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Minty Boost Small Battery Powered USB Charger Review
Another Trail Tested Review by FromTheTrails Guest Blogger David Bark
-On long hikes it is always nice to be able to recharge your small electronic gadgets (phone, iPod, etc) on the trail. My hiking buddy, Prada, swears by the nPower Peg for on the trail power, but many folks think the 14oz weight of that thing could use a little help. I knew I wanted something like it, but something that weighed less and cost less. 

I currently use an iPhone 4 while hiking to take notes, document my trail journals, and to take hundreds of pictures during my hikes along the Appalachian trail. The issue of course on my long journeys, of 4 or more days, is battery life. Just a quick note, I also keep my phone in 'airplane mode' to conserve as much battery power as I can and only come out of this mode to send an occasional text message to my wife. 

I searched the web for a lightweight, cheap way to recharge my phone while out on the trail. I found several options from solar to the nPower Peg that was reviewed by my hiking buddy Prada. At this point I came across another option called the Minty Boost. 

See link here:
http://www.ladyada.net/make/mintyboost/

This is a pretty cool option that uses two AA batteries mounted in an old Altoids can that boosts the voltage to 5 volts so you can charge numerous devices including things like my iPhone 4. They sell it as a kit, so beware that you have to have some basic soldering experience to be able to put this thing together. 

The great thing is they tell you step by step how to do this and I was pretty comfident that I would be able to handle the assembly with no problems.
http://www.ladyada.net/make/mintyboost/solder.html

I was going to take pictures while I built the unit, but the site already has some great high resolution pictures, so please take a look at her site. You can also click here to learn more about the amazing female mind behind this invention and many more:  Adafruit Industries was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor "Ladyada" Fried.   (Editor)

I did do some testing to see how much of a charge I could get out a set of batteries and here are my results below:

Normal Duracell Batteries (1150 mAH capacity): 20 % charge 40 min duration
Sanyo eneloop rechargeable (2000 mAH capacity) 40 % charge 1 hr. duration
They do make higher capacity AA batteries, so you could possibly be able to improve on the performance.

What I found is that the normal Duracell Batteries got extremely hot while charging my phone, while the eneloop batteries got warm but were still ok to touch. It does mention on the site that this is normal, either way, however.

With the unit  at 1.2 oz & (2) AA batteries  at 1.8 oz. the entire unit only weighs in at 3 oz.!! With an extra set of batteries it still brings you in under 5 oz. So far this is the lightest weight option that I have found available. In addition, using rechargeable batteries that can be recharged up to 1500 times, saves money on batteries. You could put a charger in your bounce box if you really wanted to, but I'm thinking the rechargeables might be a better option for section hiking.

If you are looking at a low cost & lightweight solution to recharge your phone or other devices on an extended hike, the Minty Boost is a great option and gets two thumbs up!!

-David Bark
A very special FromTheTrails thank you goes out to Mr. Keith Huss, who contacted us about this story. He let us know that the amazing mind behind the creation of this gadget is a female!

"Limor Fried is an amazing young woman... I know most geeks are guys, but we need to make sure young women have as many role models in all fields as possible. -Keith Huss

We couldn't agree more, Keith. We couldn't agree more!!!