In a structured environment, it's easy to have cameras running all the time; plug them in, and you're good to go. But what if you're in the field? One can't simply walk up to a tree and find an outlet. Most of the time, you'll be forced to utilize hand-held devices with an ample supply of batteries or trail cams.
While hand-helds are nice, they do have their drawbacks: you're going to want plenty of batteries, and the cameras themselves really aren't designed for extended use in an outdoor setting / the elements. With trail cams, no matter how good the system, because they are motion activated, there will always be something missing. As an example, just imagine how far an animal crossed through the camera's field of vision before the picture was taken, or how far it moved before the second image. A split second may not seem like much, but when every frame counts, those few extra frames removed may make all the difference.
To better conduct investigations, I had the idea of using portable power stations / emergency power packs, coupled with the surveillance cameras I already own. This would grant me the ability to work in environments that are away from any readily available power supply, as well as being able to record day or night, in any weather condition.
I was finally able to acquire such a pack yesterday: the Schumacher XP2260W. This wasn't the first brand I was looking at, but the price was hard to pass up. Anyway, once I complete the initial charge, I'll be connecting one of my Coomatec C808s to it, and then, based on how much video was recorded, I can determine how feasible future purchases will be.
The XP2260W is a 6-in-1 device, meaning it has six different functions. There are jumper cables which can be used to supply 1200 peak amps for that initial jump; an air compressor to inflate tires (as well as a hose to inflate beach devices or mattresses); USB ports to charge your small devices; two 12v car lighter ports; two 120v outlets; and a work light.
The unit cost about $100 at Walmart, and though it could be viewed as being a tad pricey, I am looking at it as an investment for both field investigation and home use, with the home use for emergency situations such as when the power goes out or for normal camping trips.
For the most part the battery reviews well, some of the features don't, in particular the air compressor. Luckily, I didn't buy this for the compressor, so that isn't an important feature for me (nor the work light or car lighter ports).
Commentary on the battery life to follow.