Technology is a marvelous thing, but it has its limitations. You may be using your cell phone as a GPS, only to have the battery cut out. Or there are other AC-powered gadgets in your supplies that can run out of juice.
Gone are the days when a power outage or a low battery during a camping trip meant that you had to live off-grid for a few days. Today, there are so many gadgets to take when you go camping. Just like a camping cot prevents that you sleep on the ground, portable power supplies make camping and other outdoor activities easier especially when you have battery-powered devices that may run out of juice at any time.
Top 4 Best Portable Power Supplies for Camping (Summary)
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For more details and complete product reviews, benefits and features, keep reading.
What Is a Portable Power Supply for Camping
A portable power supply is a device that allows you to stay plugged in and all your battery-powered devices fully charged during outdoor adventures. These devices range from solar-powered to wind-powered gadgets, generators, power inverters and battery packs.
Today, they usually have inbuilt inverters that make it easy for them to charge AC devices and they can be recharged using the car’s battery or solar. Whether it’s a television, heater, premium tent fans, a smartphone or a microwave, you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort just because there is no electricity.
Benefits of Portable Power Supplies for Camping
When it comes to portable power supplies, there are solar kits, best portable power packs, solar panels that are light in weight, smartphone cases that have built-in batteries for backup and everything else in between.
Here are a few benefits of these devices that you should be aware of:
Living Off the Grid
Best portable devices will come in handy during camping trips as it help you store as well as use your own power off the grid. This means that you will still have power even when in remote places which is ideal for campers, travelers and van-lifers who like to get off the grid sometimes without sacrificing that home comfort.
Gone are the days when you had to be in the office or at home to get some work done. Today, as long as you have a power station and put a tent stake in the ground first when setting up a tent, you can take your work anywhere even to camping trips.
Ideal for Emergencies
Lastly, power stations are not only ideal for campers and travelers but will come in handy at home when there is a power outage. In areas that are prone to power outages or heavy storms, power stations can make all the difference until the power issue is resolved.
How Does Portable Power Supply for Camping Work
A lot of things can happen on a camping trip but the most common ones are devices running out of juice forcing you to live off the grid for a while. Portable power supplies come in handy during such moments and they range from rechargeable batteries, power banks, solar cases and back up batteries.
Say, for instance, your phone battery has run out of juice and you can’t afford to be offline, you can use these items to recharge it and get back on the grid. They are meant to act as a backup and help you make it on a camping trip or when traveling without being off.
How to Choose the Best Portable Power Supply for Camping
There are so many portable power supplies that you might feel overwhelmed. Here is a comprehensive guide on what to look out for a power station so that you can get one that meets all your needs.
Devices and Wattage
Devices and wattage are some of the most important factors to consider. This is because they affect not only the power capacity but the number of outlets that the battery will need as well. In such a case, consider the number of devices that you will be charging and whether they will be charged simultaneously.
After that, determine the amount of charge that each device will draw and go for an option that has the right number of outlets capable of supporting every device that you have and their wattage. When buying a device to support multiple devices, go for power stations that have more power since the batteries normally struggle when they are close to full charge.
How to Recharge It
Before you buy a power supply, consider how you will be recharging it. Can it only be recharged through an AV outlet or can a carport be used or a solar panel?
If you will be camping in the wild for instance for a couple of days, you want power stations that can be recharged using solar as long as the solar panel has the right wattage and voltage for the battery. If you are traveling, then you can get a product that can be recharged using a carport and you don’t have to go completely off-grid.
This is another important factor that you should consider if you are using power stations that draw less than 10W of voltage. The reason why this is important is that a majority of these items tend to shut off when wattage gets too low which is a problem if you are counting on it running your other devices when you are asleep.
If you will be using your device when traveling or during a camping trip, you need something light in weight hence easy to move around with. In such a case, a lithium-ion battery is the ideal choice since they are lighter than acid batteries and last even longer.
