By Contributing Editor Steve Casimiro, editor of Adventure Journal. See more of Casimiro's gear recommendations in our must-have gear gallery >>
Back in the pre-digital dark ages, I’d pack for long flights by loading up with stacks of magazines and a book or two. Today I still load up, but it’s with batteries and extra juice to keep my laptop, iPad, and iPhone running all the way from Los Angeles to Johannesburg. Cause it sucks to be you when you’re eight hours into 24 hours of travel with nothing to ward off boredom but a tattered copy of SkyMall.
Mophie Juice Air Pack ($80) is the answer, at least for the iPhone. This case/battery combination snaps over the iPhone 4 and delivers 1,500 mAh of power, effectively doubling the phone’s capacity. Mophie says “virtually” doubles battery life, which is a nicely lawyerly way of putting it. And I say “effectively” because it depends on the usage. For relatively low-draw uses, battery life is spot on double. I ran the Pandora music at medium volume with Mophie’s battery assist and it consistently rocked the house twice as long as the iPhone battery alone. Higher-draw challenges, like watching videos while Bluetooth, 3G, and Wi-Fi gave me 80 to 85 percent more running time.
The Juice Air Pack battery charges via USB cable and weighs just 2.5 ounces. The weight isn’t much of an issue—but the bulk of the Mophie is. One of the best features of the iPhone 4 is its diminutive size; the Mophie turns it into a pocket-swelling 5 inches by 2.5 inches by .68 inches. Is that a deal breaker? No. Are iPhone owners spoiled by the size? Yes. But is the extra girth of the Juice Air Pack enough to make you think twice about taking it? Also yes. But then I think about the pain of reading and rereading about doggie orthopedic couches or foldable recumbent exercisers and it seems like a small price to pay.