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Gear talk: Nitecore NB10000 Gen2 powerbank

The NB10000 Gen2 powerbank was released by Nitecore in summer 2022 as a generational improvement of the original NB10000. The latest incarnation introduces just a handful of small but welcome improvements.

Nitecore NB10000 ports
Nitecore NB10000 Gen2 is easily identified by the yellow port surrounds

Three Points of the Compass readers may be aware that I am a bit of a fan of Nitecore products. In a previous blog (July 2021) I looked at four of their lightest powerbanks particularly suited to lightweight backpacking, and by extension, many other activities. Those four products were the Nitecore MPB21 (5000mAh), F21i (5000mAh), NB10000 (10000mAh) and NB20000 (20000mAh). The Nitecore NB10000 powerbank (“energy brick”) was first introduced to press and reviewers in early 2009 and went on general sale the following summer. It quickly became a standard in the lightweight outdoors community. Chinese manufacturer Nitecore have now released a second generation of the NB10000 with just a handful of welcome upgrades, while continuing to ignore a few other areas that could do with improvement.

First and second generation Nitecore NB10000 powerbanks
First and second generation Nitecore NB10000 powerbanks
First and second generations of Nitecore NB10000 in packaging
First and second generations of Nitecore NB10000 in packaging
Powerbank has carbon fibre side panels to reduce weight
Powerbank has carbon fibre side panels to reduce weight. Some reviews state that the exterior is all made of carbon fibre, it isn’t. The side edges are plastic.

The NB10000 Gen2 Quick-Charge USB-A/USB-C 10000mAh powerbank has a lithium-ion polymer battery (Li-Po) rechargeable battery rather than the lithium-ion type found in many other products. Li-Po batteries are lighter, more robust, do not leak, charge quicker, heat less during charging and are more expensive to make than Li-Ion batteries. However, Li-Po batteries have a shorter life than Li-Ion. Various forms of charge and discharge protection are also built into the NB10000 and it is amongst the safest of powerbanks to use.

While this powerbank has a 10000mAh/38.5Wh capacity, in common with all powerbanks, not all of this is useable energy. Its rateable energy is 6400mAh. My first generation NB10000 weighs 150.6g. The Gen2 weighs 151.3g. So, rounding both weights gives us each weighing 151g. Just a gram more than the advertised weight. Dimensions of the Gen2 powerbank are unaltered from the first generation at 121.9mm x 59mm x 10.6mm.

The powerbank supports two-way Power Delivery (PD) and Qualcomm Quick Charge (QC) 3.0 output. This permits faster charging of batteries without damaging the internal components. Phone, powerbank and cable must be compatible to enable quick charging, but this is becoming increasingly commonplace across most modern products.

There are two ports, now given yellow accents. These are USB-C in/out, and USB-A out. Input is 5v-2.4A or 9v-2A, while output from USB-A port is 5v-3A / 9v-2A / 12v-1.5A. Output from USB-C port is 5v-3A / 9v-2.22A / 12v-1.68A. This provides a maximum of 18W input and 20W output, a very slight improvement over the 18W output of the first generation.

Ports on Gen1 and Gen2 NB10000 powerbanks
Ports on Gen1 and Gen2 NB10000 powerbanks. Gen2 below

Note that you can achieve a 30W Fast Charge input and 45W output from the larger, heavier and more expensive Nitecore NB20000. If both ports are being used simultaneously for charging two devices, a maximum of 5v/3A can be drawn. The NB10000 also allows for through charging.

Nitecore NB10000 with packaging and contents
Nitecore NB10000 with packaging and contents

The powerbank comes in a smart card package with a slide out drawer and is nested into a plastic tray. Under the powerbank is documentation and a 15g 0.5m long USB-A / USB-C charge lead. It is a good lead, but I always swap these out to a longer toughened charge lead of the highest quality I can find for use on trail.

While the newly accented ports are both an aesthetic and practical improvement, the charge level LEDs have only been improved slightly. The first generation NB10000 had the LEDs slightly hidden behind and within the button. These have now moved to one side of the button and are a lot clearer to see. One lit LED indicates approximately 30% charge remaining, two LEDs approximately 70% and all three approximately 100% fully charged. If just one LED is flashing this indicates that the powerbank is almost depleted.

