Sometimes all you need is a little seclusion, peace, and serenity. There is no doubt that traveling, camping, RVing, and getting back to nature can help you recoup and reset your body, mind, and soul. Some escape into the pages of their favorite book to get a break from the hustle of the everyday world, while others know that there’s a true magic to be found in off-grid camping.
Off-grid camping means traditional-style camping with nothing but a tent and some essentials to keep you going. Off-grid camping may seem an arduous task if you’ve never done it. But if you prepare correctly and have all the right products with you, it will be an experience of a lifetime – one for the memory book!
The off-grid camping trend is now on the rise. People love to head out, explore nature, and surround themselves with the great outdoors. You will be surprised to know that almost 50 million Americans camp at least once a year – that’s a lot of us already dabbling in the world of camping.
If you’re ready to try off-grid camping for the first time or want to improve on the experience for you and your family, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss off-grid camping essentials and how to plan and prepare for a trip you want to remember. In fact, you’ll want to repeat it as soon as you get home.
Preparing for Off-Grid Camping
Below is a list of all the must-have goodies you need on your next off-grid camping trip.
Portable Power Station
You might be wondering what the point is of going off-grid when you have readily available power at the campsite. That’s where portable power comes in. The fun lies in having limited power with you, so you can only run your essentials like mini-fridge, air-mattress, coffee maker, or any other small device that you have taken along with you. When you are camping without electricity, a portable power station is the best alternative power source because you can charge it with the help of a solar panel and move around with it comfortably. We have reviewed the best portable power stations so that you can choose the best one for you according to your budget and needs.
A mini-fridge will keep your food fresh and beverages cold. You can only take a mini-fridge with you while doing off-the-grid RV camping or traveling in your vehicle. This article will review three of the best mini-fridges available on the market. Choose the best one out of three for you!
Using an air mattress is better than trying to get a decent night’s sleep in a sleeping bag, provided you can afford one. An air mattress is easy to carry with you – when it’s deflated, it can become compact enough to transport in your luggage easily. While an air mattress is lightweight and lets you sleep in comfort, it’s important to remember that it’s a somewhat delicate accessory that can get punctured or damaged if you don’t take proper care. You will also need a pillow and a blanket according to the weather. Below we review three of the best air mattresses for the ultimate off-grid camping experience.
While it’s is not logical to carry large numbers of water tanks when you are on the go, having a few with you is a good choice. If you’re worried that off-grid camping presents drinking water problems, carry a water filter or water purification tablets with you. You can make any source of clean water drinkable with water the right filters – and we’ll let you know which ones are best below.
Shelf Stable Food
If you are going in the wild or woods, you will need food. Not everyone can hunt and cook for themselves. If hunting has never been your game, grab enough shelf-stable foods to take with you. Before buying food packs, make sure their expiry is not near to your scheduled camping date. Of course, don’t forget to take along some cookware.
Matches aren’t the best choice. They tend to go missing, get wet, lose their striking ability, or break. When off-grid camping, fire starters should be your number one choice. You need to have at least 2-3 reliable fire starters such as solar fire starters, lighters, matchsticks, and ferrocerium starters. Otherwise, you’ll be rubbing stones together in a desperate attempt to start a fire – that’s not an off-grid camping memory you want to make.
Taking along a torchlight or an emergency light that you can charge on a portable power station will help you during the night.
You will need a water-proof tent to keep you safe while sleeping and protect your belongings.
Bruises, injuries, and body pains are part and parcel of authentic off-grid camping. So make sure you carry a first aid kit with you for those just-in-case moments.
A wooden food grill is an excellent thing to have with you when going off the grid. It will help you cook meat and make your camping delicious and enjoyable.
There is no limit to items you can take along with you. To enjoy a pure off-grid camping experience, you must take limited things, yes, but make sure that the things you take with you serve a valuable purpose. If you are looking for comfort 24/7 while off-grid camping, you’re barking up the wrong tree – perhaps a luxury resort is more suited. If you’re ready to rough it without getting too rough, then let’s talk about what you need to get your off-grid camping trip off to a good start.
Below you will find in-depth reviews on:
- Top 3 air mattresses
- Top 3 portable refrigerators
- Top 3 power stations
Let’s check them out!
Off-Grid Camping Essentials: Air Mattress
Air Mattress Buying Guide
How to choose the right mattress for you?
