Camping without electricity is a completely different experience.
You have to rely on the moon and stars for light, you can’t plug in your phone or laptop, and you’ll be cooking over an open fire.
But if you’re up for it, camping without electricity could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
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Can You Camp Without Electricity?
The biggest question you may have is whether you really can camp without electricity at all.
It’s a fair assumption to make, but the simple answer is yes. If it doesn’t get dark outside, you won’t need light, and cooking over an open fire means no electric appliances for warmth or food preparation.
You can bring a portable lantern if you’d like some light throughout the night (and it’s always easier to find things when you have light.).
You could also create an electric charge with your own hand crank or solar powered generator.
Just using these small generators will put you ahead of the game.
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How far do you want to go?
Now that you know you can go camping without electricity, it’s time to decide how far you want to take it.
Just because there isn’t power doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort or favorite outdoor activities.
In fact, trying something new may rekindle your love for camping or turn it into one of your favorite hobbies.
Camping without electricity will require a few changes, but it doesn’t have to be a big adjustment.
If you spend a few minutes preparing for the trip and bringing some extra tools on your next vacation, camping without electricity is possible.
What can you do?
Actually camping without electricity is a lot easier than you might think. Here are some ideas that will help get you started:
Use candles for light when needed but be careful if using them inside your tent.
Bring lanterns if necessary, battery powered or portable, camping gas powered lamps are ideal.
Get some solar lights or lanterns. Solar powered ‘string type’ lights can provide a surprising amount of light. They also look great on a tent when it is dark.
If you enjoy barbecues then a portable, charcoal barbecue is a great addition to the ‘off grid’ camping experience.
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Portable power banks are an option for those campers who simply cannot bear to be without some form of power. They can be a useful addition to keep mobile phones and GPS devices charged.
Invest in some portable solar panels.
There is a wide range of panels that have been developed for camping with many producing decent amounts of power, which can be used to charge batteries and power other devices.
Many of these solar panels fold up into small, suitcase sized packages, making them easy to carry.
Change your habits and become more connected to nature by going to bed when it becomes dark and getting up at daybreak.
This may sound a little extreme for some people but adjusting your waking hours so that they are more aligned to Mother Nature can help you to become more relaxed, enjoy better sleep and appreciate the outdoors more fully.
Get a solar shower. These are widely available and very cost effective. If you can’t face the prospect of bathing in a stream or with cold water, then a solar shower is a great way to get warm water.
Make your own entertainment. Take some games with you, some books to read or play charades or similar.
Do nothing. In this crazy world it becomes increasingly difficult for many people to simply sit down, relax and be in the moment – doing nothing.
Try sitting back, under the stars, with a glass or bottle of something. Take in nature and try to unwind.
What can you do if you enjoy gadgets?
Eating, playing games and getting warm are important activities for many who go camping. But some need to take things a little further and bring their favorite gadgets with them.
Remember that there is no electricity so you cannot simply plug in your electronic device any time it runs out of battery power. You’ll have to be a little more resourceful.
What can you do? Here are some ideas:
Carry extra batteries with you – the larger batteries often last longer than smaller ones. If they still run out of juice before the trip is over then carry spares for those too!
Take a solar-powered charger with you to charge your devices outdoors – this may help extend the life of your batteries and keep your gadgets going.
Take a solar-powered speaker with you – if you like to listen to music while camping in the outdoors, then take a solar powered speaker with you and connect it up to your phone or MP3 player.
Take extra USB cables (charging/data) or an old-fashioned cable with A/C plug adapters.
Turn off Wifi on all electronic devices unless you really need it.
Keep screen brightness low on smartphones and tablets – this saves battery power and reduces eye strain when looking at screens for any length of time in bright sunlight.
How do you cook without electricity?
If you are camping without an electricity supply then it is worth learning how to cook without any electrical devices.
Here are some ideas:
Cook on a portable camping stove . Get one with 1-2 burners, so that two people can cook at the same time.
If you really want to have things rough you could get a Primus Omnifuel or similar multi-fuel stove which will run on pretty much anything – including alcohol, paraffin and petrol.
It allows you to rapidly boil water for purification or coffee while outdoors. Use wood to heat up the device and this will also be used to cook your food.
Gather dry kindling and twigs before you go camping – a small hatchet is useful for this too. These will come in useful when cooking with the wood-fired stove.
Build a makeshift fire pit to cook on – simply build a camp fire and place a grill over the top of it.
Use a solar oven if you have one or can afford to buy one. If not, then take along some black baking trays which can be placed over the fire so that they get hot enough to cook on, using nothing but sun power. Of course, the same technique works in the winter time too.
Buy camping versions of cooking equipment – most outdoor shops sell specialized camping equipment for cooking on an open fire or portable stove.
If not then look out for frying pans with lids, pots with hinged handles which lock, oven gloves etc.
Don’t forget about Dutch Ovens . They are cast iron dishes that resemble what the pioneers in the US used.
