We all have electronic devices that we are planning to use when the time comes to bug out. The question then becomes how do we keep them powered during the trip to our bug out shelter. While there is no shortage of ways to charge them charged, choosing the best for your needs can be confusing. Today we are going to look at the various ways it can be done and try to weed through them to see what is best for us in a bug out situation. Ideas about the best way to keep electronics charged during and after SHTF can range widely as everyone seems to have their own opinions on the subject. Hopefully in reading this, you will learn about a few options that you hadn’t considered and maybe get a better understanding of those that do exist. Let’s get started.
I guess the first thing to consider is exactly what it is you are trying to power or charge as it will determine your power needs. If you are looking to charge your cell phone, or and iPod then you will not need a whole lot of power to do it. On the other hand if you are trying to charge a 12 volt battery, then you will need a whole lot more. Let’s start with small items first. If it can be charged from a USB connector then you could probably get by with a small solar charger system if it is a sunny day. These usually have a few USB ports built in and are designed to be portable. They can be easily stored in your bug out bag and even hung on the back of your bag while you are walking to charge your electronics as you walk. Some electronics however require AA or other rechargeable batteries to work for these you will need a different type of solar charger. IF you use a battery recharger that has a USB connector on the end then you will need a solar panel with a little more output if you want to charge them quickly. One option is the Instapark Mercury 27 Foldable solar panel that produces 27 watts of power and is extremely portable. Weighing only 2.5 pounds, it is a solar power house and should handle your power needs easily. If you are going to purchase a solar battery charger for your bug out bag, then this is the one I would get. It is small and light weight and would be a great addition to any bug out bag. Of course this only works if the sun is shining.
If the sun is behind the clouds or it is at night you will need to do something different. In this case we need to look for energy that has already been stored in a way that you can use it to charge your devices. To do this, you may want to consider adding a small 12 volt, 5 or 7 Amp Hour battery to your bug out bag. These are small and usually fairly light. They are sealed lead acid batteries. These are the type of batteries usually used for powering outdoor cameras and Deer feeding stands. They are as small as 3.5 inches by 4 inches by 2.5 inches thick. They usually weigh around three and half pounds and cost about $20. These can be charged and then stored so that you will have the power needed to charge your devices. A small 110 volt charger can be used to keep them charged until you need them at bug out time. By simply attaching a 12 volt car cigarette lighter adapter to them you can then use them to power and charge many items. You can then insert a car USB adapter in the socket it to charge your cell phone and other devices that require a USB port to charge them. The 12 volt cigarette lighter adapter will allow you to charge and run your electronics from any 12 volt battery that you find along the way, provided it still has a charge. These batteries can be easily recharged as well, by connecting them to an old car battery that is still charged.
There are even battery chargers that create electricity from salt water if you live near the coast. These are made by a company called GREENIVATIVE. While I have never used one, I understand that they do in fact work. It may be something you might want to consider if you have access to a lot of salt water. I am really surprised that I have been unable to find any small 12 volt wind powered generators that could be disassembled and put in a bug out bag for transport. Maybe something that would produce a small charge for charging small batteries in an area with a lot of wind. You could set it up at night to charge your batteries while you sleep. I can only hope someone will see this and find a way to do it. If you do, please let me know!
While there are many larger systems for charging large banks of batteries out there, they would not be practical in a bug out situation, so I have decided to exclude them form this post. Just remember that all of those electronic gadgets and night vision will be useless if you don’t have a way to keep them charged. Plan ahead and get what you will need to take care of yourself and get you safely to your retreat. Well I hope you may have learned something and hopefully have a few new ideas on how keep your electronics charged. Until next time, keep on prepping!