You need to consider some features while selecting the best air mattress for off-grid camping. First of all, you must browse through all the available models. We have picked the best three models and reviewed them for you – consider all the details when making your choice. Another important feature you need to consider is the sleeping position. The comfort level of the mattress for an individual depends on sleeping posture. The three common sleeping positions are side-sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers. Back sleepers must look for a mattress that doesn’t deflate overnight and provide a stable level of firmness. Some mattresses come with dual air chambers, which provide more firmness. They are costly as compared to single-layer mattresses.
For side sleepers, a softer air mattress is advised. Side sleepers need a softer mattress to accommodate the natural position their spine takes while sleeping. All the three mattresses reviewed above are perfect for side sleepers.
The stomach sleepers are also comfortable with almost all the air mattresses. An air mattress responds to your body’s sleeping position by going inward a little and hugging your body like a large soft pillow or a blanket.
A look at specifications is very important for selecting the best air mattress.
Most of the air mattresses are made from PVC. PVC is durable and easy to repair/patch after a leak. It is also lightweight and instantly responds to a change in your sleeping position. However, you must ensure the PVC must be eco-friendly and non-toxic. Water-proofing at the top and extra layers on the bottom make your mattress durable.
Dimensions and Weight
You must check the dimensions of the mattress before buying. If you are a couple, go for a king-size or queen-size mattress. For individuals, a single mattress is best. The packed weight of the mattress is also an important feature to consider because you will carry it with you to your campsite along with your other off-grid essentials.
The thickness of the mattress directly impacts the comfort level of your mattress. Double layer mattresses provide more comfort as compared to a single-layer mattress but are expensive and heavy. A mattress with a minimum of 8-inch thickness works great for an average and healthy adult and lets you sleep peacefully.
Inflation and Deflation Time
Take a look at the inflation and deflation time of the mattress. Queen/king-size mattresses take around 2-3 minutes to inflate and 5-10 minutes to deflate. Single-size mattresses can inflate in less than 2 minutes and deflate in less than 5 minutes. Inflation/deflation time doesn’t matter much.
Most of the air mattresses use a battery-operated pump for inflation. Some models also feature a manual foot-pump. While selecting the mattress, check the battery strength of the pump and voltage. You must also consider the charging options. Battery pumps can usually be charged with a wall outlet, car charger, or portable power station.
One of the most important features of an air mattress is its weight-holding capacity. You must buy a mattress that offers more weight capacity than your actual body weight. For example, if the combined weight of sleepers is 340 pounds, a 400-pound weight capacity mattress will be suitable.
Mattress Shopping Tips
- Look for discounts while buying online.
- Read out the return and trial policies carefully.
- Check the warranty terms, delivery time, and brand reputation.
- Look for user reviews before buying.
- Follow the user manual for a complete storage and usage guide.
Review of The Top 3 Air Mattresses
1. SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress with Eco-Friendly PVC
The Sound Asleep camping mattress is specifically designed for outdoor use. The comfort coil technology with air beams and eco-friendly PVC makes the mattress durable for rugged use. You can inflate the mattress in less than three minutes with an external pump included in the box. The pump features a rechargeable battery with charging options for a home outlet, car charger, and portable power station.
The camping series mattress has been designed to withstand rugged objects found in an outdoor setting. And what’s quite impressive is that you can put a maximum weight of 400 pounds on this mattress. This should suit most adults perfectly. You can pack the deflated mattress in a carry bag for easy transportation to the campsite and storage in your RV or luggage. The mattress comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime customer support.
Please note that you cannot use this mattress for everyday use. Everyday usage will degrade the material, and this type of use is not covered under warranty.
2. Aria Portable Inflatable Air Mattress with Powerful Built-in Battery Pump
Aria offers one of the best portable inflatable air mattresses for off-grid camping. The blow-up mattress is made from PVC and is specially designed to withstand wear and tear during outdoor use. It is a queen-size mattress with a maximum weight-bearing capacity of 500 pounds, and it has one of the highest weight-bearing capacities currently available in the market. The extra weight capacity makes this mattress best for bulky people.
The mattress can deflate quickly, and you can pack it in the integrated zipper duffel for easy storage and transportation. One of the interesting features of this mattress is the built-in battery pump with a 4D super powerful battery. In addition, you can inflate the mattress in less than 2 minutes and deflate it in less than 5 minutes.
