenient
The key to making a versatile and convenient portable power station isn’t just based on the battery capacity, as the number and types of ports play a crucial role. Rockpals has 300w model four USB ports, two of which are standard 5V/3.1A models, while the other two are QuickCharge 3.0 compatible for faster recharging.
The device also comes with a standard 12-volt port like the ones found in most vehicles, and it is equipped with an AC power outlet like the ones found in your wall at home. What you won’t find, however, is any USB-C ports, which are becoming increasingly more important and vital in this day and age.
While USB-C devices can use regular USB ports provided they have the correct cables, it is far faster and more efficient to plug directly into another USB C port. Better yet, a USB-C PD (for “power delivery”) would be great, providing even more options for high-powered devices such as tablets or USB-C laptops.
Features and Functionality
Rockpals has given its 300w portable power station a few extra features that add to its functionality. For instance, an informative LCD screen on the unit indicates which ports are powered at any given time and how much energy is being pulled through them.
This makes it easier to see which devices are using the most juice and to monitor battery life. The unit also comes with two built-in lights that are surprisingly bright and handy around the campsite. It also has a carrying handle that feels good in the hand; it makes it easy to carry the unit, even over longer distances.
Multiple Charging Options
The power station comes with an AC power plug that allows it to charge directly from a wall outlet at home, but it can also be charged via the 12-volt adapter in your car or a solar panel too. In fact, Rockpals sent me one of its 100w Solar Panels to test as well, and I was so impressed by that product that I thought it deserved its own review. Look for that tomorrow, as the solar charger is impressive all around and offers some really great features at a great price.
Speaking of price, I mentioned that this power station offers an affordable price point, which is a good thing in quickly becoming a very crowded market place. Rockpals sells the unit for $299.90, which makes it extremely competitively priced for what it delivers.
Make no mistake, other options on the market are a bit more durable, offer more ports (including USB-C), and have larger batteries. But for everything that this little generator offers, the $300 price tag is an attractive one. Particularly when paired with the aforementioned solar panel, which makes this an all-around nice package for keeping your electronics running while living off the grid.
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