Portable Tech

22nd Oct 2017


Portable Tech

Nowadays, if you travel a lot, you are probably going to need some hardware to support all that tech you carry.  For me that’s usually a smart phone, iPad and camera but, of course, for you it could be other stuff too.  Whatever you carry, all these gadgets need juice, and that’s where this blog piece comes in.  After more than a fair few airports, vehicle journeys, tents and hotel rooms - here's a few things I’ve learnt……

Mains Adapters

I've played with a variety of adapters over the years and they all had their pros and cons.  Nowadays, most of the tech items I carry will charge via a USB and so I want an adapter that has that option but I still have a few things that need a plug too.  

I am also often in a hotel room for just a single night and so it helps if you can make full use of the time you have by charging a few things at the same time.  I also like to choose an adapter that will work in just about any country.  I could just search out a specific one that will work only in my destination but the plugs there won't always be the same as that airport I may have a long transfer wait in enroute.  It makes sense to me to tick all bases every time. 

So, my current favourite is the SK Ross World USB Charger.   This relatively compact unit offers charge via 2 USB’s and supports a three pin U.K. plug appliance at the same time.  It also works in a gazillion countries.  I have used it on many trips and it has proved reliable and also good value at about £16.

Mu Plugs

Sometimes my travels are just in the UK and so the bulk of the SKRoss charger isn't needed.  For these times a standard UK plug to dual USB suits my needs. I do find the standard UK three prong plug is a bit of a faff to pack though.  Some time ago a friend sent me a Mu foldable plug and this has proved to be a great little UK travel companion.    The blurb says it is the thinnest plug on the market and I have no reason to disagree.  There are several models in the range but the basic single USB option costs about £15. 

Charging Leads

I often need to charge my iPhone and IPad at the same time so I personally take 2 USB to Apple Lightning connector leads.  I also often stay in hotel rooms where the plug is some distance from my bed so I love the flexibility of a 2 metre lead.  I also want the lead to be robust and trustworthy. 

Sometime ago I wrote a blog post in praise of the LifeEdge Ultimate charge & Sync cable and the ones I have are still going strong.  I think these leads are brilliant and tick all my criteria for a great lead.

Bluetooth Headphones & Transmitter

When travelling I sometimes watch movies on my iPad and listen to music or podcasts a lot.  I also like a decent headphone option for watching plane films.  Some years ago I invested in some Bose Soundlink foldable Bluetooth headphones and I love them.  They work faultlessly, the battery lasts ages and they sound amazing.  Not cheap, but great.  

The only time they are less versatile is on long flights.  On planes they have to be connected to the inflight movie system via a cable and this loses the freedom Bluetooth offers.  Fortunately, some time ago I found a small Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the planes headphone sockets and links effortlessly with my Bose.  These only cost about £8 and work really well.  They can also be plugged into a TV so you can listen through headphones in hotel rooms.  A perfect travel combination. 

Goal Zero Flip 20 Battery

My iPhone can get through its battery pretty quickly and I can't always get to a suitable plug socket.  For these occasions I use a Goal Zero Flip 20 battery.  This is a compact and robust battery that can easily be carried in a pocket and yet will charge my phone a couple of times.  It also allows through charging which means that if you plug your phone in to the battery and the battery into a socket both the phone and battery will get charged at the same time.  This is a great feature if you want to charge both up overnight in a hotel or top it up in an airport lounge.  The Flip 20 costs about £35 and featured as one of our Top Gear choices here.

Sherpa 50 Battery and Nomad 27 Panel or Enerplex Solar Panel 

If my travels are going to take me away from a power source for some time then I will pack a larger battery/batteries and/or solar panel/s.  There are lots to consider with these items and that's really beyond the slope of this post.  However, I previously wrote a useful article on the Goal Zero solar panel and Sherpa 100 battery (the previous model to the Sherpa 50) here and a piece about the Enerplex solar panel here.  

All have their relative pros and cons - but all are great products.  The Sherpa battery has the juice to charge my iPad and also, with its optional inverter, will charge things from a UK or Euro plug.  The Nomad solar panel is a beast that will charge either the Sherpas or just about anything else.

For lighter weight adventures the Enerplex solar panel is superb.  It can be hung from a hotel window or slung on the back of a rucksack during a trekking day and it packs a good charging punch for its size and weight.  I have had all these batteries and panels for a few years and they are still going strong.

Other Items

I have a few other items I sometimes take depending on the length and type of journey.  If I'm staying in a lot of hotel rooms I take a HDMI lead and Apple HDMI to Lightning adapter so I can watch a film via my iPad or iPhone and the hotel TV and wifi.  

I also, if I'm going to be doing a lot of writing, take a foldable Bluetooth keyboard which links easily to my IPad.  The battery lasts ages and it is so much quicker to type on.  The one I've been using for a while is made by Jorno. 

So that's it.  A few ideas to ease you through overseas adventures, long journeys and airports.  I have mentioned camera equipment as I'm planning a separate piece about that.  My kit ideas are always evolving so it would be great to hear of your top tips on this subject or any other too. Please email any to us via our contact form here and we’ll add relevant ones to the list.

Posted by Paul

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