We appreciate the opportunity to unplug and unwind as much as anyone. However, today’s tech-based society offers plenty of other opportunities—ones that can be appreciated even while you’re enjoying nature.
Rechargeable power supplies allow you to keep your devices active when you don’t have access to a regular outlet. Often, this will be the only way for you to obtain power while camping, particularly if you prefer backcountry adventures. Even if you stay relatively close to the grid, there’s always a chance of inclement weather interrupting your power supply.
Personally, I wouldn’t want to be without my camera on any of my hiking excursions. These days, however, my camera is on my phone, which means I need access to a rechargeable power source for camping. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, then this is the guide for you.
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The Benefits of Having Portable and Rechargeable Power Supplies
The best rechargeable power supplies weigh between 10 and 30 pounds—sometimes even less. They don’t take up any more space than a toaster oven, and they’re light enough to be easily carried. Unlike the old gas generators, which can tip the scales at 100 pounds or more, these can be transported in your truck or SUV with the rest of the gear. The smallest ones can even be tucked inside a duffel back or knapsack, making them a great fit for thru-hiking.
Unlike a gas generator, which will kick up a racket that sounds remarkably like a lawn mower, a battery-powered power supply station will be quiet enough for you to hold a normal conversation when it’s running. It shouldn’t disturb other campers, even the ones within your own party. If you need access to power in order to run a medical device, then you should appreciate this aspect all the more.
With rechargeable power supplies, there’s no need to lug around a heavy gas can. Whether it’s powered through solar panels or a plug-in device, your portable power station can receive its charge through less cumbersome means. This eliminates the risk of spillage, which is both dangerous and annoying. There’s also no need to replace spark plugs or filters, as would be the case with a gas generator.
While we’re on the subject, it’s important to know what type of power station you’re getting. There are two basic categories: The kind that charges the devices, and the kind that charges both itself and the devices. If you choose the first kind, you’re going to need access to a wall plug or other outside power supply. The second can receive its charge from either solar or wind energy, but solar is more common. Some portable power packs can be charged either via wall outlet or solar panels, but the panels are typically sold separately (see Best Portable Rechargeable Power Supplies for Camping and Hiking, below).
No gas means no dangerous carbon monoxide fumes, so battery-powered generators can be safely operated inside a home or travel trailer. This benefit boosts their popularity even among non-campers. If you’re worried about reports of lithium batteries catching on fire, put your fears to rest—the reputable manufacturers have overcome this hurdle.
Best Portable Rechargeable Power Supplies for Camping and Hiking
With 167 watts and 110 volts, this lithium-powered generator packs a punch in the power department. With this type of power output, it can be used to charge anything from a tablet to a CPAP machine—or both at the same time, if necessary.
The unit includes two AC outlets, three DC ports, and two USB ports. This gives it great versatility to complement its strength. It weighs in at just three and a half pounds, so it would be easy to transport even if it weren’t equipped with two sturdy handles for carrying.
The OMORC Mpow Portable Power Station can be recharged from a dual AC outlet, from your automobile’s 12-volt charging port, or via the built-in MPPT solar charge controller. Solar panels provide another alternative, but note that these are sold separately.
This is an exceptionally quiet generator, which makes it ideal for use with CPAP machines. It’s also equipped with advanced safety features put in place to protect you as well as your devices. Best of all, it’s set at a price point that won’t break the bank, even for budget shoppers. OMORC backs up their product with an 18-month warranty and 45-day money-back guarantee.
Power Supply Portable Camping Generator Battery Backup with 2 AC Outlets(250W Peak)
- Packs a ton of power into a small generator
- Affordable price point
- Easy-to-read battery life indicator included
- Some shipping issues reported
- Can be tricky to get the company to honor the warranty
Runner Up: Anker Powerhouse 200
Anker’s entry weighs in at six pounds, which is heavier than the previous offering. Still, six pounds is light enough to make transport a cinch. The square, compact nature of the design means that the device can fit easily into a duffel bag or oversized knapsack.
This unit can be recharged via solar energy, a 39W wall outlet, or USB-C power delivery. The latter provides the quickest charge at 4.5 hours, but it should take just a couple of hours longer with the regular wall plug. If you choose to use the solar chargers (which are sold separately), the power supply should be completely replenished within 6-10 hours.
When it’s fully charged, the Powerhouse is capable of providing juice to a cell phone at least 12 times, or a mini-fridge for around four hours. In this regard, it’s not as powerful as most of the other devices listed here. The length of the output also depends on the strength of the device that’s being charged. For shorter camping trips, however, it’s a fine backup device.
If you’re concerned about noise, rest assured that this power pack will charge your devices in relative silence. It’s so quiet, in fact, as to raise concerns about whether or not it’s actually working. When you check your power levels, however, it’s clear that the Powerhouse is getting the job done.
The kit includes the portable power supply itself, an AC adapter, a power cable, a user’s guide, and an 18-month warranty. Anker’s customer service department is always happy to respond to any questions or concerns about their product.
