Getting the most out of your battery
When you don’t have access to plug sockets, wireless charging pads or Apple Magsafe, making sure your phone stays alive can be a battle. It’s good practice to try and make your battery last longer no matter what you’re up to. Here’s just a few things you could do:
- Close background apps
- Turn off notifications
- Switch on battery saver mode
- Put your phone in airplane mode
- Lower your screen brightness
You could also invest in a phone that has a good battery life before you start travelling.
How much charge do you need?
Before exploring all of the ways to charge, you must first know how much power you’ll actually need while travelling, as this will impact what type of charging option you pick. Ask yourself these questions:
- How long are you going for? As this will impact how much charge you’ll need and the most energy efficient method
- Will you be taking a vehicle? As you can use your car to charge
- How many devices will need charging? As this will determine which charging method is best, and how much charge you’ll need
- What is your device’s battery capacity? As this impacts how long it needs to be charged for, and how long it can last without charge
Ways to charge your phone
The most common method of charging your battery while travelling is using a portable charger (also called a battery pack or power pack). All you have to do is charge the pack beforehand at home, and then take it with you when it’s fully charged.
Most power packs can supply up to 5 charges, depending on how big they are. Try and use it as little as possible, like when you’ve almost run out of charge, rather than constantly topping it up throughout the day, as this preserves the juice.
When buying your portable charger, make sure it supplies enough mAh to cover your phone’s battery capacity, for however many nights you might want it. For example, an iPhone 11 would need a charger pack of around 10,000mAh to charge its 3,110mAh battery for 3 nights. While that sounds hefty, the charger will easily fit in your rucksack. They’re typically the size of slightly larger, bulkier phones.
However, if you’re not a fan of portable chargers, there are other lesser-known tricks for charging whilst away.
You can buy portable, foldable solar panels that you can stick to or hang from your tent or vehicle.
How effective this charging option is depends on where you’re staying, and the type of weather. If you’re staying somewhere with a lot of sunshine, expect to receive hours of charge. On the other hand, if you’re camping in a cloudy area, or it rains on your time away, you won’t be able to soak up much power.
You could hang your solar panels over your rucksack so it collects charge as you hike, as it can take a while to produce anything that can charge your battery. Around 25 watts should be sufficient for one phone, but remember this takes longer than a portable charger. You could be waiting hours, sometimes even a day, to build enough charge to bring your phone back. That’s why it’s good to start gathering electricity early.
Many people are familiar with plugging their phones into their car while on a long journey. It’s a smart way to keep your devices charged whilst playing music on the road.
All you need to do is buy a USB car charger and plug it into the cigarette lighter. Some cars come with USB ports built-in, which you can also use to charge your phone.
While this is a handy idea, be wary that you have to have your car switched on for this to work, and that can drain your car’s battery if you’re not actively driving. The last thing you want is to have a flat battery, so use this hack sparingly!
You can buy a wood-burning cookstove that cooks your meals as well as charging your phone. It produces enough electricity to power USB devices while also boiling water.
However, like solar panels, it’s a long process, taking several hours to generate enough power for a proper charge. Nevertheless it’s some bonus juice while cooking dinner, and would give you enough power for a text or to check your GPS.
Biolite is one of the best brands for this job, though it’s good to note that its primary responsibility is to heat water and to cook - providing electricity comes as a secondary ability.
If none of the methods above are suitable for you, you can always use the buildings you pass to help along your journey.
If you end up camping or parking up at a campsite, you can take advantage of the facilities they have on offer. Some campsites have charging ports, which you could use to plug in your power packs overnight.
Public buildings are another option. For example, libraries are often free to enter, and you can charge up your devices inside. Cafes are also another reliable option, where you can charge up while taking a coffee break or grabbing a bite to eat.
If you can’t find either of these options, there’s always hotels and hostels. If you’re in dire need of charge, simply book for a night and use the plug sockets inside to charge everything up. You could explore the surrounding area or plan your next route while you wait, and swap the tent floor for a bed for one night.
Good tips for camping with electronics
Bring as few devices as reasonably possible. The more electric devices you have, the more you’ll have to charge. Sometimes just bringing a phone for communication and navigation is sufficient.
Remember that temperature can impact your battery’s performance. Phone batteries lose some of their capacity in colder temperatures, and boost back up once it’s warmer. Keep your phone safe in a warm, closed area of your clothing, and don’t allow freezing temperatures or damp to affect them.
Be patient. If you’re planning to use a weather-dependent method of charging, remember how long it can take to build enough power to charge a device. Plan for this early by charging things beforehand.