When it comes to battery storage, you need to consider whether your product recharges devices or stores the charge itself. With solar chargers, for instance, it is important that an inbuilt battery is included and that way you have a steady supply of power all the time.
The capacity of a power station matters most. How many devices can the gadget charge? The more the capacity, the longer it will serve you and the better your experience will be. The last thing you want is your camping trip or travel being ruined because the power supply you brought has a low capacity.
Size and Weight
There is a lot that you have to take with you on a camping trip or when traveling and the last thing you want is the power supply weighing you down because it is too bulky. Small and lightweight options are easier to pack and carry but at the same time, larger devices have a higher capacity and power output.
This is closely related to weight and size. Ensure that it is the right size in terms of dimensions to be paced with everything else. The power stations should also be lightweight so that it doesn’t weigh you down throughout your travel.
Camping can end up taking a serious toll on your gear like your world’s best camping table, backpacking saw for survival, comfortable camping air mattresses and your portable power supply. In such a case, ensure that the gadget you get is made of high-quality materials that are highly durable.
This is just a matter of personal preference. Portable power supplies range in designs from solar to wind-powered gadgets, generators, power inverters as well as battery packs and the one you get will depend on the devices you need a charge and its portability.
Devices today have inbuilt power inverters that make it easy to charge AC devices. The AC outlet in such a case determines to a large extent the kind of devices that you will charge and you don’t want to bring an item with AC outlets that can’t charge a single device.
Today, these devices usually have inbuilt inverters that make it easy for them to charge AC devices and they can be recharged using the car’s battery of solar.
Fast Charging USB-A Port
These gadgets come in handy when there is a power outage or you are camping in the jungle. As much as this is the case, the charging speed of the power supply matter. The last thing you want is a device that charges slowly especially when you still have a couple of days to go.
When it comes to inverters, each model has different waveforms. At the end of the day, the waveforms should be smooth and as clear as possible form the wall outlet so that your devices can run efficiently.
Other features make a whole lot of difference. For instance, the number of charging ports on a device, whether they are standard power outlets or USB ports. If you are camping alone, you might be comfortable with one portable power outlet but if you are camping as a group, then you need a device that has more than one charging ports.
At the end of the day, just like with every electrical device, your portable power supply may break down at some point. When this happens, you might incur a lot of costs repairing it if you are not forced to buy another one.
As such, always go for devices that have a warranty and ensure that you understand the warranty fully to know when to make a claim and under what circumstances.
Some portable power stations are based on lead-acid battery technology. Others use lithium-based power. Then there are those that second as car charges or have solar panels attached.
There’s a breadth of features to concern (and confuse) yourself with. Yet, you can narrow it down by referring to the previous questions.
For a variety of scenarios, besides picnic table for camping, here are some of the best portable power sources for camping available today.
12 Best Portable Power Supplies for Camping
The Suaoki portable power station might not be as slim and lightweight as a standard cell phone power bank, but it has a lot more features that can come in handy if your camping, boating, fishing or if the power is ever out at your house. You’re not just charging your phone with this portable power station, you have a full AC outlet, bright flashlight for camping and multiple USB ports with this unit.
The Capacity of the Suaoki is very good, you can charge your laptop, phone, tablet, etc. all at once with multiple AC/DC/USB outputs. All the outlets are sturdy and the cords don’t feel like they are falling out.
One of my favorite features is having the ability to recharge the portable power station with Suaoki’s solar power charger which you would need to purchase separately. If you are camping in a camping cot that’s very comfortable for several days without a power supply it might be a good idea to purchase the solar panel on Amazon. Another option is to supply power to your RV with solar panels.
Having a built-in flashlight is another great feature to have around the campsite and in a power outage at home. The flashing light would also be useful in an emergency to call for help or if you do ever get lost on your camping trip, so make sure to recharge your camping lantern.
This power station comes with a power cord for charging via AC outlet and also a DC 12V car charger that is ideal for car camping when you’re in a warm sleeping bag liner. There are a few other cables/adapters that are included to cover pretty much all options of charging the portable power station and charging your electronic devices/tools. It would be nice if there was built-in storage for all the cables and adapters but it’s not something that’s super important, just nice to have.
