Upp Fuel Cell Review: Off-grid power for more than one week

This week I’ve been testing the new UPP fuel cell, a portable power cell to give you up to one week’s worth of power to your devices.

If anyone else out there is as geeky as I am, you’ll be getting pretty excited right now. This sounds like a modern and convenient device but is it worth it….?

If you’re the kind of traveller who only flies first class and stays in resorts then this probably isn’t the product for you because you’re always going to have access to a power point.

But if you’re the kind of person who likes to get off the grid, goes camping or glamping, sleeps under the stars and takes road trips with no plans to return, then this is a pretty useful device.

Even if you are ‘getting off the grid’, you’ll still want your electronic devices for emergencies, Google maps, photography or entertainment but charging devices can often be impossible.

 

About UPP Power Charger

The UPP can fully charge most mobile phones up to five times. If I’m using my iPhone 5S sparsely then my battery will easily last two days so the UPP would give me ten days worth of power.

This device would have been perfect for my Trek America trip when we rarely had power sockets, and if we did there were 12 people queuing up to use them.

The UPP comes in two parts that stick together with a magnetic pull. The device does click and hum a little as it works but I’ve been told this is nothing to worry about.

There’s a free UPP app which tells you how much power is left in your device. The app is simple to use and also tells you where the closest store is that sells the refill cell. Oh yes, one of the cells needs to be refilled. A new one costs £49.95 and a refill costs £5.95. At the minute there are very few places to buy the refill but they are available online.

 

Pros and Cons of the Upp Fuel Cell

Pros

  • The device will genuinely charge your portable devices for days.
  • There’s no need to solar power like many portable chargers – good news if you’re in the UK!

Cons

  • It’s expensive at £149
  • The cells need to be replaced and cost £5.95 each – not a major cost but a major faff in my opinion. Also, there are no refill stations available within 125km of my home. Apparently they’re coming soon…
  • It’s heavy. At 620g you’re really going to notice this in your luggage, especially if you’re attempting to travel light.
  • It’s unlikely you’d get it on a plane in your hand luggage. Each cell contains reactive hydrogen and is marked ‘combustible’ and ‘contents are flammable and under pressure’.
  • The electrical cell contains a fan which gets pretty warm. This isn’t a major con but it does mean it couldn’t be used whilst inside a bag as it need ventilation.
  • It only charges devices via USB. My camera battery is the main thing I need to charge while travelling so at £149 I’d like to see some kind of adaptor for plug sockets.

Upp Fuel Cell Review

Upp Charger

Upp Fuel Cell

Upp Review

Would I recommend the UPP power device?

If you’re going to be 100% off the grid with no access to power but want to keep your phone charged for emergency usage then, yes, I would recommend the UPP.

If you want to keep your phone charged so you can listen to music and play Candy Crush, then no, I don’t think it’s worth it.

I usually use much smaller and cheaper alternatives to the UPP. I have a couple of Veho Pebble Smartsticks which will charge my phone twice and at £11.49 you could buy 12 of them. They’re much smaller, much lighter and much more convenient. They do tend to lose their power after a week so they can’t be relied on for emergencies.

I also have USB chargers that fit into the cigarette lighter of my car so this is a good option while road tripping and camping. At £5 for a double charger it’s another cheap option. I use the iFlash Dual USB Car Lighter Charger Adapter.

I wouldn’t recommend buying a super cheap one. One of my friends bought one for less than 50p and it caught fire!

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (5)
  1. wow this fuel cell is amazing :O im defoo getting this thing and taking it on any longer trip where im not sure to have power points but there are also cases which will charge your phone but they will not last a week with no chance 😉

  2. I wish that smartphone manufacturers would just improve battery life and then I wouldn’t need any of these devices, or at least only very rarely! I’ve tried a couple of cheap ones and you’re right, not worth the effort.

  3. This sounds like it could be good soon, maybe when they figure out how to make it lighter, more easily refillable/rechargeable and cheaper. It’s a good first start though!

  4. What Amanda said! I have a little lipstick charger but the main problem with that is the button gets turned on in my bag, so if I need it, it might already be drained. My husband has a good one, it is larger (not as big as this on though), but fairly light and he uses it all the time. These external battery chargers are really the next must-have piece for anyone…travelling or not. So thanks for the review!

    http://www.awanderlustforlife.com

    1. Ah that’s annoying about your lipstick charger. It’s about time the battery life on mobile phones caught up with the actual phone. I remember when my phone would easily last 2-3 days. But that was back in the day when all you could do was call or text on it!

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

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