How To Charge Phones When Camping: 7 Proven Methods

Worried about your phone battery dying while camping? Don’t be, learn how to charge phones when camping with these 7 proven methods.

how to charge phones when camping

1. Bring Portable Battery Packs

Portable battery packs or power banks are like extra life for your phone’s battery. Depending on their capacity, they can charge your phone multiple times, which makes them a popular choice for camping. The catch? Once they’re drained, they need a power source to get recharged. So, it’s crucial to charge them fully before you leave for your trip.

Here is what you need to know before buying a portable battery bank:

  1. Capacity: One of the key features of a power bank is its capacity, which is usually measured in milliamp-hours (mAh). This number can range from a few thousand mAh to 20,000 mAh or more. The larger the number, the more times it can charge your phone or other device. For example, if your phone has a battery capacity of 3,000 mAh and your power bank has a capacity of 6,000 mAh, theoretically, you should be able to get two full charges for your phone from the power bank. However, some energy is lost in the charging process due to heat and voltage conversion, so the real number of charges you can get will be slightly less.
  2. Output: The output of the power bank, usually given in watts (W), determines how fast it can charge your devices. Many power banks now offer fast charging capabilities that can match or even exceed the charging speed of a regular wall charger. Some even have multiple output ports, allowing you to charge several devices at once.
  3. Input: The input determines how fast you can charge the power bank itself. Some power banks support fast charging for their input, which means you can refill the power bank’s battery more quickly.
  4. Size and weight: Power banks come in different sizes and weights. Smaller, lighter power banks are easier to carry around but usually have lower capacity. Larger power banks can charge your device several times but are heavier and take up more space.
  5. Extra features: Many power banks have extra features such as built-in flashlights, wireless charging, or rugged exteriors for durability. Some even have built-in solar panels for charging the power bank itself, though this is usually a slow process and is more of an emergency backup rather than a primary charging method.

When choosing a power bank, consider your specific needs, such as how many devices you’ll need to charge, how often, and how quickly, as well as any additional features you might need. Also, always ensure to follow safety guidelines when using power banks to avoid any potential risks.

2. Get A Solar Charger

Imagine being out in the wilderness, and your phone’s battery is being powered by the sun itself. That’s exactly what a solar charger does – turns sunlight into electricity. They’re compact, making them easy to pack and carry around on your camping adventures.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The effectiveness of solar chargers depends heavily on the weather. If it’s a bright sunny day, you’re in luck. But on a cloudy or rainy day, they won’t work as efficiently.

Here is the rundown on solar chargers for camping:

  1. How they work: Solar chargers convert sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic panels. The sunlight that hits the panels is converted into electricity, which can be used to charge devices like phones, tablets, and sometimes even laptops or other electronics depending on the charger’s capacity.
  2. Capacity and Efficiency: The efficiency of a solar charger largely depends on the size and quality of the solar panels, as well as the intensity and angle of the sunlight. Some solar chargers have an internal battery or power bank that stores energy for later use, while others can only charge devices directly when the sun is out. The charging speed can vary greatly depending on these factors, and it’s generally slower than charging from a wall outlet or a regular power bank.
  3. Portability: One of the key benefits of solar chargers is their portability. Many models are designed to be lightweight and foldable or rollable, so they’re easy to carry in a backpack or camping gear. Some even have loops or clips so they can be attached to a backpack or tent for charging on the go or while stationary.
  4. Durability: Many solar chargers are designed to be durable and weather-resistant, as they’re often used outdoors. They can usually withstand exposure to the elements, but they should still be handled with care to avoid damaging the panels.
  5. Environmental Impact: Solar chargers are a great way to use renewable energy and reduce your carbon footprint. They don’t produce any emissions, and they use a natural and abundant energy source: sunlight.
  6. Extra Features: Some solar chargers come with extra features like built-in flashlights, multiple output ports for charging several devices at once, or different types of connectors for different devices.

When choosing a solar charger, consider where and how you’ll be using it. If you’ll be in a sunny environment and have the time to let your devices charge slowly, a solar charger can be a great option. However, they’re usually not the best choice for quick charging or for use in cloudy or rainy weather.

3. Hand-Crank Chargers

A hand crank charger is like a little DIY project. It requires manual work – you turn a crank, and it generates power. It’s a reliable option when you’re completely off-grid and have no other power source.

The downside is that it requires physical effort and produces a relatively small amount of power. But in the wild, a little power is better than no power!

Here is what you need to know about hand-crank chargers for camping.

