The first time I saw the Rolling Square InCharge cables, I thought they were neat, and perhaps I would buy one at some point — but I was quite happy with the cables I had. And then, I needed to pack for a long international trip, and I was trying to minimize my gear without losing utility. The value of these seemed readily apparent, so I went all in on them and packed three in differing lengths for the trip.
After traveling with these, I’ve found them to be imperfect but good enough to recommend.
Features & Stuffs
These are multi-purpose cables, which (in the latest variants) support up to 100w charging — they are plenty fast. On one end, you have a USB-A port, which pulls off, stays attached, and mostly swings out of the way to reveal a USB-C. On the other end is a Lightning plug, which pulls off in the same way as the USB-A to reveal yet another USB-C. In other words, the configurations you can have here are:
- USB-A to Lightning
- USB-C to Lightning
- USB-A to USB-C
- USB-C to USB-C
- USB-A to Micro USB
- USB-C to Micro USB
The lightning bit doubled as micro-USB in a very precarious way. The cables also worked just fine with my portable SSD, which is USB-C, though Rolling Square does note that the cables don’t support bidirectional data transfer between devices.
The cables are relatively thick, flat, and wide and have a bit of stiffness. They are covered with braided nylon, which feels very nice. They come in three lengths: absurdly short (a few inches), annoyingly short (1 foot), supremely long (6.6 feet), and stupendously long (10 feet). I have one of each of the first three sizes. None are the ‘correct’ size for what I would ideally want (1.5 feet is ideal).
The first thing to know about these is that they are well done. Every part feels nice. It doesn’t feel like corners have been cut anywhere. But they are bulky. The advantage here is that they take the place of many cables or could potentially be your only cable, not that they are smaller than a dedicated cable.
The big question is whether an InCharge could replace USB-C and Lightning cables when traveling. Yes and no. It can replace them, only if you do not need to use them both at once.
When I laid out my packing list for my trip, I also labeled what devices would need what charger. And I then marked which devices I would need to charge simultaneously. When using this cable type, you must think about how you will likely need to charge.
I sorted out the following:
– I would need to charge an iPad (USB-C) and iPhone (Lightning) each night.
– I would need to charge two white noise machines (micro-USB) during the day and have one cable in my bag.
Once I did that, I realized I needed a set of three cables. But then I needed something longer for the flight, in the case of the charging port not being nearby (as is often the case on the broke-ass planes they charge us thousands of dollars to suffer on). I got the 6.6ft cable — wishing they had a 3ft.
With all that done, I packed all three cables (usually, the two shorter ones are in my office bags). It seemed very clear I needed all three, and I was a tad nervous I was packing light (which means I was doing it right).
Here are my notes on these after using only them on a two-week trip:
- The design is top-notch and hard to argue with.
- The micro USB port bothers me. It doesn’t sit snuggly in the port, and I worry about it breaking the device port. It does work, to be clear, and I had no issues. But it feels precarious in a way that I don’t like.
- These cables don’t tangle, which is nice.
- They feel very bulky when plugged into the device, as they stick out quite far, and the adapter ends are heavy and thick and don’t fully fold out of the way. This was never an outright issue, but it’s likely to bother you if you use your device with the cable plugged in.
- Overall, these pack larger than an equivalent length single cable. So they are only worth it if you replace 2-3 cables with one.
- They can be finicky to plug into specific chargers/devices. And they are sometimes a bit fussy about putting the adapters back over the USB-C ports.
- They did work and didn’t fail me in any way.
I wish I had brought a long dedicated USB-C to Lightning cable in place of one of these, as that would have made things easier overall when I needed to stuff a cable in my day bag and go. While I did carry one of these with me, it was always a little too short for what I ideally wanted, though I did make it work each time.
I packed three of these cables in three lengths. I think it is worth looking at what I would have packed if I didn’t pack these cables.
- USB-C to Lightning 3ft.
- USB-C to USB-C 3ft.
- 2x Micro USB 3”.
That setup would have been lighter and less bulky to carry while performing the same. But it wouldn’t have worked as well. The reason is I ended up needing an extra USB-C one day. The 6ft cord several times for the length. And I loaned the longer cord to my wife as she needed a longer cord to charge her phone and read in bed.
In addition, I could charge three USB-C devices at once the day before travel so that two headphones and my iPad were ready. Something I would not have been able to do with dedicated cables as I would have been short on USB-C cables. That’s the key here: there’s no way to get this level of versatility with dedicated cables for this compact kit.
But, these are (likely) of declining utility if you are all USB-C on your devices, especially if Apple releases the next iPhone as USB-C. But if you still have a mix of charging ports or want an excellent backup for your family, these are an excellent option.
Where the value ups the ante a little more for me is on the USB-A/USB-C end of the cable. Being able to swap between either end type for different chargers is fantastic. For example, my international 100w Charger from Hyper has a built-in EU plug, two USB-C, and two USB-A charging ports. This meant I could use any/all of the ports when I wanted without needing dedicated USB-A and USB-C cables. That type of charger is great because I can help anyone charge anything, even if the cable is something I don’t have, but the InCharge cables also meant I wasn’t limited on my charging ports available.
And the international travel adapters I bought had a single USB-C port and four USB-A ports — meaning these three cables meant that I would never be without a charger, I could use. That’s a lot of peace of mind when you are traveling in a lot of unknown situations. Redundant? Yes. But I would have packed those items anyways, so the InCharge meant I could ensure I always had the total capacity to use the cables on hand.
I will keep using these cables, especially in my office bags. For travel, I don’t know what I’ll do next time. I never had issues during the trip, but I was never super happy when I needed to use these as they were bulky. Then again, I never had an issue, so that’s a win.
Hard to complain, especially given that these are under $40 each. Recommended, with caveats above.