It has abandoned the grid and fully embraced portable power

Real campers will likely put their phones in airplane mode on their camping trip, but let’s face it: if you’re a giant geek like me, you’ll have plenty of tools to keep you going. Not only do you need power for your phone and tablet, but enough juice to keep your fellow campers going, too. If you have a dedicated camera that you use over the weekend, you may need to keep a charged backup battery. You brought the drone? You’ll plow through your batteries pretty quickly though. Fortunately, it’s not that complicated to provide all the power you need, even when you’re far from civilization.

big horn battery

Simon Sage / Digital Trends

The simplest solution—especially for a short weekend getaway with only small devices to conserve charge—is a big battery. These usually have a lot of outlets, so you can keep all campers happy. If you increase your battery by up to 100% while still connected to the civilization, you will likely have enough power for a few days.

We’ve looked at quite a few models in this category, including the Anker PowerHouse II, Jackery Explorer 1000 and EcoFlow Delta. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but regardless of their quirks about minor features or performance differences, you get a lot of power. The point here is that this stuff is heavy. If you are going on a long trip to your location, you will need to measure the necessity and possibly downsize to more portable batteries. For more excursions with access to the road, a large power plant can do the job.

The sun came out, the panels came out

Goal Zero Nomad 100 solar panels on the picnic table, and chargers.
Simon Sage / DIgital Trends

During the summer, you’ll obviously be eager to soak up plenty of rays while on the road. Maybe let your devices do the same. When a large battery isn’t an option, solar panels can fill in the gap. However, using small solar panels is useless. If you’re going to bother, invest in big companies. Yes, it’s less portable, meaning you may still count on road access depending on how much you want to move, but if you’re going to be staying somewhere out of town for more than a couple of nights, this can be a lifesaver.

I used Goal Zero Nomad 100 boards on the weekends. One of them was in the hut with great weather and plenty of clearance in the sky. I only needed to adjust their position twice a day. The amount of power I was generating was taking advantage of the capacity on the Sherpa AC100 battery that I attached to the solar panels. Even with so many devices charged throughout the day, I routinely wish I’d brought a bigger battery to take advantage of all those rays.

It was our second weekend with camping at a family get-together. Conditions here were less than ideal. Trees tall on all sides limited the amount of daylight I was able to capture, and the panels had to withstand a night of rain, and an overcast day having already reduced power generation. Despite these hurdles, I was still able to keep all my personal electronic devices running constantly, even though I didn’t have much to spare for the other camps.

Charging phones with fire

BioLite CampStove 2+ with phone connection and shooting.
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

BioLite CampStove has been one of my favorite camping accessories in recent years. It uses a heat generator to generate electricity when lighting a fire. Useful accessories like a grill and kettle (complete with French press) and a smart packing system make it a practical addition to your camping kit.

I’ve used the previous generation CampStove a few moons ago, and although it did what it said on the box, the overall output was disappointing. However, CampStove 2+ has been greatly improved. She was able to raise the phone from 16 percent to 34 percent over the course of a 40-minute grilling session. You probably won’t be charging all of your gear exclusively with CampStove 2+ at this rate, but if you’re going to start a fire anyway, you might as well get a little juice in the process.

To keep the engine running, you will need to routinely set fire to wood that has been chipped to fit inside the relatively small bore. This may be more of a chore with babysitting than the average campfire. Circumstances can have a huge impact on how far this system goes. Finding dry wood the day after the rain was a crossfire. On a previous trip with the first generation stove, the entire area we were camping in was under a wildfire warning with a strict ban on open flames.

Obviously, not everyone will go camping with this expensive gear, but for those who want to stay connected, it’s entirely possible to keep your gear running while you’re out in the woods.

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