How to Keep Your Electronics Charged While Camping and Hiking
Have you ever missed that perfectly Instagram-able sunset because your phone or camera died while you were camping and you forgot a backup way to charge it? Been there, done that. It’s easy to forget about how you will charge your electronics when you go camping. At home, an outlet is never far away and finding a charge for your phone or camera generally isn’t a concern. Unfortunately, nature doesn’t provide conveniently placed power outlets. Luckily, there are tons of easy ways to prolong the life of your battery and a lot of lightweight charging options you can bring along when camping to avoid missing those perfect photo moments!
Keep chargers in your car and make sure your devices are fully charged when you arrive at your destination.
The more charge you have when you start a camping trip, the longer you can potentially make it last. I keep extra cords to charge my phone, camera, and headlamp in my car. Since most of my camping trips are a two to three-hour drive from my house I have plenty of time to charge anything that isn’t at 100%. Just remember to hide all of your cords and chargers if you are leaving your car at a remote trailhead; you will be surprised what people will break into a car for (even in what seems like the middle of nowhere)!
Bring items that double as power banks when backpacking.
When I am out backpacking everything I bring needs to be worth its weight in gold, or at least double as a backup battery for my phone! The UCO Rhody+ lantern is perfect for this! I hang it in my tent at night for illumination, but I also use it to charge my phone while I sleep. It has a blue light mode that uses very little battery and I use that when I need to find things in the tent without waking up my tent mate. I have brought this lamp on multiple 1-2 night backpacking trips and it has lit up my tent and charged my phone without dying!
Also check out the Madrona+ Lithium LED Lantern for a bigger power bank lantern.
Put your phone on airplane mode and dim the screen brightness.
Don’t have service? Turn your phone on airplane mode! Our phones use a lot of battery trying to find a cell connection when we are out of service. Turning my phone on airplane mode also helps me to fully unplug since I know there is no chance of a rogue text message or Instagram notification coming through. If my phone battery gets really low I also dim the screen brightness all the way down to the lowest level to help the battery even further. Don’t think you will remember to do either of these things? A lot of phones have a power saving mode, turn that on as soon as you get to camp instead of waiting until your battery is low and your phone prompts you to turn it on.
Harvest the Energy of the Sun (aka use a solar panel).
Most of the time when I choose to go camping it’s because the sun is shining and the temps are high. This is the perfect opportunity to break out a flexible folding solar panel charger. It’s easy to hook up directly to your phone and charge it using the sun but I would instead suggest hooking it up to a power bank because if you’re anything like me, you are using your phone to take photos. This is especially great if you have a base camp. Set the solar panel connected to your power bank in a bright sunny area, then go bag a peak, swim in a river, or take an afternoon nap while the sun charges your power bank for you! Then you can use your power bank to charge whatever your heart desires, instead of charging only one item.
If you are backpacking and won’t have a base camp, you can also hang the solar charger off your backpack! In this scenario, plug your phone into the solar panel, stash it in the brain of your pack or another secure pocket, then hang the Solar Panel from the outside of your pack. This will charge your phone while you are hard at work getting to your location! Just note that while you are in shaded forested areas, you probably won’t get much of a battery boost, it is the sun you need after all!
Put your headlamp in “red-light” mode.
Most of the time, you don’t need your headlamp at the brightest setting while you are relaxing at camp. You just need a little bit of light to illuminate your food while you eat, or to find the bathroom when nature calls in the middle of the night. Most headlamps have a red light setting for these situations! It’s a dim red light that is perfect for eyes that have adjusted to the dark. This setting uses way less battery, but it also has the added benefit of keeping you from blinding your campmates! If you use the UCO Vapor headlamp you can use the red light setting for up to 40 hours, that’s a lot of games of Uno!
Not using it? Turn it off!
It seems obvious, but I have accidentally drained the batteries to many a headlamp, camera, and lantern by forgetting to turn them off. If you are worried about drained batteries, triple check that you have turned all of your electronics off after you are done using them, or you risk missing out on that perfect photo because you accidentally left your camera on the entire time you were hiking.
Protect your devices from extreme temperatures.
Have you ever noticed your phone dies quicker in the cold? I once watched my phone go from 50% charged to 9% charge after 15 minutes of walking around in 16-degree temperatures. Most batteries perform best around room temperature, and extremely high or extremely low temperatures will drain your battery quicker. While camping in winter I avoid this by sleeping with my phone and headlamp in my sleeping bag with me. My sleeping bag even has a “stash” pocket so they aren’t floating around and getting crushed under me while I move around in my sleep. While winter hiking I keep my electronics in a pocket in the layer that is closest to my body, that way my body heat will keep them at an optimal temperature for better battery life.
Even if you only follow some of these tips, you should still see a major boost to the amount of battery life you get out of your devices on your next camping trip!