Portable Power

Military tent with solar panels along the roof

Portable Power

For most of us, having access to electrical power has become so second nature that we hardly give it a thought. It's so abundant to be almost free, and there are lots of places all around to plug in your cell phone when it runs out of juice.

But if the grid goes down for a long period of time, or you need to charge your devices on the move, then you need to consider sources of portable power if you are serious about prepping.

It keeps your communication devices going, and keeps your lights working at night.

This list factors in only small devices, such as anything charged over USB like phones and tablets, or anything that runs off AA or AAA batteries like head lamps.

Camping trailer in a field with solar panels

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Ni-MH AA & AAA Batteries

There are several different types of rechargeable batteries: from the lead-acid which powers your car or truck, to Ni-MH which are used in AA and AAA batteries, to Lithium-Ion used in portable re-chargeable electronics like cell phones.

Lets look at Ni-MH which stands for Nickle Metal Hydride.

Panasonic eneloop AA batteries

Panasonic eneloop AA batteries

Typical Price: $20

We have been using eneloop batteries for years. They are considered by many insiders to be the best-made rechargeables. They maintain 70% of their charge after 5 years of storage and they can be charged and discharged up to 2100 times.

See our full eneloop review.


AA / AAA Battery Storage Hard Case Boxes

AA / AAA Battery Storage Hard Case Boxes

Typical Price: $8 for 6

It will help to keep your batteries organized and protected from the elements having these little cases to hold them in.

These have charged and uncharged labels on them, so you can orient the batteries and know which ones are ready to go.


Amprobe BAT-200 Battery Tester

Amprobe BAT-200 Battery Tester

Typical Price: $6

You're gonna need a tester to figure out the charge of your batteries once you start getting into reuseables. We like these so much we bought 3 of them for use around the house. These are immensely useful.


Field Charging AA & AAA Batteries

If you are away from home, or don't have access to a grid based power source, you still have options to keep your devices up and running.

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus

Typical Price: $40

This charger can keep your AA and AAA eneloops topped off while mobile. Optimized for solar charging and includes mini USB input.

You can use the batteries as they are or keep them in the Guide 10 and use the USB output to charge your phone or other lithium-ion device as well via the USB output.

$40Goal Zero$40Amazon

Emergency Backup Battery Systems

There are two companies that we trust the most and have been using their products for years: Goal Zero and Voltaic Systems. That's not to say there aren't other good companies out there, but in terms of ease of use, reliability and durability, the products these companies make can't be beat.

Check out our review on the entire Goal Zero Yeti lineup, it is a simplified breakdown of all their systems and what each one is good for.

Goal Zero Yeti 400 and what it can power on a full charge

Solar Charging

Goal zero yeti with solar panels from various manufacturers

If grid power is out, one of the easiest solutions to power up small and medium sized devices is solar power. Not as cheap or powerful as a fuel burning generator, but much more portable, quiet, and easily renewable.

Voltaic Systems and Powerfilm Solar make my favorite solar panels.

Voltaic Systems Arc 10 USB Solar Charger

Voltaic Systems Arc 10 USB Solar Charger

Typical Price: $39

Our favorite panel. Not expensive, packs small and light. All you need is some sun and a USB charging cable. 10 Watts with 5V/1.9A Output is enough power to charge up most cell phones in 1.5 hours.

For an extra $25 you can upgrade to the Arc 10W Solar Charger Kit which includes a 4,000mAh USB Battery Pack.

Dimensions: Open: 10" H x 13" W x 0.03" D - Folded: 10" H x 6.5" W x 0.15" D - 0.68 lbs.


Rich Solar Mega 100 Watt Portable Solar Panel Briefcase

Typical Price: $249

High efficient 100-watt monocrystalline solar panel
Kickstand for better angle placement
Corner protection
Strong tempered glass and aluminum frame
Fully weatherproof
Monocrystalline solar cells


Solar generators
Portable power stations
Emergency backup or remote power

$249Rich Solar

PowerFilm R-21 Watt Rollable Solar Panel

PowerFilm R-21 Watt Rollable Solar Panel

Typical Price: $310 - $325

If you are looking for a high-end US-Made product that you can rely on, look no further than PowerFilm products. Their R-21 rollable solar panel only weighs 1.6 lbs and rolls down to 14.6" by 3" (14.6" x 60.8" unrolled.) Comes with a 12V Female Car Charger Adapter and a 15 ft. Extension Cord with O-ring Connectors.


Nomad 100 Solar Panel

Nomad 100 Solar Panel

Typical Price: $400

If you want to power a base camp with multiple users, look no further than the Goal Zero Nomad 100 Watt foldable solar panels. Open Circuit Voltage: 18-22V. This is a beast of a portable solar panel, and great for base camp use with multiple users.

Weight: 10.2 lbs.  Dimensions (unfolded): 20.5" x 59.5" x 1" (folded): 20.5" x 15.5" x 2".

$400Goal Zero$400Amazon

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