Dutch brand, Xtorm, is taking the charger market by, er , xstorm this year, and we have a couple of their chargers on test. This is the Lava Charger, which is aimed at the outdoor tech market and goes head to head with some serious competition.
It’s a well-made and classy-feeling piece of kit, with a clamshell design revealing a solar charging set of panels. There’s a satisfying ‘click’ as you open and close the Lava Charger. It appears to shut using magnets (I think), which is a bit Gucci and swish.
The Lava holds an impressive 4000MaH of charge, which is enough to power up an iPhone 5S 2.5 times from empty. And it’s also enough to get one and a bit charges in to an iPhone 6 Plus, if you’re travelling around with a phablet.
It also has a 2.1amp flow from one of its two USB ports, which means that you can charge up smartphones and tablets – something you can’t do on 500Ma chargers which don’t shove enough current down the wire to fast-charge more thirsty devices. The second USB port shoves out 1amp, so it’ll do phones but not heavyweight tablets.
And once it’s charged, it’ll hold that charge really well until you need it. We’ve left ours in a shed in the cold for a couple of months and it’s still showing a full charge. We couldn’t leave it outside because it’s not rainproof like its little brother the Yu charger.
The Lava Charger comes in the box with a 75% charge, so you can buy it and charge your phone immediately if you’re stuck. And Xtorm say that it takes just 8-hours of sunshine to charge the Lava back up to full. In practice, we got what showed as a 3-quarter charge out of a typically British summer’s day ( do we ever get 8 hours of sunshine?). We’ll take it touring next time we go abroad somewhere sunny and see if we can up that to a full charge.
The Lava has 2 built-in leads. The standard USB lead is for putting charge IN to it, from a computer or wall-charger, and the micro-USB is for charging OUT to your other gear. The charging leads are hidden in the sides of the charger itself and pull out with a finger-nail. Really neat design but they’re quite tough to extract at times. I just skinned a knuckle getting one free.
It also has the aforementioned 2 USB ports so you can connect your own leads if you have an Apple product, or non-USB jack. You can even charge 2 devices at once, and they supply a myriad of different charging tips with their own USB lead, so you’ll be able to charge a friend’s phone if you can find a small pouch to carry the tips around in. I know it’s a pain in the arse being a charger brand, having to fit around the non-standard charging tips of all the different phone companies, but a decent carrying system for these tips so they’re not lost almost immediately would be nice.
There’s a chunky LCD display on the front of the Lava which shows its current battery level via a recessed button on the top. It’s plenty big enough to see the charge-level in the dark, or from a distance, or in rubbing weather, which is great.
The Lava weighs a paltry 250g, which is around the weight of 2 iPhones. And it’s small enough to fit in the side or lid pocket of your pack. It has a carabiner loop in the top so you can dangle it from your bag as you walk, maximising its time in the sun and grabbing what charge it can.
I like the Lava charger. It’s slightly more ‘consumer electronics’ than it is ‘outdoor’, but it’d be fine for travelling or keeping in the car (or waterproofed in a pack) if you need more charges than you’d get from their Yu charger. It lacks the general robust feeling of the Yu, but is definitely a well-finished bit of kit.