The surface design gives you a peaceful sleep after spending a tiring day in the wilderness. The design ensures that your sheets will not slip and stay wrinkle-free during the night.
The queen-size bed is perfect for two adults and is best for camping and road trips. Please note that the manufacturer has not mentioned its warranty, and there is no obvious way to get in touch with them apart from the online store from where you are purchasing the mattress.
3. Active Era Luxury Camping Air Mattress with Built-in Pump
The Active Era mattress has been designed to provide comfort and support like a regular mattress so you can sleep peacefully and get up fresh the next day. The mattress takes only 2 minutes to get fully inflated. Apart from a rechargeable battery pump, a manual foot pump is also included in the box. The foot pump allows you to inflate the mattress when the pump’s battery runs out or the pump starts malfunctioning at the campsite. The manual pump feature is really helpful when you can’t find electricity to recharge/run your pump or your portable power station’s battery ends during an off-grid trip.
The rechargeable pump can be charged with a simple USB cable, a wall socket, a portable power station, an inverter generator, or a car charger.
One of the best features of this mattress is that it has been coated with water-proof flock and skin-friendly material on the top side and thick puncture-resistant PVC on the underside. It even goes a step further by providing a raised pillow. The raised pillow feature relieves you from the hassle of carrying a separate pillow with you. You can clean the mattress with soapy water or a damp cloth.
You can pack the deflated mattress inside the carry bag. It comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime customer support service provided by Active Era.
Off-Grid Camping Essentials: Portable Power Station
Portable Power Station Buying Guide
How to choose the right portable power station for you?
You must check all the important features before buying a portable power station. We don’t want you to end up with the wrong power station and face problems while camping without electricity.
To select the right machine in terms of power capacity, you must calculate your power requirements first. Once you know how much wattage you need off-grid, you can select the appropriate portable power station without making any mistakes. Just a pro tip: always buy a bigger station than your actual power needs. It will help you in the long run and power more appliances for you.
Lithium-ion batteries are better than lead-acid batteries. They are durable, reliable, and provide longer runtimes. Lead-acid battery portable power stations are also heavy. However, they are less expensive. You must check the battery capacity as well because a powerful battery with higher Watt-hectors provides more runtime.
Recharging Time and Modes
Don’t forget to check the recharging modes and time for each mode. We want you to buy an efficient machine that recharges quickly.
The outlets make a machine versatile or limit its usage. A practical portable power station will have the outlets such as AC outlets, USB (type A and C) outlets, a DC outlet, and a car outlet.
Portability is an important factor while making the final decision. Portable power stations with low output are lightweight than units with high outputs. So, you will have to make a trade-off between portability and power.
Warranty and Safety
A portable power station is mostly used indoors. Hence, you must make sure that it has all the required certifications for indoor operation. Warranties come in handy during malfunctions and guarantee a greater value for your money.
Safety Tips and Usage Guide
- Never run a portable power station in rain or snow and avoid direct contact with sunlight.
- Avoid overloading and draining the battery completely.
- Don’t run appliances with a higher wattage than the power station.
- Observe your unit while running and check for signs of overheating and unusual sounds.
- Follow the user manual for a complete storage and usage guide.
Review of The Top 3 Portable Power Stations
1. MAXOAK Portable Power Station BLUETTI EB150 1500Wh
The Maxoak portable power station is specifically designed for users who need more power on the go. The power station has a 1500Wh capacity with a continuous output of 1000 watts, and the maximum output is 1200 watts for 2 minutes. This means that if you apply a 1200 watts load on this power station, it will shut off after 2 minutes. You can run a blender, coffee maker, recharge phones and laptops, air mattress pumps, and power mini-refrigerators without any problems.
The power station can be recharged from a solar panel, wall outlet, and a generator. The batteries take 6 hours for a full recharge on a 200W solar panel. The recharge time with the wall outlet/generator is around 7-8 hours for a full recharge. The 101351mAh/14.8V lithium-ion battery has 2500+ lifecycles to 80% strength. Such a powerful battery makes it one of the most durable and powerful portable power stations in the market. The built-in MPPT controller reduces the solar recharging time.