A downside would be the size of this charger is probably too big if you are going hiking and need to carry all your gear with you, but if you are going camping and taking your vehicle then this will not be a problem.
For a reasonable price and slim size, the Anker PowerCore is a perfect choice for those seeking quick charges for multiple handheld devices. The PowerCore weighs as much as a can of soup, according to the company, yet has the capacity to charge an Apple iPhone seven times, a Galaxy S6 five times, and an iPad mini twice.
The new technology (either Voltage Boost or Qualcomm Quick Charge depending on the model) allows for the charger to recharge itself rapidly, so you can get back to using your devices quicker. Plus, there is the industry-leading 4.8A Output to sweeten the deal.
A downside would be the limit of 2 charging ports. If it is not just you in need of a charge or two, then this can become rather inconvenient. Should that happen, consider the larger 26800mAh model. It’s cheaper than buying two 20100mAh ones.
Although the EasyAcc Rugged Outdoor Power Bank is not light enough to be used for everyday purposes, it does help you take your outdoor adventures to the next level. This portable power supply is durable and waterproof. With an IP67 rating, the EasyAcc can be immersed in 1-meter deep water for up to 30 minutes without receiving any damage.
The battery pack is also surrounded by a thick rubber casing that is CE, FCC, and RoHS certified to protect it from falls and other shocks. Other popular features included in this power bank are the covered charging port to keep it clean, the LED flashlight, and the charging meter.
The flashlight has various modes: regular beam, flash, and SOS lighting. For those climbing mountains or venturing into slightly more extreme regions, this power bank could be a lifesaver in more ways than one.
The manufacturer states that the EasyAcc Rugged Outdoor Power Bank can charge an iPhone up to 7 times. A Galaxy S6 can be charged up 5 times. There is a combined current of 3.4A to charge devices up quickly. As for the power station itself, it will require about 12 hours.
It is rather bulky. You wouldn’t want to carry this in a purse or daypack. There have been multiple reports of the casing coming loose overtime or the power bank dying in the middle of a charge.
There are two sizes that most people opt for with the Goal Zero Yeti—the 150 or the 400. The Goal Zero 400 Solar Generator is going to be the focus of this review. Weighing in just under 30 pounds, this is not the kind of portable charger you can lug around with you all day long. The lead-acid battery that powers the Goal Zero is, well, like lead.
However, Goal Zero power station acts as the world’s best generator for RV and can charge a gaming laptop several times and even run a 75-watt television for about 4 hours non-stop. The Yeti powers up to 300 watts continuously and boasts a 600-watt surge capacity. The other thing that makes the Goal Zero Yeti Solar Generator a smart pick is the additional features.
First, along with two AC outlets, with the Goal Zero, you also get 3 DC-outputs. You can even get solar and vehicle attachments (sold separately) to keep the battery going longer.
The downside to the Goal Zero Yeti Generator is definitely the bulk. If you do a lot of motorcycles or car camping, having one of these handy isn’t an issue, because you can just keep it in the car or outside of your premium teepee tent for camping.
In fact, it would be ideal. Hook up the Goal Zero to a couple of portable solar panels, and you’d have endless energy. However, if you backpack a lot, such as a comfortable backpacking hammock, consider another lighter, more viable option.
Tired of having to pre-charge your power banks before going on an adventure? The SOKOO Portable Solar Charge can change all that. Though you may be thinking that a solar panel would be highly fragile and not all smart for hiking, this model will make you see differently.
The SOKOO charger is encased in durable PVC material and is even water-resistant. A sudden rainstorm or high-humidity areas will not harm this unit.
In terms of portability, the compact size means it can be slipped into any space or, using the copper-alloy eye-holes, you can easily attach it to anywhere there’s a lead or carbineer. It’s also very lightweight—coming in at only 17.5 ounces.
