Camping provides an excellent opportunity to unplug from work and the demands of technology by escaping to nature. While you might feel a little strange at first to venture into the outdoors without access to the internet, over time it can be a wonderfully freeing experience.
However, even if you don’t have a cell signal or even use your phone, it’s still a good idea to bring it along with you when going camping. Not only will it be important in the event of an emergency, but it also makes a good lightweight camera.
Due to the advances in technology, many people take the majority of their photos right on their smartphones. To capture amazing memories, a phone is essential, even if you never use the internet or check your email.
Other ways to utilize your phone while camping include using it as entertainment, whether that be playing a favorite game or listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Many people also enjoy logging their hikes using the GPS feature and, even without internet access, offline maps can be invaluable for navigation.
So then how do you combat the problem of a lack of electricity? What can you do if your battery dies? And what are some ways to ensure your phone stays charged while you’re away from home?
Fortunately, many options on the market that can provide an easy solution. From standard mobile batteries to one-of-a-kind inventions, researchers are constantly coming up with new ways to keep our gadgets powered no matter where life takes us.
Portable Battery or Power Bank
This popular accessory is essential for any smartphone owner, even those who never go camping. Featuring a rechargeable battery and a USB port, you will need to charge it before leaving on your trip.
A portable power bank can extend the battery life of your phone but will be difficult to recharge once it is depleted. It’s ideal for short camping trips or hikes where you have access to electricity and can recharge when you get back to the campsite.
When choosing one, make sure it has enough capacity to charge your device without weighing you down too much, especially if you’ll be backpacking. You’ll also have to make sure it has enough power to quickly charge your phone.
You can now find portable solar panels that are quite light and efficient. Using the power of the sun, you can keep your phone topped up at the campsite.
Some panels can be clipped onto your tent or on your backpack so you can continuously collect power as you hike or go about your day. However, you will need direct sunlight for a sustained period to make many of these types of chargers a viable option.
There is, however, a power source that can be used even in low light, shade, and rain. The Joos Orange collects power and also stores energy to be used later. It is also waterproof and charges any gadget very quickly.
If you bring along speakers to play music at your campsite, put them to work as a charging device. Many Bluetooth speakers will have one or more USB ports that can be used for charging your phone.
Solar powered speakers are rechargeable and can charge your phone while simultaneously playing music. Those made specifically for the outdoors are rugged, water resistant, and can easily be hooked onto your backpack with a carabiner so you can enjoy music as you hike.
Hand Crank Charger or Device
There are quite a few devices that can be charged using a hand crank that does not depend on electricity or batteries. Some options include headlamps, flashlights, lanterns, and radios that can all be powered by hand.
While cranking will power the device itself, many also feature a USB port which you can plug your phone into and borrow some of the energy to charge it. In addition to a hand crank, some also feature solar panels to harness even more power.
If you will have a high demand for energy, a portable generator might be the way to go. A lithium battery generator provides a much larger amount of energy and can be used to charge devices as well as power bigger electronics.
Of course, this option is much larger and heavier than other sources, but if you will be car camping then it’s a great thing to bring. Other generators that run on gas won’t be as quiet or provide as much clean energy, but could also be a possibility.
There are also wind-powered generators that work great on a blustery day or can be used while biking or running. The windier it is, the faster your device will charge once it’s connected to the device.
When car camping, just plug your device into charge using your vehicle’s battery. You probably already have a USB car charger that can easily be used. Just make sure not to drain the battery or you could end up stranded at the campsite.
Camp Stove or Cooking Pot
Who would have thought that it’s possible to use a camp stove to generate electricity? But with the invention of the BioLite stove, you can use sticks, pine cones, and other materials as fuel.
The stove then converts the heat into electricity which can be used to charge your gadgets. Although this option is a bit more expensive, it’s a unique way to cook and generate power at the same time.
Another similar option is the PowerPot which is a thermoelectric generator. It is filled with water and placed on a heat source such as a portable stove or campfire. The pot has a USB port and flame-resistant wire to reach through a campfire so your device doesn’t get damaged or burnt.
A phone can be charged using 4 AA batteries if you can effectively combine them. You will need a battery holder and a way to connect the power to your phone’s USB cable.
There are many cases on the market now which have a built-in battery. Many are also quite durable to protect your phone if it’s dropped and may also be waterproof. Some even feature solar panels on the back to provide another means of recharging the battery.
Turn your fire into power is with a fuel cell that is activated by heat. The VOTO charger can convert carbon and hydrogen from your campfire into electricity.
Just put it under the charcoal when you’re cooking food and let it do its job. It also features an LED light and is quite affordable.
Another option is the FlameStower which is quite small and easily folds up to take up less space. It uses the power of your fire to charge devices. All you have to do is fill the reservoir with water and put the blade directly into any source of fire.
Cyclists and mountain bikers will be happy to hear they can use their bikes to convert their pedaling power into electricity. The lightweight and compact Bikecharge Dynamo from Tigra Sport fits onto your wheels and can fully charge your phone with just a 2-3 hour bike ride.
Unique & Innovative Charging Solutions
Researchers and scientists are constantly innovating and coming up with new and interesting ways to charge electronic devices. Many of the newest gadgets can be found on Kickstarter where they are funded and sold to eager early adopters.
Although not all of the campaigns or inventions ended up being sold to the public, there are some uncommon methods featured and new ones being thought up all the time. Keep reading to see what groundbreaking new technology has debuted in recent years.
