Earth Day just passed. Are you still using regular throwaway batteries?
With a portable battery charger and a set of rechargeable batteries, you can help the planet and save money long-term as well. A minuscule fraction of batteries get disposed of properly, which means a lot of acid and toxic minerals going into landfills every day. In developing countries, you'll also see them tossed by a roadside or getting into the water supply via a riverside.
Wired magazine tested four models of rechargeable batteries in its April issue, snapping pictures on a digital Canon camera and measuring the number of photos per charge. They also looked at charger time, which ranged from 620 minutes down to 13 minutes.
The top choice in the number of photos per charge was actually the cheapest option: the Duracell 2650 mAH, which run about $4 a battery or $15 to $25 for 2-4 batteries with a charger. With a regular charger they took an incredible 10 hours 20 minutes to fully charge, but for an incredible output: 1,377 photos.
The fastest charger was the Energizer 2450 mAH, which only got 693 photos snapped, but charged in just 13 minutes with the included fast charger. I found a great deal on this package at Amazon: for under $25 you get the quick charger, two AA batteries, and two AAA batteries. And it qualifies for free shipping.
In the middle were the Sanyo Eneloop (759 photos per charge, 150 minutes charge time) and the UltraLast Green Pre-charged Rechargeables (781 photos per charge, 90 minutes charge time).
The UltraLast line is interesting though because of the chargers that are available. There's one $25 package on Amazon that has a wall charger, a car charger, and a sleek USB charger plus four of each size of battery. That's a bonafide bargain and in my book that puts it in the lead. I'll take the average performance if you throw that much into the package.
The USB charger would be quite handy too if you're a business traveler or a flashpacker. It takes up less room than the other options and if you're staying at the kind of hotels where you're going to be plugged in and working at a desk, you can just piggyback onto that power supply without the bulk of a wall socket charger.
Search for more rechargeable batteries and items at Gaiam.com
Editor's note: in May this blog will move to its own domain, where I'm be joined by a female gear reviewer and a frequent business traveler. Get ahead of the game by adding that RSS stream to your reader at PracticalTravelGear.com.