However, while you get immediate access to a charge no matter where you are, the SOKOO (along with many of its competitors) only has two USB charging ports. That can be a turnoff for those who were hoping to power other kinds of devices.
Still, you can expect those two devices to charge up rapidly, thanks to the Smart IC technology that detects and monitors how fast and how much charging has to be done. This simultaneously protects your technology from overcharge and overload.
In fix, the SOKOO is an ideal solution. Plus, the price and durability make it smart for those times when another power bank has run out of juice.
Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station provides electric power when you are outdoors. It provides a conservative power supply through the use of solar energy to recharge.
It contains a 67,000mAh lithium-ion battery that can provide power for up to 6 hours when it is used in power-saving mode. Its AC output can power devices that are not more than 200 watts and its operation time is majorly based on the power consumption of plugged gadgets.
At just 6.6 pounds, this product is lightweight and can be easily carried when you are on the go. This power station features an LCD display screen that shows its battery status, input and output charges.
This device works quietly and is environmentally friendly, it can be paired with any solar panel that matches it. USB ports serve for charging your phone and other electronics.
- Provides a substantial amount of power on a full charge
- Light in weight
- Might take a long time to fully charge
Enkeeo S155 Portable Power Station is a product that provides power backup during emergencies like power outage while you are indoors. It is also ideal for use during outdoor activities like camping and hunting.
It has an AC power threshold of 100 watts, any charge higher than this can cause the device to switch off automatically. With up to seven ports, including AC, DC and USB ports, you can connect as many devices as you want.
There are three methods of recharging this portable power station. You can choose to charge it through an AC wall outlet, which will take at least 7 hours for a full charge. It can also be charged through a 50W or 100W solar panel and a carport.
An emergency LED flashlight is easy to switch on. It weighs just 3.7 pounds and features foldable handles for easy transport.
- Multiple ports with different functions
- Three different charging methods
- Emergency LCD flashlight
- Batteries might not be able to hold a charge for long
Prymax Portable Power Station is a 298Wh powerhouse that is suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. At just 6.5 pounds, it is an ideal option when you are on the go and during emergencies.
It can be used safely with devices that do not require more than 300 watts. It has up to 9 different ports, including a cigarette lighter port. This means you can plug in all your needed electronics at once.
With its battery management system, this product features overheat, over-voltage and overcharging protection. It also has two pure sine wave AC outlets, which are meant for more sensitive devices.
This device can be used in close quarters like tents as it does not make use of any type of fuel. Therefore, it does not emit any hazardous gases. The LED flashlight has two lighting modes – normal and SOS mode, which can be used in emergency situations.
- Large capacity power station
- Less risk of damage to plugged devices due to the battery management system
- Suitable for use both indoors and outdoors
- Power unit might get hot while charging
Paxcess Portable Power Station combines the functions of a mobile power source and an inverter. This makes it an essential product to have at home for emergencies and also for outdoor activities.
Its 67,500mAh rechargeable battery can provide enough voltage to power devices with charges that are less than 350 watts. It can be used in conjunction with a solar panel for charging and also to serve as a solar power generator. It requires just 5 to 6 hours to attain a full charge through a wall outlet.
Featuring pure sine wave inverters, it provides stable power, thereby lowering the risk of damage to your devices. It also provides up to six multi-safety protections, which are all designed to reduce electric surge and damage.
This portable power station weighs 5.9 pounds and produces no sounds or vibration while working. It is suitable for use around children and pets as it does not give off any harmful substances.
- Multi-safety protection prevents electric damage
- Can be used as a solar power generator
- Children and pet friendly
- Might not provide a strong power output
Aiper Portable Power Station is an essential device that provides a mobile source of power when it is needed, like during power outages, emergencies and outdoor trips.
Its 45000mAh battery can be recharged with the use of a 60-watt solar panel. It can also be charged by an AC wall outlet and a car charging port. This product can support devices with a power consumption of up to 200 watts.
