When you’re on the go chances are that like me you carry an extra battery or two to keep your smart devices running. In the car you’ve probably got a cigarette lighter plug in charger to keep you going for your sat-nav and to top up on journeys.
The Nomad RoadTrip aims to bring these together and ensure that you always have a battery with you. The RoadTrip plugs into your car charger and unlike a normal car charger has a battery inside. Once it’s charged it keeps topping off as well as giving you a port to plug your phone in. Park the car and it will keep on working even if the car is off or it can be removed to give you an external battery.
The idea is that you’ll never run out of charge. Leave it plugged in and ignore it until you need it and it’ll be there for emergencies.
The grey rubberised and slightly flattened cylinder has two ports on it both of which charge at 1.5A out. One port is on the cylinder’s end with a on/off button and 4 LEDs to indicate charge but surprisingly the port is a USB-C. On the flattened base of the cylinder is another USB port this time a standard USB port. The cylinder flairs inwards slightly and then you get the car plug. Internally there is a 3000mAh battery which can continuously charge when plugged in and has pass through for when you’re charging directly in the car.
It’s a good idea in theory and after having had it in my car for a couple of weeks I’ve had it save me once already. I elected to leave it plugged in so if I was caught out with a low battery I could just unplug it and take it with me after I’d gotten wherever I was going and half way through the first week this happened to me – and I was very glad to have the power.
There are however a couple of issues with the RoadTrip. The first is an inherent problem with leverage. To fit into the widest range of cars possible Nomad have made the RoadTrip fairly long and thin which makes me worry about the stability of my cigarette port if it has it plugged into it for a long time. This is a problem for me as my car has the RoadTrip sticking out on the middle of the front bench seat where I’m always worried about it getting knocked.
These second issue is the choice of USB ports. I actually own two devices with USB-C charging ports to I was happy about having the USB-C port available until I realised that all my charging cables did have USB-C ends on the phone end but not on the charger end. While it’s possible to get USB-C to USB-C cables they’re still unusual and not something most people are likely to have available.
If it sounds like I’m being hard on Nomad and don’t like the RoadTrip then I’m giving the wrong impression. The RoadTrip is very sturdily designed and has been made to a high quality.
Price: £39.99 to £44.99
Included in the box: Nomad RoadTrip Charger.
Paid Extras: The RoadTrip does not come with any USB cables so some will need to be sourced from either your supplies or purchased. If you are looking at a USB-C Cable for the first time be very careful in what you purchase – there have been some issues with poor quality or incorrect wiring that have damaged some people’s devices.
Nomad started on Kickstarter with the ChargeCard in 2012 and have since launched a number of minimalist power and charging accessories for smartphones and smartwatches. Of particular note is the NomadKey which is a microUSB for your keyring, the Wallet which integrates a battery into a wallet and the Pod which is a external battery pack for the Apple Watch.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The RoadTrip tries very hard to be as versatile as possible offering both USB and USB-C out ports. The problem is that Nomad have jumped the gun on this with a USB-C to USB-C connector. There is a standard USB connector that can be used instead but it’s hidden underneath and difficult to access.
It is also important to note that the RoadTrip cannot be charged at home with a regular USB wall socket or PC – charge it driving only.
Once you’ve got the RoadTrip in and charged it’s very easy to leave it and forget about in most vehicles. If you need to remove it to use it as a conventional battery it’s slighlty squashed cylinder shape and the rubberised covering feels grippy and ergonomic in the hand.
To start charging your device you need to plug in and push the button for a couple of seconds. The button does not have much travel but is small and difficult to press accidentally.
Environment & People
Despite it’s novel shape it the RoadTrip has a standard battery at its heat and no particular environmental practices were employed during its manufacturing as far as I am aware. It is a battery and should be recycled appropriately after use.
The RoadTrip stands alone in its product category. It’s possible to get decent equivalent batteries for around £20 and two headed cigarette lighters for around £10. The RoadTrip’s £40 cost to get the design and to have to products in one is more expensive but not prohibitively so. It also has a quoted lifetime of 500 cycles which is considerably better than most batteries and with it’s future proofed USB-C it may last much longer as well.
Output: USB and USB-C 1.5A per port simultaneously
Input: 12V car charger
Charging time: 120 minutes
Battery Cycles: 500
The RoadTrip outputs 1.5A per port which will happily charge most phones on the market. It is however ‘standard’ charging rather than QuickCharge which many higher end phones include and is rather low amperage to charge some tablets. I was able to make it charge an iPad Air for example but the iPad complained about the amperage and was very slow to charge.
The RoadTrip is a unique device. Nomad took two established types of product and tried to mash them together and the end product is very well designed and made. The question is not is this a good product because it clearly is but who is it appropriate for?
The RoadTrip can only be charged in the car and takes around 120 minutes to get to a full charge. As such it needs someone who spends a lot of time driving to get the most out of it on a day to day basis and the biggest group of this type of person is commuters who drive themselves. The second use case for the RoadTrip is as an emergency battery that almost never gets removed from the car. If you’re someone who wants that the RoadTrip is ideal and will serve your peace of mind well. If this fits you the RoadTrip is a good investment. Recomended.
The review is based on the Nomad RoadTrip kindly provided by Nomad. This article was first published on the 10th February 2016.