How Do Thru-Hikers Charge Their Phones? Tips to Stay Connected

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Thru-hiking takes you on a long journey through nature, testing your physical and mental limits. One of the challenges that thru-hikers face is staying connected with the outside world. In today’s world, smartphones have become an essential tool for communication, navigation, and entertainment, but how do thru-hikers charge their phones on the trail? In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to keep your phone charged and functional during your backpacking trip or thru-hike.

How Do Thru-Hikers Charge Their Phones?

Charging While in Resupply Towns

Thru-hikers often have to make stops in resupply towns to restock on food and supplies, and these towns can also be a great place to charge your phone. Most resupply towns have cafes, hostels, fast food restaurants, and other establishments that offer free charging stations for hikers. Here are some tips for charging up while in resupply towns:

  • Check maps for establishments with charging stations in town.
  • Bring your own charging cable and wall adapter to ensure compatibility.
  • Be mindful of other hikers or customers who may also need to use the charging station.
  • Charge your phone while you’re resting, taking a break, or enjoying a meal to save time and energy.

It’s important to note that some of the smaller trail towns may not have free charging stations available, so bringing a portable charger or other charging options with you on your thru-hike is always a good idea. It’s essential to plan ahead and make sure you have enough battery life to navigate to the next resupply town if needed. With these tips, you can stay connected and charged up on the trail.

Using Portable Chargers

Portable chargers are one of the most popular and convenient ways for thru-hikers to keep their phones charged on the trail. These small, compact devices come in a variety of sizes and can provide multiple charges for your phone. They’re easy to use and can be recharged using solar panels, wall outlets, or car chargers. Here are some tips for using portable chargers:

  • Choose a high-capacity portable charger.
  • Opt for a durable yet lightweight model that can withstand a backpacking trip.
  • Use a charging cable with a length that suits your needs.
  • Keep your portable charger in a waterproof bag or container.

Our Pick – Anker PowerCore 10000

Anker Powercore 10000
  • Great high performance portable charger for less than $30
  • High Size-to-Cell-Capacity Ratio
  • 3 Phone Charges
  • High-Speed Universal Charging

Using Solar Panels

Solar panels are another popular option for thru-hikers who want to charge their phones on the trail. These devices harness the power of the sun to charge your phone, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective choice. Here are some tips for using solar panels:

  • Choose a high-quality solar panel with a high wattage output.
  • Opt for a lightweight, portable model that can be easily attached to your backpack.
  • Position your solar panel in direct sunlight for optimal charging.
  • Keep your phone in a waterproof case or bag while charging.

Our Pick – Goal Zero Nomad 20

Goal Zero Nomad 20 Backpacking Solar Panel
  • Efficient, lightweight solar panel that can be attached to your backpack or propped up with the included kickstand
  • 20W, 18-22V Panel that has a built in 8mm charging cable and a USB port
  • Can be utilized to charge phones, power banks, portable chargers, cameras and more
  • Rugged and durable, can withstand many backpacking trips with proper care

Using Power Banks

Power banks are similar to portable chargers, but they’re larger and can provide more charges for your phone. They’re a great option for thru-hikers who need to charge multiple devices or want to keep their phones charged for an extended period. Here are some tips for using power banks:

  • Choose a high-capacity power bank with multiple charging ports.
  • Opt for a lightweight, portable model that can be easily carried in your backpack.
  • Use a charging cable with a length that suits your needs.
  • Keep your power bank in a waterproof bag or container.

Our Pick – Anker 325 Power Bank (PowerCore 20000)

Anker 325 Power Bank
  • Lighweight high-performance powerbank for under $50
  • Massive 20,000mAh cell capacity provides more than 5 charges on most phone models
  • Twin USB ports allow you to charge two devices at the same time
  • Provides optimal charging rates for all devices, including trickle charging for low power devices

Backpacking Phone Charging FAQs

Q: Can I charge my phone using a car charger?

A: Yes, car chargers are a convenient option for backpackers who have access to a vehicle while on their thru-hike.

Q: Will I be able to charge my phone using a wall outlet?

A: Yes, wall outlets are a reliable option for thru-hikers who have access to electricity. You’ll frequently have the opportunity to charge at outlets while hiking along popular long-distance trails like the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail.

Q: How long does it take to charge a phone using a portable charger?

A: The charging time will depend on the capacity of your portable charger and the battery life of your phone. However, most portable chargers can fully charge a phone in 2-4 hours. This can take even longer if using an alternative charging method like solar panels.

Q: Are there any eco-friendly options for charging my phone on the trail?

A: Yes, solar panels are an eco-friendly option that can be used to charge your phone on the trail. Our recommendation for a reliable solar panel that you can use on your thru-hike is the Goal Zero Nomad 20.

Q: Do I need to pair a power bank with my backpacking solar panel?

A: While you don’t need to pair a power bank with a backpacking solar panel, it’s highly recommended to improve the efficiency of your solar panel. You can charge your phone directly via most solar panels like the Nomad 20, however having a power bank will allow you to take advantage of the times of day when you have the most sun and harvest as much energy as possible to keep your phone charged for later at night in camp.

Thru-Hiking Charging

Thru-hiking can be a rewarding and challenging experience, but it’s important to stay connected with the outside world, especially if you’re traveling alone. Charging your phone on the trail may seem difficult, but with the right equipment and knowledge, you can keep your phone charged and functional throughout your journey. Whether you opt for a portable charger, solar panel, external battery case, or power bank, make sure to choose a model that suits your needs and is compatible with your phone. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to stay connected with your loved ones and navigate the trail with ease.

If you’re looking for more great backpacking gear tips, check out our guides on the best budget sleeping bags and the best budget hiking boots!