Two AC ports, USB ports and 3 DC ports can easily charge your phones, laptops and drones and also connect your CPAP. It has plug and play support, making it suitable for use in homes as power backup.
Short circuit, low-voltage, low-temperature protection and battery management system ensure safe use at all times.
- Can be used as a mobile power backup in the home
- Three different charging methods
- Ensure safe use
- Power output might not be substantial
If you purchase ROCKPALS Power Supply for your next camping trip, you won’t have to worry about the low battery, since this product has built-in USBs for quick charging and a strong battery.
The battery has a high capacity and is really lightweight. Additionally, it supports pass-through charging. Inside the pack, you also get an AC and MC4 adapters, car charger cable, a manual and an 18-month warranty.
You can charge it in three ways, with one of them being by solar power by using a 60 or 100W solar panel. However, you’d have to purchase each solar panel separately. Other options are with a wall outlet or car charger.
To make the use of the product as noiseless as possible, the manufacturer has used pure sine wave inverter, which also makes sure that there are no exhaust fumes.
- Upgraded AC output
- USB for quick charging
- High capacity battery
- Almost noiseless thanks to the pure sine inverter
- Build isn’t that sturdy and durable as it seems on the first look
Ideally, you want to choose a charge pack that is going to sufficiently power devices like a small electrical tent fan that’ll keep you cool at all times, music gear, and other equipment, like lighting. Some products are wonderful for traveling and working remotely. RVs are a great way to do so, but make sure to stay warm by using an electric RV heater.
Others have larger cells, allowing you to step even further away from the grid. Sizes, weights, and output vary. Because of this, here are some questions to consider when figuring out how to keep your food fresh with a cooler on wheels and what kind of best portable power source to purchase for camping:
- How long are you going to be away? Most portable battery packs are measured in milliamp-hours (mAh). However, you’ll notice that mAh is often converted into something more understandable like 10,000mAh = 3 smartphone charges, or 20,000+mAh can charge a smartphone 6-10 times.
- Will you be moving around often? How much gear are you bringing along? Most battery packs come with dense, heavy batteries that will undoubtedly weigh your backpack down more than necessary. The higher the charge capacity, the more a traditional portable pack is going to weigh. If you want something lighter, consider a portable solar-powered charger.
- What kind of devices or equipment were you planning to power? How many were your planning on charging at one time? When a whole group plugs their phones into a single portable power source, the stored energy is going to get drained rapidly. So as yourself, “do I really have to pack 3 portable power packs or no?”
- What is your ideal budget? Some best portable power packs can cost as little as US$5, while others break the US$1000 mark. By the way, if you want something decent that will last through traveling and trekking, it’s going to cost somewhere between $100-$400.
- Do you need a waterproof pack or no? Is it going to break if you accidentally drop it? Will sand get into the crevices? Is it crush-proof?
Portable Power Supply vs Similar Devices
Portable power supplies come in handy when you are traveling or during a camping trip but how do they compare to other similar devices?
Portable Power Supply for Camping vs Gas Generator
A battery power electrical outlet doesn’t produce enough power to run an entire house. However, they can power smaller electrical devices like a television, a small fridge, a smartphone as well as a laptop or when you put your food and drink in a cooler with wheels.
Such units, compared to generators run quietly and have multiple outlets. Generally, they can be charged using a wall outlet or a car’s cigarette lighter. They work the same way as power banks but on a larger scale. Generators, on the other hand, can be used to power the entire house but have only one outlet.
Portable Power Supply for Camping vs USB Power Bank
Compared to USB power bank, these products can be used to power multiple devices at one from TVs, mini-fridges, laptops and smartphones. They have more than one outlet hence can recharge multiple devices at the same time as long as the capacity is enough to support that.
USB power banks, however, though they operate the same way, operate on a smaller scale. Most of them have only one outlet and are only used to recharge cell phones.
