There's a lot of accessories I research and recommend for readers like you, and while cases are super-fun — yes, I am the rare tech writer that adores writing about cases — the category that I have true passion for is perhaps the least sexy around: chargers and power banks. These are accessories that once you get a good one can last you for years and years and charge everything you throw at it.
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to buy bigger, bulkier ones than they need. Many tech enthusiasts tend to fawn over massive "power all of your shit for the weekend" slabs like the Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD, but I don't need to keep a MacBook alive for eight hours of editing and rendering, and I'm betting you don't either.
Most of us need to keep maybe 1-3 phones alive between lunch time and a very late bedtime. So for most of us I am here to spread my gospel: never leave home without the Trinity of Power, the most important accessories you can own.
Power on the go: Pocketable PD portable battery
There's a lot of ways to judge a battery pack, from capacity to number of ports to charging speed, but at the end of the day, there's really only one way that matters:
Is your portable battery actually portable? Can it fit in your pocket?
If your power bank is too big for you to keep in your pocket while you're charging — or too big for you to carry in a pocket when you're not carrying a backpack — just stop and walk away. Unless you've got younger kids that you don't trust to carry their own, you do not need more than a 10,000mAh pocket-friendly power bank.
I spend many of my days at Walt Disney World, arguably one of the most brutal places on a phone battery. You spend a ton of time with your phone screen on checking wait times and entertaining yourself in two-hour lines, trying to stay connected to weak Wi-Fi signals and overtaxed network towers. Worst of all, you're likely only around wall chargers for maybe 20-30 minutes during meals or while waiting for a show to start. I typically keep two phones charged throughout a 12-hour day in the park, and I've yet to run a 10,000mAh bank completely dead. I usually don't even run down a 5,000mAh bank.
A lot of 5,000-10,000mAh power banks can be as small as an oversized lipstick tub, but I like phone-sized chargers because those are easier to keep slipped in your pocket next to your phone as it charges. Batteries in this capacity are also easier to use regularly, since keeping a battery pack fully charged and sitting on the shelf the majority of the time isn't great for their charging capacity or lifespan.
Aukey 10,000mAh Battery Pack ($30 at Amazon)
Aukey makes two chargers in this size and port configuration: a 10,000mAh model and an 8,000mAh model with Qi charging. If you've got a couple of phones in your group that might need a top-off, the 10,000mAh model is for you.
Xcentz Portable Charger 10000mAh ($24 at Amazon)
This is slightly bigger than an Altoids tin, comes in fun colors like blue and pink, and it charges most phones at top speed: 18W Power Delivery. It only recharges as 12W, but at 10,000mAh, that still won't take long.
Moshi Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger ($85 at Amazon)
This is expensive, but when you're at home — or sitting in a cafe recharging this bank off the wall charger I'm about to talk about — this 5,000mAh bank can Qi charge your phone while recharging itself through USB-C.
Power from the grid: Tiny PD wall charger
You might not think that carrying a wall charger everyday is necessary, but when PD wall chargers are this small, there's no excuse to be caught without one. Chances are there's a wall outlet near where you sit down at work or in a cafe, and with 18W Power Delivery charging, you can get a good chunk of your battery recharged in the space of a snack break or quick dinner.
I've had the Aukey PA-Y18 PD Charger for over a year now and I absolutely love this thing. It's a tiny bit bigger than a quarter in all dimensions and it fits perfectly in my small women's jeans front pockets alongside my PocketBac. It charges most Android phones at their top speed of 18W — except OnePlus, because they just had to be special. There's now even a 30W upgrade model that's the same size that I'm trying out right now if you need to charge a Note 10+ or a Chromebook on the go.
Keeping a wall charger nearby is important because it means you can top off either your phone or your power bank throughout the day when you come across wall chargers. If for some reason you get trapped in an airport overnight or in lockdown somewhere for hours and hours on end, you can keep your phone from dying should you not make it home.
Aukey USB C Charger with 18W Power Delivery 3.0 ($15 at Amazon)
18W chargers don't get much smaller than this, and it'll recharge most phones and power banks in a hurry without taking up much of any space in your pocket. It's even down to a great price these days!
Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim ($35 at Amazon)
This 30W charger is only 0.6-inches thick and and can recharge basically every phone and tablet you throw at it at a high speed. Even some laptops can charge (slowly) at 30W, but the flatter form factor might block the other plug.
RAVPower 45W USB-C PD Wall Charger ($33 at Amazon)
This is one of the slimmest 45W USB-C chargers we've seen so far, and if you need to charge a Chromebook or MacBook in addition to a phone, this 0.58-inch charger is for you.
Let the power flow: 6-foot USB-C cable
USB-C to USB-C cables come in just about every size, shape, and color you can imagine, but if you're only going to carry one cable with you, make it a 6-foot-long cable with some sort of built-in organizer. Granted, when you're charging with the power bank in your pocket, you won't need the full 6 feet, so long as you can corrall the excess, but it's better to have the extra length and not need it, especially when you swap between the power bank and the wall charger.
Using a longer cable means you don't need to hold both the bank and the phone in your hand while you charge, a position which I've seen lead to more than a few dropped phones while folks are waiting in line. Being able to keep the power bank in your pocket or on the table while you charge keeps things more manageable, more stable, and more secure. When I'm wearing a coat, I'll put my phone in one pocket, my power bank in the other pocket, and the excess coiled in my pocket under the power bank.
You could maybe go for a 3-foot-long if you want, but the 6-foot option is more adaptable and usually a better value for the price.
Anker Powerline+ C to C 2.0 Cable ($16 at Amazon)
This is the USB-C cable I carry most often in the parks because it's sturdy and comes with a tidy velcro-and-magnetic cable wrap.
WiRoTech USB-C Fast Charging Cable ($15 at Amazon)
Get yourself a USB-C cable in a color that'll stand out! You can get them in pink and purple and green and all kinds of colors from WiRo Tech.
Aukey Braided Nylon USB-C to C Cable ($10 at Amazon)
This fire-red cable is easy to spot even in a dark gear bag, and it comes with a leather snap cable tie for coiling the excess while you charge.
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