Camping in the great outdoors is a simple and affordable way to escape our jobs, home responsibilities and our concrete jungle surroundings. It's wonderful to get away from it all and immerse ourselves with nature...there's no better way to relax for many of us. One thing most of us struggle with is getting away from our devices. The issue is, without a device--a way to communicate and stay in touch with others--camping could be a sticky situation. Mobile phone signals reach just about every nook and cranny in the world, so there's really no reason to leave the cell phone at home. I mean, who knows what you're going to run into, sleeping in a skimpy tent surrounded by wild animals? I shudder to think! What if you have some kind of emergency?
This is why you should have a fully charged communication device with you at all times while camping. And with a multitude of ways to keep your device charged, there's truly no excuse. So, the question is: What is the best way to keep your electronic devices juiced up and ready for action? Should I bring a big gas generator? Will I need charge my phone by running my vehicle for an hour or so? No, we've come a long way when it comes to portable power. Deciding how to charge phone when camping is really the question. Here are five awesome ways to charge your phone and laptop while on a camping get-away.
1. Choose A Campsite With A Power Supply
Across the US (and in many places around the world), you can find camp grounds and camping sites that actually provide electrical power for your use. All you'll need to do is run an extension cord and have a power strip ready to go and you've got power for your campsite. The question is, do you want to have an unsightly orange extension cord running through your campsite? You will also need to be wary of tripping on the cord, possibly injuring yourself and unplugging the cable causing an instantaneous loss of power to your devices.
If it is your first time using power provided by a camp site, it would be wise to find out if there are any restrictions. Will there be any issues if you run, say, a powerful hair dryer? What about when the motor for your portable refrigerator kicks in? Make sure the power supply is ample enough to handle your specific power needs.
- You won't have to bring any kind of generator or power bank to have a power supply.
- No special equipment needed, except extension cords and/or power strips. Just plug and play.
- You will still need extension cords that will be laying across the campsite area as a tripping hazard.
- The price. Many of these campgrounds will charge a premium fee for your electrical usage.
- Camping at these locations might not be rural enough. They usually have paved roads and a lot of families all on top of each other. You might just be getting away from people to be around a bunch of other people.
2. Bring Along Some Battery Power Banks
A battery power bank is simply a portable battery designed to recharge smaller devices. They will work well if all you need is two or three complete charges for your phone. Depending on the size of your power bank, you will most likely not be able to charge your laptop or run other electronic devices with it. Conveniently small in size, this solution comes with a sacrifice: The amount of power you're able to utilize.
Power banks eventually run out of power and will need to be recharged, especially of you're camping for more than a couple of days. Of course, you could always bring more than one power bank, but you would have to weigh the value you're getting from your investment. Is there a better solution than bringing 3 smaller battery power banks?
- Smaller in size, battery power packs are easier to bring along for a hiking to a campsite situation.
- If you are alone or with one other person--and you don't have much space--a battery pack might be the perfect solution.
- You will be limited as to what devices you can charge and how often you can charge them.
- You certainly won't have enough power to run other electronic devices. You will simply be left with the ability to charge your cell phone--and not much else.
- For an extended camping trip, there's a good possibility that you will deplete the power in the power bank and will not have the ability to recharge.
3. Cart A Portable Generator Along, Such As A Gas Generator or Solar Generator
Generators have long been the go-to solution when it comes to being able to charge your phone and laptop while camping. They will produce plenty of power to recharge your devices for the entirety of your camping excursion, along with the added advantage of running other electronic devices, such as radios, laptops, coffee makers, and more. Gas generators are popular and affordable, but do come with a couple of drawbacks.
First, you will need to bring a fuel source so you can replenish the fuel as it gets used. Second, gas generators tend to be more noisy than most other power supplies. And third, there are exhaust considerations to be made. As a gas generator runs, it will create exhaust fumes that you--and surrounding campers--might not appreciate.
Solar generators are a special breed of power solution for your camping trip. They will provide an incredible amount of power, all with no noise and no exhaust fumes. There's no need to bring along a volatile fuel can full of gasoline either. Solar generators have a way to store energy to it's battery using solar panels. They are basically a much bigger and solar rechargeable "power pack" with a lot more oomph! The main unit of a solar generator tends have a smaller footprint than your standard gas generator, too, making them more portable.