They are capable of being placed directly in a fire or on top of a burner, so you can simmer stews, soups and other dishes while out in the great outdoors.
Another idea is to buy camping cookware sets that allow you to put 2-3 pots/pans/plates stacked together with their lids – this saves space and prevents things from burning by allowing the heat to circulate all round the equipment inside.
Take along some water purification tablets if you plan on drinking tap water while camping without an electricity supply – get enough for at least 6 months’ consumption (or longer).
Alternatively take along your own filtration system or even bottled water.
What about lighting?
If you are camping without power for lighting then you will need to either bring your own battery-powered torches with you or make sure that there is enough natural light during the daytime.
Here are some ideas:
Bring along plenty of extra batteries (or buy rechargeable ones) for any torch(es) you take with you. Don’t forget to pack a charger too if it can be used both indoors and outdoors!
Take solar-powered garden lights – these can be placed round the campsite (indoors or outside) and will provide temporary lighting at night time, as well as making your campsite look festive – even if only by candlelight.
Use oil lanterns – these will give off an orange glow which some people find quite atmospheric.
Gather dry twigs/wood during the day for making fires at night time – these will serve as makeshift torches when lit with fire.
Use flashlights on your smartphone if you have one or take along a tablet which can provide this service too.
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How do you keep warm if there’s no power when camping?
If you are planning on camping in cold conditions then it is a good idea to take plenty of warm clothing with you. Here are some ideas on how to stay warm:
Wear your warmest clothes and make sure that your head and hands (in particular) are well covered and protected from the elements.
Keep your sleeping bag zipped up at night time – if it’s too hot for this, then use two light blankets making sure that they don’t touch the ground.
Try to arrange them so that air can circulate between them otherwise condensation will form where they meet or even get wet through!
Take along extra sleeping bags if you have room in the car/on the bike – these can be used as makeshift blankets, or to wrap around yourself after taking off your outer layers if you get too hot during the night.
If camping in a cold climate, then take along some oil lamps – they don’t give out much heat but they will keep you warm by surrounding you with their gentle orange glow!
Take along gas or propane heaters – these are very efficient at keeping you warm and can be used to cook on as well.
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What about hygiene?
Although this is not usually considered an important issue when it comes to staying overnight outdoors, I think it’s worth mentioning nonetheless because of the fact that we spend so much time indoors living our everyday lives: we become dependent upon being able to take a shower, brush our teeth and shave on a daily basis.
If we then try to do without the facilities that we have grown accustomed to by going camping then this can lead to a nasty shock!
If you are used to taking a shower every day, then consider buying yourself a proper outdoor wash kit which includes a pan with handle for boiling water in and also some form of scrubbing device (such as a bathing glove).
A small plastic bowl/drinking cup will be useful too – these can be placed inside the pan while it’s still empty and filled up afterwards using any nearby fresh water supplies such as streams or lakes.
This is much better than trying to use your drinking bottle (or even worse – your cupped hands) as a makeshift sink.
Even if you don’t normally shave or brush your teeth, then take along some basic toiletries such as deodorant (ideally the aerosol type as it won’t make a mess) and wet wipes for those all-important ‘spot checks’ to see if everything is working properly.
What camping food can you make without electricity?
When camping without electricity, we need to consider what type of food we can take with us. Here are some examples:
Take along simple foods – for example – flash-frozen fish fillets (in their sealed packets), canned meat such as sardines or tuna (in brine or oil), pasta (break into small pieces before taking) and dried beans/lentils – these only require the addition of boiling water before eating.
Keep dried vegetables to a minimum as they will take up valuable space in your rucksack. Other items that do well in dry weather conditions include raisins and other dried fruits, nuts (chopped first) and even plain chocolate!
Take along extra items of food which can be stored in your car/on your bike to have handy for when you get hungry.
These could include packets of crisps, chocolate, biscuits and even cans of soda (don’t forget the opener if it’s not a ring-pull type).
These should be kept in plastic bags to prevent any leakage or damage.
Some people like to take along large quantities of flour in order to bake their own bread fresh while out camping – this is great but only if you also remember the yeast!
A small gas cylinder will give you enough cooking power to make an open fire (and maybe enough for one hot meal too).
Double check that you are allowed fires in the area that you are planning to camp before starting one though.
How can you cook your food without electricity?
When it comes to cooking your meals, then the simplest way is by using an open fire (this may require you to find some kind of metal grill if cooking meat/fish).
Bring along a small frying pan or saucepan so that you can heat up water for drinks or even prepare instant soup.
Other things that are useful include apples for baking (if planning on making pies), wire grills which can be set up over the fire and metal skewers for kebabs.
Another good idea is to bring along pieces of split wood – these will act as excellent fuel sources when cooking over an open fire – just make sure that they are completely dry before using.
What other things can you do without electricity when camping?
There is a wide range of camping activities which will keep you occupied while out in the wilderness even if electricity isn’t available to you.
Some examples include hiking, swimming, cycling or even kayaking/canoeing on local waterways.
Flying kites is always popular with kids.