  1. How they work: The process of charging is quite simple and physical: you turn a crank, and this mechanical action drives a generator that produces electricity. The electricity can then be used to charge a device directly or stored in a built-in battery for later use.
  2. Efficiency and Output: The output and efficiency of hand crank chargers depend on the speed and consistency of the cranking. Generally, these devices are not as efficient as traditional wall chargers or power banks. You’ll have to put in a good amount of physical effort to generate a relatively small amount of power. This is why they’re typically used as an emergency power source, rather than a primary charger.
  3. Portability: Hand crank chargers are usually compact and lightweight, which makes them perfect for outdoor adventures or emergency kits. You don’t need any cables or power outlets, and they’re not dependent on weather conditions like solar chargers.
  4. Durability: Many hand crank chargers are designed with durability in mind, as they’re intended for emergency or outdoor use. They’re often rugged and can withstand a certain level of physical impact.
  5. Environmental Impact: Hand crank chargers are eco-friendly, as they use human power instead of fossil fuels or electricity from the grid. They don’t produce any emissions, and they don’t require any non-renewable resources.
  6. Extra Features: Some hand crank chargers come with extra features like built-in flashlights, radios, or emergency sirens. These features can be incredibly useful in an emergency situation, making these chargers a good item to include in a survival kit.

When using a hand crank charger, remember that it requires physical effort and time. It’s not the quickest or most efficient way to charge a device, but in situations where you have no other power source, a hand crank charger can be a lifesaver.

4. Battery Powered Phone Chargers

These chargers are an ode to the classics. They operate on standard batteries, like AA or AAA. They may not provide a lot of charge, but they can be a savior when you’re stuck.

The downside is you have to remember to bring enough batteries with you. Also, unlike the other options, you’ll be throwing batteries away once they’re used up, which isn’t as eco-friendly.

Here’s some more info on battery-powered phone chargers for camping.

  1. How They Work: Battery-powered phone chargers work by transferring power from conventional disposable or rechargeable batteries, like AA or AAA, to your device. You insert the batteries into the charger, then connect your phone using a standard charging cable.
  2. Capacity and Efficiency: The capacity and efficiency of battery-powered chargers depend on the type and number of batteries they use. A charger that uses four AA batteries will typically be able to provide one full charge to a smartphone. However, this can vary depending on the specific capacity of the batteries and the power requirements of the device.
  3. Portability: One of the main advantages of battery-powered phone chargers is their portability. They’re typically compact, lightweight, and easy to carry in a pocket or bag. Plus, AA or AAA batteries are widely available, making it easy to find replacements if needed.
  4. Convenience: Battery-powered chargers can be a convenient option if you’re in a situation where you don’t have access to a power outlet, car charger, or solar power. For example, they can be handy for long flights, camping trips, or power outages.
  5. Environmental Impact: One downside to battery-powered phone chargers is their environmental impact. Disposable batteries contribute to electronic waste and can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. However, this issue can be mitigated by using rechargeable batteries.
  6. Extra Features: Some battery-powered phone chargers come with extra features, such as built-in flashlights or multiple charging ports. These features can add to the charger’s usefulness in certain situations.

Remember, battery-powered phone chargers are generally not as powerful or efficient as other types of chargers, and they require you to carry spare batteries. But in situations where you need a simple and reliable power source, they can be a good option.

5. Car Chargers for Car Camping

If you’re car camping, a car charger can be your easy way out. It’s as simple as plugging it into your car’s charging point. This can quickly power up your phone, especially on shorter trips.

But remember, it uses your car’s battery. You wouldn’t want to end up with a fully charged phone but a car that won’t start. So, it’s wise to use this option sparingly.

Here are the basics of car chargers for car camping.

  1. How They Work: Car chargers plug into the car’s 12V socket (previously known as the cigarette lighter socket). When the car is running, the charger converts the 12V DC power from the car battery into the type of power that your phone or other device can use.
  2. Output and Efficiency: The output of a car charger can vary, but many modern chargers support fast charging standards that can match or even exceed the charging speed of a wall charger. Some car chargers have multiple USB ports, allowing you to charge several devices at once.
  3. Portability: Car chargers are small, lightweight, and easy to carry around. However, their use is limited to situations where you have access to a vehicle with a functioning 12V socket.
  4. Ease of Use: Car chargers are incredibly easy to use. You simply plug the charger into the car’s 12V socket, then connect your phone using a compatible cable. As long as the car is running, your phone will charge.
  5. Battery Drain: While car chargers are a convenient source of power, it’s important to note that they do draw power from the car’s battery. If you use a car charger while the car’s engine is off, you run the risk of draining the car’s battery.
  6. Extra Features: Some car chargers offer additional features, such as LED indicators to show charging status, built-in cables for certain types of devices, or even safety features like a seat belt cutter or window breaker in case of emergencies.

