One of the joys of camping is finding innovative ways to get things done without all the creature comforts of home. That’s what makes it such an interesting adventure. Of course, many people still choose to hook up to electricity for convenience but if you find yourself without it then you’ll need to ensure you have ways to get through each day and perform basic tasks.
If you’ve been planning a remote camping trip where you know there won’t be the option to hook up to power, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together 20 helpful tips to make your camping trip a success, without any electricity in sight!
Don’t Forget Your Power Banks
In this modern world, there is nothing that anyone relies on more than their electrical devices. Smartphones, tablets, flashlights, satnav, cameras and many other things need power and we can’t live without them. But if you’re camping somewhere with a lack of electricity, you aren’t going to be able to use them.
That is unless you have a power bank.
Depending on how many devices you need to power and how long your trip is, you may need to take several power banks. Be sure to fully charge them before you leave and most decent ones will hold quite a lot of juice!
You’ll also need to think about the size of the power bank especially if you’re hiking and will need a lightweight pack when making your way to your camping spot.
The Anker PowerHouse ll a great portable power bank, the side torch feature and ambient light at the back will light up a camper or tent easily is a really good addition, it is super easy to use and has a really clear LED display so you can see what power you have left. We tried this out ourselves and took maybe 4 hours to charge fully and we managed to charge the phone 6 times, the laptop 4 times and the ipad once from empty!
One of the most important things to think about when camping without electricity is how you’re going to cook your meals. Yes, you could take foods that don’t need to be cooked but you’ll end up with a pretty boring diet for the duration of your trip.
The good news is that there are plenty of alternative ways to get cooking without the need for power. For example, a portable gas camping stove is a great way to prepare meals and they come in many shapes and sizes. Do keep in mind that as well as the stove, you’ll need to take a gas bottle so this is something to think about if you will need to walk to your campsite.
For a safe and easy option, you might choose a flameless heater which doesn’t have a flame but instead produces chemical reactions that result in heat. You use some water to get them started and then you’re ready to cook. They’re lightweight and very easy to get used to.
Finally, if you want an authentic camping experience, you might opt to use a campfire for cooking. You’re going to need to get acquainted with the fire and learn how to keep it maintained but once you can do this, the world is your oyster. What’s more, it’ll serve you in producing heat and light as well as a place to cook so it’s incredibly versatile. We love the Cadac 2, here's when we tested it.
Light It Up!
You’re probably thinking that without electricity, you’ll be forced to sit in darkness once the sun goes down, but where’s the fun in that? There are lots of ways to light up your campsite even when you’re off grid.
One of the best options is an LED headlamp and camping flashlights which will see you through the nights for all of your lighting needs and you’ll be hands free. This is one of the main reasons that people choose these over a torch.
It’s a good idea to compare lamps and make sure that they’ll be bright enough but generally speaking, anything more than 200 lumens will be sufficient. Also make sure to choose a durable and waterproof headlamp as you never know what the great outdoors will throw at you.
To illuminate the campsite a little more subtly, you might choose some string lights. These will cast a soft glow over the area without being in your face and they’ll create a nice atmosphere as well. They’re a great option for hikers as they’re super lightweight and easy to carry.
There are also tents that have built in LED lights or look into some camping string lights which is a great all in one option. But even if your tent doesn’t have this feature, it’s pretty simple to install some lights and you’re good to go.
Keeping Food Cool
The last thing you want when you’re off the beaten track is to get sick but if your food is not kept at the right temperature, that’s a very real risk. It’s difficult to store food outside but this challenge is made far easier when you use a good quality camping fridge.
It’s super important to check the features and make sure that the camping coolbox will do everything you expect. For example those with pressure injected insulation are ideal for longer trips and will keep the food cool. Yes, you’ll pay more but it’s worth it not to fall ill when you’re trying to enjoy yourself. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about wasting food which is not something that anyone wants.
Packing The Right Clothing
Camping can be unpredictable, especially in the UK. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to drop significantly at night even during the summer months. If you’re camping in winter, then it’s essential to make sure you have the right gear, or you’ll face some very miserable situations. First and foremost look after your feet (there are kinda useful!), we love our lightweight walking boots.
If you’re camping in the summer, be sure to pack lots of lightweight clothes that offer good breathability as this will stop you from sweating. However, you’ll also need something warmer if the breeze picks up or for in the night and a 3 in 1 jacket or a warm fleece is an excellent choice.
If you’ve decided to brave the outdoors during winter then it’s imperative that you layer your clothes for maximum warmth. We are a big fan of having down free jackets. Choose wisely and be sure that the bottom layers are moisture wicking to prevent you from building up a sweat and becoming uncomfortable. There are some really cool outdoor brands out there too.
