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This power bank can be used underwater (but we don't recommend it)

Need to leave a power bank outside in the elements to charge a GoPro or other device? Then this might be the one for you.
adrian-kingsley-hughes
Nitecore NBP 4 waterproof power bank

Nitecore NBP 4 waterproof power bank

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

The other day I looked at what I consider to be one of the best waterproof power banks I've come across. But it has one limitation -- it was only waterproof if the little rubber covers protecting the ports were fitted.

Not a massive limitation, but what are the chances of me forgetting to apply the rubber covers ahead of the critical point where the power bank got a soaking?

Quite high.

What I want is a power bank that's waterproof without needing little rubber covers over the ports.

I've found one. The Nitecore NBP 4.

Nitecore NBP 4 tech specs

img-8524
  • Battery type: 4 x 21700 li-ion batteries
  • Capacity: 20,000mAh 3.64V (72.8Wh)
  • Rated energy: 12,400mAh 5V
  • Ports: 2 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C, 1 x microUSB
  • Input:
    Micro-USB 5V - 2.4A / 9V - 2A
    USB-C 5V - 3A / 9V - 2A / 12V - 1.5A
  • Output:
    USB-A 5V - 3A / 9V - 2A / 12V - 1.5A
    USB-C 5V - 3A / 9V - 2A / 12V - 1.5A
  • IP Rating: IP68
  • Dimensions: 103.5 x 51.3 x 49.5 mm/4.07 x 2.02 x 1.95-inches
  • Weight: 378 g/13.33 oz.
  • Accessories: USB-C charging cable, high strength nylon holster

The NPB 4 has multiple fast charge output ports and provides a maximum output power of 18W, which is enough for things like smartphones and tablets but not enough for heavier loads such as laptops.

The power bank has enough power to charge an iPhone about half a dozen times, or AirPods a whopping 32 times, and yet the power bank is small enough to be allowed onto commercial aircraft.

Lots of ports and plenty of power for smartphones and tablets

Lots of ports and plenty of power for smartphones and tablets.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

On the side of the NPB 4 is a touch sensor power level display which shows three blue LEDs when the charge level is approximately 100%, two lights for 70% and one for 30%.

The charge indicator is built into the front of the power bank, and both it and the touch sensor work when wet

The charge indicator is built into the front of the power bank, and both it and the touch sensor work when wet.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Oh, and if you wonder what those little clips on the side do, well, they had me puzzled too. Apparently they allow the power bank to be connected to Nitecore's HU60 LED headlamp

If you don't have this headlamp, they're a handy fidget tool.

These clips allow the power bank to be connected to Nitecore's HU60 LED headlamp

These clips allow the power bank to be connected to Nitecore's HU60 LED headlamp.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

From a safety point of view, the NPB4 has everything you'd expect from a modern power bank, including overcurrent protection, over-discharge protection, and short circuit protection, and everything is encased in a fire retardant polycarbonate shell. 

But it's the waterproofing that I really like here. Normally, power banks are waterproof if, and only if, you cover the ports with rubber seals. Not the case with the NPB 4. Notecore used a high strength O-ring on the charging port and an advanced glue pouring technology to protect the internal components from water. 

And it works really well!

the Nitecore NPB 4 chilling out underwater

The Nitecore NPB 4 chilling out underwater.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

But can you use it underwater?

Well, Nitecore says you can. Here's a video showing it in action both being charged and powering three devices, all while submerged:

I've tested this and, yes, it works fine underwater. However, I'd be cautious for a couple of reasons.

First, while it should be safe to charge it underwater, I have come across poor quality or faulty chargers where the metal parts are referenced (fancy word for connected) to mains power. I wouldn't want to have my hand in that water if that was the case.

Secondly, water is going to get into the cables and ports, potentially causing small short circuits. In my experience, some USB devices can start to act funny when this happens, and there is the possibility for damage. 

Even Nitecore's manual is quite cautious when it comes to water:

Here's what the Nitecore manual has to say about submersion

Here's what the Nitecore manual has to say about submersion.

Nitecore

This is why I'm not recommending you use the power bank while submerged. If you do, the risk lies with you. I'd also keep it away from salt water and chemicals.

However, this is a power bank that I've happily left outside for extended periods to power a camera or GoPro, and let it get wet while in use. It's highly resistant to rain and condensation, and the risk of problems is far less than if the power bank were submerged.

Also: GoPro Hero 11 Black first look: The world's best action camera gets even better

All in all, the Nitecore NPB 4 is a superb power bank. Loads of capacity, simple to use, rugged and reliable, and a level of waterproofing that gives me a lot of confidence in the product. 

It's not cheap, but good power banks are not cheap.

If you're in the market for a smaller power bank, Nitecore also makes the 5000mAh NPB 1, and a 10,000mAh NPB 2

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