Inside My Backpack: Anywhere-Charger for USB Devices

Charging... Most people these days are carrying (and traveling with) at least one electronic gadget - whether it is a smartphone, an electronic reader, and/or a tablet, it seems that everyone has one of these. Keeping all of them charged up and ready to go is no small task, especially when traveling.

Back in mid 2000s I was sporting a slick (back then) Palm  PDA but I hated packing chargers for that thing whenever I travelled - there was a wall charger, a car charger, and I think I had an emergency top-off gizmo that I could hook up to it and plug in a couple of AA batteries to get some juice on the go. That changed when I stumbled upon an "anywhere-charger" on ebay - it was a single charger that could be plugged into a wall or into the car's 12V cigarette adapter. I loved that thing!

Later, I let go of my trusty old Palm, had a few more phones in-between, and finally settled on the iPhone. I have also travelled quite a bit in the last few years so I wanted to get a similar charger that I could use whether I flew somewhere or went on a roadtrip (or if I had a combination of both planned). I found the XTG charger on Amazon that can charge almost any USB-powered device not only from a wall outlet and a car cigarette lighter, but also using two of the most common types of batteries found anywhere in the world. Naturally, it was the perfect companion for my round-the-world trip.

XTG charger (image courtesy of Amazon)

This guy can be plugged into a wall, a car cigarette lighter, as well as use either two AA batteries or one nine volt battery (the rectangular one that we all have licked when we were kids). Moreover, it combines all of that in a small form factor that is perfect for packing. The wall plugs can be flipped flush and the car adapter twists away into the AA battery bay when not used - very clever!

Different ways to use the charger

The geek engineer in me loves the design of this nifty little gadget. The traveler in me loves the gadget itself, even though I only use it with my iPhone (up to two devices that can charge from USB can be plugged into this charger).

My usual use for this charger is to have it plugged into my car so I can charge my iPhone whenever I am driving or if I am taking a road trip.

If I travel somewhere, this guy goes into my bag so I can either charge my phone anywhere there is a wall socket or if I end up in a car. In the worst case, if I run out of juice, I can always buy a couple AA batteries and charge up my phone - forget those informercials for "emergency" charging packs which may or many not work and are additional things to carry - no thanks!

I have also found that it is very beneficial to have a small charger for the phone when I am on the go (airports, train stations, etc) rather than charging the phone through my laptop - I do not have to pull out my laptop and even if I do, then I can charge both at the same time (rather than have some of laptop's charge being passed onto the phone). These seem like little things, but when you only have a few minutes to charge up your devices before a ten hour flight (or, worse, a bus ride), then every drop of juice in your devices counts!

In short, I am in love with XTG charger. It is one of the first pieces of gear that goes into my travel bag and the few times I have forgotten it in my car, I have really missed it during the trip. At $13, I think it is a steal and I could not recommend it more.

The only thing I could think of that could make this better is adding a gerbil charging mode so I could use it when the world runs out of AA batteries:

Tips & Tricks, Traveldimagear, imb