Batteries Are Your Friend
Earlier, we talked about the importance of power banks but not all batteries can be recharged so it’s essential to bring plenty of disposable batteries when you’re camping without electricity. Things like your radio, flashlights, battery powered fans and walkie talkies will all run on batteries.
There is also the option to use your car’s or campervan battery if you want to charge your phone or tablet, for example. There are lots of cables out there that plug into the cigarette lighter so this is massively convenient. But do keep in mind that as you use the car’s power, this will drain its battery so be careful not to allow it to go flat.
Try Solar Panels
Nature offers us many things and power is one of them. The sun is a great way of solar powered panel devices but you will need to invest in some solar panels. The great thing about these is that, even when the sky is a little overcast, most good quality panels will still work.
In the main, you have two choices. If you’re hiking then we would suggest going for several smaller solar panels as these will be easier to carry. However, if you’re car camping, then you might choose a solar generator which allows you to charge and run multiple devices at any one time.
Don’t Forget The Sun Can Also Clean You!
If you thought the sun had done its job on your camping trip with electricity then think again. If you’re really struggling and need to find a way to keep clean but don’t have any water nearby then our star could be the answer.
A solar camping shower allows you to stay clean without the need for water and all you have to do is find a sunny spot and sit in it for a while. The sunlight will kill any bacteria on your body and you can even use this method for other items. Of course, this isn’t going to be a primary option for most people but it does work well when you have no other choice.
Handwashing Your Clothing
If you don’t fancy popping your clothes in the sunlight to get them clean then you’ll need to be prepared to do a little work. If you’re only going camping for a few days, you’ll probably be able to pack enough clothes that you won’t need to worry about washing them until you get home and have your washing machine to hand.
But if your trip is going to be a little longer then hand washing your garments on your campsite is the next best thing. You can do this the old fashioned way by filling a bucket with soapy water and swirling the clothes around inside or you might try this more innovative method. Travel Clothesline are also useful.
All you’ll need is a plastic bag or a wash bag which you’ll fill with a bit of water, some detergent and your clothing. Just leave it to soak and then give it a scrub to get rid of any marks. To get it dry again, a portable clothes line is a great accessory to have.
Camping is an amazing experience but if you’re damp and soggy then it can turn pretty miserable, pretty quickly. You’ll end up feeling very cold and probably end up wanting to cut the trip short, check out our wet weather camping article for hints and tips.
They say that prevention is better than cure so make sure that you have somewhere dry to store your clothes. If you’re backpacking or hiking then choose a waterproof pack that’ll keep your clothes protected from water. But even at your campsite, you’ll need to make sure that your clothing is not exposed to the elements. Keep it inside the tent at all times because you never know how quickly the weather could turn.
Don’t let Boredom Get The Better Of You
If you don’t have a way to charge your devices or you simply want time away from technology then you’re going to need to find other ways of entertaining yourself. It wasn’t that long ago that our parents, grandparents and great grandparents had to get creative but in the modern world, we’ve lost that sense of fun and will get bored very quickly.
Before you head off on your camping trip, be sure to plan out some activities. This is even more important if you’re taking the kids. Things like camping games, if you have the room to pack them are ideal and the great thing is that many of these come in a travel size. Bottle Bash has suddenly come into fashion too.
Card games are also a great choice. Whether it’s a regular pack of cards or something like UNO, you’ll have hours of entertainment without an electrical device in sight. You can always rock up with a musical instrument for camping.
First Aid And Emergencies
When you’re off the beaten track, the chances are that you aren’t going to be able to access medical help as quickly as you otherwise would. Nobody wants to think about accidents and emergencies when they’re on holiday but if you’re going off grid, it’s essential to know basic first aid so that you can tend to injuries quickly and safely.
Self sufficiency is what camping without electricity is all about so be sure to get some knowledge on how to take care of yourself and others in your party. You could go all out and attend a three-day first aid course. These are available nationwide and places like The Red Cross offer some excellent courses. Alternatively, you could use an app or book to give you the basic skills you will need.
Research Your Camping Spot
If you aren’t going to have your smart devices with you on your camping trip then you’ll need to plan everything in advance because you won’t have the luxury of reaching into your pocket to find the information you need. Check out our camping mobile apps page
Look at the area and find out where local places are and where you should go if you find yourself in trouble. It’s a good idea to chat to people who have already been to the area as they’ll be able to give you some great advice. Camping forums and places like Trip Advisor are excellent resources for this. We also really like Brit Stops, as a way of free overnight motorhome parking
Camp Near Water
If you camp near a body of water then life is so much easier. You’ll be able to stay cool at all times, especially in hot weather and you won’t need to worry about washing yourself or your clothing. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s the camping near the ocean, a lake or even a stream, the mere convenience of having water nearby will make a world of difference to your trip.
