Love the outdoors but hate giving up on your home comforts? Sounds like you might be in need of a camping generator! Although no two camping generators are the same, ultimately, they all have the same purpose – to keep your devices running even when you’re out in the back and beyond.
Sure, people say it’s great to get away from technology when you’re in the great outdoors, but there are different ways of doing things. While a wholesome, technology-free camping experience might be right for some people, others prefer to keep their electronics going so that they can enjoy cool drinks, take photos on their phones, and play music from their speakers in the evenings.
Plus, if the weather is bad, it’s good to know you can always charge up a laptop and settle down for a day of movies.
Camping generators come in all shapes and sizes – some can power cookers and fridges while others are made for smaller electronics. They can run off various power sources, and some have more versatile outlets than others.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Camping Generators
With so many options on the market, shopping around for your very own portable generator can be a daunting task, so we’ve put together this list of the best camping generators around to help you on your way!
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The WEN 56200i Generator is small and super stealth, making it the perfect companion for camping ventures.
Not only is it lightweight, weighing in at under 50 lbs, but it also comes with a carry handle so you’ll have no trouble moving it from A to B around the campsite – even without wheels.
And we have good news for anyone that hates that background ‘hummmmm’ of electronics ruining the ambiance of the great outdoors – this is one of the quietest generators we’ve found, making just over 50 decibels of noise when up and running.
The portability does not come hand in hand with slightly reduced power compared to some larger items (1600 W), but if you end up needing more juice, you can always pair this portable generator up with another unit to double your output.
Plus, we love that you can team this generator up with your electronics via either USB ports, DC outlets, or a 3-pronged plug, making it ultra-versatile. Your gadgets will be nice and safe too, thanks to the in-built protection against surges.
The small size also limits its fuel-holding capacity slightly (it can only store 1 gallon), but you know that it will last you a while thanks to the eco-friendly feature that limits fuel construction to meet demand so that nothing is wasted. This is great for the environment, and will also save you money in the long term.
Oh, and speaking of money, while this little portable inverter generator is mid-range in terms of price, it offers many features usually reserved for high-end generators, making it excellent value for money overall.
If you’re after a generator that can run off both propane and gas, then you should definitely check out the Champion Power Equipment 76533 Generator.
Its dual-fuel compatibility can come in super handy if you run out at a campsite and need to borrow from a neighbor or the store runs out of one type. Plus, you’ll get high power outputs from both – when using gas you’ll get an output of 3800 W and even with gasoline, you’ll get 3420 W.
It’s not the cheapest portable inverter generator out there but, for the price, you get heaps of high-end features. These include a shut-off feature that kicks in automatically when you’re oil levels dip to dangerously low levels, an integrated surge protector to protect your gadgets, and a push-button electric start. And don’t worry about that push-button freezing up in cool climates – the Cold Start technology has you covered.
You can observe the voltage, hertz, and run-time hours via the intelligauge, giving you plenty of time to spot potential issues. Plus, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you’re covered by a 3-year warranty.
Its high power output does come at the cost of increased weight (it’s definitely not a light portable generator), but at least it has wheels and a foldable handle to help you move it around. The high power also means it’s not as quiet as some other units either. However, if you’re after a high-powered generator that offers great value for money, as well as tonnes of extra features, then this is the way to go.
If you’re on the lookout for an awesome generator that won’t break the bank, then the Jackery Power Station Explorer 240 could be the one for you.
Sure, this isn’t the beefiest unit out there, and it certainly won’t be able to power any appliances with its 200 W output, but it’s an excellent way to make sure that your smaller gadgets, such as phones, laptops, and fans, don’t run out of juice when you’re in the back and beyond.
Plus, weighing in at just 6.6 lbs, and with tiny dimensions to boot, this is one incredibly portable power supply, making it great for camping trips where space and weight are limited. Also, the lower power output means that this thing is virtually silent when in operation, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your fellow campers up at night.
Technically more of a power station than a portable generator, you don’t need to worry about fuel supply with this unit. It features a 67000mAh Lithium-ion Battery that can be recharged via wall plugs at home, USBs from the car, or solar panels in the great outdoors, making this a great ec0-friendly option.
You will have to pick up a compatible solar panel separately (like the Jackery SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel) and, sadly these can almost double the cost, but it’s great to have as an option nonetheless.
It might not be the one for you if you want to power up your large appliances while camping, but for smaller devices, this is an excellent lightweight, versatile power station.
If high power is the name of the game, then the Durostar DS4000S Generator should do the trick.
Despite its surprisingly low price tag, this portable generator features a whopping 3300 W running power and can hold almost 4 gallons of fuel, making it one of the most powerful generators on our list.
It’s also super durable, thanks largely to its heavy-duty frame (and it comes with a 1-year warranty included too). While this does add the weight of the generator (it’s not light at 94 lbs), for something this powerful and sturdy, we actually thought it’d be heavier. Although it doesn’t come with wheels included, you can pick them up separately if you’re having trouble moving this beast around.
The power panel features two household plug sockets plus one twist and lock (no USB ports sadly), and it also features a warning light that alerts you to low oil levels. Powerful, dependable, and surprisingly affordable… what’s not to love?
Next up is the Goal Zero Yeti 500X Power Station, a highly dependable, versatile unit made for life in the wilderness.
Yeti has a solid reputation for making great gear designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, and this unit is no different. Its rugged design can withstand some bumps and scrapes, and Yeti are so sure that it won’t break on you that they’ve thrown in a 2-year warranty for free.
Strictly speaking, it’s more of a power station than a portable generator, but its lithium battery really packs a punch – it can charge a phone 42 times, a laptop 10 times, and even power a TV for hours. What’s more, the battery can be charged via wall outlets, car chargers, and even solar, and Yeti makes some great compatible solar panels (but you’ll have to purchase them separately).
