How to Recharge Your Tech During Weekend Camping

by Barrett

If you’re the kind of camper who doesn’t enjoy being totally disconnected from your digital world, then you have to bring some gear to help keep your tech in the game…

If you’re the kind of camper who doesn’t enjoy being totally disconnected from your digital world, then you have to bring some gear to help keep your tech in the game…

How ironic… I’m going camping with my family where the whole point is to spend some quality time with Mother Nature where there’s no electricity. But I have remained determined to bring enough portable power with me to sustain my tech happiness for a few days… as if I’ve never left.
(Do those two equations not entirely sync up?)

And even though technically we’re ‘car’ camping, I’m not allowing myself the obvious failsafe option of simply running my Toyota RAV4’s engine for a bit and plugging in my hungry tech to feed like little piglets.

That would be so not cool, right?
In mastering my little kingdom in the wilderness, I need to be able to handle it on my own… using my available tech smarts.
(And who knows if that’s going to be enough!)

Power Up!
You may recall, I have something of an ongoing quest for power…

Last year, I went to REI and purchased the Goal Zero Sherpa 50 rechargeable power pack to support my tech while camping.

The Sherpa 50 is not cheap… currently $199.95 on Amazon, and it only offers 5,200mAh of power. But my Sherpa has a lot of flexibility being able to power my Goal Zero Light-A-Life 350 portable lamp and charge USB devices simultaneously. Plus, it can power a PC laptop. And with an AC inverter attachment, you can charge up other gear that uses standard wall plugs.

Goal Zero Sherpa 50_

 

 

 

 

 

 

The allure is it’s a jack-of-all-trades… but again, with only 5,200mAh of power, it can only take you so far….

So this year, I decided I’m going to need some back up…

Assembling the Troops
I summoned my existing ragtag army of portable power…

-Three little power sticks ranging from 2,200-2,600mAh

-And a 7,800mAh PNY power block (T7800)

Power Sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hmmm…

‘I think we’re going to need a bigger boat!’

RAVPower to the Rescue
Next, I jumped online to purchase a little more juice…

I came across this 26,800mAh RAVPower Power Bank for $49.99 on Amazon.
A whopping 26,800mAh?
Yep.

It’s slightly bigger than my iPhone 6 Plus and about four times thicker.

RAVPower

 

 

 

 

 

 

It weighs just under a pound. So it’s not light.

But 26,800mAh?
Heck, yeah!

Click.

So I was done, right?

Not quite…

The Power of the Sun
And then I added in the solar equation.
I figured… why not harness the power of the sun, right?

First off, there are lots of portable solar panels out there ranging from fifty bucks to many hundreds of dollars.

Confronting the mind-numbing amount of choices, I decided to stay in the same ‘Goal Zero’ ecosystem and pair up gear I would be sure would work well together.

So I went with the Goal Zero Nomad 20.
$199.93 on Amazon.
(The sun may be free to use, but solar charging is clearly still not cheap.)

Goal Zero Nomad 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nomad 20 weights 2.5 lbs and delivers up to 20 watts of power.

And that translates to 6-12 hours of continuous use to fully charge up my Sherpa 50.
(So my solar charging plan is going to be a slow one… as an all-day project.)

But that’s still faster than Goal Zero’s Nomad 13 model, which only provides up to 13 watts of power.
(You’ll need 8-16 hours to power up the Sherpa 50.)

Sure, the Nomad 13 is a little smaller (1.6 lbs) and a little lighter on your wallet at $159.99.
But I figured for the extra forty bucks, it’s definitely worth it to have the faster charging capacity.

Click.

One other shopping note for you REI diehards out there… For some reason, REI doesn’t sell the Nomad 20… only the Nomad 13.

Going Off the Grid
So now I had my magnificent seven…

  • 3 little power sticks
  • 1 PNY power block
  • 1 RAVPower Power Bank
  • 1 Sherpa 50
  • 1 Nomad 20

And then I juiced up the first six.
(The Nomad 20 solar panel doesn’t store power.)

And I was ready for my upcoming adventure!

Do you think I have enough?
(Can anyone ever have enough power…?)

Of course, how much battery power you need in the wild is entirely based on how much energy you’re going to use…

For me…truthfully, I’m not really sure.

I know there’s a mathematical solution to the question based on the specific draw of the power-sucking gear you bring with you. Plus…

  • How much will you actually use them?
  • And how many times will they need to recharge?

That’s simple arithmetic, right?
But honestly, I don’t yet know the exact power draw of the Lester family over five days and four nights of camping.

So I topped off of my portable power, clutched my solar panel close, packed up the car, loaded in the family… and headed out into the wilderness.

Here’s hoping the sun shines bright, and it doesn’t rain.

Wish me luck…

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