Whether you’re heading out for a month long expedition or camping overnight with the family, chances are you need power. Today more than ever it’s necessary to have access to supplemental power for charging phones, tablets, GPS, and other units.
We’re going to take a look at some of the best portable battery packs for camping and backpacking. Some are waterproof, some are tiny. Others are in between or made for car camping. To help you choose we’ve outlined a few things to consider before purchasing:
How to Choose a Battery Pack
Most portable battery packs are measured in mAh that’s miliamp hours. Usually manufacturers or other reviewers around the internet have already converted this number into something more usable.
Who cares about mAh – what we really want to know is how many charges can I get on my new phone from this battery pack!? Check the manufacturers specifications for this information.
Generally, anything under 10000mAh will give about 3 smart phone charges.
20000mAh+ battery packs may provide 6-10 charges of a smart phone.
Consider the bulk of your battery pack. As capacity and number of charges increase, so does bulk. For car camping, canoeing, or use around the house this may not matter as much.
If, however, you intend to hike or backpack with your portable battery pack, considering size is very critical.
Most battery packs are powered by dense and heavy modern batteries. These provide great charging capacity in tiny packages. They can, however, be deceivingly heavy so check the manufacturer’s specifications for weight before purchasing. High capacity chargers often weigh quite a bit, and it all adds up if you have to lug it around with you.
Consider the number of devices you may with to charge at one time. If you’ve got a whole family plugged in to their phones all weekend on a camping trip (get rid of the phones if you’re camping) then you may need multiple charging ports.
Most newer battery packs are coming equipped with rapid charging ports for devices and rapid charging ports for the battery pack its self. If you have a quick charging smart phone you may want to ensure you battery pack has the appropriate output to keep up.
The 5 Best Battery Packs
If you’re going camping and weight or bulk are not an object then this beast of a battery pack is for you!
Looking for a battery pack for camping that can charge your phone, tablet, small laptop, and phone again all on one battery? We’re pretty sure you’ll find it hard to beat the Anker Power Core+ 26800.
This awesome charger feature brand new Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 tech to rapidly charge your devices, and even recharge the batter pack faster. Charge your 2015 MacBook up to three times and simultaneously charge up to three devices.
If you’re going on a hardcore sasquatch hunting, geocaching, expedition you’ll have plenty of juice for the GoPro, GPS, and laptop. Or, for those of us feeling less adventurous, there’s plenty of juice for long flights, weekend camping, or road trips!
Best for: High Capacity Portable Charging
Max iPhone Charges: 10+
My personal choice for a portable backpacking battery pack. I like to carry this on trips where I may be using my phone for maps (AT) or where I may want cell connection in a less remote area. Many wilderness areas these days have cell reception and for many reasons, backpackers may wish to carry and charge a phone.
Rated to charge the iPhone 6 over two times, I found that the Anker Astro would easily charge my iPhone 5 2-3 times. With light use, airplane mode when reception isn’t necessary, and a little planning I can easily make my phone last for up to two weeks of careful use with this battery pack.
Charge is measured by a shake-sensitive light on the front with no external buttons. I found that even inside my backpack, where the external indicator light would almost always be on from sensing shaking, it seemed to have no impact on the life of the battery.
Best for: Supplemental Power Backpacking
Max iPhone Charges: 2+
This RAV Power battery pack is a direct competitor to the Anker Astro. In size, shape, and capacity we have nearly identical devices. However, there are the differences:
The RAV Power 7600mAh battery pack is quite inexpensive. At only $15 this battery pack comes in as one of the least expensive options. Still able to produce up to two charges of a smartphone in a small package.
Power meter is controlled via a small button which solves my biggest complaint about the Astro. Quick charge ports are identical across both devices.
Overall the RAV Power 6700mAh gets high marks for low price, great features, and slight refinements over the Astro. A sure competitor that would have me struggling to choose the best.
Best for: Supplemental Power Backpacking
Max iPhone Charges: 2+
For car camping it’s hard to beat the Yeti 150. While Goal Zero makes bigger battery banks, the Yeti 150 is a good balance between bulk, weight, size, and charge capacity.
To find out what devices this will charge, you’ll need to understand the power consumption of your devices and compare it against this handy chart and tech specs from Goal Zero.
This battery pack has the option of being charged by solar panels also sold by Goal Zero so if you’re going to be staying in one place, perhaps extended car camping or primitive living, this is the pack for you. Goal Zero tossed a 33Wh battery in here which is orders of magnitude large (in charging capacity) than anything else we have listed.
If you need more power than this, Goal Zero makes larger battery packs which also can be charged via solar panel. These devices are much too large and heavy to be carried so use them only for car camping or remote living.
Best for: Ultra High Capacity Portable Charging
Max iPhone Charges: Too many to count
Size: Car Camping Only
While perhaps not light enough to justify regular backpacking use, the EasyAcc is durable and waterproof. IP67 rating can be immersed in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This battery pack is also surrounded by thick rubber casing for shock and fall protection.
Users rave about it’s bombproof design and aesthetic. With a covered charging port, LED flashlight, and intuitive charge meter, this battery pack makes a strong case for camping and backpacking.
Manufacturer claims up to 7 charges of an iPhone 6 on just one full battery pack charge. For the weekend warrior or aggressive backpacker, this might be a good choice. Bombproof construction and high capacity for a portable charger make this a contender!
Best for: Moderate Capacity Portable Charging
Max iPhone Charges: 7
If you’re looking for slim, portable battery packs for backpacking or every day carry then these are the packs for you:
- Anker PowerCore+
- Anker Astro
- RAV Power 6700
- EasyAcc 20000
If, however, you live a nomadic or car based lifestyle you might consider:
- Goal Zero Yeti 150
For avid backpackers I would recommend lighter, smaller, and more compact. For campers weight and bulk isn’t nearly the issue so any of our battery packs would make sense!
When choosing a battery pack consider the number of people and devices using the pack as well as the duration over which you will need the battery pack to last. These are critical choices to make before purchasing.