Following his success on the Dawn Wall project, Kevin Jorgeson partnered with Duracell to create a “Perfect Pack” of promotional goodies including a plethora of AA and AAA batteries, a small climbing pack, and a super burly headlamp. We tested out all the goods, and here’s our battery story:

In the past I have been biased toward Duracell batteries. When sliding batteries into my avalanche beacon or replacing batteries in my headlamp for a pre-dawn climb, Duracell has been my go-to brand for years. Perhaps it’s their sleek look I trust or maybe it’s because my parents had an Energizer battery case that was always full of Duracell batteries. Whatever the reason, I’ve been a Duracell loyalist even though I’ve never done a quantitative study.

Quick update and spoiler alert 2 years after writing this post: I am no longer a Duracell fan. Nor are my parents.

Like Kevin, as his Duracell commercial implies, my parents raised me on Duracell. I do think it’s rad that Duracell is supporting Kevin Jorgeson and putting out some other pretty good commercials.

But enough of the no-data-to-back-it-up stories. To make sure we wrote a comprehensive review, we did a little a lot of digging and found that we don’t know jack about batteries, nor does a majority of the population.

We read all the reviews

There are many consumer reviews that suggest despite their additional cost, Duracell Quantum batteries may not be the breakthrough in power that is advertised. When we checked Amazon, the AA Quantums have 25% one-star reviews while not quite half, 47%, are five-star ratings.

The top 5-star review cites the Duracell Quantum as the top rated Consumer Reports alkaline battery, just behind Energizer’s Lithium model. A top rating by C.R. is certainly a powerful endorsement.

The 1-star Quantum users, most of whom were not provided free batteries, chided the life span, leaking issues, and some DOA incidents despite their 10 year guarantee. The bottom line of the 1-star reviews was: don’t spend the extra cash on Quantum’s and stick to the tried-and-true CopperTops.

We’re in agreement. Between the months and years from our initial test, nearly all our Duracell batteries have leaked and corroded the few devices that we weren’t running on rechargeable batteries.

Duracell-Quantum AA

We scoured Duracell’s website

The Quantum battery is officially billed (on a Duracell press release) as “A revolutionary advancement in battery technology. Combined with a Hi-Density Core™ and PowerCheck™, it’s a Quantum leap in battery power.”

This is a little disappointing considering the Quantum leap of technology includes the PowerCheck™ strip, that states how much battery life is left, a technology Duracell introduced in 1996. Admittedly, I have often wished all batteries had this feature, but I don’t understand its relation to increasing power.

So the entire “Quantum leap” of power must come from the Hi-Density Core™. The official Duracell website says that the Hi-Density Core™ is a “proprietary compression process and unique formulation of ingredients…With more power boosters and improved energy flow throughout the battery.” I’m not sure if “power boosters” is the technical term used by Duracell’s engineering team, but we can’t find any data to describe what this actually means or how it improves real-world performance.

If this is similar to CAMP stating that the Evo Tricams are significantly better than the previous version due to some simple rearrangements of the current materials: moving the stitching on the sling to act as a stiffener, and shaving off material on the side of the cam to add another placement option, then I am totally into it. So too could the Duracell engineers modify the compression and composition to improve the capacity.

But if this is the case, Duracell isn’t readily providing the information to help the consumer clearly identify how the improvements were made, or what they are. And sadly, our lack of chemistry background makes comparing batteries more difficult (and noticeably less interesting) than comparing climbing gear.

We read a ton of battery posts

The good news is: There are other people who are into batteries almost as much as we’re into carabiners. And although this “study” by BitBot was conducted in the U.K. with batteries available there and does not include the Duracell Quantum, we think it provides substantial insight into variations across brands and models available in the U.S. as well.


Battery life comparison graph
Courtesy of BatteryShowdown.com and BitBox

Be sure to check out their full writeup at http://www.batteryshowdown.com


Although most of the field is fairly even with a handful of noticeable outliers, this information showed us that the high-end Duracell batteries are doing better than most standard batteries. The graph also shows that we could potentially be getting 10% more life from relatively inexpensive Ikea or Costco branded batteries than any of the major name brand “standard” cells. These discount brands even outperform the Super-Extra-Ultra-Long-Life models of the major brands, if only marginally.

We even looked at conspiracy theories

Based primarily on visual inspection, one could conclude that Costco’s Kirkland Signature batteries are rebranded Quantums. If this is the case, it would suggest that the Duracell Quantum would perform at the top of the field in low-draw devices like headlamps and transceivers. And the Quantum is substantially more available than the Kirkland brand, but with increased price.

Courtesy of Paul Allen Engineering. http://www.paulallenengineering.com/blog/kirkland-signature-alkaline-batteries
Comparison photo credit goes to Paul Allen Engineering. Apparently these dots are really unique. http://www.paulallenengineering.com/blog/kirkland-signature-alkaline-batteries

Whether the Costco batteries are Quantums in a down-market costume or not, the price difference is understandable when you consider marketing budgets. According to the New York Times, Duracell “spent about $67.6 million on advertising in 2012, compared with $43.8 million by its rival Energizer, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP.”

Summary

I’ve been a normal CopperTop Duracell fan for a long time now, when I’m not using Eneloop rechargeable batteries or splurging on Lithium’s. After spending a solid 2 sunny days down the rabbit hole of battery comparisons, along with side-by-side short term testing, I’m not convinced 20%-30% more expensive Quantum’s are better. And, after months/years of longer term testing we’re not able to recommend them at all due to high chances of leaking and corrosion.

In my research I have seen a strong case for a continued use of Duracell’s CopperTop’s and also Ikea and/or Coscto batteries for normal use; these three will be my go-to options moving forward when I’m not using Eneloop rechargeable batteries, which I use for at least 80% of my battery needs.

 


We received a package of Duracell Quantum AA and AAA batteries for free in exchange for an unbiased review. We also raffled off a set along with a Black Diamond Icon headlamp and Black Diamond Bullet 16 climbing pack to our followers.

Share
Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

All author posts