Every so often I empty my tech bag out and stare at the multitude of chargers, cables and adapters with a view to reducing weight. Having had tech fail on me mid-journey I’m all for redundancy where it can be justified, in fact I would argue that multiple use items are a foundation of minimalism in onebag travel, but keeping track of that redundancy with something as ubiquitous as a universal serial bus (USB) can be a challenge.
This year I decided to draw a picture I have been meaning to draw in a long time; essentially a tech justification highlighting the multiple applications, connections and charging mechanisms of my current tech kit. It’s a bit spaghetti but it’s also quite enlightening, and it looks like this:
Blue boxes indicate ports (USB-A, USB-C, USB-Micro B and Apple Lightning). Perhaps one day these will all be universal as the name suggests but for now my devices require all 4. Blue lines indicate power, green line indicates TV out (HDMI adapter) and red lines indicate data (between my laptop and phone / USB drives). Devices are displayed around the edge of the image (I’ll describe these in my 2020 Gear post) with the cables and adapters inevitably towards the centre and chargers grouped top right. The Apple 1m iPhone lightning to USB-A charge and data cable is displayed in 3 locations but I have only 1.
It’s reassuring to see a significant amount of redundancy in the image which suggests there is scope for further trimming. Most of that comes from the 8 tiny adapters I carry enabling almost all cables to serve almost all devices. It’s also worth noting that redundancy is necessary when charging multiple devices simultaneously.
|Mopoint 65W GaN charger (2xUSB-C & 1xUSB-A) w AU, UK & EU adapters||160|
|Charger Apple charger USB-A 5W (AU)||28|
|Griffin Power Jolt Car charger 2x USB-A 5W||12|
|Anker Powerline II USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 200cm cable||54|
|Mbeat USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 100cm cable||27|
|Amzer USB-A 1.0 to USB-Micro 100cm retractable cable||20|
|TRVL USB-C 3.1 to Lightning 10cm cable||7|
|TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-C 10cm cable||9|
|TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-A 10cm cable||11|
|HDMI 4K female to USB-C male adapter||10|
|USB-A 3.0 female to USB-C male adapter||7|
|USB-C female to USB-Micro male adapter||3|
|USB-C female to USB-A 3.0 male adapter||4|
|USB-C female to Lightning male adapter||2|
|USB-Micro female to USB-C male adapter||1|
|USB-Micro female to Lightning male adapter||2|
|USB-A Charger for ProPoint SwiftPoint 600||3|
So that’s 200g of chargers, 128g of cables, and 32g of adapters, 360g all up.
I have only made two significant changes to my tech over the past year; the first was swapping my 51g Samsung SSD portable T5 2TB drive for 3x Patriot Rage Elite 1TB USB 3.0 flashdrives at 10g each (1TB extra storage for a 21g weight loss). Also no need for a cable and the USB drives plug straight in to hotel / AirBnB TVs (although it can be quite expensive to retrieve them when you forget… ahem).
The second was the universal charger. I’m now carrying a Mopoint 65w GAN charger which I supported as a Kickstarter. After a few months of use I have to say I’m impressed.
On the left my mBeat Gorilla 45w charger with its 4 adapters (AU fitted), and on the right the tiny Mopoint 65w charger with its 3 adapters (AU fitted). The Mopoint US charger is integrated which means no need for a separate carry.
- The mBeat Gorilla weighs 131g for the charger and 71g for the 4 adapters so 202g in total
- The Mopoint weighs 113g for the charger and 47g for the 3 adapters so 160g in total
That’s a 20% saving in weight (and a significant saving in space) for an additional 20W of power.
Each of the Mopoint USB-C ports support 65w, and the USB-A port supports fast charging for phones of 18w (although obviously not all simultaneously). The Mopoint allows me to charge my laptop (pulling around 45w) and my iPhone (pulling 18w) simultaneously – something the mBeat understandably struggled with.
The only downside to the Mopoint to date is the lack of earth pin on the AU adapter which was useful on the mBeat for simply securing the charger in place, however the smaller form factor (and reduced weight) of the Mopoint make this less of an issue.