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On Foot, Off Grid: Olight UC Magnetic USB Charger

Electronics have become an important part of many people’s backcountry experience and safety. In this series, On Foot, Off Grid, we cover the electronic gear that power your backcountry adventures along with some strategies for their use. The series will cover plenty of gear options and explore ideas for dealing with cold weather, streamlining your power needs, and more.


We covered the use of a power bank as a central, or even THE central component, of a portable backcountry power setup in the first installment of On Foot, Off Grid (read it HERE). Now we are going to take a look at an item that lets us access the electricity stored in the power bank to charge other loose batteries – the Olight UC Magnetic USB Charger.

One of the main reasons I purchased an Olight UC Magnetic USB Charger is the form factor. It looks more like earbuds than a battery charger. It is extremely compact and extremely lightweight yet it is a surprisingly full-featured charger.

There are other chargers with a similar form factor on the market which brings me to the other reason I chose the Olight version. It is the only one I found that was smart enough to charge both lithium-ion batteries like 18650s or 16340s AND NiMH cells like the Eneloop AA and AAA batteries that I prefer.

Using the Olight UC Magnetic USB Charger is extremely easy. You simply plug it into your USB power source and then attach the magnetic leads to each end of the battery you want to recharge. Polarity doesn’t matter because the charger is smart enough to detect it automatically. An indicator light at the base of the wire will let you know what is happening – blinking red means standby or a charging error, solid red means charging, and green means that your cell is done charging.

It is very well designed and well made. The cord is the flat type that will not tangle. All of the components are encased in anodized aluminum. The magnets in the leads are appropriately strong and the leads are shaped well for use with both flat and button top cells.

I strongly suggest you try this at home before you bring it into the field. One, it is nice to get a sense of the speed that it will charge your batteries. It isn’t the fastest but I have found it to be completely acceptable for recharging AA and AAA batteries in the field. Two, you want to be sure it works with your intended power source. I have used it with Anker Powercore power banks and a Nitecore F1 Charger (more on this in later installment).

Here is the bottom line: The Olight UC Magnetic USB Charger is easy to use. It packs as small as a set of earbuds and weighs just .72 oz. It charges both 3.7V lithium ion batteries and 1.2V NiMH batteries. While it only charges one cell at a time, this hasn’t been an issue for me as I have taken steps to streamline my electronics to include items that only require a single cell. This is an incredibly lightweight, compact item that can be an important part of any backcountry power setup.

Where to Buy:

These are available all over the internet. When I purchased mine, I couldn’t beat Amazon’s price with the included shipping: Olight UC Magnetic USB Charger on Amazon (affiliate link)

The Amazon page also features a full list of compatible lithium ion cells.


Do you have a gear or concept recommendation that fits the On Foot, Off Grid series? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.

Fenix HM65 Rechargeable Headlamp

Fenix just released the details on a new headlamp, the HM65 Rechargeable Headlamp, that is loaded with interesting tech and features. The most prominent feature is the use of dual emitters with one optimized for throw and one for flood light.

It boasts a 1000 lumen turbo setting along with other, longer running modes including a 130 lumen settings that run for 48 hours+ according to Fenix (actual real world runtimes can vary). See the chart below for full ANSI runtime and output ratings.

The HM65 is rechargeable via USB Type C (cable included). It comes with an 18650 battery but it can also be powered by two CR123A primary cells which is good news for those who might take this headlamp into cold environments.

The body of the HM65 is made from a magnesium alloy. Fenix claims that makes it both durable and lightweight.

The head strap design includes a top strap as is standard for single 18650 powered headlamps. It features a perforated design that I suppose would promote breathability.

The HM65 can be pre-ordered. It is not expected to be available until Tuesday, June 25th.

FenixLighting.com

Luxe Hiking Gear to Release Minipeak XL

Luxe Hiking Gear is known for their lightweight, stove-ready backcountry shelters. They make a number of pyramid, hexamid, octomid hot tents that cost significantly less than most similar shelters.

One of their smallest and most popular shelters is their Minipeak – a floorless 2 person (1 person with stove) pyramid shelter with double entries and ripstop polyester construction. It’s popular due to its low cost for a stove-ready shelter, versatility, and solid feature set. It only makes sense that they would offer a larger version.

Luxe Hiking Gear has announced that the Minipeak XL will be available soon. It retains everything that makes the Minipeak great but has a larger foot print that allows for up to 3 people or more space for a taller person versus the Minipeak. It is available in a number of configurations with is typical for all Luxe shelters (floorless, with an optional partial nest, and more).

The Minipeak XL is available to pre-order now at a special price. Delivery is expected in August.

Minipeak XL at Luxe-Hiking-Gear.com

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