I know you’re probably thinking…doesn’t that defeat the purpose of camping? Well I suppose the answer to that question is, it depends!
I agree the whole point of camping is to leave the everyday life behind, which includes the screens and devices that are seemingly tethered to our bodies.
However, camping can be so much more relaxing when you don’t have kids constantly saying, I’m bored, I want to go home, camping sucks!
Oh the times have changed. Our kids are growing up in a world where they can’t even fathom what it was like before the Internet, cell phones, tablets, smart this and smart that.
Hold on now, am I starting to sound like my parents did. This is reminiscent of a modern version of, “I used to have to walk 5 miles to school…uphill…in my bare feet!”.
Thankfully, I guess some things never change!
Make no mistake I have pretty strict rules when it comes to vacationing and camping, but asking your tweens and teens to leave it all behind while enduring all that nature has to offer, is, well, asking for trouble.
So to compromise I do allow the laptops, tablets and cell phones to be stowed, however, they only come out at night when we’ve enjoyed a healthy day of sun and fun.
To be honest, it makes for a nice way to unwind after a long day nestled up in your tent and watching a good movie with your family…especially on those nights where mother nature isn’t cooperating!
Car Camping in a Tent? Bring Power!
First things first, if you’re tenting you are not going to get very far for very long without 120 VAC power.
The fact of the matter is, while all our smart devices, i.e., computers, tablets, and cell phones will offer great battery life throughout our “regular” day-to-day activities.
Believe me you will be powerless in the wilderness without a power source in very short order.
If your camp site has 120 VAC power, then you’re all set! However, in most cases this is not an option (or if it is you’re paying for it) so you have some choices to make.
If you’re only going for a couple of days then your power requirements won’t be too demanding.
For these short camping adventures you can probably get away with Portable Battery Powered Generators such as those found on Amazon.
For these types of generators you’ll want make sure you give them a full charge (typically 8 to 24hrs) before you depart for your camping trip.
I recommend the SUAOKI Portable Power Station as I’ve been very satisfied with it’s battery life.
The other reason I like it is because it gives you the option to connect a solar panel to continue charging it while not in use.
Most of the battery powered generators you’ll find on Amazon will give you a reasonable charge. However, if you’re looking to go out for a week or more then you are pressing your luck with one of these.
If you and your family are avid campers like mine, and typically book camping trips that are a week or longer, you are definitely going to want to invest in a small portable gas powered generator.
Full disclosure these generators are not cheap, however, you won’t have to worry about not having power while you enjoy life away from civilization.
Of course, you’ll still need access to gas or a gas station somewhere in close proximity, but usually this is not too much of an issue.
5 Best Generators for Camping
Okay so you want to play it safe and are looking to buy a gas powered generator. I don’t blame you, I recently purchased one as well. As the old saying goes, I’d rather be safe than sorry!
What I’m going to do is rank 5 of the best gas powered generators ideally suited for camping. These generators all boast ultra-quiet operation, performance, and portability.
Full disclosure, I do not own all of the generators in the list but one, however, I’m delivering you consolidated information based on online reviews and Amazon.
This is the Cadillac of all the generators listed here. If you have the money to shell out to pick up this Honda gas generator, you will not be disappointed.
This little power house can operate a wide variety of appliances, making it perfect for portable use at home, camping, on the job site, or much more.
Need more power? No problem, paralleling this generator with a second EU2200i for additional power is breeze for the most demanding loads for a combined 4400-watts of power.
This powerful portable generator produces 2000 watts peak power and 1600 watts running power, with a runtime of 5.5 hours at 50% load.
The easy and lightweight portable design makes this the perfect generator for camping and is the reason why I bought one.
It has a clean power source and circuit breaker system with overload protection makes it safe to power your most sensitive electronics and computers.
The Briggs & Stratton P2200 produces 2,200 starting watts and 1700 running watts. It produces less than 3% total harmonic distortion making it safe for laptop computers, TVs and game systems.
