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Review: the Powerpak Xtreme NT120R Backup Battery

Before heading off to SHOT 2014 this year I invested in a backup battery for my cell phone and iPad. I take extensive video and images for web article purposes and lots of voice memos, so I typically run out of juice fast. Now, my Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus has done yeoman work in the past (I used it extensively at the recent Surefire/5.11 Tactical writers event in LA with a Nomad 7), but I needed something with more endurance.  I wanted something that could keep me and the rest of the team recharged while indoors all day, multiple times.

A little Google-Fu turned up references to the Powerpak Xtreme NT120R from a company called New Trent. It weighs in just under 3/4 of a pound (11 oz.) and it’s thick, but its specs show 12,000 mAh of charge capacity. It’s also described as being built for “…extreme conditions and environments” so it seemed like it might be worth the weight. SHOT Show isn’t what you would traditionally call extreme, other than the long hours, the SHOT-Show-Crud and the sudden-stop-in-the-middle-of-the-aisle assholes who wander around with shin-biting rolling crates, but I wanted something I could use long-term, outdoors, in any weather. I figured I’d give the NT120R a try.

Two USB ports, one 5V/1A and the other 5V/2A, allow you to charge a wide variety of phones, tablets and other items, simultaneously if you need to. The case is a “ruggedized” matte thermoplastic described on the  New Trent website as waterproof when submerged at 3 feet for up to an hour. It’s simple and intuitive to use, easy to recharge from a wall socket or solar panel (Micro-USB Input – 5V/2A) and most importantly it’s simple to track the amount of remaining charge with a blue LED light; one to four lights reflect the relative amount of charge remaining.

PowerPak Xtreme - 1

The amount of power contained in the NT120R was more than satisfactory. Though I never performed a controlled count of dead phones recharged to maximum, I did use it repeatedly throughout each day and loaned it out on more than one occasion, and did not recharge the device itself until the evening of Day 3 of SHOT. Thus it’s hard to quantify exactly how many “recharges” it contains on hand when fully juiced up, but it would surprise me if you could not recharge a phone at least 5-6 times before needing to top it off, possibly less if you substitute an iPad or other tablet charge for more one phone charges.

As far as durability I beat on it as much as I could within the confines of what I was doing. I dropped it from various heights onto different surfaces and once kicked it down an escalator (which garnered a few weird looks). Several hours mounted outside my pack at Media Day on the Range showed no sand/dust penetration of the output door, despite gusty winds, though that certainly isn’t as thorough a test as some 4-wheeling in the Arizona desert might provide. As for water-proofing, I did submerge it in a sink at my hotel the last day of the show.

You’ll see part of that video below – I don’t have the first part to provide context, because I’m a borderline Luddite and somehow I destroyed or lost the first one. To put it in context, what you’ll see here is the NT120R after it has been submerged in tap water for approximately 30 minutes with the door firmly sealed. I pulled the charger from the water, dried it with a towel and plugged an iPhone 5 into it; no issues. There were however, some small droplets of water inside the door and around the recharging ports. It’s possible these were allowed in when I broke the seal, but they appeared to be from the time spent underwater. That said, the moisture did not affect the NT120R’s ability to quickly recharge my phone – nor has it caused any issues in the five days since (and there are no signs of any rust or corrosion).

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Please forgive the crudity of the video. I’m no Quock Ha or Matt Stagliano (though I did play with a camera in a Holiday Inn once).

Though New Trent describes the PowerPak Xtreme as “compact and lightweight”, that’s an extremely relative term. I’d describe it as a rugged brick when compared to other backup batteries (which is fine, given my needs). See the images against various magazines for perspective on size. Overall I was extremely satisfied with the NT120R’s performance. It’s definitely worth the price (MSRP $59.95 on Amazon or in New Trent‘s store). Note that you’ll need your own AC wall charger if require one; it ships only with one micro-USB charge cable).

This not an indictment of my previous Goal Zero arrangement. I’ve used that recharger/solar panel combo for nearly two years and it has never failed me; however, the addition of the NT120R gives me a welcome redundancy that expands my reach. The only thing I would do differently, given the chance, would be to buy the PowerPak Xtreme with the orange face so it’s easier to locate in a pack or back or when dropped on the ground in the dark stumbling home from the “Archer Party” in Vegas (not that anything like that occurred).

Please advise in the comments if you’d be interested in further reviews of this sort of gadget/gear – feel free to make recommendations.

Here’s the New Trent product video:

That’s it for now. Go forth an conquer.

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