Portable power stations are one of the latest ‘on-trend’ consumer electronic devices. By no means is it a new category, but competition is heating up in the Australian market with more products from more brands than ever before.

I wouldn’t call myself an avid adventure seeker or naturalist, although I do enjoy the occasional bushwalk or hike, and I’m fortunate to live in an area of Sydney that isn’t impacted by blackouts, so when I heard about the new EcoFlow River 2 Series of portable power stations, I wondered how this type of product would fit into my lifestyle?

I had the opportunity to get hands-on with the entry model River 2, available for $649, which sits below the more premium River 2 Max and River 2 Pro models.

Here’s a rundown of the River 2 – the first portable power station I’ve ever used.

When unboxing the River 2, its compact and lightweight design was a pleasant surprise – weighing less than what I expected at 3.5kg (also 30% lighter than previous generations). Its weight, in combination with a carry handle on the back, make it easily portable. The box also includes a quick start guide, car charging cable and AC charging cable.

When charging the River 2 using AC power, it’s fully charged in just 60 minutes, which claims to be five times faster than competitor portable power stations and 38% quicker than previous EcoFlow generations. In addition to AC power, the River 2 can also be recharged in-car, using USB-C or solar. The LCD display shares useful information such as recharge time, remaining battery life, input and output power.

Using an upgraded LFP (lithium ferrophosphate) battery – also commonly used for electric vehicles and known for its safety, high energy density and extended lifespan – EcoFlow claims the River 2 Series can be charged and emptied over 3,000 times or the equivalent of 10 years of everyday use (six times longer than the industry average).

Its Battery Management System (BMS) constantly monitors the voltage, current, and temperature of the River 2, extending its lifespan, and for added peace of mind, the River 2 also comes with a five-year warranty.

With a 256Wh capacity and AC output of 300W, the River 2 is capable of powering pretty much all portable consumer electronics including phones, tablets, laptops and headphones, as well as small appliances such as a blender. X-Boost mode cranks up the power output to 600W expanding the possibilities.

So while I didn’t take the River 2 on any lengthy road trips or camping holidays, it did come in handy in a couple of scenarios. The first being picnics, where it was used to power up a couple of phones and a portable speaker, and the second to charge power tool batteries in the backyard shed where there’s no power outlets.

Portable power stations are commonly used for emergency power backup in the event of a blackout, but I wasn’t able to test the River 2 for this purpose. However, it claims to offer a switchover speed of less than 30 milliseconds – so quick you won’t even notice the power was out – for essentials such as a light.

The River 2 Series is supported by the EcoFlow app using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to control and monitor the device. You can view battery life, charging levels, customise settings and adjust charging speeds. Simply install the EcoFlow app, create an account and follow the prompts to connect the River 2 via Bluetooth. Personally, I found the LCD display provided sufficient information when in use.

So if you thought you should only invest in a portable power station for emergency backup or weekend camping trips, you thought wrong. These devices are a great addition to any home or day trip/outing and the EcoFlow River 2 ticks all the boxes for being compact, portable, easy-to-use and understand, as well as safe.

Just be mindful that if you need it to charge major appliances or items that draw more power than the use cases aforementioned, you may need to upgrade to the Max or Pro model.