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Everything you need to upgrade your camping trip

Camping off-grid doesn't have to mean tech-free. Here are the tech products we recommend to take your camping trip to the next level.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Anker 757 Powerhouse | A versatile power station
Anker 757 Powerhouse
A versatile power station
View now View at Amazon
JBL Flip 5 | A waterproof portable speaker
Hand holding JBL Flip 5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker against the backdrop of a brick building.
JBL Flip 5
A waterproof portable speaker
View now View at Amazon
Imalent SR16 | A bright flashlight
Imalent SR16 flashlight
Imalent SR16
A bright flashlight
View now View at Amazon
Garmin inReach Mini 2 | A satellite phone with GPS
Garmin inReach Mini 2
Garmin inReach Mini 2
A satellite phone with GPS
View now View at Best Buy
Netgear Nighthawk M6 | A reliable portable hotspot
Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro
Netgear Nighthawk M6
A reliable portable hotspot
View now View at Amazon

The great outdoors is where you usually go to unplug from technology and spend time in nature without looking at screens, worrying about responding to emails, or scrolling social media. Of course, some prefer their camping trips to be completely tech-free, but there are still ways to integrate helpful gadgets without taking away from the natural beauty and experience of being one with nature.

Also: The best camping gear

As an avid camper myself, I rounded up everything you need to upgrade your camping trip with tech and gadgets that can keep your devices charged, shine a light when and where you need it, and allow for communication in the middle of nowhere. 

A power bank or power station

Any device you bring with you camping will need to be charged over the course of your trip, whether it's a weekend getaway or a longer trek. The best solar chargers or power banks are a great way to keep devices juiced up without having traditional outlets to plug them into. And, if you need more power or the ability to keep bigger devices like an RV or a CPAP machine running, the best portable power stations for camping give you even more of a boost. 

This portable power station is versatile for your camping trip because of its port options. There's a 100W and 60W USB-C port on the front, along with four USB-A ports, so all your devices are covered. There is also a 12V car socket capable of outputting 120W of power, and six AC outputs each capable of 1500W or 2400W in a power surge.

Review: Anker 757 Powerhouse

It also has an ergonomic design so even though it weighs 43.9 pounds, its handles distribute the weight well.

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

A portable Bluetooth speaker

Whether you prefer music around the campfire or listening to your favorite true-crime podcast, you'll need a rugged and portable speaker to do the job. Make sure the speaker you pack is waterproof, dustproof, and has a long battery life for the unpredictable nature of the outdoors.

This JBL speaker is rated IPX7 for waterproofing -- one of the highest ratings -- and it can be submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for taking to the lake. The Flip 5 also has 12 hours of playtime on a single charge. 

The speaker is easily portable for backpacking since it weighs only 1.2 pounds. And it sounds good, too: the sound is clear and bright, with bass that is punchy but not rattly.

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A headlamp or flashlight

Out in the woods, it gets dark—like pitch black dark. You'll need a light like a headlight while cooking over the fire late at night, or a bright flashlight that can shine light hundreds of feet in front of you to see what's ruffling the leaves in the distance. 

This flashlight will illuminate your entire campsite and its surroundings at night with a beam distance of 5,627 feet. Its turbo setting puts out 55,000 lumens for 42 seconds before going down to 11,000 lumens, which it can sustain for 50 minutes. At that high of lumens, it's more than bright enough to temporarily blind an attacker or even a bear that wanders into your base camp. 

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A satellite phone or communicator

Your regular smartphone might work in the middle of nowhere, but for those camping spots that are super off-grid, you might want to consider a satellite phone or communicator in case you need to contact someone for an emergency. These devices use satellites to communicate instead of cell towers, making it easier to send messages in areas with poor or no cell coverage. 

The Garmin inReach Mini 2 is a compact, lightweight handheld GPS receiver with a built-in satellite communicator that enables two-way messaging, interactive SOS, and TracBack routing. Users can even share their location with loved ones back home and get accurate heading information using the digital compass.

Review: Garmin inReach Mini 2: Life-saving, ultra-compact satellite tech for your next adventure

The Garmin Explore app is also used to download maps, plan your trips, and connect to compatible Garmin watches, in-vehicle navigators, aviation systems, and more.

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A portable hotspot

For those who want to stay a little more connected than the average camping trip entails, a portable hotspot device can provide you with a wireless internet connection when there is no service nearby. These devices are compatible with laptops, phones, etc., and act as a mini-Wi-Fi router that can fit in your pocket.

This network device helps protect your devices with strong encryption, dual Ethernet ports, a gigabit port, and a USB 3.0 port. The Nighthawk M6 can use available networks to fill up to 2,000 sq. ft. of campground space with high-speed Wi-Fi for up to 13 hours using the built-in battery. 

Review: Are you a heavy phone hotspot user? Get this mobile hotspot router instead

Sharing your internet connection with devices is also a snap -- the built-in display gives easy access to the network names and passwords. 

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You might also need:

Aside from the gadgets above, the following products and accessories will also help make your life a little easier while still letting you connect with nature. 

Do solar chargers charge on cloudy days?

Solar chargers will still work on cloudy days, since they can capture even the smallest of light rays. Although solar chargers and solar powerbanks are best known for their efficient use of the sun, many models also allow you to charge via a traditional wall outlet or another power source. 

Moreover, be sure to consult with the manufacturer's owner's manual on best practices when using a device that's solar-powered. That way, you'll know what charge capacity to expect on cloudy days. 

How do I get Wi-Fi in the middle of nowhere?

Your regular cellular service probably isn't going to extend to certain camping spots. In this case, you can use a hotspot that will create a personal Wi-Fi network. Just keep in mind these devices can consume a lot of power and data, so be sure to turn it off when you're not actively using it. 

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