Power Delivery charging for bikepacking

Updated June 7, 2020 with additional observations for a 10,000 mAh Power Delivery (PD) 3 battery pack. This battery weights 190 grams, which compares very favourably with 4,000 mAh packs weighing 140 grams. So far the PD 3 system is working extremely well for rapidly charging a Pixel 3XL, Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, HRM, fitness watch, and InReach as required.  The recharging of fully or partially discharged PD battery packs is fast, taking between four hours to less than one hour.  During a recent bikepacking trip the phone was partially charged twice from 60% to 100% with the 10,000 mAh pack.  This pack then only took 45 minutes to be fully recharged.  It was purchased due to its advertised 3-hour recharge time.  Happy to report that the full recharge time has been slightly less than 3 hours over a trial of ten discharge/charge cycles.

10,000 mAh PD 3 battery pack charging the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt using a USB to micro USB cable.  The small dongle in the lower left corner is a micro USB to USB C connector that allows the micro USB cable to also serve as a backup charging cable and also to charge the Pixel 3XL or second battery from the Aukey PD charger while simultaneously recharging a battery pack with the USB C PD connection.

Original post April 2020 – Here are some preliminary observations about a fairly new USB charging standard called Power Delivery (PD) 3 and it’s application to charging electronics while bikepacking. Given the global pandemic there has not been any field testing of the battery pack. If you’re not familiar with PD here’s a link to further information. Please note that while there are two links to purchased Amazon products these recommendations are without compensation. Ravpower 26,800 mAh 30 watt PD battery pack, and Aukey USB C Charger 60 watt PD. These two items were delivered in March 2020 for about C$100. There are a myriad of options and the reasons for these specific purchases are detailed below.

Ravpower cache battery (inside Salsa top tube bag) charging a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt on the fat bike

The majority of my bikepacking is at speeds too slow to utilize a dynamo hub, leading to exclusively using cache batteries and occasionally a solar panel since 2016. These batteries are of various sizes from 3,000 to 14,000 mAh. While the batteries have performed well, slow device charging speeds, inability to recognize and charge some devices, and the 10 to 14 hours taken to recharge these packs can be limiting or result in the weight and expense of carrying extra cache batteries and multiple chargers.

PD 3 allows for the rapid charging of devices such as compatible smartphones, GPS units, InReach units, heart rate monitors, lights, and cache batteries.

The Ravpower 26,800 mAh cache battery was selected for the following reasons;

  • ability to be fully recharged in less than 5 hours,
  • the highest currently available compact battery capacity with the PD standard,
  • USB C 30 watt and two 2.4 A USB iSmart output ports that negotiate the fastest available charging speeds,
  • separate micro USB input for direct charging from a solar panel, (could also be used with a dynamo hub)
  • ability to pass-through charge while being recharged,
  • included two USB to micro USB cables and a USB C cable,
  • The Aukey charger was selected based on its 60 watt PD output, having both USB C and USB A 2.4 A iSmart outputs, and relatively small size and weight.

Results so far:

  • Continuously powered a Pixel 3 XL smartphone (with cellular, wifi and location enabled, but not logging or navigating), Wahoo Elemnt Bolt (navigation and tracking enabled), and Wahoo Ticker Fit (heart rate monitor) for ~100 hours of run time with all devices still fully charged at the end of the period. Also took about 25 pictures during the test period.
  • fully recharged the cache battery in 4 hours after the above discharge period. Partial charges can be very quick, which should be useful when making shorter stops at locations with power.
  • cache battery is able to detect and charge small devices such as USB rechargeable headlamps, tail lights, and watches.
  • Recharges a Galaxy S7 or Pixel 3 XL in ~1.5 hours, versus 6+ hours for charging from non-PD batteries.
  • Recharges a Bolt in ~ 1 hour.
  • Recharges a Ticker in ~40 minutes
  • There has been no discernible difference in charging or recharging times using an Anker USB C 3.1 cable or the included Ravpower USB C cable. All of the supplied cables are appear to be of high quality. The Anker cable is shorter and weighs ~50 grams versus ~30 grams for the included cable.
  • Total weight of cache battery, 3 supplied cables, and padded bag is 520 grams. The Aukey charger weighs 160 grams.
  • The quality of the Ravpower cache battery appears to be significantly better than any batteries previously purchased.
  • The four blue lights briefly display charge/discharge information when the power button is pressed. The speed of the flashing varies based on connected devices.
  • When registering the product with Ravpower the warranty was extended to 30 months from 18 months, for purchases made through Amazon.
  • With cables connected the cache battery fits comfortably in a Salsa EXP top tube bag.
Top left Aukey 60 watt charger, bottom left to right Google Pixel 3XL, Ravpower cache battery, Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, bottom right heart rate monitor.