Shrinking your mobile gear

Over the past few weeks, I've covered a few ways to lighten your laptop bag and reduce bag clutter. One suggestion was to in lieu of full-sized versions. Another was to make your for iPhones, iPods, and other gadgets. Those articles turned out to be quite popular; while may not be able to do without particular heavy gear, most people can lighten the load of gadgets they carry when traveling.

In that spirit, I wanted to wrap up this miniseries of Mobile Mac articles by showing you a few of the other small-and-light gadgets I carry with me, as well as a couple newer items I've been testing that similarly aim to help you cut down on bag weight. (Some of these items I've covered individually in the past; I've linked to those articles in the text below.)

: If you aren't bringing along an AirPort Express, and you don't want to keep your laptop on all night while your iPhone or other gadget charges via the laptop's USB port, you need a USB charger in your travel bag. The smallest one I've seen is the , essentially a 1-inch cube with wall-outlet prongs. It's even compatible with 100- to 240-volt wall outlets, making it an option for international trips. The downside? A $29 price tag. But at least Apple includes an extra USB dock-connector cable.

: Speaking of power, when I'm traveling, I'm often driving a rental car that lacks my usual stash of auto accessories; what I miss most is a way to charge my iPhone, iPod, or GPS while driving. Belkin's $15 plugs into a car's accessory outlet (a.k.a., "cigarette-lighter jack"), sitting nearly flush, and lets you connect any device that can be charged via USB. Unlike many auto chargers, it provides 1A of power for faster charging of iPhones and GPS units. It's easily the smallest and lightest auto charger I've seen, and it takes up so little room there's no excuse for me to leave it at home. (A $20 version includes a USB dock-connector cable.)

: I try not to bring too many USB peripherals when traveling, but there are still times when I need to connect more devices than I have USB ports. This is especially an issue when using a laptop with only a single USB port, such as the MacBook Air (or my newest project, a ). Luckily, there are some tiny hubs out there. My favorite is Dr. Bott's 3-port ($20). What makes the T3Hub unique, besides its compact size, is that it lets you connect a high-power device, such as a USB hard drive, along with two low-power devices; many port-powered USB hubs won't work with high-power devices. It weighs less than an ounce and comes with a short USB extension cable.

I've also recently been testing IvySkin's $25 . This generically-named hub is just 1.8 inches square and 0.6 inches thick and provides four USB ports, promising USB 2.0 high-speed throughput to each connected device. The IvySkin hub connects to your Mac using an included 4-inch USB-to-mini-USB cable, and also includes a hardshell case that holds both the hub and the cable. (Though protective, I find the case to be a waste of space when traveling--it's over twice the size of the hub itself.)