AA Wall Charger for a Thru-Hike
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Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Duracell on 01/29/2014 00:10:44 MST Print View

Dan,
Do you really think you'll need to charge your batteries every week? This seems unlikely to me if you are just using them to power your Zebralight headlamps (unless you plan on lots of night-hiking). I would guess one full charge every two weeks, but you will know your usage better than I will, of course.

With all this in mind though, if I was you, I might reconsider putting the charger in a bounce box (if you plan to take one). You could keep some extra NiMH batteries in the bounce box as well for a quick swap out option in case you are in a rush and need to get out of town. Then, when you get your bounce box again and have more time, you could charge both sets of batteries.

Just food for thought. I'm sure you might have already considered this though...

Edited by dmusashe on 01/29/2014 00:16:14 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
AA's on a Thru Hike on 01/29/2014 07:28:49 MST Print View

My wife and I have been back and forth on the bounce box, but we're currently leaning towards not using one. There's a lot of advantages, but it also forces us to plan around the post office hours. There are a lot of downsides to no box bounce, like having to carry chargers and cords, and having to waste resupply items like half bottles of sunscreen, so we're still back and forth.

You make a good point about how much juice we'll really use. My guess is that we'll do some night hiking in SoCal and easily burn through 2 AA's each then, but most of the hike we'd probably use less aside from a few incidents where the headlamps are bumped on in our packs. Maybe a 2 x AA charger would be fine. Unfortunately Sanyo's 55g USB 2 x AA Compact charger takes 6.2hrs for two high capacity AA's which means hanging out in town all day even for 2 batteries.

Edited by dandydan on 01/29/2014 08:34:57 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Durcell CEF27 - Gen 1 vs. Gen 2. on 01/29/2014 08:51:14 MST Print View

I purchased the new CEF27 today (Duracell Ion Speed 4000 Charger) with the hope that it would be lighter and ideally faster than the gen 1 Duracell CEF27.

Turns the speed is the same (1550mA for 2 x AA, 775mA for 4 x AA) but it's heavier. The Amazon weight of 82g was way off and it actually weighs 121g. It's too bad I couldn't accurately weigh it in the store because it includes AA's, AAA's, packaging and a manual. It looks like it'll be getting returned and I'll opt for Gen 1.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
AA Chargers. on 01/29/2014 09:14:11 MST Print View

FWIW, here's the info I've gathered so far:

Chargers

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
AA Wall Charger for a Thru-Hike on 01/29/2014 09:28:08 MST Print View

Dan -

If you are considering a 2AA charger then definitely check out the SolarFocus Battery Charger/Battery Bank that MEC sells. It charges 2AA in 5 hours (according to the doc... depends on the battery density I guess), I've not timed mine but that sounds about right.

The big plus is that it's a battery bank as well with a bunch of different connectors. It can take Lithium disposable batteries (which is what I use) so carrying a few extra AA's with it allows you to charge your mini etc if needed.

Mine weighs 1.5 oz without batteries and the cable I use (USB to mini USB) adds just under .5 oz so 1.9 oz in total.

Nice thing about MEC is that you can try it and if you don't like it, no big deal.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Chargers on 01/29/2014 13:45:28 MST Print View

So 1.9oz gets me the unit + a USB cord to charge it, right?

Then if I want to charge something else, I don't need anything if my iPad Mini already has a cord to connect to a USB socket right? The weight is attractive and so is the ability to buy extra AA's and use them to boost my iPad on long stretches. 5 hours for two AA's might be problematic. I'll give it more thought.

Edited by dandydan on 01/29/2014 13:46:00 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
AA Wall Charger for a Thru-Hike on 01/29/2014 20:23:12 MST Print View

>> So 1.9oz gets me the unit + a USB cord to charge it, right? <<

Yes but it depends on what you need to do.

Here's what I will take on a week long trip.

SolarFocus Charger with Lithium AA batteries (1.5 oz for the charger and 1 oz for 2 Lithium AA's)

Charger

Camera Battery Adapter 0.5 oz (very cool alligator clip that adjust to fit most Lithium batteries for pocket cameras) My Olympus has a weird mini USB plug and the cable weighs 1.7 oz, so I leave the cable behind and use the adapter that came with the SolarFocus charger (smaller and lighter than the camera cable).

Camera Battery Charger Clamp

The charger comes with a bunch of mini USB adapter plugs that fit on the supplied cable. One fits my inReach SE and there is a standard mini USB as well so lots to choose from (each adapter weighs 0.1 oz and the supplied cable is .04 oz. - without any plugs attached)

USB Connectors

I have a note in my gear list that indicates I have charged my iPhone from 16% to 100% with a set of lithium AA batteries however, I didn't note how much power was left in the AA's after the charge.

Good luck with your search and let us know which charger you settle on. I have to admit, if I was doing what you are doing I'd buy one of the 15 minute chargers and not worry about the weight (I guess it's a choice (weight vs wait))

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Chargers on 01/29/2014 20:51:10 MST Print View

I'm unclear on how you actually charge AA's inside this device. It appears that you would need a male/male USB cord to connect this device to a USB port and I don't see that here.

That adapter is cool.

I'm likely going to start with a more potent 4 x AA charger, but once I'm across the Mojave (finished night hiking) I might make the move to something like this, as it would allow me to boost the iPad mini if need be.

It's too bad that no one seems to make my dream charger. The Duracell CEF27 chargers will charge two AA's at 1550mA, but they are a four capacity charger and no one seems to make a two battery fast charger. As the CEF27 halves the speed when you put 4 batteries in, there's no time advantage to having 4 spots. I wish someone made a <70g 2 x AA charger that charges at 1550mA.

Edited by dandydan on 01/29/2014 20:53:26 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
AA Wall Charger for a Thru-Hike on 01/29/2014 23:00:51 MST Print View

>> I'm unclear on how you actually charge AA's inside this device. <<

Dan -

The charger comes with a cable that has a standard USB connector that goes to the wall (USB wall plug required, same as your mini) and the little adapter end piece (supplied) fits on the other end. One of the end pieces is a standard mini USB and as you can see in the first photo, the device has both large and small USB ports. Mini USB is for power "in" and Standard USB is for power "out". The multiple ends work with various devices. In my case, there is a little "flat" mini usb end piece that plugs onto the end of the supplied cable that fits my inReach SE, so I don't have to carry the cable that came with the inReach (saves me 1.5 oz).

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: AA's on a Thru Hike on 01/29/2014 23:17:04 MST Print View

"Unfortunately Sanyo's 55g USB 2 x AA Compact charger takes 6.2hrs for two high capacity AA's which means hanging out in town all day even for 2 batteries."

Dan,
Bear in mind that the stated charge times for all these different chargers you are looking at are actually the time it takes to charge the batteries to 100%... But charging a battery is not a linear affair. What am I getting at?

Well, you will be able to charge your batteries to, say, 80% in much less time than it takes to get to 100%. You get diminishing return in terms of charging effort the closer you try to get the batteries to full capacity.

The upshot of all of this is that you could just charge the batteries for however long you are in town, and if your stay happens to be at least a few hours then you are very likely to get the batteries more than 3/4 charged. And since you are using high capacity batteries, you will probably be fine with this sub-100% charge for most of the PCT (where you probably won't need your headlamp for more than 1 hour per day).

Just some more food for thought! :)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Chargers on 01/30/2014 07:03:32 MST Print View

Fair enough. Good point.