Everything you need to upgrade your camping trip


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Jul 09, 2023

Everything you need to upgrade your camping trip

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The great outdoors is where you usually go to unplug from technology and spend time in nature without looking at screens, worrying about responding to emails, or scrolling social media. Of course, some prefer their camping trips to be completely tech-free, but there are still ways to integrate helpful gadgets without taking away from the natural beauty and experience of sleeping outdoors.

For example, if you want to stream a scary movie to watch on your tablet around the fire, or capture your epic hike with live video, you'll need a few handy tech gadgets to include in your camping list.

Also: The best camping gear

As an avid camper myself, I rounded up everything you need to upgrade your camping trip with tech and gadgets that can keep your devices charged, shine a light when and where you need it, and allow for communication in the middle of nowhere. (You can also check out our guides for everything you need to start building your smart home, and everything you need to host a summer party.)

Any device you bring with you camping will need to be charged over the course of your trip, whether it's a weekend getaway or a longer trek. The best solar chargers or power banks are a great way to keep devices juiced up without having traditional outlets to plug them into.

This device doubles as a lantern and a power bank equipped with a 60,000mAh battery (which can charge an iPhone 14 over 10 times, or power a 3W LED lamp for over 42 hours). It has solar panels or a volt panel to recharge the device itself, plus its lamp is collapsible for when you don't need it. When you do, it has three light settings and an SOS button.

If you're looking for a solar generator and need some serious power, this Jackery generator is worth a look. While it's relatively big and heavy, weighing just over 33 pounds, it is the perfect generator for RV campers. It also comes with four rugged 100W solar panels and has an overall battery capacity of 1488Wh (36V, 41.3Ah).

Read the review: Jackery Solar Generator

At 7.7 pounds, this power bank is much lighter than the Jackery one but can still power your devices in the wilderness. With a capacity of 256Wh, the River 2 is powerful enough to run a 100W load for close to 2.5 hours. The unit is rugged and well-built and shrugs off the knocks and bumps it will inevitably get when used outdoors.

Read the review: EcoFlow River 2

This compact solar charger has Qi-wireless technology with a 20,000mAh battery capacity. Thanks to its dual USB ports you can charge multiple devices simultaneously. Its fast-charging capability uses a maximum of 18W charging power, automatically adapting to whatever device you are charging. This power bank also includes a built-in compass kit for extra assistance during outdoor adventures.

Whether you prefer music around the campfire or listening to your favorite true-crime podcast, you'll need a rugged and portable speaker to do the job. Make sure the speaker you pack is waterproof, dustproof, and has a long battery life for the unpredictable nature of the outdoors.

The JBL Clip 4 is small enough to clip onto your backpack for a hike with an ultra-portable design. Even so, you'll be impressed by the high sound quality this little speaker produces with improved bass and low-midrange clarity. It's also rated IP67 waterproof and dustproof, perfect for camping.

With Bluetooth connectivity, you can enjoy 360-degree sound with an Outdoor Boost option to pick up the bass while camping outside. The battery life offers an impressive 14 hours of use before you need a charge, which should last your entire camping weekend.

Another speaker from JBL, this one comes with PartyBoost to really bring the party to your campsite. It's rated IPX7 for waterproofing -- one of the highest ratings -- and it can be submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for taking to the lake. The Flip 6 also has 12 hours of playtime on a single charge.

Out in the woods, it gets dark—like pitch black dark. You'll need a light like a headlight while cooking over the fire late at night, or a bright flashlight that can shine light hundreds of feet in front of you to see what's ruffling the leaves in the distance.

This flashlight will illuminate your entire campsite and its surroundings at night with a beam distance of 5,627 feet. Its turbo setting puts out 55,000 lumens for 42 seconds before going down to 11,000 lumens, which it can sustain for 50 minutes. At that high of lumens, it's more than bright enough to temporarily blind an attacker or even a bear that wanders into your base camp.

