Powering Stuff On A Long Bike Tour

I’ve been doing long bike tours for over 15 years now, and for almost all of them I’ve carried a laptop so I can compute on the road, including pretty serious remote work as a software developer.

The metaphorical landscape has changed massively since I started doing this. All the tools have gotten way better. But one of the challenges I am constantly dealing with is: How the heck do you power and charge everything?

I’m always looking for ways to make my solution better, but I’ve hit on a nice one just now, and after going on a few trips to test it out, I figure I should pause here and document it, for my own obsessive reference.

Two full-power USB-C ports on one power socket.

These are the two main components:

To go with these, I have a set of cables:

USB-C is pretty adaptable, as long as you have the right bits and pieces...

  • A set of four short USB-C cables from CableCreation that support data and up to 60 watts of power.
  • A couple of adapters that turn any USB-C connector into a Micro-USB or Lightning connector.
  • Two 2-meter USB-C cables that support up to 100 watts of power. (One of them is the magsafe cable that comes with my laptop.)

Here’s what makes this setup so good:

The HyperJuice battery can charge itself and three other USB-C devices while it is recharging.

Charging three things and the battery! Noice!

For example, after a day of working in some remote place and draining the battery, you can plug the battery into the Anker 737 and it will charge at 100 watts. Then at the same time you can plug in three other things, like your phone and GPS and headphones, and charge those as you go. These gadgets will charge at full speed and the battery will charge as well.

So all you need is one power socket. That’s important when you’re traveling in weird places, and power sockets are often in high demand. Here’s another thing you can do:

If you're just using one port, it will deliver 100 watts. Both ports at once: 60 watts each.

In this configuration, both items charge at 60 watts.

Plug the other long cable into the Anker 737, and the battery park charges at 60 watts, while your laptop also charges at 60 watts. (Yes, this one adapter will put out 120 watts for you. I’ve done this a hundred times.) Now if you want, you can plug more things into your laptop and charge those as well. So with one socket you can charge your battery, your laptop, and six other devices, all at once. No swapping required.

My typical hotel room charging list is:

With this setup, I can plug all these in and just walk away.

Another thing you can do with this adapter is, if someone else is claiming the only power socket in a place, you can offer to use yours instead. Since it has two USB-C outlets, you both can plug into it and share the socket at full power.

I’ve done exactly that in a few very crowded cafes.

Also, I only ever need one international adapter.

And, in situations where the power socket is very far away, I can use the battery between the two cables, making one 4-meter (13-foot) long cable.

Just a little bit of velcro in the corner.

It's decently small, but the real advantage is, it's extremely light.

By putting velcro patches on my small items (external drive, media card reader) I can use the short cables to stick them on the back of my laptop while they’re connected, keeping them nicely out of the way.

Just long enough to get the drive out of the way.

Stays on pretty well!

Altogether it’s a great setup. It’s extremely flexible, charges lots of things, provides a ton of backup power (good for using the laptop all day at a campsite), and in situations where time is limited, I can store up the maximum amount of energy by charging the battery at 100 watts … or the laptop and battery at a combined 120 watts.

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