Campers going off-grid may be an exciting adventure to some seasoned campers as they know what to do to survive the trip. However, most people are totally lost in this situation. It can be a dreadful realization when they discover that they would not have access to electricity at the established campsite they were about to go to during the weekend. You should always be prepared for any unexpected circumstance to ensure you survive camping.
Forget hooking up to your vehicle 24/7 if you do not want to have trouble starting the engine afterward. The best way to cope with the situation is to prepare and pack essentials, thinking that it is an off-grid camping adventure. Primitive camping is not for everyone, but if you know what to bring to the camp, then you might even enjoy the uniqueness of the experience.
Guides on Power Sources, Heating & Lights
Most people do not realize that they have plenty of choices on how to create your own electricity. Technology has gone a long way, and it truly made camping life better with innovative gadgets. Gone are the days when campers would be left in the dark at night except for the burning campfire as the only source of light.
1) Solar Power
Renewable energy sources such as solar energy have been popular not only on camping trips but in most houses today. Invest in solar-powered gadgets, including lanterns, flashlights, headlights, light sticks, and all-around charger. Instead of relying on the battery of your vehicles, which can easily be drained if you are not careful, get it from the sun. The best thing about solar power is that it is free for everyone to use.
Tying up solar-powered lanterns on trees at night would be a great idea after letting them soak under the sun during the day. Get those lanterns that can also sense motion so it would immediately light up the area if it detected any movement. It does not only provide lighting but also security.
An all-around solar-powered charger can easily charge up any mobile device such as phones, speakers, or radios. Some solar-powered chargers are built to charge up dead car batteries as well. It might be a great idea to bring one just in case, for an unforeseen circumstance, you need to spark up your car battery.
2) Choose Energy Saving Lighting Sources
It is not enough that you bring an alternative power source for your lighting needs. Make sure you invest in camping lighting devices that use LED technology. Here are the reasons why:
Energy conservation is synonymous with LED lights.
Since LED technology produces a little amount of heat as compared with regular filament-based lighting, it uses less power making it more efficient not only on its output but also in consumption.
LEDs Last Longer Than Regular Lighting Gadgets.
Manufacturers estimated that LEDs, when used under normal situations, can last up to 10 years or around 100,000 hours of continuous use. For camping, expect fully charged LEDs to provide light for a longer time than those lanterns and flashlights that used regular filament-based or incandescent lighting.
It Produces Brighter Lighting
As compared to halogen or incandescent bulbs with the same unit of wattage, LEDs can provide brighter illumination. Due to its unique technology, a 3-watt LED bulb can achieve illumination of a 20-watt incandescent bulb.
3) Bring Lots of Batteries
If solar panels and solar-powered gadgets are too expensive for you, the ever-dependable regular batteries will do just fine. Before packing the lanterns and flashlights, it is wise to check each of them if they are still functioning well. Next, bring spare batteries and take note of the type of batteries you need for each gadget. Always remember that there is no such thing as one size fits all for batteries. Each device has a specific battery size and type to make it work. Bring enough spare to last the entire duration of the camping trip. You may also choose to use the following options:
Compact Battery Packs or Portable Power Banks
These battery packs or power banks can easily charge devices for quite some time. It can keep your small gadgets running for days but less so with bigger devices. It comes with USB ports for easy connectivity. They are lighter in weight too, and easy to slip into your backpack.
12-Volt Vehicle Battery/Portable Battery
Most campers would automatically turn to the car battery for power needs, but when used thoughtlessly, chances are the car won’t start when you need to use it. However, if you can spare some space in your trunk and handle the additional 30lbs heavy load, bring this portable battery, and you won’t have any problems getting energy power.
Using generators could be bothersome as some of them can be bulky and heavy, but they are highly dependable. All of your power needs can be supplied easily. However, expect some downsides when using this option.
The easiest way to acquire power is by using a gas generator, but most of them generate too much noise. Most campers would use this as a last resort and only if no one else is around your camping site. Another drawback of this option is the price tag. The generator itself is too costly, and it consumes too much gas. You need to provide not only the space for the generator itself in your vehicle but the gas container as well. It would be great if there is a gasoline station somewhere near your camping site, but if not, then you need to purchase it beforehand. Bring enough containers just to be sure it can last long enough to survive the whole trip.
The noise can either attract or repel animals lurking around the site. It has also been known to produce a not so good smell that might bother some of the campers. There are quieter gas generators, but they can be quite costly, but it is a great option. It is also best to check the campsite management if they are allowing gas generators inside their campground before bringing them along.
Some campers prefer using TEG due to its unique way of harvesting energy. Make a fire and using the coals to generate heat and convert it to energy is easier for them. There are different types and sizes of TEG to choose from. It can be used to charge lights, phones, and even laptops.
3) The Power of Campfire
As long as you can create fire during camping, then there is nothing to fear. It can provide light and protection to the campsite, and it can be used for cooking your meals as well. Nights can be cold too even during summer, and fire has always been a great way to provide heat. One of the first things seasoned campers do when they arrive at the campsite is to set up the campfire and keep it burning. Just remember to bring the following:
- A couple of matchboxes
- Firestarter (Dry wood shavings, cotton dipped into petroleum jelly, wax, or commercial fire sticks)
Always remember to designate someone to put the fire out when it is no longer needed. It is best to sprinkle water to the fire to make sure it is completely out.
Chilling food can be a problem for first-time campers, but if you freeze them before packing them up and put them on a fully charged portable chiller during the trip, the food will last longer than you expect. If you have money to spare, invest in high quality solar powered chillers/coolers.
Going off-grid camping intentionally or accidentally is not that hard with the help of innovative devices available in the market today. However, it is essential to take the necessary precautions in utilizing them. Avoid taking risks when it comes to creating or harvesting energy. Choose the most suitable option for your needs. Take into consideration the size, weight, price, and ease of use when buying a gadget. Invest well and learn how to set it up at home days before your camping trip.
In a nutshell, harvesting solar power is quite easy as it is available everywhere, but weather-dependent. During rainy days, its efficiency drops, but most camping adventures happen during summer or dry season. The initial cost is higher than battery-powered gadgets, but it requires low maintenance, and there is no need to change batteries. In the end, it is cost-efficient, but make sure to invest in high-quality solar-powered gadgets. If you have budget constraints, then go for the reliable regular battery-operated devices as they are relatively cheaper, just do not forget to bring enough battery replacements.