Let’s face it: your iPhone or Android is practically an appendage, going with you on every trip, hike, or backcountry adventure. Ditto for your digital camera.
Whether you’re taking a paddle vacation down the Rogue River or in a foreign country without an adapter, you’re going to need electricity to keep your e-buddy up to the task of taking photos, guiding you on the trail, or—god forbid—signaling for help.
That’s why we’re intrigued by an upcoming portable charger called the PowerTrekk, which bills itself as “the first portable fuel cell charger that runs on ordinary water.”
Ordinary what now?
This device uses portable single-use fuel cells—they call them “Pucks”—to charge any USB-powered device. (It comes with an iPhone adapter.) All you do is add a small amount of water—preferably fresh water, according to the instructions, but salt water will do—and, voila!, you’ve got enough power for about a full iPhone charge.
This little gadget also has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery of its own, so it also functions as a normal battery pack in case you’re out of fuel cells or have access to good ol’ alternating current.
At a suggested retail price of $229 (fuel cells fun $4 apiece), this thing is definitely geared towards the eco-conscious consumer not on a budget. The advantage over a cheaper battery-powered charger is chiefly environmental: water vapor is the only by-product of the fuel cell’s use, and, according to spokesperson Maria Willander, “the used Pucks are benign and can be disposed of in household waste.”
The system also delivers a faster, more consistent power stream than solar chargers, say the manufacturers.
Whether this technology can be brought down to a more competitive price, we’ll have to wait and see. But if you’ve got a couple hundred to burn, you can sign up here to be notified when it hits the market later this year.