This video and article will show you the basics of building a mobile power bank charging kit for your packs, cars, and travel.
Why We Need A Portable Power Bank Charging Kit
In case of power outages or unexpected situations where you need your phone for navigation, news, or communication, a power bank can be a crucial backup. The ability to charge a flashlight can be a game-changer.
Whether you need to build a charging kit for your EDC kit, car, bugout bag, or suitcase, carrying portable power can save the day when your USB-powered devices run low. The ability to power the devices you need for an emergency on the fly can save precious time. It’s part of being prepared.
Most of us have become dependent on our phones and devices for our daily lives. While dependence on these electronic devices poses a potential issue, they are tools. Let’s responsibly use, within reason, every tool at our disposal to enhance and protect our lifestyle.
Phones & Devices
The most apparent device we use that requires portable power is our phones. Other devices may include headsets, GPS units, tracking devices, cameras, radios, flashlights, and many other USB-powered tools. Even having the ability to charge other batteries and battery packs can have a considerable impact during an emergency or power outage.
Which Portable Power Bank To Use In Your Charging Kit
Power Bank Considerations
Without going into a bunch of boring details, I’ll cover just a couple of considerations. If you want more details or have a question, bring it up in the comment section below, and I’ll do my best.
Charging Ports: In the video, I brought up the in and out labels I mark my power banks with. I do that because I have so many different power banks – and my eyes are old.
It’s important to know which ports are for charging a device and which are for charging the power bank.
Second – Speed: Not every device will benefit from high-speed charging. There’s no point in spending more on a power bank when your device can not benefit. It depends on the device.
Size – Energy Capacity: Size is generally measured in mAh (milliampere-hour). This isn’t that complicated, but it’s not exactly straightforward, either. It speaks to how much energy is packed inside the power bank when fully charged. Only about two-thirds of that will be available, however. You can decide what you need by what you want to charge.
For example, a Samsung Galaxy S23 has a 3,900mAh battery. An iPhone 15 Pro has a 3,274 mAh battery.
Wrong think: With a 10,000 mAh power bank, simple math would have one assume you could charge a Galaxy S23 twice, leaving some room for a flashlight, headlamp, or other smaller device. It should charge the iPhone 15 Pro three times.
The problem is you only get about 2/3 of the battery pack size.
– Even less for low-quality power banks. –
A 10,000mAh power bank only has about 6,660mAh actual capacity. (A 20,000mAh power bank actually has a 13,300mAh capacity).[Source] So you’re only going to get one to one-and-a-half full charges from that 10,000mAh battery pack, with a little room to recharge your headlamp or flashlight. Think computer storage – you never get what’s advertised on the packaging.
(Test this before relying on it because several factors can come into play.)
TIP: Avoid fully discharging your power bank to get the most life. Try not to drain it beyond 20%.
Building A Portable Power Bank Charging Kit
Don’t allow my charging kits to intimidate you or lead you to think it’s necessary to keep expensive power banks, cables, and accessories in every pack and vehicle. I’ve been adding and upgrading for years, and, as usual, I probably went a little overboard. I started out small and simple; if you’re starting your preparedness journey, that’s what I recommend.
A basic charging kit can be as simple as a small power bank and the appropriate cable to carry with you whenever you leave home.
A charging kit can support communication and security. While building a charging kit today should be a priority, it shouldn’t come at the expense of building important preps such as water, food, and shelter.
What Should We Include In Our Portable Charging Kit?
While the power bank is the key component in our kit, there are other items we may want to include.
Charging Cables & Adaptors: We want portable power, but we need a way to deliver that power, either wirelessly or using charging cables. I prefer cables. You want cables or adaptors for each device you carry.
Keep in mind all cables aren’t created equal. Also, length plays a role as well. Long cables won’t give you the same performance as shorter ones.