This everyday carry (EDC) flashlight checks multiple boxes since it has six light modes for different use cases. It falls into the EDC, pocket, and tactical flashlight categories and can get up to 1,700 lumens with a maximum beam distance of 1,158 feet.

If you need to have your hands free, a headlamp is a great camping gadget, and this one is built for the outdoors. It is lightweight and waterproof and has smart light sensors that allow you to turn on or off the headlamp by waving your hand in front of it. It has five brightness/lighting modes, including a low light mode that will keep bugs like mosquitoes at bay when lit.

If you need something to withstand the outdoor elements, this headlamp has waterproof rating of IPX8. It also has a feature called PowerTap Technology that instantly adjusts between the max light output and dimmed power. Plus, the headlamp has an integrated battery meter display to show the percentage of power remaining.

Your regular smartphone might work in the middle of nowhere, but for those camping spots that are super off-grid, you might want to consider a satellite phone or communicator in case you need to contact someone for an emergency. These devices use satellites to communicate instead of cell towers, making it easier to send messages in areas with poor or no cell coverage.

This mobile satellite router connects to the Iridium satellite constellation, and you get enough data bandwidth to use Twitter, pull up weather forecasts, and get limited web browsing. You can connect up to five devices, and the router allows you to make satellite calls and satellite SMS for communication. It operates within a temperature range of 50 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and meets MIL-STD 810F standards, meaning it can withstand harsh environments and extreme weather conditions.

Read the review: Iridium GO! Turn any smartphone into a satellite phone

The Garmin inReach Mini 2 is a compact, lightweight handheld GPS receiver with a built-in satellite communicator that enables two-way messaging, interactive SOS, and TracBack routing. Users can even share their location with loved ones back home and get accurate heading information using the digital compass.

One of the most impressive features of the SPOT X is its SOS button, which can signal for help in an emergency. This is a particularly useful feature for those who engage in outdoor activities and may find themselves in areas without cellular coverage. Plus, the device can last for up to 240 hours.

For those who want to stay a little more connected than the average camping trip entails, a portable hotspot device can provide you with a wireless internet connection when there is no service nearby. These devices are compatible with laptops, phones, etc., and act as a mini-Wi-Fi router that can fit in your pocket.

The Inseego hotspot offers dual-band frequencies with a 5 Ghz or 2.4 GHz frequency. This device is compatible with both your laptop and smartphone (USB-C included!), and it can connect to up to 15 different devices for greater versatility. It will last you approximately 24 hours before needing a charge, giving you plenty of time for use.

This model comes unlocked, allowing you to connect via several networks like T-Mobile, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and more. It's also just $50. Enjoy dual-band 5-GHz frequency with download speeds reaching 150 MBps and upload speeds up to 50 MBps.

This network device helps protect your devices with strong encryption, dual Ethernet ports, a gigabit port, and a USB 3.0 port. The Nighthawk M6 can use available networks to fill up to 2,000 sq. ft. of campground space with high-speed Wi-Fi for up to 13 hours using the built-in battery. Plus, this device can give up to 32 devices access to the internet.

Read the review: Netgear Nighthawk M6

Aside from the gadgets above, the following products and accessories will also help make your life a little easier while still letting you connect with nature.

Solar chargers will still work on cloudy days, since they can capture even the smallest of light rays. Although solar chargers and solar powerbanks are best known for their efficient use of the sun, many models also allow you to charge via a traditional wall outlet or another power source.

Moreover, be sure to consult with the manufacturer's owner's manual on best practices when using a device that's solar-powered. That way, you'll know what charge capacity to expect on cloudy days.

Your regular cellular service probably isn't going to extend to certain camping spots. In this case, you can use a hotspot that will create a personal Wi-Fi network. Just keep in mind these devices can consume a lot of power and data, so be sure to turn it off when you're not actively using it.

Also: The best camping gearRead the review: Jackery Solar GeneratorRead the review: EcoFlow River 2Read the review: Iridium GO! Turn any smartphone into a satellite phoneRead the review: Netgear Nighthawk M6ZDNET