There’s nothing like a camping trip for getting away from it all. It’s great to get off-grid, kick back and immerse yourself in nature 24 hours a day. But unless you want to do an Ed Stafford and completely isolate yourself from the outside world, chances are you’ll still want your digital creature comforts.
If evenings for you are all about relaxing with a cold beer or three, reading something on the kindle or playing some tunes on your speakers, then you'll be wanting to avoid the dreaded low battery notification. And it's not necessarily a luxury to have a power pack. If your camping trip involves being wild or hiking, we also highly recommend having a charged phone with you in case of emergencies.
Luckily there’s a whole range of portable power packs out there. From smaller, more portable packs for charging your smartphone battery to larger powerhouses that’ll power practically anything you need for a great getaway. Want to take your camera and a fridge to keep those beers chilled without having to ensure you've got hook up at the campsite? There’ll be a power pack for you.
There’s a bewildering choice so it can be tough narrowing it down. How do you choose the best power pack for your next camping trip? Worry not, we’ve done the research for you. Read our buying guide and start planning your adventure.
Best Camping Power Pack: Our Top Picks
Best for: home and outdoor use – Goal Zero Yeti Portable Power Station
Best for: warm environments – Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
Best for: weekend breaks - Bluetti AC50S Solar Power Station
Best for: ultralight backpackers and trail runners – Biolite Charge 20 Portable Power Pack
Best for: extreme sports - Outdoor Tech Kodiak Plus 2.0 Portable Power Pack
Best for: glamping - Solarpod 240 Portable Solar Generator Battery Pack
Best for: car camping – EcoFlow Delta Portable Power Station
Best for: family camping trips - AllPowers 288Wh Portable Power Station
Best for: longer hiking trips – Anker PowerCore Essential 2000 Power Bank
Best for: more extreme environments – Powertraveller Condor 100 Power Bank
Best for: those on a budget who need a decent power capacity – Charmast 26800 Power Bank
Best for: those short on space - Anker PowerCore 5000 Compact Mobile Phone Charger
Best Camping Power Pack: Buying Guide
You’ll need to consider a few things when choosing a camping power pack;
The battery capacity will be one of the deciding factors. Simply put, the more powerful the battery, the longer you’ll be able to use it for and the more devices it will power. You’ll need to think about how long you’re going to be away for and what you’ll need to power when you’re there.
Bigger batteries tend to come in larger units with heftier price tags so you’ll also need to bear this in mind. Lugging a huge power pack for a weekend camping trip just so you can charge your smartphone a couple of times may be a tad overkill.
All those numbers can be confusing but you don’t need a degree in electronics to determine your power pack’s battery capacity. To keep things easy, check out the watt-hours (Wh) or the Ah rating. The larger these numbers are, the more powerful your battery.
Different models offer different outlet options for charging devices. If you just want to charge smaller devices such as a phone, Go Pro or Bluetooth speakers then standard USB ports or micro USB ports will be fine. If you want to charge phones, tablets and larger devices or just charge two devices at the same time, you’ll need more options. Bigger battery capacity camping power packs come with a better choice of outlet options, including AC, DC, USB-C and car cigarette lighters.
Confused? You’re not alone. Basically USB-A ports are the typical USB outlets that you’ll be familiar with. USB-C is a newer type of port which allows for a 100 watt, 20-volt connection that’ll power larger devices. It allows for a much higher data transfer rate than standard USB ports and supports better quality video delivery. Some kindles, phones and tablets also require a micro-USB cable, so make sure you've got the right power pack for you, or at least the right adaptor!
AC is the most common method of charging appliances through a mains supply, it delivers an alternating current. A power bank with an AC outlet will power larger appliances like mini-fridges, toasters or kettles, as long as they can cope with the wattage capacity.
With more outlet options, you need more battery power as you’ll need a higher capacity. And with more battery capacity comes bulkier, heavier power packs and a heftier price tag.
Watts or W as it’s often written is the power your camping power pack delivers. If you want to power something that runs at, say, 1800W AC, your power pack needs to deliver at least 1800W (or 1.8kW) of alternating current through an AC port. In fact, it’s worth having a bit of a buffer, so a 2000W power pack would be ideal.
Wh is short for Watt Hours. This is a different kettle of fish entirely (we know it’s confusing) and refers to how much capacity your camping power pack has. To put it simply, how long would it take for it to run out of juice when charging a device. A power pack with a 30Wh capacity could charge a 30-watt device for one hour before calling it quits.
If you just want to charge smaller devices on an overnight camp, then you’ll be good with a 25 – 30Wh battery. If you’re going on a longer trip or need to charge larger devices like a laptop or DSLR camera, you’ll need 200 – 300Wh.
Aha… so what’s Ah? And what about mAh?
Ah is short for amp-hour and refers to the storage capacity of the battery. The battery capacity of larger power packs is measured in amp-hours, but because smaller units have much less storage capacity they tend to be measured in milliamp hours, or mAh for short. 1000mAh is equal to 1Ah.
A battery with an 1800mAh capacity (or 1.8Ah) could deliver a current of 1800mAh (or 1.8Ah) for one hour. The higher the Ah or the mAh number, the more capacity the battery has.
Don’t get too hung up on the numbers. As long as the power pack has enough power to charge what you want it to charge and has enough battery power to last your trip, you’re good to go.
Finding the Right Power Pack: FAQ
How do I increase the capacity of my power pack?
It takes more energy to charge a device that’s less than 50% charged, so don’t let them drop below this if you can help it. Making sure you fully charge your devices before leaving the house will give you a head start. Switching your smartphone onto airplane mode will use less battery.
Try not to use your power pack while they’re charging up as this uses more power. Studies have shown that for optimum performance and battery life it’s best to avoid letting your power pack’s charge fall below 20% if you can.
As soon as your devices are sufficiently charged, unplug them. Constant topping up sucks the life from your power pack.
Don’t let the unit get too cold, this’ll slow its performance and reduce its lifespan.
How do I charge my portable power station?
There are three main power source options for charging your power pack;
The smaller power packs tend to offer only USB or micro-USB charging, typically plugging into a laptop or into a mains socket with a USB port or by using a charging plug.
Solar panel charging
As well as USB charging many larger units offer charging through solar panels, and compatible solar panels are usually sold separately. Solar panels are a great environmentally friendly option, although if you’re camping in Scotland you may not see much sun!
Larger units will charge from a mains outlet or a wall charger, so can be fully charged before your trip. If you’ve got an electric hook up you could utilise this.
Many devices will charge from your car’s cigarette lighter outlet. Be aware though, some of the larger units could drain your car battery pretty fast, especially if it’s not running. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat car battery and an empty power pack.
How do I store my power station safely?
Keep it in a dry place, away from any heat sources such as radiators or boilers. Don’t keep your power bank in a bag containing metal objects as they can short the device.
To keep a power bank in good working order, it should be charged every three months or so. For best portable power pack performance and a longer life, charge it up to 80% rather than 100% and don’t let it drain completely empty.