I’ve talked a lot about electronic devices in other posts. Most folks will bring a cell phone for navigation and photography, a headlamp, maybe a Garmin InReach for safety. The more electronics that you bring, and rely on, especially on a longer trip, you have to answer the question – how do you keep electronic devices charged?
Save Power – switch of what you don’t need
The simplest solution of all is to switch off what you don’t need. If you are bringing a cell phone make sure it’s in airplane mode unless you actually are trying to get a signal. Cell phones’ GPS is separate from the cellular function and this will save a ton of power. If you are using a satellite device like a Garmin InReach, considering just turning it on when you need to, especially if you are really using the device for messaging. These simple power-saving techniques will reduce or eliminate the need you’ll have to recharge devices.
Batteries – the simple solution
If you have a device that takes batteries – the simple and reliable solution is to make sure they are full and that you have a spare set. Most commonly this will apply to a headlamp. This should be a pretty reliable method to ensure you have enough power. It is unlikely that 2 sets of batteries will run out before your next resupply point on a longer hike.
Recharge – battery pack or solar?
If you do need to recharge a device, then you can look at either solar or a battery pack. Unless you are hiking in some pretty open, sun-drenched areas I’d recommend a battery back. These are available in different capacities. I’d recommend a minimum of 10000mAh up to anything north of 25000mAh. Of course, the big difference is weight. There are plenty of chargers that have a small solar cell built into them, but these will not make a significant charging difference.
I’d recommend either a RAVPower or Anker – I currently have a cheap one I picked up on Amazon and although it’s rated the same as Keenan’s RAVPower, it only lasts about half as long. There is now a bewildering array of connection types from USB-A, micro USB, USB-C. I’d recommend at least having a power pack that can support USB-A and USB-C and then a decent set of cables to support your devices.
Whatever you have – make sure it is fully charged before you leave.
If you are all set with electronics, check out other basic gear needs.
Cables – optimizing the spaghetti mess
I have three electronic devices I regularly take with me. An iPhone, Apple Watch, and Garmin InReach – they all have different connections. After a lot of research, I ended up with a pretty small cable set.
The cable at the top is a regular USB-A – micro USB cable. This I already had lying around at home. I use this primarily for charging the InReach. The cable at the bottom is a USB-A iPhone and iWatch combo. This allows me to charge both devices from a single cable. Works well and saves some space. The only improvement I would make here is a shorter cable if I could find one. In the middle is a USB-C to USB-A adapter. This is an added convenience to give me a few more charging options if I can plug into my wall charger.
Resupply stops – charging up
Normally if you are out for a couple of nights your battery back will be sufficient and you can just recharge it when you get home. However, if you are lucky enough to be doing a longer trip, you might have to recharge at a resupply location, where charging options are limited. Most folks will look for the lightest, high-power charger so that they can recharge their battery pack as quickly as possible. However, I selected a power charger that has the added flexibility of allowing it to be stacked. Often outlets are at a premium in cafes or shops, and although they are generous in allowing backpackers to recharge, my charger allows you to not ‘occupy’ the socket. It has USB-A and C for charging. You can see that once it’s plugged in, another device can be plugged into it. Very useful! For me it’s multi-purpose as I (used) to travel a lot it has interchangeable plugs for different countries.