Portable Power Supply for Camping vs Portable Laptop Charger
A portable laptop charger works the same way as a mobile phone power bank. They are used to recharge the laptop when the battery runs out of juice. They are light in weight, work in a variety of systems and have the proper power output needed to power your laptop. Compared to the best portable power supplies, they can’t be used to power up other devices except for the laptop hence are not the most versatile.
How to Use a Portable Power Supply for Camping
Step 1 – Ensure that there is enough power
Before you begin using your power supply, ensure that there is enough power to recharge all your devices and not just one.
Step 2 – Connecting
Use the appropriate cables to connect your devices to the power supply and ensure that it’s charging.
Step 3 – Make sure not to overcharge
It’s common to leave your phone charging all night long but when you have a power supply, you need to recharge all your devices hence ensure that you don’t overcharge one device.
How to Maintain a Portable Power Supply for Camping
Step 1 – Ensure that the power supply is always charged
When camping, ensure that your device is fully charged so that it can serve you.
Step 2 – Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
In case of any issues, ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to deal with such issues as they arise like repairs.
Step 3 – Clean appropriately
In time, dust may accumulate on your product and when that happens you need to know how to deal with that. To avoid ruining your gadget, follow the instructions of the manufacturer on how to clean it.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to portable power supplies, more spending does mean more quality. You need to ensure that the gadget you get is made of high-quality material to last you longer.
While you may be tempted to spend as little as you can, with expensive models you will be paying or features like multiple charging ports to serve everyone in case you are in a group or to charge multiple devices.
Do’s and Don’ts to Do with a Portable Power Supply for Camping
- Don’t spill water on your portable charging supply as this can damage it.
- Don’t use your gadget to recharge a device that is not compatible with it as this can damage the gadget.
- Do go through the manufacturer’s instructions if you are unsure how your device works.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get power when camping?
When camping, you can have solar or wind-powered gadgets, generators, battery backups or power inverters to ensure that your devices are always on.
Who should use portable power supplies for camping?
Power supply for camping can be used by anyone from van-lifers, campers, travelers as well as when in a tent for 8 to 10 people if you go camping with the family or are sleeping in a teepee tent when camping. The main aim of these products is to ensure that you are not entirely off the grind when you go camping.
How many watts do I need for my camping appliances?
If you have no idea what the actual load of your camping appliances is you can use some general rules to determine how many watts you need. For instance, a small fridge needs about 600 watts to start and 180 to keep running, while a microwave will need 1000 watts.
Can you use a portable power supply on a plane?
Policies about using these devices vary from one airline to another. However, generally, you are allowed lithium batteries that have up to 100Wh on the plane.
How long do batteries of portable power supply for camping last?
How long the battery lasts will depend on the model as well as how you use and recharge the device. One constant thing, however, is that all batteries deplete at some point which is usually after 2 or 3 years. To prolong your battery, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding charging and discharging the battery when its new and ensure that you recharge it for the next three months at least.
When purchasing the best portable power supply for camping or a generally nomadic lifestyle, there is a lot to keep in mind. Depending on how and where you travel, some gadgets may be more efficient than others.
Camping is one of those activities that you engage in to get out of your routine and experience life outside the comfort of your home. Some people choose to go completely off the grid but if you still want to remain connected, then you need to ensure that you have everything that you need.
The best portable power supply will keep your devices connected and the one you get will depend on several factors including the number of people camping and the number of devices that you need to be charged.
Photos from: mukhin / depositphotos.com, escapejaja / depositphotos.com and ryzhov / depositphotos.com.
- Top 4 Best Portable Power Supplies for Camping (Summary)
- What Is a Portable Power Supply for Camping
- Benefits of Portable Power Supplies for Camping
- How Does Portable Power Supply for Camping Work
- How to Choose the Best Portable Power Supply for Camping
- 12 Best Portable Power Supplies for Camping
- Portable Power Supply vs Similar Devices
- How to Use a Portable Power Supply for Camping
- How to Maintain a Portable Power Supply for Camping
- Does More Spending Mean More Quality
- Do’s and Don’ts to Do with a Portable Power Supply for Camping
- Frequently Asked Questions