If you camp with a trailer or RV, one of the first things you need to consider is the best battery for camping. Do you go with AGMs, lithium-ion, or something else?
What’s more, how many batteries do you get? Where do you install them? Do you need a battery management system, too?
There’s a lot of questions…
In this guide, I’ll discuss some of these critical questions to consider when shopping for the best battery for camping. You can get a rundown of this same topic in the video above, too.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Best Battery for Camping: A Word of Caution
- What are Your Power Needs?
- Best Battery for Camping: How Long Do You Stay Off-Grid?
- Is Solar Power Part of Your Setup?
- Best Battery for Camping: Are AGMs or Lithium Batteries Best?
- When Do You Go Camping?
- Best Battery for Camping: What’s Your Budget?
Best Battery for Camping: A Word of Caution
Photo by photoschmidt via iStock
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this guide, I want to note that what works for me and my overlanding and camping setup might not work for you – and that’s okay.
As you’ll see, there are tons of considerations to make when selecting the best battery for camping. The way I camp might not be how you camp, so your needs might be slightly different.
Nevertheless, the questions I seek to answer below should help guide you toward a good battery for your situation.
What are Your Power Needs?
First things first – how much power do you need?
I have a Turtleback Expedition trailer and recently upgraded to a Sparks Overland Atlas 4 rooftop tent, so my power needs are far from what would be required for RV camping. Really, all I need to power are the lights, a water pump, outlets for charging my gadget, and a fridge.
To provide power for my rig, I have two Ultimatron 100ah lithium-ion batteries in the nose of my trailer (shown above). If I’m honest, two of these batteries are overkill for my needs, but I’d rather have too much power capacity than not enough!
I also have a REDARC Manager 30 battery management system and a solar power system (I’ll discuss both in a bit…)
But, as I mentioned earlier, if you have a large travel trailer or RV, two 100ah batteries likely isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you might need two 200ah batteries (or more) to ensure you’ve got the power you need.
The point here is simple – you can only decide on the best battery for camping if you first determine your power needs. So, head out to your trailer or RV, take stock of everything that needs power, and then start your search for a set of batteries that can accommodate all your gadgets.
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Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern, LED Lanterns
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
163 Pieces First Aid Kit Waterproof
Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler
Best Battery for Camping: How Long Do You Stay Off-Grid?
When shopping for camping batteries, a second crucial question is how long you intend to stay off grid.
If you’re an occasional camper that only goes out for a night or two, your power storage needs are much different than those that camp for several weeks at a time several times a year.
In my case, I typically camp for two to three nights, so my two 100ah batteries are more than enough to store power for that time. This is especially true since my trailer doesn’t have a lot of power needs, and I have several backup systems for power generation, like solar panels and a generator.
But, as I noted in the previous section, the bigger your rig, the more power you need and the more power storage you need for longer trips. Just bear that in mind while shopping for the best battery for camping.
Is Solar Power Part of Your Setup?
If you like to spend extended periods of time off-grid, having a reliable solar power setup is a must. Not only does solar power give you the freedom to detach from shore power, but it also gives you a convenient way to keep your batteries topped off.
Plus, you can enjoy the backcountry without the annoying drone of a generator running all the time. Instead, deploy your solar panels, let them do their work, and have some peace and quiet to go with the nature around you!
As I noted earlier, my trailer has a battery management system – the REDARC Manager 30. To say that this was a good investment is a total understatement. This thing completely changes the way I interact with my batteries and makes the whole system run so much more smoothly. I don’t ever have to wonder how much juice the batteries are getting from my solar panels – all that information is provided to me by the Manager 30.
You can check out the original install of the REDARC Manager 30 in my trailer from a year ago in the video above. Note that I’ve since changed a few things (like the batteries and the tent), but the details about the Manager 30 are still pertinent.
Best Battery for Camping: Are AGMs or Lithium Batteries Best?
Two of the most popular types of batteries for camping are AGM and lithium. Each offers distinct advantages and has some disadvantages, too.
I dive into the differences between these types of batteries in the video above. You can also get a feel for the best applications of each type of battery based on their pros and cons.
When Do You Go Camping?
Yet another factor to consider when choosing the best battery for camping is the time of year you usually camp.
If you’re like me and camp year-round, you need batteries to take the cold without suffering damage. My Ultimatron batteries have a built-in heater, so they’re rated for charging and discharging down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit. While I usually don’t camp in sub-zero weather, it’s nice to know that if the temperature really dips, my batteries will have my back.
Even if you strictly camp during the summer months, you might find that the temperature still gets quite cold, especially in northern areas or high elevations. As such, batteries like mine with a built-in heater might still be a good plan.
Otherwise, if you only camp here and there in the summer and you stick to warm climates, batteries with heaters are probably a bit overkill. Again, as you search for the best battery for camping, consider your needs and what usage you need from the batteries to guide your purchase.
Best Battery for Camping: What’s Your Budget?
Photo by photoschmidt via iStock
Of course, your budget is a huge component of your camping battery purchase, too.
We all want to get the best bang for our buck, but in this situation, that does not involve buying the cheapest batteries you can find. The saying “you get what you pay for” was invented for a reason…
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to head off-grid for a week with cut-rate batteries to rely on for my power needs. That’s why I did my due diligence and invested in the best batteries for my specific setup.
That said, my Ultimatron batteries were not cheap – that’s a drawback of lithium batteries. They have a higher up-front expense than AGMs.
However, these batteries have a lifespan of thousands and thousands of cycles. Compare that to about 900-1000 cycles for a typical AGM battery, and you see that lithium batteries like mine pay for themselves over time. You can either pay more upfront for longer-lasting batteries or pay more in the long run to replace your AGMs over and over again. I chose the former rather than the latter.
I also decided to up my budget and get the Ultimatrons because they have many other features that make them well worth the higher price point. For example, these batteries have a built-in battery management system with Bluetooth connectivity to my phone for easy monitoring. Additionally, they offer:
- No risk of fire or explosion thanks to the latest lithium iron phosphate technology
- A five-year manufacturer’s warranty
- No memory effect and no need for full charge and discharge cycles
- They’re lightweight and have a smaller form factor than comparable AGM batteries
When it comes down to it, batteries are the backbone of your camping experience. It’s what allows you to use lights, charge your gadgets, flush the toilet if you have one, and so forth. That being the case, it’s worth it (to me, anyway) to spend a little more to get the best battery for camping that money can buy.
In my case, that meant getting Ultimatron lithium batteries for my rig. I can’t recommend them highly enough – but, ultimately, you have to do you and get what you believe are the best batteries for your situation.
You can learn more about Ultimatron batteries here.