This super slim charging card is approximately the size of a credit card and can easily slip into a pocket or wallet. It features a micro USB and can be recharged by plugging it into just about any electronic device.
The project was funded on Kickstarter by the company Hello Nomad which also sells other unique charting solutions such as wireless chargers, battery cables, and charging wallets.
Water Power Generator
The Estream is another Kickstarter invention by Enomad which features a mini power plant that converts moving water into energy. Perfect for hikers and backpackers, it can fit inside your pack and be placed into a stream to generate power.
The water rotates a turbine which allows the internal generator to generate electricity. It can be used even in a weak current or placed in the water behind a boat such as a kayak, taking less than 5 hours to fully charge the battery.
The onE Puck from Epiphany Labs is a heat engine that got its start through crowdfunding and uses different temperatures to provide energy.
The puck uses a stirling engine that provides power through a heat disparity. Just place either a hot or cold drink on top and you’ll generate enough power to recharge your phone’s battery.
Soccer Ball Charger
Back in 2013 Uncharted Play, Inc. launched a soccer ball that doubled as a generator to provide power after playing a game. Inside the ball was a pendulum-like mechanism that helped it capture kinetic energy and store it inside the ball for later.
Playing for just 30 minutes was enough to power an LED lamp for 3 hours. The ball was only 1 ounce heavier than a regular soccer ball and had a 6-watt output.
Did you know that fruits can act as a battery? To be effective, you will need an acidic fruit like a lemon but oranges or grapefruits might work too. One won’t be enough either, you’ll need about a dozen or more.
You’ll also need some copper wire, copper screws, and zinc nails. Make sure to wear rubber gloves while performing this experiment so you don’t get shocked.
All you have to do is insert the screws and nails into the lemon and connect the lemons using the copper wire. Then connect the wire to a charging cable and tape them together before plugging it into your phone.
There have been some interesting headlines in recent years featuring unique wearable charging devices. Many of these experimental designs make their debut at the UK music festival, Glastonbury.
The company GotWind debuted Orange Power Wellies which converted the heat from your feet into electricity. Music fans also got to test out a t-shirt called Sound Charge which was covered in a film that turned music vibrations into an electrical charge.
Southampton University researchers came up with the Power Pocket, a pair of denim shorts that used kinetic energy to produce power to charge your phone. They also featured the Recharge Sleeping Bag which captured heat from campers at the festival.
Unfortunately, most of these devices are not available for purchase but it’s interesting to think about the possibilities and what scientists may come up with in the future.
Researchers at Sungkyunkwan University’s nanotechnology institute in South Korea are trying to create a device that can charge your phone using sound. Whether it’s the sound of your voice or other noises in the environment, they are trying to develop the sound-absorbing pad that will generate an electrical current.
It’s funny to think that your frustration with a low battery could be channeled into shouting at your phone to get it to charge!
Tips for Extending Your Battery Life
Now that you know how to charge your phone without access to electricity, you may be wondering how to make the most of your newfound energy source. After all, some of these methods take quite a bit of time so you’ll want to conserve the charge once you have it.
There are several things you can do to make sure your phone doesn’t burn through its battery in a matter of hours. By implementing these tricks, you can use your phone for hours on end with just a single charge.
- Use Airplane Mode
If you’re in the backcountry, a forest or a national park where there’s no cellular service, it’s best to put your phone on airplane mode. Because your phone will constantly search for a signal, this activity can severely deplete your battery.
Airplane mode will also cut off any chances of apps using cellular data or wifi to run in the background should you get a signal for a short time. You’ll still retain a lot of functionality and be able to use the GPS, offline maps, music, and camera though.
- Turn It Off
When your phone isn’t in use, turn it completely off to save the battery life. Of course, turning the phone on and off multiple times also takes power. So try powering down for extended periods, such as overnight instead.
- Disable Apps
Most phones have a feature to tell you which apps are using up the most energy. Take a look and find out if there are any which aren’t necessary while camping. Then disable or temporarily delete them so they don’t deplete your phone.
- Power Saving Mode
If your phone has the option to use a power saving mode, take advantage of it while outdoors. The low power mode will reduce or disable certain features that aren’t necessary such as certain visual effects, automatic downloads that happen in the background, syncing email, and backing up photos to the cloud.
- Dim the Lights
Another trick is to turn down the brightness of your screen. Some phones have a special nighttime feature that will do this at a certain time to reduce eye strain in the dark. You should be able to manually activate it whenever you want though.
- Text Your Loved Ones
If you do have a signal, opt for texting over calling to save some battery juice. Try to only send messages that are essential instead of having an entire extended conversation. And refrain from sending photographs and videos too because they usually take longer to go through.
- Charge Before You Go
Make sure all your devices, especially your phone, are fully charged before you leave home. If your phone has difficulty holding a charge, plug it in to charge in the car while you drive to the campsite.
- Lock Your Screen
Set the locking feature on your phone to a shorter length of time. Then, after you use your phone, the duration that the screen will be powered on and bright will be reduced, thus conserving battery power.
- Keep Battery Levels High
As much as possible, try not to let your phone’s battery dip below a certain percentage. If the battery consistently depletes, it may affect how well the phone will hold a charge. Not to mention it could take much longer for the phone to be operable once you do plug it in to charge.
- Take Fewer Photos
Make the most of your camping adventure by using your phone as little as possible. While beautiful scenery makes you want to capture the moment, most of the landscapes don’t look as awe-inspiring in a photo. So enjoy the moment and set yourself a limit on how many pictures you’ll take on the trip.