Pre-charging a solar generator at home before your camping vacation will take some preplanning, but it is a good practice to follow. Even though solar generators are a clean energy source and super convenient, they do come with a larger investment price tag.
- Generators, gas or solar, provide a practically endless supply of power. You should have no fear of running out.
- Campers are able to run multiple electronic devices, making the camping trip that much more convenient and pleasurable.
- Solar generators are very portable, run clean, make no noise while in operation, and do not need a flammable fuel source. All they need is a little sun to recharge.
- Solar generators of today recharge extremely fast and the right unit will have a plethora of plugs to use.
- Although there is typically a higher up-front cost with solar generators, there is no future spend on fuel. Recharging a solar generator is free.
- Solar generators are basically battery power packs to the extreme. They usually hold a lot of power without being too bulky.
- Larger in size, they will most likely not work for hiking to a campsite.
- Gas generators will need a back-up fuel source, so some kind of gas can will need to be brought and stored safely.
- Gas generators run great but bring with them engine noises, disrupting the stillness of the campsite, and exhaust fumes.
- Solar generators potentially come with a higher upfront investment cost when compared to gas generators and the other options listed. Remember, though, a higher investment today means a bigger payback in the long run.
4. A Car Battery With An Inverter
Yes, you read that correctly. Some people will bring along extra equipment that will convert a car battery into a power supply to recharge their phones while camping. All you are doing here is turning your car battery, or an extra car battery that you've brought along with you, into a battery power pack. Since you already have a car battery in your vehicle, why not just use it to recharge your devices?
The first question that comes up is this: Why would you bring extra inverter equipment when you can simply use your car outlets to charge your phone? The answer is, with an inverter, you can convert your car's direct current into alternating current, creating a standard household outlet for your use. Sure, you could use the USB slots in your car to charge your phone, but you won't be able to use any device with a standard plug.
- You can use your car battery to recharge your phone, sometimes without having to start your car.
- You will have access to an actual standard outlet giving you the ability to plug in typical household electronics.
- No large extra equipment needed.
- You will need to monitor your use very carefully so you don't drain the battery in your car.
- Inevitably, you will need to run your car engine to recharge your car battery, again, for fear of getting stranded with a dead battery.
- You are typically limited to one outlet and are limited as to when you can use this outlet.
- Anything that you want to plug in will most likely need to be taken over to your vehicle to use.
5. Find A Local Coffeeshop, Store Or Restaurant To Charge Your Devices
Ah, yes. The country store experience at your local camping site. I'm sure we all have fond--and some not-so-fond--memories about this. Many times, a campsite will have a store or there will be a small town not to far from where you pitched your tent. Perhaps you will be able to walk to the destination. Most likely, you will have to drive into town to take advantage of this charging solution. Either way, you will need to leave your campsite behind and head into some kind of civilization. Finally, you need to know for sure that the proprietors of these establishments will allow you to use their power for recharging.
It would be a shame if you traveled all the way to a local business only to find that too many previous campers have taken advantage of their generosity and have decided to cut everyone off. Being faced with a "NO CHARGING DEVICES HERE!' sign will have a negative impact on your trip, if this is the way you plan on charging phone when camping
- No extra equipment needed besides your charging cables and a way to plug into an outlet.
- No extra cost to you, if you're able to find a place that will allow you to tap into their power for recharging.
- You won't be able to get deep into the wilderness, since you'll need to find your way back to the city or town .
- Depending on how fast your device charges, you might be stuck in town for a long while, and not out enjoying the woods, the main reason you went camping in the first place!
- You will most likely have to drive to a local establishment so you can recharge your phone.
- Are you even allowed to charge your devices at the closest place of business to your camping site? It's risky to assume so you should call ahead before you have even left for your trip.
5 Awesome Options. Which is best for you?
These are the best options available to you when you need to keep your phone and devices charged while camping. Your best solution as a hiker and camper might be smaller battery power packs that are fully charged before you head out to the wilderness. If you are planning on a longer camping trip with your family to a permanent site, a solar generator is probably the best choice. Some families camp at the same location and simply take advantage of the power that a campsite provides.
In any situation, knowing you have power available to recharge your phones and stay in touch with loved ones and emergency services will guarantee that you can let it all go and truly enjoy a relaxing camping trip.