Charging Phones When Camping
keeping phones charged when camping or on outdoor trips can be crucial for safety in case of emergency, and for those that need to be in touch with work or children, it can be a real headache.
And Smartphones are not the only gadgets that people want to work in the wild; tablets, GoPros or SLR cameras, and GPS devices have become must have gadgets for hikers and other outdoor sports. All these have a rechargeable battery, but how can you keep them working when there is no electricity?
There are small solar panels that can be carried and most come equipped with a USB port that lets you plug directly into them and begin charging, but they can be very slow, and rely on sunshine, of course.
There are other solutions that are better in some circumstances but first…
Reduce The Need To Charge Your Phone When There Is No Electricity
You can help your phone to use less while you are away. How? By changing some settings and the way you use the phone.
- Update apps – If apps are not up-to-date your phone my try to auto-update while you are away. Update all before you leave and, if possible, turn of auto-update.
- Turn off apps – Many apps run in the background even when you are not using them. If you don’t really need them, turn them off!
- Turn off notifications – Do you need to know every little thing as it happens? Lots of apps notify you of changes and if you have active friends on social media notifications can go through the roof. Turn them off while you are away.
- Adjust Connectivity features – While Location (GPS) Wifi and blutooth may be useful some of the time, if you are not actively using them, Turn them OFF to stop them draining your battery.
- Use power saving mode – some phones have a vigorous pwer saving mode built in, and there are apps that have this function that can allow you to pick and choose what to stop. It’s worth checking them out and using them.
- Reduce screen brightness – Lowering the brightness of the screen can make a huge difference to battery life. Make the brightness level as low as possible.
- Text instead of call – If you really must get in touch, Texting needs much less power than talking on your phone. It has the added benefit of getting to the person whether or not they can talk right now! They may even give a more considered answer to the query you had, if you’re lucky.
- Turn off your phone. In poor coverage areas you phone will waste energy searching for a signal – using up energy to no avail! Switch off until you think you are in range and when you actually need to use it.
An Easy Solution:
Portable battery packs have become popular accessories for just about anyone who owns a smartphone.
There are plenty of elegant packs about in pretty colors and delicate finishes, and even very light-weight but they might not hold much more than a single charge…
You might be better off with an outdoor battery pack that can cope better with the rufty-tufty conditions of camping and outdoor life.
Just look at the following situations and see if any apply to you.
Spontaneous Hiking Day
Picture this scenario:
Sometimes the weather turns for the better and suddenly you want to go for a hike for the day. You need to stay in touch and you rely on your phone for safety and perhaps even for navigation, but you haven’t charged your phone!
As an owner of a powerful battery pack you simply take it with you and charge the phone as you go – job done.
A little more organized?
Suppose you are planning some time in the wild. If your phone is already charged before you leave, you can extend your stay for up to a week. Possibly longer in very sunny conditions. It does depend on your particular phone, how you use it and the efficient use of power and background apps, but as a way of making sure you have the power to call for help or sort out something that you really must attend to while away.
Perhaps two of you are going together. I have found that I feel more comfortable when each of us has our own battery pack and take the responsibility of using the power we have wisely. It also feels better knowing that should I lose mine, or forget to keep it topped up, there’s another one available. I doubt we would both fail at the same time!
Ha! perhaps you want them to be able to use a tablet on the car journey to the campsite and might even allow them to use them in the evenings.
I know, I know, it’s great to have a ‘no gadgets rule’ and get them so busy with outdoor activities that they drop off to sleep in no time, but since when did all the best laid plans pan out the way we expect? It’s no bad thing to have a choice if it all goes wrong.
In this scenario I would definitely buy more than one battery pack for their battery operated gadgets- preferably one for each person, especially if several trips are planned throughout the year.
On longer journeys it’s really good to have some kind of backup for the phone. You never know whether you will be able to charge up in the evenings. Many longer road trips are an adventure and you don’t always know what the facilities will be along the way. There will be times when all the ameneties are available and that’s when you can make sure the backup packs are fully charged, ready for the next time you find yourself cruising late into the night unable to find a good stopover.
Besides, when you find yourself loving a place and decide to stay and enjoy daily hikes or something, you’re covered.
Music Festivals can go on for several days. There is seldom anywhere to charge a phone and people get lost or get separated easily. A camping battery pack can keep your phone charged so that you stay in touch with one another throughout.
Plein air Painting or going to paint in a remote spot.
We have mentioned art before, as an outdoor activity. Sometimes it goes hand in hand with camping and hiking, but sometimes it just means being in places off the beaten track.
If you have a powerful battery pack as part of your art kit, you will not have to worry about your phone running out of juice at a critical moment. Not only that, the people who worry about you will rest easier. They are all too familiar with their much-loved but infuriating artist losing track of time, but unable to get them to come on home. Knowing that you are within reach will help them leave you alone.
See this cabin on a wild coast in England where artists do residencies – It has no electricity.
People with phones that use a lot of power or only last a day on a full charge
A powerful Battery Pack is a life-saver on 2-day trips or overnight stays.
I don’t know about you, but some of my relatives just don’t have enough sockets to let me charge my phone! You know the kind of thing. They have never upgraded their wiring and everything runs off that wall unit in the corner. Or they count every watt – make you feel bad about ‘using up’ their electricity. Yes, this scenario exists among some people and sometimes among people who like to live ‘off grid’. With the OUTXE Charger Power Bank (reviewed here) tucked in your bag you can sneakily charge up your phone without offending anyone.
The power pack I reviewed also has solar power as a backup for the storage battery and, for me, it’s the best portable charger for camping – you might want to check it out.
More ways to charge your phone
There are other imaginative ways to keep your phone charged up while camping by using dual purpose equipment. There are several combinations available like torches that double up as a power pack and cookers that carry spare power. Here are a few examples:
Light with USB battery pack :
Speakers for your music that also has a powerbank:
A Wood Burning Campstove with USB Charge Port:
A Grill that doubles up as a charger:
And a Foldable Solar Charger:
Even More ways to charge your phone
Yes, there are other gadgets too! However, I will explore those solutions another time because a sturdy battery pack that is always at the ready is the simplest way to keep phones and tablets charged outdoors in the widest variety of scenarios.