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Using Lithium Batteries in Backcountry Gadgets

Lithium Batteries
Lithium Batteries

I keep lithium batteries in my backpacking gear repair kit.  I do this to reduce my ultralight pack weight since lithium batteries are 1/2 to 1/3 as light as alkaline batteries.

However, lithium batteries also provide many more benefits besides lighter weight and if you’re not using them today, you should consider switching.

For example, lithium batteries provide 2 or 3 times more power than alkaline batteries, making them far superior for high drain backcountry gadgets such as digital cameras, GPS and Personal Locator beacons. They also perform far better in cold, winter conditions where you can’t afford to have your batteries die on you and they have a shelf like of 10-15 years because they drain far slower than other commercial batteries.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.


  1. Great post, yes, if you haven't tried these, please do. They're more expensive than traditional alkaline batteries, but so worth the extra cost and will end up saving you money in the long run. Rechargeable batteries are great when you can carry a spare set or two, or when you don't mind being tethered to the charger, but for vacations or trips to the back country, these are your best option.

  2. I, too, had heard that lithium batteries provided much longer life than alkaline, especially in cold temperatures. However, I was disappointed. Although the lithium batteries cost twice as much as alkaline (and very few retail stores sell them in my area), they certainly did not last twice as long. I tried lithium batteries in my headlamp for winter camping and night skiing and in a digital camera used outside in cold weather. The lithium lasted only slightly longer than alkaline–not impressed and have gone back to cheaper, more readily available alkalines.

  3. I'm very surprised. The most notable impact for me was for my camera. Lithium batteries last much much longer than alkalines.

  4. I have had great luck with these. I used 1 set in my camera for two weeks in Europe and still had over half charge. A 5 day backpack barely depleted any of the charge in my GPS

  5. I think the lithium's last a LOT longer in devices that use bursts of power, like a camera. And only slightly longer for devices that use energy at a slow and steady pace, like a headlamp.

  6. Joining the convo a little late, but it's a good topic. Yes, the lithium bats are superior in every way but cost. A triple-A is about 0.2 oz lighter and a double-A is about 0.4 oz lighter.

    So for my headlight using 3 AAA bats, I could save half an ounce and I'll take it. This puts the lithium battery alternative in the high end of the $50 to $100 per ounce weight reduction category.

    Don't expect any gains in illumination. Lithium bats are better for electronics, which require a minimum voltage to power up. They deliver their power at high voltage right to the bitter end.

    Alkaline bat voltage fades away, even when there is plenty of power left. So anything with an electronic chip will stop working early, but not an LED light.

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