Three blue LEDs indicate charge level. White LED indicates Low Current Mode
Three blue LEDs indicate charge level. White LED indicates powerbank has been switched to Low Current Mode

It would have been better if these were changed to four LEDs indicating 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%. It is not as though this would be anything new for Nitecore as that type of LED configuration is found on their larger NB20000 powerbank.

There is a fourth LED on the NB10000 Gen2. This is a continued feature from the first incarnation and is specifically aimed at those wishing to charge low current instruments such as ear buds, smart watches etc. Some reviewers and users state this enables a low ‘trickle charge’, this is incorrect. This mode doesn’t actually decrease the power output. Some power banks may not recognise a low power draw from some devices and switch themselves off. Pressing and holding the power button switches on the white LED which shows that the powerbank is in ‘low power’ mode. All this does is keep the Nitecore NB10000 turned on. Low power mode should always be exited if not required as the power bank will remain switched on and even the low draw LEDs will eventually drain it.

Little detail is shown on the sides of the NB10000. Country of origin
Little detail is shown on the sides of the NB10000. Country of origin and certification
Nitecore NB10000
Nitecore NB10000 ‘Energy Brick’

There is little information on the sides of the powerbank and what there is, is black on black and in tiny lettering and figures, not at all easy to see. The business end of the powerbank has slight changes and has been toughened up a little. A power button, LEDs and two charge ports. A USB-A ‘OUT 1’ and USB-C ‘IN/OUT 2’, each with a yellow surround which can aid in orientation in dark conditions. These ports have no rubber protection and are rated IPX5 (IP = Ingress Protection). The X signifies that there is no protection against dust and the 5 tells us that there is only slight protection against water. Nitecore advertising tells us that the powerbank is- “fearless of the rainy or snowy weather”. I wouldn’t go that far considering its modest protection from water ingress. It’ll probably handle a bit of light drizzle but beware heavy rain. If the ports do get damp, the limited protection should protect the internal circuitry, but it cannot be used for charging. Keep this powerbank in a ziplock or better if venturing out on trail to keep it isolated from rain and dry it out thoroughly if ports get wet prior to attempting to use it.

Instructions for NB10000 are in eleven languages, includes technical data
Instructions for NB10000 are in eleven languages, includes technical data

There simply isn’t any competition to the first and second generation NB10000 when it comes to small and light 10k powerbanks for lightweight backpacking. Which would count for nothing if it were a poor product. All I can say is that I have carried the first generation NB10000 across thousands of trail miles without any issues or failure in that time. I expect the same of Gen 2 incarnation. The powerbank comes with an eighteen-month warranty. While I have never experienced any issue with the NB10000, I did once have a charging problem with an NB20000. I contacted the authorised UK seller, informed them of my problem and was immediately sent a replacement, that has worked faultlessly since. Some people (mostly in the US from what I can see), report issues with Nitecore warranty, that has not been my (limited) experience.

NB10000 is very small
NB10000 is very small

The Nitecore NB10000 is a small, efficient and outwardly simple powerbank however Gen2 has failed to address one of my gripes with the original. It lacks rounded edges and corners. I remain concerned at the right-angled corners wearing the inside of whatever baggie I might be keeping it in when backpacking. This is particularly the case if a waterproof DCF electronics box pouch is being used as DCF doesn’t handle abrasion particularly well. This angular build will not bother most users but for me, stowing it while backpacking, it remains an issue. Not a big issue, but I would still prefer to see rounded corners.

The electronics and associated 'stuff' that Three Points of the Compass is packing in 2020
Electronics and associated ‘stuff’ carried when backpacking by Three Points of the Compass in 2020. There are actually four Nitecore products here including first generation NB10000. This selection has altered since then but a Nitecore powerbank is almost always still included.

The original first generation NB10000 has now been discontinued by Nitecore however dealers will have stocks of these for some time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that first incarnation and it may be possible to pick one up for a reduced and decent price. The NB10000 however, is an expensive option when compared against far cheaper alternatives from other brands. I think that you get what you pay for. But that is a choice for you.

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