How can you keep your smartphone working while you’re here? Photo: Kraig Becker

There is no denying that technology has invaded nearly every aspect of our lives. It is almost impossible to go anywhere these days without carrying a gadget of some kind along with us. This holds true even for backpackers and campers, many of whom now set out for the backcountry armed with smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, and a variety of other devices in tow. Keeping all of those tech toys charged while away from home can be a real challenge, but with a little planning and the right gear, it is possible to keep all of your gadgets functioning even in a remote location.

Portable battery packs
Probably the easiest way to keep your high-tech gear functioning while on a backpacking trip is to carry a portable battery pack. These devices are compact, lightweight, and available just about anywhere these days. They are also a quick and efficient way to provide power to any device capable of being charged via USB.

Using a battery pack couldn’t be simpler. You charge it up at home prior to departure and the power stored in the battery is then transferred to your devices as needed while on the trail. Sadly, not all battery packs are created equal. Some are capable of supplying more energy than others, and a few are even built specifically for use in the outdoors. Those options include the Braven BRV-Bank and my personal favorite, the Limefuel Rugged. Both are water- and dust-proof and are built to resist punishment, too.


A solar panel is a viable option for powering your tech gear. Photo: Courtesy of Goal Zero

Solar power
There was a time when the thought of using solar power to keep your high-tech gadgets charged seemed like the stuff of science fiction. But advances in solar-panel technology have made it a viable option, particularly when traveling in remote areas. In fact, many climbers on Everest use solar power to keep their devices charged, including power-hungry gadgets like laptops and satellite phones.

Today’s portable solar panels are lightweight, durable, and surprisingly efficient. When exposed to direct sunlight, they generate a charge that is more than capable of powering a smartphone or even a tablet. Better yet, when paired with a portable battery pack, that same energy can be saved for use later.

When it comes to providing solar solutions for backpackers and campers, Goal Zero is the best in the business. They offer everything you could possibly need to keep your devices running.


A rugged portable battery will keep your GoPro going. Photo: Courtesy of Limefuel

Hydrogen power
While not quite as common as battery packs or solar panels, there are a few companies that offer methods of charging your device using hydrogen cells. This is a very clean, environmentally friendly way to get a charge, and it has the added benefit of being compact and easy to carry, too. But finding hydrogen cells to power the charger can sometimes be a challenge, as they aren’t always readily available.

A good example of this type of charger is the Hydrogen Reactor from Brunton. It can recharge an iPhone three times from a single cell, and is lightweight and compact enough to take with you anywhere.

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