The outputs consist of two 110V AC outlets, one 12V DC outlet for appliances like mini-fridge, two type-C USB and two 5V USB outlets, and input ports to support different charging methods.
You can monitor the unit’s working parameters on the big LCD and control the machine with the buttons on the control panel. One of the best things about this unit is that it allows pass-through recharging. You will find an AC charging adapter, a solar charging cable (solar panel not included), and a user manual along with the power station.
2. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 portable power station is a feasible option for individual travelers. Its power output is enough to run an air mattress, a mini-fridge, mobile phone, laptop, and other small appliances under 300 watts.
The power station uses a lead-acid battery to provide you with reliable power on the go. You can recharge the battery through a wall outlet and a generator (5-6 hours), a solar panel (6-12 hours), and a car outlet 30W (13 hours). The solar recharge time may vary according to the panel size and weather conditions. Please note that you cannot use the power station while charging it.
The outlets on the unit are two USB outlets, two 110V AC outlets (max 300W), and a 12V car charging port. The LCD displays battery percentage, input, and output watts, overheating, and other working parameters. The safety features include overheating, overcharging, and low battery protection.
One of the unique features of this portable power station is battery chaining. You can connect another 33Ah lead-acid battery for more runtime on the go.
3. Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500
Jackery is known for providing reliable and durable portable power stations. Its explorer 500 is an ideal backup power source for 1-2 individuals during an off-grid tour. It has a 518Wh battery which can deliver 1000 peak and 500 rated watts. The output makes the machine ideal for running must-have appliances on a camping trip, such as a mini-fridge, a small fan, air mattress pump, mobile phones, laptops, and CPAP machines.
The outlets consist of one AC outlet (max 500 watts), three USB-A ports, two DC ports, and one carport. The outlets are enough to run various appliances at one time but lack a USB-C outlet. You will need an external adapter to connect USB Type-C cables. You can charge the 518Wh pass-through lithium-ion battery with an AC adapter and a generator (7.5 hours), 12V car adapter (7.5 hours), solar panel 100W (9.5 hours). The installed battery management system governs each cell and provides the user with a longer runtime. It also keeps the battery safe from overcharging, 100% draining, over-voltage, and overheating. The display screen shows the user battery percentage, input, and output watts. You get an AC adapter, a car charger, and a user manual in the box.
The ultra-lightweight machine has a built-in ergonomic carry handle for hassle-free transportation, and its compact size makes storage super easy.
Off-Grid Camping Essentials: Portable Refrigerator
Portable Refrigerator Buying Guide
How to choose the right one for you?
To select the right portable refrigerators for your off-grid camping, you need to consider some factors critically. You need to pay attention to the following portable refrigerator features before hitting the purchase button.
If you are a group of campers traveling together or planning a family trip, you will need a large portable refrigerator with separate zones for the fridge and freezer. In such situations, the Domestic Dual Zone portable refrigerator will be perfect for your needs. For individuals or 1-2 people, smaller models are recommended.
Almost all portable refrigerators can be powered with an AC outlet or an additional power source such as a USB or car outlet. If you want to run your refrigerator on a power station, don’t forget to check its wattage and the maximum capacity of the power station.
Dimensions and Door Size
Never buy a bigger unit than your allocated space in your car or RV. Portable refrigerators come in different door designs. Door design directly affects the space a refrigerator will occupy. Most portable refrigerators have a top-door design for easy accessibility while traveling.
Weight and Portability
You must prefer to buy lightweight models for better portability. Usually, refrigerators with dual handles are easier to move with than a single-handle model.
Dual-Zone or Single Temperature
A single-temperature refrigerator is perfect for people who don’t carry frozen foods with them. It is best for keeping soda cans, fresh foods, and various other items that don’t need freezing. If you want a freezer and a fridge at one time, a dual-zone refrigerator will be ideal. They are costly, heavy, and big. Dual-zone refrigerators are best for families.
Warranty and Certifications
Don’t forget to check out the warranty terms and conditions. Portable refrigerators start showing signs of trouble after 3-4 months. A warranty will come in handy to deal with such unfortunate events. You must also check the certifications as some models are not certified to run in California.
