Traveling is one of my all time favorite activities. Having a literal change of scenery is important to my sanity, I have found. It also encourages me to get out there and see the world. See, I’m an extreme introvert who prefers staying at home most of the time. Except when I want to be out exploring places I’ve never seen before. I’m a person of extremes, I suppose.
One of my favorite parts of traveling isn’t traveling at all. Though the trip is obviously the point and the most important part of the process, getting ready for a trip and planning it are almost as much fun for me.
One of the parts of preparing for a trip is to make sure you have the proper tools. If you’re going somewhere rainy, bring a raincoat. If you’ll be going somewhere sunny, bring sun screen and a hat. But some tools are universal, no matter where you’ll be traveling.
Every overnight trip requires packing. Most people, like me, struggle with bringing too many things. We plan for the “what ifs” and “but, maybes”. The “just in case” events. So trying to fit as much as possible into a suitcase is imperative. You know, just in case.
To that end, packing cubes have become more and more popular. But they can be hard to use. They often lose their shape when you try to stuff them with many pairs of socks, or bunched up dirty laundry. eBags has designed a new set of packing cubes to combat that. The eBags Ultralight Packing Cubes are colorful containers that have structural integrity in the form of spring-loaded frames that hold their shape, both when filling them, and when sitting in your suitcase. Each cube also has a little handle, and the tops are made completely of mesh for great ventilation. The other sides are made of tough, lightweight CORDURA nylon that you can actually see through a little bit. The insides are coated with a silicon layer to make them easy to fill, and there is a polyuerethane coating on the outside to make them ever so slightly sticky, holding in place with each other. The YKK (!) zippers have rubbery pulls, making them easy to zip and unzip, and the cubes zip open on three sides for easy filling.
These cubes come in different sizes and colors. There are three sizes: small (6.5 x 6.5 x 3.5 inches), slim (13 x 6.5 x 3.5 inches), and large (13 x 13 x 3.5 inches). You can buy them individually, or in mixed packs of three, four, five, or seven. They come in green, blue, gray, or a yellowy-orange. Mix and match colors if you like. As you can tell from the measurements, the cubes are designed to fit together as a system. Swap out two smalls for a slim, two slims for a large, etc. Playing Tetris with your suitcase has never been so much fun. And the overall sizes have been thought out to fit well in commonly used roller bags.
Very highly rated at the eBags website, the Ultralight Packing Cubes will add organization to your packing without adding weight. I’ll be using them any time I pack a suitcase for keeping its innards neat and tidy, and helping me to organize by outfit or by type of clothing. There are many more photos and some videos that allow for more packing cube ogling on the eBags website.
Another useful and sometimes vital tool when traveling nowadays is an external battery/charging tool to charge or recharge all of your devices. You can only get so much power out of your cell phone or tablet. Maybe you’re nowhere near an outlet, or even your car charger, and you have to make an important call or put out some fires at work. Or maybe your kids just want to want to watch a movie on their tablet. I haven’t had a lot of luck with the small, cheapy types of recharging devices, but the eBags Lifeboat Quick Charge Battery is another matter. This sucker is heavy and packs plenty of recharging punch. And it works.
Using the included cable, charge up the Lithium-Polymer Lifeboat Quick Charge Battery through a USB port on your computer, or with a USB wall charger. Once it’s charged up, you can then, in turn, use it to charge other devices, up to two at once. The included cable will charge many devices, but if you have an Apple product, you’ll need to use your own Lightning cable. The battery holds 9000 mAh capacity at 3.7V(33.3Wh), weighs 11 ounces, and measures about 6 x 3 x 3/8 inches. Its outside is anodized aluminum.
While you’re charging the Lifeboat, its LED indicator lights will flash. When it’s fully charged, the lights will stop flashing. Once you need it to charge another device, simply connect the two, and the Lifeboat will automatically turn on and start charging the device. The LEDs will illuminate, showing how much power is left in the battery. When it’s almost out of power (down to 100mA), the battery’s indicator lights will turn off, though it may still have more power in it to give. When it is out of power, it will automatically turn off.
The four indicator lights clearly tell you how much power is left in the battery. All four lit means that there is at least 75% capacity. Three lights means between 25% and 75% power. Two lights means less than 25% remaining, and only one lit means, “Recharge me now!”
It did take a little while to charge via USB on my desktop computer. It took a couple of hours, out of the box, having started with a partial charge. But then it charged up my iPad Mini 4 from 47% to 100% in about 2 hours 20 minutes with two lights remaining lit at the end. It then charged my iPhone 5s from 57% to 98% in about 90 minutes. There were still two of the LEDs lit after that.
The eBags Lifeboat Quick Charge Battery will be in my regular arsenal, especially since I sometimes end up working in odd places around town as I take my kids to their activities. But it will also be a vital component on every trip I take.
Note: eBags furnished samples for review purposes.