Going on a camping trip can take you to gorgeous landscapes, sweeping vistas, and unforgettable natural sights. The joy in capturing these beautiful areas through your camera’s lens is part of the fun. Since you will be out in the wilderness and away from outlets, how do you charge your camera batteries on your camping trip?
To charge your camera battery when you camp you can use portable external battery packs connected directly to your camera, use an outlet from a portable car battery, or use portable solar panels.
As someone who used to lug around a Canon DLSR and now a Sony mirrorless camera, I always had the struggle of keeping track of my camera’s battery life on camping trips. After a ton of research and trial and error, I have found a system that works very well. I have been able to have my batteries last long enough for a four day backpacking trip through Iceland. Let’s go over the specifics in the next few sections so you can have fully charged batteries and be able to maximize your battery life.
How do I keep my camera charged while camping?
Portable Battery in Car
If you are camping near your car then you have the luxury of bringing a portable external car battery. These will have an outlet where you can plug your camera’s charger into to keep your batteries charged. This is the most convenient and easiest way to keep your batteries charged.
The downside of this option is you won’t be able to lug it with you if you plan on venturing deeper into the wilderness on a backpacking trip and you will always have one slot taken up when you are charging your batteries.
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Portable Battery Pack
The next method to keep your batteries charged is with portable battery packs. Most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have the option to charge batteries that are in the camera via a USB port. You can plug a USB cable into the portable battery and one directly into your camera. This will help your battery charge as you hike or relax at camp.
This has helped me keep my batteries charged throughout the day. The downside to this method is that you can only charge one battery at at time and it can take a while to charge. You also have the option to find a battery charger that has a USB port to plug your charger directly to the battery. This is probably the easiest and most convenient method for most campers.
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Portable Solar Pads
The next method you can use is to charge your batteries with a portable solar panel. This is a great way to harness the energy of the sun to charge your batteries. You can setup your solar panels at camp and let your batteries charge.
This method has a lot of drawbacks. The main drawbacks are that portable solar panels can be bulky, the charging from the sun can take a while, and if the weather is bad then you will be unable to charge.
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Tips to Preserve Camera Battery Life When Camping
While your main goal may be to keep your batteries fully charged, there are some things you can do to help them last longer during your camping trip.
The first thing you can do is turn off the wireless setting on your camera. Wireless setting is used to connect to wi-fi or televisions to update or share data from your camera. This will wastefully use your camera’s battery as your camera will intermittently try to connect to a wireless device.
Go to your settings menu and search for the wireless setting and turn it off. This will prevent your camera from trying to find a signal during your camping trip and thus save you some battery life.
The next setting to adjust is your LCD brightness setting. This will be one of the biggest drainers of your battery. Although it is nice to look at the photo you just took on your LCD screen, the LCD screen is the most active element of your camera and will use the most energy.
Go to your camera’s LCD settings section and lower the brightness of your LCD. If you are really running low on battery then you can opt to turn the LCD screen off completely to conserve as much energy as possible.
You know when you turn your camera on and you see automatic sensor cleaning? Well that drains your battery too, but you have the option to turn it off. The next setting to turn off on your trip is the automatic sensor cleaning.
If you are worried about damaging the sensor because its not being cleaned, your camera will be fine. You can turn this setting back on at the end of the day to get a daily cleaning. Once you are back in the city you can turn it back on, but for now the idea is to help maximize your battery life.
How can I charge my camera battery while using it?
if you want to keep your camera’s battery charged all day long, even when you are using it, you have one option. You can connect a portable external battery directly to your camera. This will ensure the battery in the camera is constantly being fed a charge.
Go to your camera’s settings and search for external charging settings. Only some cameras have this feature, but most newer cameras released in the past 5 years will likely have this setting.
To charge your camera with a portable battery you can either opt to have a really long USB cable or you can buy a camera mounting cage and mount the external battery to the camera. For my Sony camera I have a Small Rig cage and a clamp that holds a portable battery.
You don’t need the mount, but it makes things feel much more natural and intuitive as you are walking around. You can also opt to use velcro and attach the battery to the bottom of the camera if you don’t want to buy the mount. This is a much more economical solution, but has the risk of the battery falling off if you are walking around a lot.
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Capturing the beautiful vistas, gorgeous scenery, and wonderful memories from a camping trip are worth the effort of lugging around your massive camera. The logistical challenge of making sure you have enough battery life to take those snapshots is worth the effort.
You can opt for more luxury and buy a portable car battery with outlets to charge your batteries, be more nimble and use portable external batteries, or opt for the innovative portable solar panels. Each of these three options will help you keep your batteries charged during your camping trip. Enjoy your next camping trip and have fun taking photos!