Designed for smaller appliances, this unit is far more compact than high-power generators. It’s also lighter than them too, although in terms of power banks it’s a tad on the heavy side.
While it might not be the right bit of kit for powering power-hungry devices all weekend long, it does offer an impressive battery life and a means to make sure that your basic electronics won’t run out of juice while you’re out in the back and beyond.
We thought we’d give the Jackery Power Station Explorer 1000 an honorable mention for anyone who liked the sound of the Jackery Power Station Explorer 240 (we know we did!) but was on the hunt for something a little more powerful.
The 1000 features many of the same pros as the 240, such as versatile charging methods (including solar), quiet operation, and various outlets, but it has the advantage of being far more powerful. The 1000 W output means that this device can be used to power large appliances such as blenders, pressure cookers, and ice shavers, and it can keep smaller ones running for longer.
All this extra juice does ramp up the price (it certainly isn’t a budget option), yet it’s maintained the small dimensions and lightweight we love to see in anything designed for camping. If you can afford it, this is definitely one of our favorite options for powering up in the great outdoors.
YAMAHA is a big name in the world of mechanics and has earned itself a reputation for producing high-end innovative products. The YAMAHA EF2000iSv2 is certainly no buck to the trend, and this carefully crafted machine is jam-packed full of features that we love.
The high-end engine features a cast-iron cylinder as well as durable steel components and has been designed to get rapidly get rid of any heat-formed while in operation. Plus, the fuel gauge lets you know how much juice is left, so that you’re never caught out unawares, while the Smart Throttle varies the speed of the engine depending on the usage.
This not only increases fuel efficiency (it can run for a whopping 10.5 hours at 25%) but also cuts down on noise levels. The efficient fuel use means that this machine runs for ages, earning it CARB approval. On top of that, this unit also features a muffler, which means that despite a running power of 2000 W, the sound produced will stay as low as 50-60 dB.
What’s more, despite its durable design and powerful nature, this machine weighs just 44lbs, giving it an excellent power-to-weight ratio. It alerts you to low oil levels and features a fuel shut-off to avoid starting problems.
We could go on forever… but the point is that this is one ridiculously well-designed machine with tonnes of great features, a decent power source, yet a low weight… the only problem is the price.
The Westinghouse iGen1200 is an awesome all-round generator that ticks almost all the boxes you’d expect a camping generator to tick.
Overall, this unit strikes an excellent balance between performance and portability. It can provide 1000 W of power yet weighs in at just 33 lbs and has small dimensions too, making it super easy to transport – oh, and it features a carry handle too.
Despite holding less than a gallon of fuel, this little machine can run for up to 9 hours thanks to its fuel efficiency, and it even features an economy mode when you want to be as efficient as possible.
What’s more, even though it has a 1000 W output, this machine functions super quietly (as low as 52 dBA). Plus, if you want to ramp up the power even further, you can hook it up to other devices and double your output (make sure you remember to pick up a cord separately). We like that as well as wall plugs, it features USB outlets too.
It might not have quite as many fancy touches as some of the high-end generators out there, but it’s managed to maintain a surprisingly low price for something so powerful and portable, making it good value overall.
So, there you have it, our list of the best camping generators around. As we’ve seen, there’s a whole range of designs out there, so what is it you should really focus on before buying one of your very own?
First and foremost, how much power do you actually need? Do you just want something to power up your phone and camera over a weekend? Or are you going to be running cookers and other power-hungry appliances from your generator? The more powerful the generator, the more expensive it will be (usually), so it’s worth having a good think about what you’ll be using it for.
In general, the more powerful a generator, the heavier and bulkier it will be. There are powerful lightweight options out there, but they’ll tend to cost a lot more. So, think about how much power you really need. You also need to think about how you’ll get your generator from A to B.
If you have an RV with tonnes of space, this is less of an issue, but if you’ll be car camping, have limited storage space at home, or hate carrying heavy items around, then it will be more of a priority.
There is a range of ways to power up your generator, and for some people, this is a deal-breaker. Ones that run off gasoline and propane are great because you can take extra supplies with you, but electrical ones are cheaper, and solar ones can help you out when you’re in a really tight pinch.
They clearly all have their advantages, but the main factors will probably be how off-grid you’ll be camping and how much space you’ll have for extra fuel.
We know that making the final decision on which camping generator is right for you can be tough, so here are our top three to help you out:
If you’re on the lookout for an affordable way to make sure your smaller electronics won’t run out of juice, then we definitely recommend the Jackery Power Station Explorer 240.
Not only does this nifty little device weigh next to nothing, making it great for backpacking trips, but it’s also practically silent when in use – no more annoying the neighbors! What’s more, you can power it up from the wall, USB, or even solar.
Great for your wallet and great for the environment, what a winner!
Our best all-round camping generator just has to be the Champion Power Equipment 76533 Generator – how could it not be with its dual-fuel mechanism?!
On top of that, we can’t get enough of the push-button start that operates even in ice conditions, and we love the wheels and fold-out handle that makes moving this generator around the camp a breeze.
Plus, with surge protection, an automatic shut-off feature, and a 3-year warranty, you can rest assured that you can rely on this generator to do its job for years to come.
But if we had to pick our favorite camping generator what would it be? The WEN 56200i Generator of course! Not only is this generator super powerful, but it’s also lightweight and features a carry handle, making it surprisingly portable.
Plus, it can be teamed up with another unit for a whopping 4000 W output, and it also features versatile power outlets, surge protection, and it’s incredibly fuel-efficient… what more could you ask for?!