If you plan on spending a decent amount of time camping without a mains hookup, you may want to invest in a camping power pack. These are essentially large lithium batteries which can store electricity and generate AC and/or DC power to power your electrical camping gear.
The best camping power packs can be trickle charged using solar panels and therefore allow you to essentially live off-grid for many days and weeks at a time if the sun is shining reasonably brightly. Of course you can also charge a power pack directly from the mains or your car battery if required.
Camping power packs are useful in a tent or awning to drive equipment such as fridges, electric grills and lights. You can even boil water if the power pack can output 300 Watts or more, but it may take up to 20 minutes – for faster results, we recommend at least 1000W capability.
Smaller camping power packs are also available which are more suited to recharging less power-hungry devices such as phones, GPS, smartwatches, or even rechargeable hand warmers. These are fairly familiar to most people and can be bought quite cheaply. Owing to their small and portable size, these camping power packs are very useful and easy to travel with.
What’s the difference between W and Wh?
This is quite an important distinction and should be borne in mind when looking at the specifications of these camping power packs.
W or Watts is the power or oomph which a camping battery can supply to a gadget or appliance. For instance, if your hair dryer runs at 1800W AC, it means you need a power supply capable of supplying at least 1800W (1.8kW) of alternating current (i.e. like a regular mains supply). Typically it’s also worth having a bit of headroom above this value too – we would therefore recommend a 2000W battery pack for the above case.
On the other hand Wh is shorthand for Watt Hours. This is a completely different unit and refers to how much storage or capacity the camping power pack has – i.e. how long will the power pack last from a fully charged state to empty whilst running an appliance. For instance if you have a power pack of 30Wh capacity this means that you could run or charge a 30 watt (W) gadget for 1 hour before the power pack is out of juice.
The larger power stations can have high capacity – for example the EcoFlow Delta 1300 has a whopping 1260Wh and can supply a maximum power of 1800W to an appliance. This means that if you were running an 1800W hair dryer continuously using this power pack, it would last ~1260/1800 = 0.7 hours or 42 minutes before it was empty. Not that long, but then again you would normally only use a hairdryer or kettle in short 2-3 minute bursts.
After examining several of the leading battery packs on the market, we present our top 5 Camping Secrets recommendations for the best camping power pack available in the UK currently as well as an in depth buying guide to help choose the best option for your particular camping requirements.