When using a car charger, it’s important to remember that the charger and your devices can become hot, especially during longer charging sessions or in hot weather. Be sure to unplug the charger when not in use to prevent unnecessary power drain or potential overheating.

6. BioLite Campstove

This one is the Swiss army knife of camping gear. The BioLite Campstove is a combination camping stove and charger. The heat from the fire inside the stove is converted into electricity, which can charge your phone or other devices.

The main advantage here is you’re likely to be using a stove anyway to cook your meals, so why not use it to charge your phone too? But, of course, it only works when you have the stove on.

The BioLite camp stove is an interesting piece of camping gear that can be used for both cooking and phone charging. Here is a brief rundown for you.

  1. How It Works: The BioLite CampStove uses a technology called thermoelectric generation. Essentially, you burn wood in the stove to cook your food or boil water, and the heat from this fire is converted into electricity. This electricity can be used to charge devices like smartphones, GPS devices, or the BioLite’s own accessories.
  2. Cooking and Charging Capabilities: While primarily a cooking stove, the BioLite CampStove also has a USB port that you can use to charge your devices. While it may not charge your devices as fast as a wall outlet, it can be a lifesaver in off-grid situations. The latest model can generate up to 3 watts of continuous power under optimal conditions.
  3. Fuel Source: The BioLite stove is fueled by renewable biomass, including sticks, pinecones, and other organic material you can find while camping. This means you don’t have to carry fuel canisters with you, reducing weight and waste.
  4. Portability and Design: The BioLite CampStove is designed to be portable. It’s lightweight, compact, and easy to pack in a backpack. Its unique design also includes a fan that improves combustion, making for a more efficient fire.
  5. Environmental Impact: By utilizing biomass as a fuel source and eliminating the need for fossil fuel-based canisters, the BioLite CampStove is a more environmentally friendly option. Moreover, it reduces carbon emissions through its efficient combustion process.
  6. Extra Features: Some models of the BioLite CampStove come with additional features like a built-in LED light, a battery for storing energy, or various cooking accessories.

Do remember that, like all stoves, the BioLite CampStove should be used with care to prevent forest fires or other accidents. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and local regulations for safe and responsible use. It’s also important to remember that charging capabilities can vary based on the heat of your fire and the specific power requirements of your devices.

7. Wind and Water Turbines for Camping

These chargers are less common but can be a great addition to your camping kit if you’re in the right location. They work similarly to a windmill or a hydroelectric dam, harnessing the power of wind or running water to generate electricity.

So, if your camping site has a steady breeze or a nearby stream, these chargers could be a great, eco-friendly option. If not, you may have to stick with the more conventional methods.

Let’s dive into the details on using wind turbines and water turbines for charging phones while camping.

  1. How They Work: Both wind and water turbines work on the principle of converting kinetic energy into electrical energy. The movement of wind or water turns the blades of the turbine, which spins a generator inside the device, creating electricity.
  2. Output and Efficiency: The efficiency of wind and water turbines greatly depends on the strength of the wind or water flow. The stronger the wind or water flow, the more electricity the turbine can generate. Typically, portable turbines can produce enough energy to charge small devices like smartphones or tablets.
  3. Portability: Portable wind and water turbines are generally designed to be lightweight and compact for easy transport. They can be packed in a backpack and taken on hiking or camping trips. However, setting them up may require a little more time and effort compared to other portable charging options.
  4. Situational Dependence: The main drawback of wind and water turbines is their dependence on environmental conditions. You’ll need a steady wind or a flowing stream to use them effectively. That said, in the right circumstances, they can provide a continuous source of renewable power.
  5. Environmental Impact: Wind and water turbines are eco-friendly, using natural sources of energy without generating pollution or greenhouse gases.
  6. Extra Features: Some portable wind and water turbines come with extra features like a built-in battery for storing energy or multiple charging ports. Some models may also allow you to switch between wind and water power, depending on what’s available.

When using wind and water turbines, it’s important to ensure they’re securely anchored to prevent damage or loss. Also, be aware that these devices can be affected by weather conditions, including storms, which could potentially damage them. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setup, use, and safety. It’s also worth noting that while these devices can be incredibly useful in the right circumstances, they may not be the best option for every situation due to their environmental dependencies.

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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