Those where days, when I went on cycling tours without any electronic gadgets. I never missed anything and never had to be on the lookout for a plug. Of course that is still possible today but like with most of us some electronic devices have found their way into my luggage and their batteries want to be charged. Of course it is possible without but I also don't want to miss having with me my entire music collection & audibooks, a GPS, a digital camera and a laptop.
What you really need of all those devices, you have to decide yourself. The less you have, the less problems to charge, loose or break them.
On most of my previous travels I charged all those devices from time to time when I found a plug somewhere. Usually every 2-3 weeks was enough. Those devices that need more power (laptop, GPS) I only used partly between places with a plug (GPS not constantly on, laptop only used to write dairy for some minutes per day). That worked always quite well. If you take some accommodation say every week it is perfectly possible to travel that way.
You can also have the option to use your dynamo to charge your batteries while on the road. That way you are more independent. Whether you need that mostly depends on where and how you travel and what devices you take with you.
The main reason why I chose to use that option was because I wanted to use my GPS permanently.
Um unterwegs Akkus laden zu können braucht es folgendes:
A good dynamo (high efficency, robust build) is the most important. Actually only a hub dynamo is really an sensible option.
The dynamo produces alternating current. Batteries and most devices need direct current. So you first need to convert that. The most common solutions are:
- e-Werk by B&M
- do it yourself
If you want to supply devices (GPS) with a permanent current you need a power bank as a buffer. The generated and available current would otherwise not be constant enough for a continuous operation.
The power bank should allow to be charged and discharged at the same time.
For those devices that have not already a built in charger you need one. There are now universal charger that have a USB input and can cope with lithium-ionen akku packs and AA/AAA akkus.
I use the following components:
- Hub dynamo: SON delux (probably the best available)
- Electronic : Forumslader
There are many options how to mount the electronic and the power bank on your bike or in your bags. For me it was important that:
- power bank and electronics are protected from water and dirt
- I want to take the power bank off the bike in the evening to charge the power bank if necessary (if I have a room) or to charge my devices (if I camp)
So I decided to put power bank and electronics in my handlebar bag. With a 4 pole screwable connector I can take the bag off. This is how it looks like:
On my Bikepacking bike I have put the charger in the bag on top of the top tube
After using this setup more then 3 years I can say the following:
- The power bank is almost always full, even if I am on dirt roads for some days
- I use the power bank to charge my GPS, eReader and the camera batteries
- The biggest problem are the connectors. A mini/micro-USB connector is simply not made for outdoor use. The connector with which I charge the GPS while riding got broken several times after some month because of corrosion and mechanical use.
- Since then I don't charge the GPS while I ride anymore but in the evening. Next time I would do without that cable at all.
- The screwable connector proved to be very good, very robust
- The whole arrangement with buffer akku and electronic in the handlebar bag has proved to be very useful and I would to it again like that