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 day time 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: Built-in 25000mAh Li-polymer battery, it can charge your phones 8-10 times or tablets 3-4 times for an average of 9 days of usage per charge.
- 4 Solar Panels: With 4 foldable high-effeciency solar panels, up to 1A input current under the sunlight, which is 4 - 6 times faster than the other solar chargers. You can also use micro USB cable to charge it.
- Dual USB 2.1A Output: Dual 2.1A USB ports allow you to charge 2 devices simultaneously with 2.1A high speed charging. Auto-detect your devices' current to pair the optimal output.
- Built for Outdoors: Rugged construction is dust, shock and waterproof; Built in LED flashlight with SOS mode, perfect for outdoor emergency.
- What You Get: 25000mAh Portable Solar Charger, a micro USB cable, User Manual.
Rechargeable Power Banks
The most popular piece of camping gear that I am always suggesting to people a branded, reliable, and large capacity power bank. Often you can recharge multiple devices at once and still have some charge leftover. 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 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.
- Versatile Recharging: With both a USB-C and Micro USB input port, you have more options over how you recharge. Recharging PowerCore with a 10W charger will take approximately 10.5 hours, while recharging with a 5W charger will take approximately 20 hours.
- What You Get: Anker PowerCore Essential 20000, Micro USB cable, travel pouch, welcome guide, lifetime* $25,000 connected equipment warranty, and friendly customer service. (USB-C cable, Lightning cable, and wall charger not included)
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 time 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 the football.
These larger battery generators are significantly heavier (around 6 to 10Lbs 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 your 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 then these generators will more than likely last the whole trip without any issues. If you do run into a time when you run low on power than 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!
This is an option which will be dependant 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 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.
- Turn fire into electricity! CampStove 2 generates 3 watts of usable electricity and stores it in it's internal powerbank for USB charging of LED lights, mobile phones, and other devices. The internal, rechargeable 2600 mAh battery stores excess power to charge devices, even without a live fire.
- USB charge output with 50% more power than our previous CampStove 1, with updated thermoelectrics creating even more electricity from fire, and Smart LED Dashboard gives you real time feedback on fire strength, power output and fan speed settings
- Internal jets have 4 fan speed settings to circulate air for improved combustion and efficiency to boil 1 liter of water in 4.5 minutes
- Lightweight aluminum legs fold up for nested portability and durability for camping, backpacking or power outages
- The FlexLight is a portable, pliable USB gooseneck for quick, controlled light
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?! Well, unfortunately, you will either have to find something with access to electricity, ask at a campsite reception if its that type of trip or you have to limit your usage to preserve battery life.
- 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.
- Are you on a campsite with limited data coverage? Turn your phone data completely off and put Aeroplane mode on.
- 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!).