By Jason Boyle
Electronics have become an integrated part of our life even while playing in the outdoors, but electronics require power, and multi-day trips drain power from our devices, which can often mean missing a photo opportunity or hearing my favorite song on the last day of a trip. Lander has a solution – their new Cascade Powerbanks. I will be testing the Cascade Powerbank (5200 mAh) over the next several months to see if it can keep my electronics powered on the trail.
Lander is a Utah based company focused on producing “expedition-inspired accessories” and they currently offer several phone cases, auxiliary cases, powerbanks and bags. I must admit that I had not heard of Lander prior to receiving this product to test. They have a well-designed website and I look forward to getting to know their products better over the next few months.
Lander offers three sizes in their Cascade Powerbank series – a 2600 mAh, a 5200 mAh, and a 7800 mAh. The smallest charger is supposed to provide a full charge for a mobile device, the middle one that I am testing is supposed to provide two charges for a mobile device and the largest model is supposed to provide three charges.
The Cascade Powerbank is a sturdy unit, much more so than other bargain bin chargers I have used before. The body is made of a rubber type material while the top of the unit is metal. The unit has an Illumaweave Reflective lanyard which is small lanyard with reflective thread woven into it. This should be handy especially trying to find the charger in a dark pack, or at night. The top of the unit features a micro usb port, a usb port and test button with led lights to see how much power is remaining in the unit. The unit arrived fully charged as evidenced by five fully lit led lights.
I will be using the Cascade Powerbank to charge my iPhone 4S and a small iPod nano that I take with me on my outdoor adventures. I will specifically look for the following things. Durability – how well does the unit hold up to being thrown in my pack? It came with a travel case for protection but it is rather large and takes up a lot of space. Also I am interested in how quickly it can charge my devices and whether I can really get two full charges out of the powerbank before needing to recharge it. I have used some bargain bin products in the past that didn’t hold up and didn’t charge my mobile devices very well. I am also interested in how easy it is to use, it should be intuitive – just plug and play, but that is what testing is for!
Update – August 21, 2016
I have been using the Lander Cascade Powerbank over the past several weeks and I have found that it is as good as advertised. It provides two full charges to my iPhone before it needs to be recharged and the rugged case has stood up to the daily abuse of being tossed in my backpack that goes with me everywhere. Continue reading for my full review.
One of my initial questions was how easy would the Lander Cascade Powerbank be to use, and I am happy to say it is very intuitive, but I did fumble with it the first time I used it. I plugged the unit into my phone and nothing happened. I reread the literature that came with the powerbank but it didn’t say anything about how to make it work. I finally pushed the button on the top of the unit that I had previously only pushed to see how much charge was left in the powerbank, and with the push of the button my iPhone started charging.
I did some testing to see how long it would take to charge my phone and I found that I could go from a 20% charge on my iPhone to 100% charged in about two hours and this used about half the power in the charger. I was able to get a rough idea of how much power I used by watching the LED lights go from four lights at the beginning to two lights at the end of two hours. The next day I repeated the test and I was able to successfully go from 20% to 100% charge on my iPhone without recharging the powerbank.
I have repeatedly tracked how long it would take my phone to charge over the last several weeks and the powerbank has consistently charged my iPhone by 40% to 50% per hour of charge on the powerbank. This came in particularly handy during the drive to Fountainbleau State Park, Louisiana for an overnight camping trip. I had not paid attention to my phone and the battery was at 20% when I got in the truck to drive to the state park. I have recently moved to Louisiana and still don’t know my way around so I needed my phone for directions. I was able to plug it into the charger and in the hour drive to the state park the phone charged to over 70% even while my daughter used the mapping feature to navigate us to the park.
I wear a Suunto Ambit 2 watch and it goes with me everywhere. The watch is charged via a USB cable that I normally connect to my laptop to keep the unit charged. I wondered if the powerbank would also charge the watch. I am pleased to say yes. I am excited by this because the watch generally has good battery life in trekking mode but even then it will only last about 34 hours of continuous use. The powerbank will allow me to extend the battery life of the watch in addition to charging my iPhone.
I also questioned the durability of the powerbank since I have had bad luck with some bargain bin chargers in the past. I am happy to say that durability is not a concern. I have a backpack that I take with me everywhere – work, play, camping. It holds all my essentials and I am fairly rough on it. I kept the powerbank in the top pocket with an assortment of other gear and it continues to look brand new – no scuffs or scratches.
Overall, I have been very pleased with the Lander Cascade Powerbank. It has consistently delivered a charge to my iPhone and has held up well. I will continue to use the powerbank over the next several weeks in long term testing. Check back in about a month for my final update.
Final Update October 5, 2016
I have continued to use the Lander Cascade Powerbank over the past several weeks and it has performed well. I used it on a 3 day backpacking trip on the Pinhoti trail and never had to worry about whether my iPhone had enough life left for pictures or to jam out to Zac Brown. Read on for my final thoughts.
I am pleased to say that the Lander Cascade Powerbank is a solid choice for keeping my electronics charged. As I mentioned in my opening it performed well on a 3 day backpacking trip, but I find that it is useful for more than just outdoor adventures. It is light and small enough that I keep it with me all the time. I carry a backpack, my murse if you will, all the time and I keep the powerbank in my top zipper pocket for easy access. I travel quite a bit for work and the powerbank has come in handy on long trips especially for airplanes that don’t have USB seat chargers. I am able to plug my phone in and charge it while in the air and I have a full charge when I land.
I mentioned early on that durability was key characteristic since I am hard on electronics. The powerbank has passed with flying colors. It still looks and works as if it were brand new. I am still able to get two full iPhone charges out of the powerbank before I need to recharge it. I usually just plug into the USB port on my computer overnight and the powerbank is fully recharged in the morning.
Overall, I am pleased with Lander Cascade Powerbank and would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a durable powerbank that performs as advertised.
Thanks to 4alloutdoors.org and Lander for allowing me to test this product!