Hiking Gear

Best Ways for Charging Camera Batteries While Backpacking

person using camera to photograph backpacker

Keeping your camera batteries charged so your camera can be ready to capture those wonderful moments on your backpacking trip is crucial. How can you charge your camera batteries on your backpacking trip?

The best options for charging your camera batteries while backpacking are to use either a portable battery or portable solar panels. These two options will ensure your batteries are fully charged for your camera.

Having been on many backpacking trips in the wilderness with zero outlets to charge my camera batteries, I know the struggle to make sure your five extra batteries are charged. There are some caveats to portable batteries and portable solar panels. There are also some things you can do to extend your camera’s battery life to make sure you have enough battery to last your entire backpacking trip.

How Do I Charge My Camera Battery While Backpacking?

Person holding up DSLR outdoors

Portable Solar Panels

Your first option of charging your camera batteries is with a portable solar panel. You would need to connect your camera battery charging to the USB port of the portable solar panel. As the panel absorbs the solar energy the power is transferred to your batteries to charge them. You can keep your solar panel on the exterior of your backpack to charge your batteries as you walk.This is a popular method among backpackers, however there are some drawbacks.

The main drawback of charging your batteries with a solar panel is the time it takes. Solar panels will charge your batteries passively, but it will take time. For this setup you will likely need multiple extra batteries to ensure your currently charging battery has enough time to be fully charged. Another drawback of this method is you need clear weather with direct exposure to the sun. If there are any cloudy days or you are backpacking in a shaded area then you will have limited results with charging.

Another key thing to consider with using portable solar panels is the bulk. Portable Solar Panels are a great idea, but some models will take up a good volume in your pack. They can also have some weigh to them.

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Portable External Batteries

Your next option for charging your camera’s batteries is with a portable external battery. For this to work you will need to fully charge this portable battery before your trip. Once on your backpacking trip, you will need to connect your camera’s battery charging device to the USB port of your external battery. Another option with modern cameras is to connect your camera’s body directly to the external battery through a USB cable.

Charging your camera’s batteries using a portable external battery is a great choice as they will charge just as quickly as if they were plugged into an electrical outlet. You will also be able to charge your other devices such as your phone using the same battery.

The main drawback of portable external batteries is the extra weight. If you need to charge multiple batteries over a long trip then you will likely need the batteries with more capacity which means slightly more weight. Another downside is you have to carry another battery alongside your camera’s batteries.

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Now that you know two ways to keep your camera’s batteries charged, there are some things you can do to help extend your camera’s battery life that will make a huge difference.

Tips for Longer Camera Battery Life When Backpacking

backpacker taking photo of the mountains

LCD Settings

The first setting you should change is your LCD brightness setting. Your camera’s LCD is one of the biggest drainers of battery life. You should change your LCD to the lowest brightness settings. Go to your camera’s settings and search for the brightness settings to adjust it down. This will drastically increase your battery life.

If you want to take it a step further then another thing you can adjust is the image preview after you take a photo. Most cameras have the ability to adjust how long the image is displayed for. You can also opt to turn this off completely if you are running really low on battery life.

Sensor Cleaning

The next setting you can adjust on your camera is the automatic sensor cleaning. Most modern cameras will automatically clean your sensor when you turn on or turn off the camera. This also takes up a lot of battery life. Turning off this setting will not damage your camera in any way. You don’t need to have your camera sensor cleaned every time it is powered on or off.

The main caveat for this setting is to remember to turn it back on once you have returned home. This will help clean your sensor once you are home. If you are worried you can turn it on at the end of the day and then turn it back off so it isn’t cleaning your sensor throughout the day.

Wireless Settings

The third setting you can adjust to help extend your camera’s battery life is to disable the wireless settings. Some cameras have a wireless feature to help connect to Wi-fi and smart devices. Go to your camera;s menu and search for wireless and disable this feature. This will prevent your camera from searching for Wi-fi points and smart devices while you are out in the middle of nowhere.

How Do I keep my Camera Battery Charged While Backpacking?

Camera Battery Settings

Most modern cameras will have the ability to charge the battery that is inside of the camera through a USB port on the camera. Check to see if your camera allows external charging and enable this feature. This will allow your to keep a portable battery connected to your camera at all times and keep your battery fully charged throughout the day.

Camera Mount for External Battery

While it is a great feature to be able to charge your camera’s battery with an external battery, there is a drawback. The main drawback is you will either have to have a long USB cable to connect to your portable battery in your backpack or you will have to hold your portable battery close to your camera.

In order to solve this you can get a mount that attaches to your camera body or you can use velcro to stick to your camera body and battery. This will be a way more convenient setup than having a really long USB cable.

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How many extra camera batteries should I bring backpacking?

Once you have your charging system down and have adjusted your camera’s batteries then you want to make sure you have enough batteries to last your entire trip. Even though you have a way to charge your batteries, you should still have a battery that is being charged, one that is being used, and a back-up battery to make sure you are always ready. I recommend bringing at least four batteries total. That way you will have two back-ups in-case the charging takes longer than expected or the charger for some reason stops working.

Final Thoughts

Backpacking in the wilderness will provide you will many opportunities to capture magical moments and you will now be prepared and fully charged for your next trip. Trying out either a portable solar panel or portable external batteries will be key to see what works for you.

As you go on each trip you will find what works and what doesn’t work or whether you need to bring more batteries or less. Which each trip you will be able to optimize and no longer worry about your camera’s batteries. Enjoy your next backpacking trip!

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