Clean & Silent 110V AC Outlet/USB-C Power Delivery/USB/12V Car Outlets, for Fast Charging, Camping, Emergencies, CPAP, and More
- Charges quickly and efficiently
- Sturdy yet portable design
- Impressive customer service department
- Generous warranty
- Won't deliver power to the USB ports when plugged in
- Car adapter is not as reliable as the rest of the unit
Best Quiet Portable Power Generator: Jackery 500Wh Portable Generator
If it’s peace and quiet you’re after, look no further than the Jackery 550WH Portable Generator. This powerhouse features a 500 watt-hour capacity and can power a CPAP machine more than nine hours after receiving a full charge. Better yet, it does all this in relative silence, so it won’t disturb your rest.
The Jackery is also equipped with a number of safety features, including a battery management system (BMS), short circuit protection, and temperature control to avoid overheating. The device is ETL Safety Certified, which means it’s received the stamp of approval from OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
Included with the purchase are the rechargeable power station itself, an AC adapter, an easy-to-follow user guide, and a 2-year product warranty. The unit can be adapted for solar recharging, which comes in especially handy if you’re boondocking (that is, camping off the grid). Jackery has an impressive customer service department that’s prepared to serve you should anything go wrong with your product. Be forewarned, however, that these extra features come at a cost–Jackery’s offerings tend to be pricier than comparable models.
Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/300W (500W Peak) Pure Sine Wave AC Inverter Outlet for CPAP Emergency
- Exceptionally quiet
- Capable of holding its charge for long periods of time
- Slim, portable design
- Built-in flashlight
- Clear, easy-to-read display
- Shuts off automatically after 6 hours of continuous use
- Difficult to find solar panels that are compatible with the system
- High price point
Best Solar Powered Portable Generator: SUAOKI Solar Generators G500 Portable Power Station
This battery pack is capable of charging a mini fridge for up to 9 hours, and can charge an iPhone X up to 42 times. These numbers should give you some idea of the unit’s power, but they’re just a warm-up act for this impressive device.
The device offers three quick-charge USB ports, two 12-volt outputs for mobile devices, and a 12-volt car port for added convenience. It also employs an effective BMS to control the voltage, current, and unit temperature.
While the SUAOKI Portable Power Station can be recharged either from a wall outlet or a solar panel, the latter is not included with the purchase. If you do choose to invest in the solar panel (which we wholeheartedly recommend), the station can be charged in 7-8 hours in full sun.
This power station features a boxy design that makes it look somewhat clunkier than most of the other units listed here. Because it weights in at 22 pounds, it’s also heavier than the competition. Despite that, it’s no larger than a picnic-sized cooler, with a sturdy handle that makes it easy to tote around. Included in the purchase are a 30-day money back guarantee and lifetime customer support.
Portable Power Station 500Wh Camping Generator Lithium Battery Pack Power Supply with 110V/300W (600W Peak)
- Impressive battery life
- Relatively low price point
- Powers off automatically after 10 minutes of continuous inactivity
- Sturdy construction
- Heavier than some comparable units
- No carry bag included
- Unit is not waterproof
Why Do You Need a Portable Power Supply?
Even if you only take the occasional camping trip, rechargeable power supplies can be a great asset.
For one thing, you won’t need to worry about gaining access to an outside power source when it’s time to recharge your devices. Without a rechargeable power supply, you have two choices: You can look specifically for a campsite with power hookups, or you can tough it out when your smartphone or laptop runs out of juice.
More importantly, a portable power pack will act as a backup if something goes wrong with your existing power hookup. Outages can occur in snow, rain, or even heavy winds. It’s best to be prepared, especially if you rely on a medical device (such as a CPAP machine) that requires an outside power source.
Buying Guide: How To Pick a Good Portable Power Supply
Things to consider when buying a power supply
How much power does the unit have? How long does it hold its juice, and how many devices is it capable of charging? Additionally, how long does it take until it’s fully charged? The answers to these questions will help you determine whether a portable power supply is worth your money.
Additionally, you should consider the charging methods themselves. Most power packs will offer multiple options—a regular wall outlet and a USB adapter, for example. If the unit can be powered by solar energy, it’s an even better choice for long camping excursions. Be aware, however, that most companies sell the solar panels separately, so you’ll have to factor in the additional cost when working out a budget. We think solar panels are well worth the investment on account of the freedom and peace of mind that they represent.
A rechargeable power supply should be sturdy and rugged enough to withstand the elements. In addition to the heat of the sun, it may be exposed to wind, dirt, rain, or even snow. This is especially true of solar-powered units, which will have to sit outside in order to receive a charge.
Also, consider how often you’ll be using the device. If you’re an infrequent camper who might need to charge your cell phone every day or so, durability is less of an issue. If you’re a full-time RVer who blogs about the experience while on the road, you’re going to need access to a power supply that can hold up to daily use.
The more devices a power supply can charge, the more useful it will be. Look for a unit with multiple USB ports and AC outlets. This is particularly important if you have a large family, or if you frequently travel in large groups. When choosing a power pack, think about how many people will be using it on a regular basis, and which devices they’ll need to charge.
Our editor’s choice, the OMORC, is the best portable power supply that we could find for these purposes. In addition to being the most powerful unit listed here, it runs so quietly that you’ll barely be able to hear it from the other side of your campsite. Best of all, it’s so lightweight that you could carry it in your backpack if you had to.