We like neat solutions, so something that helps us charge our phones, plug in a fridge and see in the dark has got to be worth a look! We’ve tested a few power options for camping and outdoors and here are the results.
Crusader Products have come up with the Powerpro electric hook-up for camping, caravanning and campervanning. It’s a big box of tricks with three 13amp plug sockets, three USB slots for charging phones and laptops, a detachable LED torch and, of course, a 15m cable with plug for hooking up to site electricity points. There’s also a polarity warning light for those odd sites where the wiring’s the wrong way round.
They’re not light at 4.8kg but it’s a lot of kit in a fairly small package. The cost? Around £45.
A more traditional alternative to the PowerPro is Outwell’s EHU mains roller. Again, a 15m cable, three sockets, two USB ports and a built-in light, plus polarity warning. This one rolls into a more conventional looking extension reel and weighs around 4kg. Cost? About £55 (cheaper for the version without USBs and light).
If you don’t mind all that cable messing up your neat packing, the Crusader mains EHU unit is simple and cheap (around £30).
This black and orange EHU cable is a bit prettier (in our opinion) and has the bonus of two USB slots. Costs around £39.
If you’re an explorer rather than a campsite comfort-seeker, then you’ll want a portable power pack to charge your phone, camera or tablet.
The key number is the mAH (milli-ampere hour). You’ll find powerbanks as low as 1,000mAH and as high as 30,000mAH. The higher the number, the more charge you’ll get, but the trade-off is weight and size. For goodness sake, please don’t buy a disposable powerbank – apart from being very low mAH and slow, they’re an environmental menace.
Features to look out for are Quick Charge 4.0 and USB-C. If these are useable for input as well as output, they’ll be faster to charge themselves (as well as faster to charge your phone). Passthrough charging is something to look out for. It means you can charge a phone at the same time as the powerbank itself. PowerIQ or similar-sounding names tell you that the charger can recognise the type of device you’ve connected so that it can deliver the optimum amount of power.
- Powertraveller power banks include waterproof, rugged and solar-chargeable options.
- Anker powerbanks are consistently top-rated.
- Zendure chargers are simple, neat, fast and tough.
These pocket chargers are a valuable tool to have in your kit. On campsites, we’ve seen people leave their phones plugged in to charge in the shower blocks. While honesty is a hallmark of campers, we’ve always worried about the danger of phones getting knocked into sinks or soaking up condensation. Leaving a charging unit to recharge rather than the phone sounds like a good idea.
Multipurpose cooking, lighting and charging
We’ve never warmed to the Biolite – a range of wood-burning stoves and accessories that use the energy to charge devices.
Other people love them, though, because they’re ultra-portable and very fast stoves that need only sticks and twigs to create a very good fire.
You can get lights, kettles, grills, a coffee press and more to go with your basic model. And there’s a big boy for camp cooking too.
There are lots of lanterns with built-in phone/tablet chargers that work by either solar or, better still, a combination of solar and USB. The inflatable Luminaid has been tested in disaster situations, so is a good pick.
If you’re interested in wood-burning stoves, there’s a whole article on them, by the way
We’ve also got a feature on electric cooking options for when you’re on hook-up, including the Remoska, induction hobs and a portable microwave.