Review of The Top 3 Portable Refrigerators
1. Dometic CFX75DZW 12v Electric Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer
The Domestic portable cooler is a versatile model with separate compartments for the freezer and fridge. You can pack ice creams, soda cans, and other food items without any worries. The best thing about this portable refrigerator is that you can set modes on both compartments according to your need. You can select freezer mode or freezer/fridge or fridge mode for both compartments.
The additional features of the portable refrigerator include a drain plug, an interior LED light, and an ergonomic carry handle. This portable refrigerator has a rugged design, specially designed for off-grid camping with thermoplastic polymer construction and a fully insulated door with stainless steel hinges.
It is a top door model with a space-saving design. You can power the refrigerator with multiple options such as 12/24V DC (car outlet) and 100-240V AC outlet. Users can control the unit with a mobile application and adjust the temperature, battery, voltage. The digital controls on the unit are an impressive feature and let you control the unit easily.
This portable refrigerator measures 34.92 x 19.49 x 18.58 and weighs 68 pounds. Please note that it is a heavy unit and you may need additional help while carrying it to the campsite. It is best for 3-4 individuals. The total capacity is 2.4 cubic feet or 133 cans. The maximum compressor reach is -7 °F (–22 °C). With such a powerful compressor, you will be getting cold soda cans regardless of the heat outside.
2. Whynter FM-65G 65 Quart Portable Refrigerator
The Whynter portable refrigerator has a capacity of 2.12 cubic feet. You can keep 107 cans in this particular portable refrigerator. It is a smaller unit than the one reviewed above and is best for 1-2 off-grid campers. It is a single-door top-opening model with two compartments inside for your fridge/freezer needs. You can run this refrigerator on a 110-volt household outlet or a 12V power source.
The cooling range for the unit is -6°F to 50°F. It is a cost-saving model and will not affect your energy bill much. It’s interesting to note that it is a compressor-based cooling machine and comes with a fast freeze mode for rapid cooling to -8 °F. The LED display allows you to monitor the working temperature and the low power indicator beeps when the unit is not getting enough power to run smoothly.
The unit has two side handles for easy portability, and the bottom base points keep it stable and dust-free. One of the best features of this unit is that it can perform even when tilted to 30 degrees. The outlet casing is tough and rugged, perfect for outdoor use with an insulated lid and walls. Please note that it operates at a 45 dBA sound level. You won’t even notice that it is running, but it is higher than the refrigerator reviewed above.
3. COSTWAY Portable Car Refrigerator
The Costway portable refrigerator is an excellent model under $500. The unit measures 26.5 x 18 x 21.5 inches and has a maximum capacity of 70 quarts – you can place up to 99 cans or 20 bottles of red wine. The unit offers two separate compartments for the freezer/fridge, which can store fresh foods, meat, ice creams, water bottles, and much more.
This fridge has a two-way door design for a user-friendly operation. The door design allows you to open the refrigerator in narrow places and makes it ideal for use inside a car or a camping tent. There are two top grooves and one side storage box for more space utilization and divided storage space. Just like other models, it has a built-in LED light and stainless steel handles for easy mobility.
The unit has a battery protection system to make the batteries durable and long-lasting. You can run the unit on 100-240V AC outlets or a 12/24V DC outlet. The digital control panel allows easy temperature adjustment. Inside the package, you will find a DC power cord, AC adapter, a metal basket, a wine opener, an ice bag, and a user manual.
The cooling range for this refrigerator is -22°C to +10°C, and the optimum working temperature is 10°C to 43°C. Please note that this product is not for sale in California.
Check Out More Of Our Power Stations Reviews
5 Best Portable Power Stations for Camping
6 Reasons Why RV Owners Need a Portable Power Station
Here Is What the Best 2000-Watt Generators Can Power
New to Backup Power? These Are The Top Rated Generator Brands for Beginners
A portable power station is the best and most practical alternate power source during off-grid camping.
You can keep hot water bottles in your blanket, use an electric blanket, insulate the tent or use a portable electric radiator.
We have reviewed the best air mattresses. You can select the one that matches your needs.
Domestic CFX75 Dual Zone is an excellent option to use during off-grid camping.
MAXOAK Portable Power Station with 1000-watt output is best for running small and sensitive appliances on an RV.
Knowing what the top off-grid camping essentials are and how they can ease your return to nature for a few days is a great first step towards planning your next camping trip! Are you ready to do some off-grid camping yet? Don’t forget to stock up on all the essentials before you head out.