Review: Braven BRV-Bank Ruggedized Portable Battery Pack
The modern outdoor adventurer generally heads into the backcountry armed with more than a few high tech gadgets. Keeping all of those devices powered while away from a wall outlet can be a real challenge; although lightweight, powerful, and versatile, portable chargers have gone a long way towards making it much easier. With literally dozens of such chargers available on the market, it can be tough to decide which ones are truly worth carrying with you on your adventures, and which ones are best left at home. But the new BRV-Bank from Braven not only delivers a solid charge in small and rugged package, but it has some excellent features that truly helps it stand out from the competition.
There aren’t many portable battery packs that can match the BRV-Bank in terms of functionality. Not only does it offer two USB ports (1A and 2.4A) for duel-charging capability, it is also IPX5 water resistant to help protect it from rain or accidental immersion. The device’s tough outer shell is built to protect it from accidental drops and other mishaps as well, making it a perfect companion when traveling in in remote and rugged location. The battery pack also comes equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 functionality which allows it to connect with your smartphone so that you can monitor the amount of charge remaining at any given time. A special app allows you to not only control the two USB ports, but send an audible beep to help locate the device when it has gone missing too. There is even a “bear mode” which sounds a shrill alarm if the battery pack is moved or tampered with in any way, helping to ensure that it stays secure no matter where you are. An included USB flashlight plugs into the device to provide illumination after dark, and that light can be activated to flash an S.O.S. signal if necessary as well. Each of those features can come in handy on a backcountry excursion or course, where the 6000 mAh charge can keep your smartphone, GoPro camera, or other devices running longer than they would on their own.
Design and Aesthetic ★★★★
The BRV-Bank looks a lot like many other portable battery packs that are on the market, although it is a bit on the larger size for a unit that offers just 6000 mAh of power.Part of the reason it is a bit bigger and heavier than the competition is because Braven has squeezed extra circuitry into the device to accommodate the handy Bluetooth features. The ruggedized outer shell also contributes to a bit of extra bulk too, although it also adds a feeling of extra toughness to the device as well. The rubber door that keeps moisture, dust, and dirt out of the USB ports snaps satisfyingly into place, ensuring that the delicate electronic components are well protected at all times, while small lights on the top of the device twinkle brightly to life to indicate the remaining charge left on the battery. While the BRV-Bank isn’t likely to win any awards for its overall design, it is none the less well built, and good looking product.
If there is one area that the BRV-Bank truly shines, it is durability. As mentioned above, it has been built to an IPX5 standard in terms of water resistance, and its rubberized body has been constructed to repel dust and dirt while also resisting accidental drops. This is a battery pack that has been built for the outdoors, and as a result it can take a beating and continue to keep functioning. This makes it a great choice for traveling abroad or for taking with you on camping trips to remote places.
This product is a bit of a tough one to judge in terms of overall value. On the one hand, its $130 price tag is a bit steep for a battery pack that offers just 6000 mAh of power. That’s not as much as I would typically like to have with me on an extended trip where keeping your gadgets charged can be vitally important. On the other hand, when you look at all of the other options that the BRV-Bank has to offer—including Bluetooth functionality, a modular flashlight, the ability to control charging remotely, rugged design, etc.—the value for the product goes up nicely. I’d love to see a version of this product with 8k or even 10k mAh of power, which would be just about perfect for most backcountry charging needs.
If you’ve been waiting for a ruggedized battery pack to keep your gadgets charged while on your adventures, than the Braven BRV-Bank may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. It has a host of nice features that you won’t find on any other battery pack, and it is definitely built to withstand plenty of punishment. It is on the pricey side however, particularly when you consider the relatively small size of the battery itself. But taken as a whole, this is an excellent choice for adventure travelers and backpackers who need portable power on the go.
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