40 hours drive time: my road trip charging essentials

Sun Jul 14, 2019 · 6 min read

travelgear reviewminimalism

My husband and I are no stranger to road trips. One of our first “dates” was a six-week cross-continent haul that took us from San Diego to New York, and then most of the way back again. My luggage at the time was woefully n00b, and included a heavy 15” laptop and its charging brick, and a few different adapters and cables for my one phone. (Why? I don’t know.) Even so, since I really only moved it all from the car to the hotel room, it wasn’t so bad.

Of course, as I found out later on, all that unnecessary weight just wouldn’t fly, literally. A few years of carry-on-only plane travel have forced encouraged me to be a minimalist in many ways, including with my one bag travel charging set up. The linchpin of that kit is the CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro, a combined charger and plug adapter that is versatile and convenient when you frequently change countries and need to use different styles of wall outlets.

Getting on the road recently for a trip that included 40 hours of pure car time, I found that being in a car in just one country affords some luxuries not found in frequent air travel. Staying in the same country means not having to fiddle with plug adapters, which, as I found out, leads to a buffet of choice when it comes to picking a car charger and wall charger that delivers both power and speed.

I explored options from a few different brands, including Apple, Lenovo, and RAVPower. In the end, based on price, product offering and specs, I ended up back at one of my favorite companies, Anker.

Here’s what I need to charge on the road:

My road trip charging kit consists of:

  1. Anker PowerDrive Speed 2 39W Car Charger
  2. Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 Cable with Power Delivery
  3. Anker PowerPort Speed 1 60W USB-C Power Adapter
  4. Anker PowerLine II USB-C to Lightning Cable
  5. Anker PowerPort PD 2 30W 2-Port Power Adapter
  6. Apple Watch cable

Flat lay of items

This kit differs from my flight charging kit in two notable ways. One, as we’ve covered, no world outlet adapters needed. Two, no portable battery! Unlike airports and planes, the availability of a charging port during travel time in a car is guaranteed - you’re sitting right next to one, usually. Instead of a comparatively heavier power bank, I opted to go with two separate wall chargers, for reasons I’ll expound on later on.

For the laptop: Anker PowerPort Speed 1 60W and USB-C 3.1

The wall charger out of its box

While the CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro excels in its convenience and versatility, it lags slightly in charging power when it comes to laptops. Its USB-C port puts out only 45W at maximum, enough for MacBooks and just enough for my Lenovo Carbon X1. It’s not a fast charger for the latter, however, and while I lament the weight and awkward cable length of Lenovo’s 65W brick charger, I missed its power and speed.

At 60W, the Anker PowerPort Speed 1 60W USB-C Power Adapter shows no noticeable difference in charging power or speed from Lenovo’s 65W brick charger that I use at home base. It’s also much smaller and lighter, at 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches (64 x 64 x 29mm) and 5.5 ounces (157g).

Specs sheet

There’s a blue indicator light on the front that wasn’t bright enough to keep me up in a dark hotel room, so don’t bank on using it as a night light. Of course, it has a foldable plug.

A front angle of the charger

I somewhat regret my travel schedule, as the newer version of a comparable charger, the PowerPort Atom III 60W is launching this Prime Day. The new charger utilizes Anker’s gallium nitride (GaN) technology and promises the same power in an even smaller and lighter package. Here’s the one I’d get if I did it over again.

The PowerLine USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 Cable with Power Delivery is the same one I use with the CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro when I fly. It supports the fastest power delivery possible with my wall chargers and also features SuperSpeed 5Gbps data transfer.

Coiled cable and wall charger

For everything else: Anker PowerPort PD 2

The wall charger out of its box

This 2-port charger has a USB-C Power Delivery port that delivers 18W, and a USB-A port delivering 12W when both ports are in use. Since my iPhone and iPad draw only 30W at maximum, and the Watch is fixed at 5W, any more power in a wall charger for these items wasn’t necessary. I like that the Anker PowerPort PD 2 30W 2-Port Power Adapter is very nearly the same size as its kit sibling - a nice pair if, like me, you tend to enjoy these simple pleasures.

Like its sibling above, the Anker PowerPort PD 2 30W 2-Port Power Adapter has a soft blue indicator light and a foldable plug. It’s a little bit lighter at just 3.5 ounces (100g).

Specs sheet

If you like more power 100% of the time, or if you share a wall adapter and need a faster charge, this comparatively low-wattage charger may not be for you. A better option might be the Anker PowerPort Atom III 2-port 60W wall charger, which, like the newer version of the previous one, features Anker’s gallium nitride (GaN) technology. This charger offers USB-C Power Delivery at 45W, and USB-A charging with 15W when both ports are in use.

For Lightning devices

Since I rarely charge my iPhone and iPad at the same time (I’m typically using one or the other!) one Anker PowerLine II USB-C to Lightning Cable was sufficient for my charging kit.

Cable out of its box

I’m a big fan of Anker’s tough cables, as well as their 18 month to lifetime(!) warranty. I’m not very forgiving when it comes to squishable things - all the cables I’ve bought from Anker have so far withstood my rough use, namely, the experiment of trying to turn my one bag into a black hole by way of overpacking.

Why not one charger to rule them all?

In my typical style, I originally went in search of the one wall charger that could do it all. I wanted 60W+ for my laptop via USB-C, a couple other ports with at least 30W, and a foldable plug, all in small and lightweight unit that would also mend my socks - for under $50. Well, a girl can dream.

There are technical constraints that keep such a device from existing, and though there are some chargers that will claim to do all the above (and make you a sandwich) those tend to be pretty sketchy offerings. I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to things that seem too good to be true - that it’s likely a better idea to choose two great products from a reputable company that do two things well, instead of going down the rabbit hole of one-man-band gadgets.