Gear Guy

Tips from professional explorer Eric Larsen on how to keep your batteries from dying in the cold.    

Q:

How Do I Keep My Batteries from Dying in the Cold?

A:Polar explorer Eric Larsen is no stranger to extreme cold. The Boulder, Colorado-based adventurer has skied both the North and South Poles and has spent up to 72 days on ice in temperatures that didn't get warmer than 30 degrees below zero.   

Larsen carries an SOS and tracking beacon with him at all times, and he needs juice to run his electronics in case of an emergency. There are some luxuries, too. Batteries power his music player, which helps him maintain sanity while trudging ten hours a day through the world’s most extreme environments.

"It’s great to have your head fill up with a sound rather than crunching snow and stress," Larsen says. "It's a really important part of the trip." He’s currently training for an unsupported North Pole expedition during which he’ll encounter temperatures around 55 degrees below zero.

All that said, Larsen’s tips on keeping devices charged in the cold should be more than adequate to get you through another polar vortex.

1) Ditch the Double As

Swap out your standard AA or AAA batteries for lithium ones. Even though they tend to be more expensive, lithium batteries are lighter and will perform better in the cold.   

2) Juice it Up

Top off the charge before heading out into the cold. It’s importance of get as much charge as possible into the battery, even though it might shorten the overall lifespan of rechargeable units. Once you start losing bars, the battery life rapidly deteriorates, Larsen says.  

3) Body Heat, Baby

Keep the gadget close to your body. "Get it under a couple layers," Larsen says. While it might be a hassle to fiddle with a device buried under a jacket, your body heat will considerably lengthen battery time. Note where the battery is located on a device and make sure it’s facing your body when you put it in your pocket. You can also put the player in your glove for faster warming. 

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