I must confess that I am head over heels for the Powerbag.
It makes you feel like a spy. It’s weatherproof and durable. It has a simple, yet commanding, design. Oh…and it also fully charges any USB or Apple device. Could a traveler possibly ask for more?
When my Powerbag backpack arrived in the mail I felt like a kid on Christmas. I couldn’t recall a single time when my smartphone had made it through an entire day without dying on me, and I remembered how many times I had to make desperate pit stops along my route to find a café with a power outlet. Quite frankly, it’s not often that I even do this – I usually just sauntered home in disappointment with a dead phone, praying that a phone-necessitating situation would not arise.
You have had this experience too, no doubt. Disabling background programs, dimming the screen, and nixing WiFi are marginally helpful, but you’re still likely to be stranded by the end of the day…especially in remote locations such as Siberia or Namibia. Even a dumbphone won’t outlast a three-day trip and, consequently, an extensive mountain excursion may not offer you the electrical convenience you need within that time span. This is precisely the time when you can take a deep breath, smile, and relax, because your Powerbag has got your back.
The design is not complex, which makes me wonder why nobody has thought of this until recently: the front pocket of the backpack contains a smaller pocket, which contains a built-in charging base and a removable 3000MaH battery (you can purchase a more powerful battery separately if you plan to use your devices, say, on the moon). The base is attached to the front of the bag where, on the bag’s exterior, the charge is displayed through a meshlike window of fabric. Essentially, the bag “lights up” to display the charge, which is pretty much straight out of a science fiction flick.
No need to awkwardly dig into the backpack’s front pocket to retrieve your fully-charged items, however. Phones, mp3 players, and other small devices will fit in the side pocket where the USB ports are conveniently stowed (tablets will, of course, need to hiberate in the larger compartments). Hold the rubberized power button on the front of the bag for 5 seconds and voila! The magic blue lights indicate that charging has begun.
What I most wondered when I decided to take this bag on a day out around New York was, “what will happen when it comes into contact with water?” I assumed that the mesh overlaying the charger would be bound to let water in and fry everything from the base to the device itself. Needless to say, it poured in New York that day, and the bag’s power station didn’t even flicker. Extreme sun and heat do not seem to have an effect on it either (although they may cause some of your devices themselves to overheat).
That day I charged my phone and Kindle from 1% to full with 3 out of 4 bars of juice to spare, and it took a few days of dormant battery before the rest ran out. I have never felt so gadget-secured in my life. For the first time I won’t need to scramble for power before getting on that night train.
Who am I kidding? All I really care about is that the bag is gorgeous. Powerbags come in a variety of shapes and colors, but I personally prefer the solid black backpack, one of several models produced by mastermind design company Ful. The design appeals to both the practical traveler and the visual epicure: reinforced water-resistant material with padded shoulder straps, two large compartments containing a specialized tablet pocket and various other knick-knack pockets, a phone sling on the left strap to keep your phone accessible, and robust zippers that would make Chuck Norris green with envy. All of the friends I met asked if I would give it to them (“not over my dead body”), and even strangers commented on it before knowing what it was capable of (when I told them that a bag was charging my phone, younger folks reveled and older folks…well, they just stared in disbelief). It was as if by wearing it I had donned an Iron Man suit.
Best of all, you don’t have to work at NASA to afford it. At $139, the backpack is comparable to a brand name North Face or Osprey pack. If you’re still holding your breath, consider that a separate travel phone charger alone will cost you upwards of $80.
Also keep in mind that Powerbag has a whole trove of other designs that are more appropriate for different kinds of travelers, including briefcases for business travelers and messenger bags for college students who think they are too refined for a backpack. There are also bags designed specifically to get you through airport security without having to open your bag! Also consider the bag’s timelessness: you can use Apple and OtherBrand products interchangeably with it, and this bag could very well last you the rest of your life.
I have yet to test this hypothesis, but the Powerbag may even be able to withstand a low-impact explosion…
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*Item was provided for review by the manufacturer, but no money was exchanged. VagabondJourney.com reviews travel gear with abject honesty: good or bad, we tell it like it is.