Long Distance Endurance Gadgets – 24 Hour Power

Since I became interested in long distance endurance events I’ve spent more and more time worrying about battery capacity and longevity.

20130825-104210.jpgMy iPhone 5 is an absolute powerhouse packed with “essential” sporty apps and if we look at the array of GPS trackers, location beacon transmitters, maps, music and audiobook players I really do have everything required to keep me safe, entertained and on track for my next attempt at the London 2 Brighton 100k walk. Everything except a battery that is up to the challenge of 24 hours of action.

At this year’s event I took my iPhone but had it switched off – restricted for emergency use only and to occasionally transmit my location to my support crew using Glympse – Share location with friends. During training sessions I’d found that with minimal use it was only good for 10 hrs and with indiscriminate use of camera and apps I was out of power within 3 hours and not even capable of calling home for a pick up.

This has led to me sourcing an array of gadgets up to the task of 24 hour endurance events.

The first is the iPod Nano.

iPod NanoThe latest incarnation of the iPod Nano is a revelation. Since I moved to the iPhone my old iPods have been relegated to the “gadget drawer”, they seemed surplus to requirements as all the features were replicated in the iPhone. Now that I consider battery life as a huge priority I am beginning to see the joy of minimal, single function devices.

I’m using the latest version of the iPod Nano (7th Gen) but you can click here for a range of ipods at Argos.

The iPod Nano surpasses the 24 hour power requirement and is capable of 30hrs of audio playback, which should be sufficient to keep me entertained all the way to Brighton. The new Nano is not quite the single function device it used to be. It allows for video playback and photo display and now incorporates Nike+ Fitness app to track steps and running distances by use of the in-built accelerometer. I’ve found that the battery life is still impressive even if I have the step counter running in the background.

The best feature of the gorgeous little device is the FM radio. I don’t know why this hasn’t made it to the iPhone yet but its presence on my Nano means the phone gets discarded to the bottom of my rucksac so that I can listen to the joys of Radio 4 on the walk into work.

The second gadget is an iPhone 5 external battery pack.

iPhone 5 External Battery PackI don’t know why it took me so long to discover iPhone 5 external batteries. I knew they existed but assumed they’d be ridiculously expensive when in fact you can buy them for about £16 each.

The one I have is an 1800mAh External iPhone Battery pack, which cost £26 although I notice now that some of the cheaper one’s seem to pack even more power. I’ve been really impressed with it. It charges quickly via the mains plug and then charges the iPhone via the USB cable. One fully powered pack is sufficient to revive a flat iPhone  back to full power. Even after a full charge the battery charger suggests it has some life left but it certainly isn’t enough to revive a 2nd flat phone.

So this pack can easily double the active life of your iPhone 5 but it won’t (depending on usage obviously) extend the life to 24 hours +. I will be taking this on the next London2Brighton challenge and by judicious use of rest stops I’ll be using this charger on a relay system, charging my phone on one stage and then handing it over to my support crew to charge in the car for the next so I can pick it up for another charge later on in the event.

With my entertainment needs sorted and my backup power ready I probably only need to find an ultradistance GPS watch now. I used the Forerunner 910XT at last years event but with a battery life of only 20 hours with limited recording, it’s not quite sufficient to see me to the finish. I haven’t tried them yet but it looks as though the only GPS running devices with a battery life of 50 hours are currently the Garmin Fenix (more of a hikers watch than a runners) and the Suunto Ambit and Ambit2.

I see some opportunity for further gadget purchases in the near future.

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