It can be surprising how much weight a cable can add to electronics carried on trail. Here is one of the lightest alternatives available. This USB-C coupler has it’s limitations, but could be a handy primary or back-up connector.
Regular readers will know that Three Points of the Compass has been moving toward exclusively USB-C connectors for on-trail electronics when backpacking. I recently shared my 2023 electronics set-up, that included things such as phone, Nitecore power bank, RovyVon light, Pad-Pal inflator, and a handful of other items. I mentioned then that in addition to my 26g one metre long USB-C to USB-C cable, I like to include a shortie cable as back-up. Ever on the look out for alternatives, my 6.6g 110mm long USB-C to USB-C fast charge secondary cable was replaced by something even lighter.
The USB-C male to USB-C male adapter coupler has CE certification and is made by Qianrenon, a trademark of Chinese electronics specialist Shenzhen Qianrenyang Electronic Technology Co. Ltd. The 2.71g connector is USB 4.0, has 40Gbs data transfer speed, and 8K@60Hz audio and video transmission. It is capable of up to 100W fast charging though my needs are far less than this. It is very small, the central body is just 19mm in length, and is 32mm overall. Each coupler/adapter comes with tight fitting protective plastic end caps. These are easily lost and do not have to be carried on trail but do help prevent dust or damp entering the ports when not being used. The two end caps weigh an additional 0.27g , so lets call it 3g for coupler plus caps.
This is primarily for inclusion on backpacking trips as back-up should my primary cable get damp in the ports, be lost or damaged. You have to be careful not to put a strain on the connector and a flexible cable is obviously more forgiving in this regard. I am sure there are some hikers who would be happy to just carry the coupler and eschew a longer cable, using the coupler as their primary means of charging. Combined with what is probably the lightest 10k powerbank available, the 151.3g second generation Nitecore NB10000, this totals 154g. Coupled with a 5000mAh battery, even lighter solutions are possible.
I ordered mine off Amazon. A two-pack cost £8.99 in April 2023. Provided they are of good quality, these little couplers can really keep the weight down and I also keep a tiny 3.3g USB 2.0 male to USB-C female adapter in my electronics baggie. Wireless charging is obviously a lighter solution, however that is a relatively inefficient method of power transfer and the Nitecore powerbanks do not support that.
May 2023 update:
Removing this today, the metal sleeve either came unstuck or the tight fit wasn’t tight enough, so slid off the body. All the workings are still complete and none exposed. It works as it should, so I’ll probably leave the sleeve off, otherwise I’m likely to lose it. Weight dropped to 1.95g, so 2g. (2.23g with end caps).
That’s pretty neat! But…is the saving of ~3g worth the potential for either device at either end being damaged due to not having any flex in there?
A fair point JAs, I touched on it myself. That is one for the individual to decide upon. With care, there would be little issue. For myself, as a dedicated back-up to a longer flexible primary cable, there is no issue at all