When camping in the summer, you’ll benefit from the natural breeziness of being at the water’s edge so you won’t feel as hot and uncomfortable. Of course, there may be regulations and limitations on where you can camp so be sure to check these when doing your campsite research.
Choosing The Right Pitch
No matter where you decide to camp, whether it’s in the back of beyond or at an organised site without power hook ups, you must consider where you will pitch your tent. Much of this will be based on the current weather conditions.
For example, if you’re camping in the winter then you’ll want to place your tent somewhere that is exposed to as much sunlight as possible as this will keep things warm inside. However, when the weather is hot, it’s important to place the tent out of the sun and in a shady spot. Perhaps somewhere covered by trees.
Without electric fans or heaters to help you regulate the temperature, this is one of the most important tips if you want to remain comfortable.
How To Stay Cool
Short of pitching your tent in the right location, you need to come up with other ways of staying cool when the weather gets scorching. You won’t have the luxury of fans or air conditioners so you’ll need to be a little more creative.
You can do some incredibly simple yet effective things like wearing a sun hat and staying out of the intense midday sun. When you’re inside the tent, having the rainfly on will intensify the heat so try to avoid this where possible. And don’t forget to make the most of any air vents in your tent to keep good air circulation at all times.
Wake Up And Smell The Coffee
One of the greatest luxuries of the modern world is a steaming hot cup of coffee in the morning. But without electricity, you’re going to struggle to make one. You won’t have your pod machine or espresso maker to hand but if you’re willing to use instant coffee then you’re onto a winner.
You’ll have your campfire or gas stove to heat some water in a kettle and instant coffee is very easy to carry. However, if you want something that’s a little closer to what you’re used to at home, you could buy some ground coffee and take a French press along with you. These are a little more bulky if you’re backpacking although you can buy smaller, single person serving ones.
But, there is still hope for even the most difficult to impress coffee lovers. You could take a stovetop coffee pot like a moka pot as well as some fresh beans and a handheld grinder. It’s a little more work, but you’ll definitely be much closer to getting that barista style coffee on the campsite and all without the need for electricity.
Reading For Pleasure
We’ve already talked about keeping yourself entertained on your camping trip but if it’s true peace and tranquillity you’re looking for, is there anything more relaxing than settling down with a good book?
There’s nothing quite like the experience of holding those pages in your hands, but even if you don’t fancy that, there’s always a Kindle or eReader. Just be sure to choose one that has features that make it suitable for outdoor use such as being waterproof and with a long battery life. You’ll probably also want to buy a case to improve its durability.
Have a look at our travelling spice ideas below.
Understanding The Weather
When you’re camping, your activities will be vastly affected by the weather but understanding how it works will give you the upper hand against Mother Nature. Most of the time, we rely on our smartphones to tell us what the weather is going to be doing in the near future but when you’re off grid, you don’t have this luxury.
But there may be times that bad weather could see you in a pretty dangerous situation so it’s very important to wrap your head around things before you head off on an adventure. If you’re not going away for very long then checking the weather app before you leave will be more than enough as they’re usually pretty accurate.
But if your adventure is going to be a little longer then it's a good idea to consider taking a course to learn about weather patterns and signs that things are about to change. Yes, you’ll probably have to pay for the most detailed courses but this is seriously valuable knowledge that will serve you for the rest of your life.
Accept Nature For What It Is
The first time you camp without electricity, you’ll probably not have a great time. You’ll miss those home comforts and wish that you weren’t having to rough it. But that’s OK and it’s totally natural. We’re all used to having luxuries so it can take some getting used to but once you get to grips with it, you’ll find these trips to be invigorating and very rewarding.
But try not to let yourself get down for those first trips and realise that how you’re feeling is normal. Nature has a way of filling us with both wonder and dread so take it for what it is and just roll with it. But be sure to look at the little things like that beautiful sunrise or the sound of the birds and you’ll soon remember why you wanted this getaway in the first place.
Camping off grid is fraught with challenges but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. You need to come up with some innovative ways of meeting your day to day needs and despite the lack of electricity, you’ll get by just fine if you follow these essential tips.
Meanwhile…which is the best campervan you can buy now?
Or maybe use your car instead?