So you have decided a camping trip is on the agenda and you have realized that your new fancy mobile device will not last the whole duration of your 3-day trip. If you are camping on a campsite then you will be incredibly lucky to have an outlet to use. On the other hand, if you are like most that go camping you will not have any access to any facilities, never mind a phone charging facility.
Luckily we are at a point in time which means you have numerous options when it comes to charging your mobile while on a camping trip and without any source of electricity. With a little pre-planning, you will be able to take hundreds of Instagram-worthy photos and stay in touch with friends and family for your whole camping trip.
5 Ways You Can Charge a Phone While Camping
Below I have 5 options that I have used to ensure my mobile, laptop, and even tablets have been charged for a whole trip.
Harness the Power of Solar
You will more than likely be camping in the summer months when you have the most amount of daytime and sunlight available to you. So, it would make sense to use it. These days portable solar panels have become incredibly small, affordable and a lot more efficient than they once were.
Depending on the portable solar panel you buy you may have one that can connect directly through USB and even be attached to your tent or backpack so it can charge throughout the whole day. I tend to hand mine on my tent during the day and have it pointed towards the sun all day, that way it will charge to its best capability.
A little tip that I tend to use is taking a portable solar panel to charge 2 of my power banks (see below) instead of connecting directly to a device. This means if we end up with a day that is overcast or we end up with rain then I still have a backup of two power banks that can keep me charged and connected.
- 25000mAh High Capacity: The solar power bank charges up 6-8 times for a cell phone and 2.5 times for a tablet, great for a week-long trip.
- Large Solar Panels: This solar charger comes with 4 high-performance solar panels that can reach 6W in direct sunlight to keep your phone up and running even in places without electricity.
- Fast Charging: With the upgraded 15W output, the portable solar charger can fast charge an iPhone to 50% in 30 minutes. One USB C port and dual USB A ports achieve the simultaneous charging for three devices.
Rechargeable Power Banks
The most popular piece of camping gear that I am always suggesting to people is a branded, reliable, and large-capacity power bank. Often you can recharge multiple devices at once and still have some charge left over. I first started using these power banks when I went on vacation to Orlando with my family. I knew we would be snapping photos and using our phones all day so wanted to make sure we could stay charged and connected.
Once back home I quickly realized I could very easily take a couple of these power banks with me on a camping trip and no longer have to limit my technology usage. One pro tip is to combine a power bank and portable solar panel that way once you have charged the devices you can then charge your power banks using solar. This is an especially good idea if you want to camp light or are hiking. I have many friends that actually use this combination when they go out motorcycle camping.
When it comes to choosing a portable power bank you should always go for a branded one. The generic and cheap ones that I have tried don’t work as well as they should, often break, and are generally not built well enough to withstand the harsh wilderness you will be camping in. I personally recommend no smaller than a 10,000 mAh power bank for a 2-day camping trip.
I personally have a few RAVPower power banks which I rely on for both camping and vacations! The model I use right now is the RAVPower 26800mAh with USB C.
- Ultra-High Cell Capacity: The massive 20,000mAh cell capacity provides more than 5 charges for iPhone XS, almost 5 full charges for Samsung Galaxy S10, more than 4 charges for iPhone 11, and over 2 and a half charges for iPad mini 5.
- Advanced Charging Technology: Anker's exclusive PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology combine to deliver an optimized charge to your devices, while the trickle-charging mode is the best way to charge low-power accessories.
- Simultaneous Charging: Twin USB ports allow you to charge two devices at the same time. The USB-C port cannot charge other devices.
Portable Battery Generator
If you know your going on a trip with a few people or simply want to have your devices charged at all times and maybe even power your laptop for a few additional hours then a lithium battery generator is your best option. This may sound a little crazy but I have been on a camping trip where one of these was used to power a television and laptop to watch football.
These larger battery generators are significantly heavier (around 6 to 10 lbs depending on the type and model) than a standard portable power bank but they do offer full flexibility with AC wall outlets, 12V ports, and an array of USB connections.
