Gearbox: 2024 Electronics

Anker Prime 12,000mAh Power Bank

“I rely on my phone for navigation, emergency planning and even just snapping pics. Keeping the battery charged in the cold is a necessity,” a ski guide and tester explained. After years of using an Anker model without seeing any decline in performance, she decided it was time to check out the company’s new Prime Power Bank. She tested the 130-watt option, which was strong enough to keep her laptop running for two hours. When the battery was dead, it recharged in just 15 minutes. The upped voltage comes with some costs: It’s heavier than her old battery and offers only two USB-C ports. But she felt the added power and quick charge time made it more versatile, saying, “If you’re looking for one battery for long travel days and backcountry skiing, this is it.”

Black Diamond Equipment Distance 1500 Headlamp

“The Distance 1500 is just built different,” our tester said of Black Diamond Equipment’s new high-capacity headlamp. A fan of long runs and post-work uphill laps, our tester appreciated the cradle design—which she immediately embraced by adding the top strap—which dispersed the weight of the lamp and battery easily. “No awkward jiggling or uncomfortable pressure, and it’s helmet compatible!” she raved. Up front, the slim light attachment features a gentler red bulb, plus both wide-field and narrow-focused bright whites. So bright our tester warned, “Use eclipse glasses when looking into these lit bulbs.” The 1500-lumen capacity offers a big boost but drains the battery, so the light dims automatically after 10 minutes. Black Diamond claims one full battery lasts eight hours at 300 lumens. For a more affordable option, try the Storm 500-R Rechargeable ($75).

DJI Osmo Action 4 Adventure Combo

DJI changed the mini action-sports camera game in 2019 when it introduced RockSteady, an image stabilization system. With an industry standard 4k 60 FPS (high-resolution, high-quality video) and larger sensor, the Osmo Action 4 packs RockSteady and more in a compact punch. Compared to the GoPro Hero 12 Black (1/1.9” size sensor) the Action 4 (1/1.3”) had better low-light performance, our tester, a camera expert, observed. While that’s a non-issue on bluebird days, if it’s dumping, or almost any day in sun-starved Vermont, this feature shines. Our tester appreciated the magnetic clips that align and secure mounts to the camera (fully compatible with GoPro). He especially loved the Multifunctional Battery Case. “It holds and smart charges three batteries along with stowing two microSD cards,” he raved, noting its utility for long days of filming.

Pale Blue Approach 2 Solar Charger

On long trips, our tester carries an ever-growing array of rechargeable electronics, which all need juice on multiday sojourns. “I already carry a battery pack, but this solar panel is now part of my repertoire, too,” he said. The folding triple panel delivers up to 21 watts of power, and with two USB ports and perfect conditions, he revitalized his pair of radios together. Though he loves the idea and the separately purchased, rechargeable AAA batteries the Approach powers ($25 for four), he wasn’t fully convinced, bemoaning the lack of a kickstand to prop the panel up and noting a lack of charging on cloudy days. “It’s perfect for a sunny camp day,” he said, “but I still bring a battery pack for when the sun isn’t shining.”

These reviews were originally published in Issue No. 155. To read more, pick up a copy at, or subscribe to read our gear reviews earlier when they are published in print.

*Affiliate link disclaimer:
At Backcountry Magazine, we are committed to providing you with honest and informative gear coverage. To support our work and continue delivering quality content, we are including affiliate links in our reviews. Partnerships with retailers are separate from coverage, ensuring that our reviews remain unbiased. These links help us earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them, at no additional cost to you.

Related posts:

Speak Your Mind