Let’s keep it real here folks. Apple’s iPhones and iPads have amazing battery life but it is also fairly easy to kill the battery with a few hours of heavy use. That includes gaming, tethering, watching videos and just plain old-fashioned “usage”. Since Apple (thankfully) doesn’t have a removeable battery, the best way to extend your devices’ useful power life is with a portable USB battery. Normally I’d recommend a $10 Lipstick form factor flashlight pack but you only get a single extra charge with something like this. For multiple charges and/or multiple devices, you are going to need something a little burlier.

Two of the better big chargers I’ve been using are the Lumsing 10400mAh Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank External Battery Pack Backup Charger (above, $25) and the monster RAVPower Xtreme 23000mAh Multi-Voltage 3-Port Portable External Battery Charger (below, $100).

RAVPOWER-

Let’s take a closer look:

First up, the Lumsing Harmonica 10400mAh will fit most external battery needs. As the name implies, it is about the size of a harmonica which is a little longer and narrower than a typical iPhone 5s (product comparison shots in the gallery below). It weighs 12.5oz and fits easily in the hand, purse or larger pockets. The build is a very high quality with piano black and aluminum accents. The front and sides are where the action is with 2 USB ports (one 1A for phones and one 2.1A for tablets) sitting next to a 4 LED battery indicator/charge button and a Micro-USB power input port.

The MicroUSB input is 5V/1.5A which is enough to charge 2 iOS devices and still move the storage needle. In my testing I was able to charge an iPhone and an iPad simultaneously and fairly quickly.

A typical use case: In about an hour, the iPhone went from about 20% to over 80% while the iPad Air went from just above 50% to almost 90%. At the end of the hour, 1 out of the 4 LEDs was still lit.

If you are only charging one  iPhone, you can go from almost dead to fully charged at least 3 times and probably more.

One thing I really like about the Lumsing is that it turns off when the item is charged or unplugged rather than just running dry. Turning on the charge or checking the storage only requires pushing the charge button. It also doesn’t get hot even under extreme circumstances and the enclosure is strong and stays in nice shape.

One unconventional use I use it for is in the car. I plug it into the lighter and the phones into the Lumsing. When I turn off the car, the Lumsing is still charging which is nice. IT also helps power the car Mifi on trips.

My biggest complaint is that it doesn’t come with an AC USB adapter. I typically use my MacBook Pro or the USB adapter that came with my iPad to charge it up – Micro-USB means you can charge it just about anywhere. It comes in 3 colors and is available at Amazon for $25.

Not enough power for you? RAVPower is stepping into HyperJuice’s territory with the Xtreme 23000mAh Multi-Voltage 3-Port Portable External Battery Charger:

719usQ0dBsL._SL1500_-1We’re talking about 10 or so iPhone charges and a few full charges for your iPad on this one which is pretty insane for soemthing the size of a small paperback book. It is actually built to power some PC laptop computers and comes with tons of heads to fit what must be just about every kind. As Apple users, you probably know Apple has locked down the Magsafe adapter so you’re screwed on that front unless battery splicing is your thing.

Other features which push this into the Hyper-range is a very visible OLED display which gives you a % of charge left and information on the USB port draw.

I used the RAVPower a few times at picnics to backup power the wireless speakers and to give a few people a portable charging station. At the end of the day I had nearly 80% of the charge I started with. this is the battery pack you buy if you want to go camping for a week or want to power big devices. I love it.

If you want to get adventurous, charge it with solar panels and put it somewhere like a shed/barn without power and you have an always available USB charger. A great buy for $100.