I would strongly suggest that a battery generator only be used when you are on a camping trip with minimal hiking or when you have a central camping location. You really don’t want to carry one of these around all day. I have been on trips where others have brought one along and I totally understand why they are so incredibly popular.
If you are going on a 2 to 4-day camping trip, these generators will likely last the whole trip without any issues. If you do run into a time when you run low on power then you can usually charge the generator using a portable solar panel during the day, it can take 6 to 10 hours for a full charge. In reality that is no time at all when you are camping in the wilderness.
I actually have my eyes on the Jackery portable power station explorer which can charge your mobile devices, laptops, drones, and camera as well as power a television. I have heard many people who suffer from sleep apnea have even used this model for powering their CPAP during a camping trip. Now that is impressive!
- Multiple Charging Outputs Provide More Options: Features with AC/ DC/ USB OUTPUTS: 110 AC output (200W), 2 DC output, 2 QC 3.0 quick charge USB port and 1 USB ports (2.4A auto). Power your smartphone, tablet, laptop, camera, light, drones, fans, in-car appliances, CPAP machine and more at anytime.KINDLY NOTE THAT THE POWER STATION CAN NOT BE CHARGE AND USE AT THE SAME TIME.
- High Performance And Handy Power Source: 151Wh (40800mAh) compact station is powerful enough to meet different kinds of electricity demands outdoor usage for home, travel, camping, backseat on long road trips.With a weight of 4.07lb and soft handle, we can easily put it in our backpack or car, take to everywhere need power.
- Other Unique Design: 1)The standalone AC/DC provides easy operation when charging different devices;2)Mutifuction LCD display would show you the remaining energies/charge/discharge/AC output/DC output status.Ultra bright LCD screen let you know the statue of battery pack even no light source camping.
This is an option which will be dependent on how far your campsite is from your car.
I think these days anyone with a car and a mobile phone will have a charger in their car. Either your car has a USB, wireless charging, or the old-fashioned 5v port. The idea here would be that you can leave a device to charge while in your car without having to carry anything additional.
I’m sure this option won’t be applicable or even suitable for many of you but it is worth being mentioned for the few that do end up here. Back in the good ole’ days, this is exactly what I had to do to keep a phone charged while camping.
Burn Wood to charge
Being in the wilderness means you have a supply of wood and other supplies that you can use to set up a small fire, so why not switch your fire stove to one like the BioLite Campstone which allows you to charge your mobile device. Yes, you can cook something and charge your phone at the same time with raw materials that you can find.
The stove will come with a 2600mAh battery which is charged using the heat energy from the stove. You can then use that battery to charge your devices. Totally clean energy which you can use almost anywhere and anytime.
I do have a review of the BioLite Stove coming soon so keep a lookout for that coming soon!
5 Tips to Make that battery last Longer while camping
So you now have a few options on how to charge your devices on your next trip but what if you are on this post and already at the campsite?! Unfortunately, you will either have to find something with access to electricity, ask at a campsite reception if it’s that type of trip or you have to limit your usage to preserve battery life.
- If you are camping in an area with poor or no cell coverage then put your phone into Airplane mode. This will save battery as your mobile will use more battery as it searches for a better cell tower. This can mean the difference between your phone lasting a 2-day trip or not lasting the first day of your trip.
- Turn your screen brightness to the lowest possible level, especially once it started getting a little darker.
- If you know you won’t need the device for a few hours then you can switch it off completely
- Turn vibrations off, it uses a surprisingly large amount of power for this feature.
- Do not leave your phone out in the sun, it will degrade the battery and will not hold a charge for as long.
If you have any other suggestions on how someone can keep a mobile charged when camping then be sure to leave a comment below. The options above are the ones I have had personal experiences with over the many years of camping but I am sure there will be a couple more that I don’t know of.
Now go have fun and try not to take your phone camping next time (I need to try this too!).