Whether you use a multi-adaptor charging cable[Aff], a multi-charging cable converter case[Aff], or individual USB adaptors[Aff] (or individual cables) for each device you plan to charge, you need a way to connect your devices to the power bank. Some power banks have built-in cables with various USB connectors. You need the connection adaptors inside your portable charging kit.
Data Blockers: You may want data blockers in case you need to rely on public outlets so your information isn’t stolen from your phone (or something uploaded to it). They are cheap and made sense, so I included them in my mobile charging kits. I bought these four packs for USB-A & USB-C[Aff].
Wall Charger Block: I use my power banks as a backup. If I have another power source available, household or vehicle, I use those to preserve my backup power. You’ll also want a wall charger block to recharge a depleted power bank. I prefer fast-charging blocks (and cables), but you can always upgrade later.
I like the 33W, Anker 323 Charger, 2 Port Compact Charger with Foldable Plug[Aff]. I have several different wall chargers; this is my favorite for portable charging kits. It has both USB-C and USB-A ports. You can get a 20W charge from the USB-C port and the standard 12 watts from the USB-A.
Another option I really like is this very slim Anker 30W PIQ 3.0 & GaN Wall Charger[Aff]. It only uses USB-C, but it fits nicely inside my kits.
USB 12-volt Car Charger: As with wall charging, if I have a vehicle option of keeping my devices charged, I’ll use that before I exhaust my backup emergency solution – my portable power bank.
Even though your car/truck may already be equipped with USB ports, are you sure you’re not going to be in a different vehicle on an emergency trip home?
Pay attention to the watt output and the ports available. Just as with wall chargers and power banks, you’re going to get more output from a USB-C, but having only the C-port may limit your options. I like both the 323 Anker Car Charger[Aff] and the cheaper (But not always available) 67.5 W AINOPE Car Charger[Aff].
TIP: Vehicle dash and console designs are different on vehicles. Look at the room your car/s has before you buy. I bought a 12-volt car charger for one of my cars, only to find that the sleek and flush mount design is a huge pain to remove.
USB Thumb Drive (Memory Stick/Flash drive): I like having digital copies of important documents and a few how-to documents inside some (Bug out & EDC pack) of my portable charging kits. It is VERY important to keep personal documents encrypted (Video coming soon). Keep in mind that encryption doesn’t mean 100% secure.
Since our phones use the USB-C port, we have USB Type-C thumb drives[Aff] for our charging kits.
Eventually, I would love to upgrade my bug-out charging kit with something like this XTS-AES 256-bit encrypted Ironkey Keypad 200 USB-C 128GB Encrypted Flash Drive. It’s very expensive in my world. Some day.
Charging Kit Case: I wanted to keep my portable charging kits organized and protected. I’ve tried several different versions and sizes, and my favorite is this one by Senient Wolf [Aff]. I just bought another one for my laptop charging kit. They’re oversized with three separate zipper compartments, so stuffing everything into them isn’t much of an issue. They may be a little too large for smaller kits and packs.
Smaller Cases – The small charging kit cases I use for my cars are similar to these Liangdong Shop cases[Aff] (Same brand, but mine are no longer available).
Soft or Hard Shell Cases: I use soft-side kit cases, but a hard shell case would offer more impact protection. Something to consider. I’ve had my eye on the RAIACE Hard Storage Case[Aff], but haven’t placed an order yet.
Spare Phone: Complete overkill, but I like to carry a spare phone. We have one in my Bug Out Bag and one in my EDC Bag.
Wrapping Up Building A Portable Charging Kit With A Power Bank
Building a portable charging kit for your pack or vehicle can increase your preparedness level. What you include and how involved it goes is a personal choice. I showed how I build my charging kits and some of the items I included as examples. The important thing is that you have the ability to keep the devices you rely on charged. That being said, we should also be prepared to go without those devices.
Feel free to add any items I didn’t mention, comments, or questions below.
Call To Action / Next Step
Stay safe. Stay prepared.