This week, a reader writes: “Jim, we will be taking a walking/hiking tour in Portugal this fall and will be using our iPhones and Apple Watch to track our activity. We should be able to charge our devices each evening (I have the original Apple charging cables/blocks and European adapters). But I want to have some kind of portable charger in case we need to charge our devices while we're out and about. I've seen some on Amazon and Otterbox. What would you recommend?"

You have a few choices — and all depend on what model of iPhone you have.

iPhones 12, 13 and14 have MagSafe, which is a round magnet built into the back of the phone to help keep accessories secured to the back of the phone.

Apple’s first MagSafe accessory was a wired charger, which offered faster charging than non-Apple wireless chargers. Apple also introduced other MagSafe accessories like a wallet.

The MagSafe connector opened the door for an external battery charger that snaps to the back of the phone. I think such a charger would be perfect to take on a daily hike to make sure your phone’s battery lasts until the end of the day.

Because these packs stays connected with the magnets, you can continue to use your phone quite easily while it charges.

Apple makes a MagSafe battery pack ($99), which can partially charge your iPhone. Apple says you can get a 60% charge using the battery pack on an iPhone 12, 13 or 14. This should be good for the day, when combined with a full charge of your phone’s battery each night.

If I were in the market for such a battery pack, I’d look at some other (cheaper) brands.

Some third-party MagSafe battery packs have larger capacities, such as the myCharge Mag-Lock Magnetic Powerbank, which is available in three capacities: 3,000mAh, 6,000mAh and 9,000mAh, strangely all priced within $20 of each other on Amazon. The only difference is the capacity and weight of the battery.

I’d recommend the 9,000mAh version. myCharge says it can keep an iPhone going for an additional 48 hours, and it weighs 8.8 ounces.

I have reviewed this charger and I recommend it. It is simple to use: Snap it to the back of your iPhone, and it starts charging. Take if off, and it stops.

It also has a USB-C port you can use to charge another device, like AirPods or your Apple Watch.

Of course, if your iPhone doesn’t have MagSafe, you’ll need to carry an external battery that can charge the phone with a cable. This goes for Android phones as well.

Many Android phones have wireless charging. But without magnets, keeping a phone connected to a wireless charger is impossible if you are hiking.

I like Anker products, and they have a 10,000mAh external battery (PowerCore Slim 10K) for $22 at Amazon. It has one USB-A port for charging and can charge your iPhone’s battery twice, so you will certainly make it through a day. It weighs just 7.5 ounces.

Jim Rossman is a tech columnist for Tribune News Service. He may be reached at

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