Self-following robotic luggage and feature-packed smart luggage like Plevo get all the headlines. However, not all smart luggage has the wealth of inbuilt features, and some don’t even come with a built-in power bank.
Manufacturers like Samsonite prefer to build-in wiring and pockets for power banks and features like tracking devices, but leave the choice of extras down to the consumer. So, what power bank should you buy for your smart luggage?
Do you need an airline-approved power bank, and is there anything you should look out for when buying a power bank for travelling?
This article will provide an overview of power bank features to look out for. Using these key points we have reviewed 3 of the best power banks you can buy in 2021 for travelling, at three price points to suit all users.
3 features that make a great power bank for travelling
From extensive travel experience, we’ve prioritised the following options in all our recommendations.
- Device flexibility
- Fast charging
- Airline approval
Many people have a single use power bank:
- remote workers supplied with a power bank for their laptop
- Surveyors supplied with a company issued power bank for their tablet
- Consumers purchasing a power bank for their smartphone
This is great, however, most people travel with a range of devices depending on the nature of their trip. Power banks for travel might be used for leisure or business trips, and for charging a range of devices from personal phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, headphones and more.
Some power banks have limited functionality, and will not work with many other devices. One of our key scores here is flexibility, with power banks powerful enough to charge a laptop, and a range of devices from differing manufacturers.
Android Authority found that over a third of users leave their phones charging overnight every single night — it’s a pretty common occurrence. When travelling you often don’t have the time for a trickle charge, and binge-watching Netflix on a long flights really takes its toll on your tablets charge!
As a result, fast charging is a priority, ensuring that when you have 30 minutes to kill in between connections, or a short break in your travel itinerary you can ensure your camera is ready to go.
Older and cheaper power bank models deliver a set voltage, what your device gets is what’s on offer. Full stop. This is what leads to your phone charging much faster than your tablet, and your laptop not registering charging at all.
Fast-charging is tricky because various devices use different principles and different software.
The best power banks can take advantage of differing fast charging protocols across Android, Apple and Microsoft devices, to ensure that no matter what device you connect it can be charged up at its optimum rate.
3. Airline approval
Arguably the most important criteria on the list — can you take the power bank onboard an aircraft?
Airline regulations permit power banks up to 160 Wh, but only with explicit prior permission before each flight, and some carriers prohibit this. As a result, all the recommended power banks on the list are less than 100 Wh, which means they are airline approved and fit to fly without any prior notice.
There are also rules covering power bank specifications — clearly displayed — the maximum amount of power you can bring on one flight and more.
For further information we’ve written an in-depth guide to flying with power banks, covering everything from exact legislation, to how many you can bring.
Needless to say all power banks recommended fall within the airline approved rules.
Can I buy an official airline approved power bank?
While you may read airline approved on advertisements for some power banks, there is no such thing as an airline approved power bank.
International rules govern the minimum standards, and all airlines apply different interpretations.
All that approved usually means is that the power bank has a Watt-hour rating of less than 100 Wh — so can be brought on an aeroplane without prior written permission.
Our top 3 picks for airline approved power banks
3 airline approved power banks, at three price points to suit all users.
From an exceptionally good all-rounder by AUKEY, through to the Rolls Royce of power banks for the most demanding professional user.
There are many cheaper devices available on amazon, using old technology and offering limited compatibility.
All three devices tick all of the following boxes:
- Quick Charging 3.0 technology
- A wide range of compatible devices
- < 100 Wh capacity for hassle free international travel
- 18 Watts or greater output — powerful enough to feed most devices (and not just for phones!)
1. Best for — Average users. Excellent for smartphones, wireless headphones and tablets.
AUKEY Wireless Power Bank
This high-quality power bank from Aukey includes wireless charging, so you can top up your AirPods or smartphone quickly in the airport by placing them directly on the power bank — no messing around with cables.
It’s hugely capable, supporting quick-charging across a massive number of devices, and is powerful enough at 18W to boost most laptops for several hours too.
AUKEYs power bank doubles as a smartphone stand too!
2. Best for — Intensive users. Smartphones, tablets and laptops can be powered simultaneously.
Anker PowerCore III Elite
At 25,600 mAh, this Anker power bank will charge smartphones and tablets multiple times over.
Capable of fast-charging powerful devices but also trickle-charging low power devices like wireless headphones, this is a premium unit from renowned manufacturer Anker.
60W output capability means this power bank will happily charge laptops, and you can also charge multiple devices at once.
3. Best for — Power Users. Fast-charging laptops, cameras, and tablets simultaneously. Never run out of power again.
The ultimate in portable power. Zendure are a premium brand — relied on by Airlines to keep their pilots electronics charged.
The SuperTank is the largest power bank on this list at 27,000 mAh, sneaking in under the 100 Wh airline approved limit by 0.3Wh!
This is the chunkiest unit on the list, but is such a high-quality and solid build. The digital controller will charge any device you throw at it optimally, including fast charging Macbooks in 1.5 hours!