It’s large fuel storage means this big boy will run for up to 8 hours of continuous operation at 25% load.
It comes complete with USB charging ports to allow charging of portable electronics in order to stay connected.
Generac is one of the big names in fixed and portable generators.
Again, this unit is built for ultra-quiet operation and boasts a large fuel tank as well listed at 1.2 gallons. This means you can get up to 10.75 running hours at a 25% load.
Rounding out our list is the Westinghouse iGen2200. This is one of the best priced units for the power and provides 1800 Rated Watts and 2200 Peak Watts.
It is one of the lighter units for the power weighing only 46 lbs and boasts two 120V 20 Amp Outlets and two USB outlets for charging your portable electronic devices.
It is a great choice for home and camping use and operates extremely quiet at only 52 dB. The unit is very fuel efficient providing 12 hours of running time at 25% load (1.2 Gallon Gas Tank).
Plan Your Entertainment Before You Go Tent Camping
Well I think it’s safe to say we’ve got the power requirements covered off. Now it’s time to think about what and how you intend to bring your “television” entertainment with you.
It’s funny, I was almost tempted not to include physical DVD/Blu-rays in this article out of fears of seeming dated.
It’s not that long ago that I remember a night out for me and my wife was heading out to the local Jumbo Video movie store to rent a VHS cassette movies to watch for the night.
Come on you remember, they’d have popcorn at the door when you walked in. As you paced the isles you’d be licking the salt off your fingers while you calmly perused all the latest release movies they had on display before deciding which one(s) you were going to pick for your 2 or 3 day rental.
Wow, it’s certainly hard to fathom that we actually did that in this day and age isn’t it!
And when you tell the kids that’s how we used to have to do it before the Internet and streaming services like Netflix, well, they’d just giggle in disbelief.
Fast forward 10 years later and look at things now, DVD’s and Blu-ray movies have all but gone by the way-side as well.
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, I don’t think they’re completely done yet so I’m going to include them in our discussion today.
That said, you are going to need a way to play those DVD and Blu-ray movies and luckily Amazon has us covered here as well.
This 10.1 Inch Portable Blu-Ray DISC/DVD Player is a great camping companion and will play both Blu-ray and DVD movies in crisp 1080p resolution.
Additionally, you can preload your favorite movies using the integrated SD/MMC card slot onto a flash storage drive for maximum portability.
I highly recommend this little device for your next camping trip as it has a solid build quality and is visually stunning.
Just a word of warning…depending how many kids you have, you may need to invest in more than one!
Netflix Now Has An Offline Download Option
You may or may not be aware of this feature, however, Netflix now has video download options available for offline viewing.
To download a video from Netflix for offline viewing simply navigate to the Netflix app on your favorite smart device that you will be taking along with you on your camping excursion.
From here, you’ll be able to browse all the shows and movies that Netflix makes available for download and offline viewing.
Just a quick note, not every title in Netflix is available for download so keep that in mind as you’re searching.
Once you’ve selected the titles that you will want to download, go ahead and do so.
I should let you know also that certain titles have certain licensing restrictions so don’t be surprised if a title you downloaded is no longer available if you are on an extended camping trip or vacation.
In my experience this is not often an issue, usually the biggest limitation is the available storage on the device you’re downloading to.
You can access your complete library of offline titles by simply going back to your main menu and choosing “My Downloads”.
Of course there are many other options available that will allow you to download titles for offline viewing, i.e., Plex…but let’s not forget, this is a camping trip!
I conceded to the fact a few years ago that camping wasn’t going to be what I envisioned it would be, birds chirping, canoe rides, bike rides, camp fires, sunset walks.
Well that’s not true, we still do all of those things but bringing along a select few electronic supplements can add to the experience not hinder it if strictly enforced.
Like I said above, you’ll be glad you did when mother nature isn’t cooperating, especially when you want to get a good night’s sleep in your tent.
Well, there you have it, everything you need to know to bring your digital entertainment (“television”) with you on your next camping trip.