My Firefly music festival iPhone survival kit

Sir Paul McCartney, Modest Mouse and Zedd didn't help me keep my iPhone going at Delaware's Firefly Music Festival, but Kensington's portable charger did

firefly music festival
Credit: Bob Brown/NetworkWorld
firefly music festival Bob Brown/NetworkWorld

Heading from outside Boston to Dover, Del., last week for the 4-day Firefly musical festival with another adult and four teenagers, I had lots more to think about than iPhone charging. But I did have iPhone charging needs on my mind.

So before I went, I arranged to have Kensington send me a couple of their gadgets to help me weather the festival and some pretty serious storms.

For the uninitiated, Firefly takes place next to Dover International Speedway, and attracts some 90,000 music, camping and uh, partying, fans, most of whom seem to be in the 20-25-year-old age range (It's been a while since I've been in that age range). The festival attracted big acts from today and long ago, from Sir Paul McCartney to The Killers and Zedd.

The music across 7 stages was great, and of course I wanted to snap a few photos from close and far range, and keep in touch with the teens as well as my home front. I prepped for the show, iPhone 5-wise, by ditching some apps and transitioning my phone into grayscale mode, etc., to try to conserve battery life.

But even so, I knew I'd end up among the pathetic at the overcrowded charging stations if I didn't have a secret weapon or two. Charging took forever there, with people hunkering down in folding chairs as some patrons brought power strips that further sucked energy and one young woman even used an outlet to power her hair curler. 

firefly charging station Bob Brown/NetworkWorld

Unfortunately, I ordered a Nexcon 5000 mAh solar-charger ($25) a day too late, but heard from others at the festival that they were getting more charge from those devices than was advertised. Most of the solar charging vendors are pretty up front about saying their devices are really designed more to give your phone some juice in case of emergency, and that you shouldn't rely on the charger as your main plug-in.

What I did have in my arsenal was Kensington's 10400mAh USB Mobile Charger ($50), which I powered up in advance at home and during the 8-hour car ride down.

Kensington 10400 mAh USB Mobile Charger Bob Brown/NetworkWorld

The charger is one handsome and sturdy (7.8 ounces) device, with its silvery brushed aluminum finish, and is simple to use. You plug it into a computer to charge it up using a micro USB and USB connector: that took maybe an hour. Up to 4 LEDs glow to indicate how much charge it has. Then you plug your needy tablet or phone into it via a USB port and charge up your device. The manufacturer says you get a couple of iPhone 6 Plus charges out of it, though we got about 3 full charges of my iPhone 5 and my kid's old iPhone 4 (it was a little tough to track this exactly since ever time I turned around my kid was grabbing the portable charger).

Kensington EVAP Rescue Pouch Bob Brown/NetworkWorld

The other Kensington product I brought along was the EVAP Rescue Pouch ($15), designed to save soaked smartphones. We nearly had an opportunity to use it, as torrential rains hit the festival and forced concert-goers to evacuate the grounds (alas, the Kings of Leon show was cancelled, but concert organizers had no choice but to get us out of there). We got to our tent before the skies opened, so I never had to use the Rescue Pouch, thankfully. If had had to use it, I would have put my phone into the pouch with a drying agent and let it sit in a safe place for 6 to 24 hours. There's no guarantee the device would be saved, but it might beat the old strategy of sticking it into a container of rice...

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