The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the MSC “Aqua Trek” 6600mah Waterproof Power Bank was it’s rugged but stylish look and feel. The question was does it perform as well as it looks?
First the tech bits. The ‘Aqua Trek’ is a power bank with a Samsung 6600Mah lithium polymer rechargeable battery that weighs in at a slightly weighty 240g; fine for a backpack but too heavy for a pocket. It has a micro USB input socket with a charging cable included in the box. Output (DC 5V/1A) is through a standard USB socket. The bit that interested me was the claim that it was waterproof with the proviso that the USB sockets cover was secured and closed.
Testing it out
It is claimed to be waterproof (see proviso above), sand proof, dust proof and shockproof. It looks to be pretty much indestructible. Despite its grippy look and feel I managed to fumble a drop it on concrete before I had even had a chance to plug it in. It bounced… sort of. On closer inspection I could not find any mark on it. Pretty good then but what about the innards would they still be working. Thankfully, yes. Straight away I plugged it into my iPhone 5S and was rewarded with blue lights on the ‘Aqua Trek’ and the battery symbol on my phone. It took just under 2 hours to charge the phone fully.
I have always found power banks a very useful addition to my travelling kit as there are so many accessories with a tendency to run out of charge just when you need them most. My iPhone, GoPro and iPad are the main culprits and often I am away from any hand sockets were I can plug them into recharge them. The solution is to carry one or more power banks. Many of these tend not to stand up to the rigours of frequent travel knocking around in a backpack suitcase or camera bag and are certainly not suited to the outdoors.
I was hoping the ‘Aqua Trek’ would be up to the task so was determined it would be thoroughly tested by design or by ‘accident’. I hike, cycle and kayak so need something tough and durable. Other users may well camp out in remote locations or do a spot of mountaineering. Then there are those who visit some of the world’s festivals and need something that can withstand the rigours of the celebrations.
Even travelling in a less energetic mode things can suffer a lot of knocks, get damp in a downpour or even have coffee spilt on them. A seasoned traveller needs a reliable and tough source of extra power.
To charge the battery simply open the USB cover on the ‘Aqua Trek’ and plug the micro USB cable into the socket and the standard USB into a mains adapter, a computer or a portable solar panel if you are away from civilisation. A row of blue lights illuminates to show the progress of the charge. Each light represents 25% charge. It took less than 10 hours to fully charge the fully discharged battery from the mains. Once the battery is fully charged the blue lights are all on and steady.
To charge a gadget such as a phone plug in a standard USB cable to the socket on the ‘Aqua Trek’ and the other end of the cable into your phone, camera or other battery power kit. Press the on/off button and the blue LEDs light up. If the ‘Aqua Trek’ is fully charged there will be four lights. Each represents 25% of the charge.
Using the ‘Aqua Trek’ I charged my iPhone 5S from 8% to 100% in 1 hour 56 minutes.By the time the phone was fully charged only one of the blue LEDs had gone off. However after the second full charge, which took 2 hours exactly, there was only one LED left glowing. Keen to see how much I could charge with a fully charge ‘Aqua Trek’ I plugged in my iPad. There was enough to charge it from 13% to 68%. As it has a larger battery demanding more juice I think the ‘Aqua Trek’ would easily have given my iPhone a third full charge as claimed.
Use and Abuse
Now for the use and abuse of the product. I took the ‘Aqua Trek’ sea kayaking with me where it was splashed with sea-water, exposed to grit, sand and estuary mud and tossed around in the stowage compartment. Any or all of these would have rendered my phone, camera and less robust power banks useless. Not so the ‘Aqua Trek’ it still happily charges my electronic gadgets. I was careful of course to ensure the USB cover was closed as recommended.
Next I deliberately dropped the ‘Aqua Trek’ in wet sticky mud and left it there. This was, I hoped, creating a festival or camping scenario. Caked in mud it needed cleaning so I cleaned it off with running water. It still works perfectly well.
Despite all the abuse the ‘Aqua Trek’ suffered it still continues to work as it did on its first charge straight out the box. The rugged appearance is not just cosmetic, far from it. It is built for those with a tough outdoor lifestyle and certain looks the part as well as it performs it.
A nice touch
Most power banks come with a built in LED torch. The ‘Aqua Trek’ is no exception. There are two brightness settings accessed simply by pressing the button with a torch icon once or twice. What is, in my opinion, innovative is the continuous SOS facility. To activate you hold down the same button until it flashes out the Morse Code (. . . – – – . . .) for SOS. It will continue to do this until the battery runs out – a long time I imagine – or until the button is pressed again. I only hope I am never in the position to need it.
The one niggle I had was the buttons. As a result of them needing to be waterproof they were a little difficult to press at times. This is a small price to pay for the advantages of having such a tough piece of kit that does its job in almost all conditions likely to be encountered.
At £34.95 from www.mobilesolarchargers.co.uk I think it is very good value for money to have a power bank that can withstand the rigours of travel, adventure and the outdoors. The ‘Aqua Trek’ will be a permanent part of my travel kit from now on.
Mobile Solar Chargers have kindly offered to provide an ‘Aqua Trek’ 6600mah waterproof power bank as a prize for the weekly competition run on this site. Where in the World (208) will be the 4th anniversary of “the quiz with a twist” and one lucky person will win one of the above reviewed product.