Taking your mobile phone when camping is common these days and apart from using it to take pictures it is an essential part of your safety kit but that battery isn’t going to last more than a few days (even less with heavy use). Luckily there are ways to charge your phone while camping so you can use it all you want without keeping it switched off to save power or worrying that your phone is going to die on you.

There are two realistic ways to keep a cell phone topped up when away from civilization, one is by using the relatively old solar power technology and the other is a the more recent manual hand crank option. Both have there plus points and we are going to look at these in more detail.

Solar Powered Phone Chargers

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Ultra Thin Solar Powered Backup Battery and Charger

Ultra Thin Solar Powered Backup Battery and Charger

The early solar cells required a high amount of sunlight for them to produce any meaningful amount of power but today’s solar cells are a lot more efficient at working in lower light conditions and also a lot smaller.

One advantage of using the solar option is as it is charging your phone through the same socket you would use at home you can just plug it in and once charged it will turn off the flow of power from the solar panel. When using a solar charger remember to cover your phone as a few hours in the hot sun will do it no good at all.

The obvious problem with charging a phone this way is that it cannot be used at night so you will have to keep an eye on the phones battery level and give it a top up during the day.

Hand Crank Phone Chargers

Hand Crank Phone Charger

Hand Crank Phone Charger
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By spinning a handle it is possible to produce enough power to charge the batteries on small personal electronic devices, this hand crank technology has been around for a while now with the most notable use being the Freeplay no battery radio invented by Trevor Baylis and has spawned a whole generation of similar wind up radios that are perfect for long camping trips.

Without the need for the sun these chargers can be used at anytime of the day or night but unlike solar chargers it is not a plug in and come back later option.

You are required to keep working the charger until your phone is charged and depending on the size of your phones battery getting it fully charged could take some time.

Biolite Campstove USB Charger

Here’s an interesting idea that combines the need to eat with the safety that comes from having a working mobile phone. The Biolite is a wood burning camp stove that uses heat from the fire to power a charger that tops up portable media devices.

Considering its dual function this stove weighs in at about 2 lbs making it an option for the lightweight backpacker along with general camping trips and being a wood burner it takes away the need to lug around heavy fuel.

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BioLite Wood Burning Campstove

BioLite Wood Burning Campstove


There are so many makes of mobile phones on the market and many have different connectors for charging so when choosing any charger make sure it will work on your phone before purchase.

Most of these charging products come with a good selection of connectors to fit numerous phones and other digital devices

So there you have it, two solutions for keeping your cell phone, MP3 player and other personal electronic devices working while you are enjoying the great outdoors.

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