GoPro action cameras lead the market in everything except one thing: battery life. While the company has improved the stamina of its batteries and delivers accessories that allow you to recharge them, there’s ample room for improvement. Hahnel steps up the mark and has come up with a solution, both for powering and charging.
A week or so before Christmas Hahnel released the GoPro Trio-Charger as well as the High Power-BackPac for GoPro. Both products are designed to work with batteries of HERO3, HERO3+ and of course the latest HERO4 cameras. Let’s begin with the High Power-BackPac for GoPro. This battery pack is a 3000mAh battery, giving you about 2.5x more capacity or up to four hours of FULL HD recording time in 1080p/30 mode. It’s compatible with standard GoPro housing and supports HERO4 Black, HERO4 Silver, HERO3+ and HERO3 cameras.
The High Power BackPac for GoPro
In the box you’ll find the battery pack itself, a mini USB cable for charging, a protective cover to store it and two backdoors (skeleton and waterproof). The battery pack itself has a rubberised click-on design — just like the GoPro battery pack and the LCD screen. It has four tiny bright blue LEDs on the outside so you always know how much power there’s left. The USB port sits on the side and allows you to charge the battery from any powered USB port, be it your computer’s or a wall power adapter.
I am not a fan of rubberised plastics because of the luxurious “feel” it gives an item. The rubber tends to get sticky after a while, but in this case I can hardly object: even when your hands are a bit wet, the battery won’t slip out of your hands.
With the battery pack mounted, the camera becomes quite heavy. You won’t want to wear your HERO with the BackPac mounted using the baseball cap mounting clip. I also noticed the battery’s power levels are properly shown on the camera’s own LCD as a double bar in the power level icon.
I left my HERO3+ on for five hours and a half before both the High Power-BackPac for GoPro and the GoPro’s own battery ran out of juice. It did take considerable time to recharge the fully depleted High Power-BackPac for GoPro — somewhere in the region of two to three hours.
The High Power-BackPac for GoPro costs around €70.
After having depleted two other HERO3+ batteries as well, I decided to give the Trio-Charger a run for the money. The Trio-Charger is a small, almost tiny (perhaps ‘cute’ is a better term) charging station with three slots. The slots have two sets of connectors on the inside, one set for HERO4 and another for HERO3/HERO3+ batteries.
The unit charges a single, two or three original GoPro AHDBT-301/302 and/or AHDBT-401 batteries either individually or simultaneously. Tiny as it may be, it does have three LEDs that turn from red to green when a battery has been fully charged. Hahnel claims the Trio-Charger finishes recharging any three batteries together in under two and a quarter hours, but I found that it depends on the power source you’re using. That best time is achieved when you charge from a USB port that can also recharge an iPad Air2. Plugging the unit into a USB port of an older iMac, for example, will have a negative effect on the charging time because of lower amperage.
The unit has a universal Micro and Mini USB port, so you can use whatever cable you have at hand to power it from. If you happen to have a 12V car plug with a USB adapter built-in, you can use that as well. The Trio-Charger I was allowed to try out, was the bare one — i.e. no HERO4 battery was included — so I can’t testify how well mixed charging works, but I can’t imagine it would cause any sort of trouble or affect Hahnel’s claims badly. There is a Trio-Charger kit that includes an extra HERO4 battery as well.
The Trio-Charger Kit with HERO4 battery costs around €40.