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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

What to Look for in a Portable Generator for Camping

 photo by sshepard via iStock

Camping is more than just heading out to nature and staying there overnight. It is a great way to get away from your daily routine, work, and chores and trade it for some wholesome time in nature with both physical and mental benefits. 

But often, the first question people ask themselves when thinking about a camping trip is “what if my battery dies?” Whether that would be your phone, camera, drone, laptop, or anything else, it’s a valid question. 

That is where a portable generator for camping comes in. Of course, not every generator has to be huge and bulky. By adding one to your camping essentials, you will have a way to charge your electronics or even run a coffee pot. 

In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to look for in a portable generator for camping and talk about the differences between portable propane, gas, and solar generators for camping. 

Table of Contents

Why Choose a Portable Generator for Camping?

a quick guide on generator etiquette

 photo by ivandan via iStock

The keyword here is “portable.” Our main reason to choose a portable generator for camping is its size. A generator like this is much smaller and lighter than a typical generator. 

That also means they don’t have as much power as the big boys. However, ask yourself if you need all that power anyway?

Sure, if you’re planning on powering your RV air-conditioning through the night compared with a refrigerator, yeah, you’ll need a generator with a more extensive output. 

But if you just want to power your phone and some lights for a couple of days and maybe charge your laptop or camera as well, a portable generator for camping is all you’ll need.  

The Best Portable Generator for Camping

alp-generator-in-truck In our humble opinion, propane is the best option when it comes to portable generators. Therefore, the best portable generator for camping that is available today for us is the ALP 1000-Watt propane generator

This propane-powered generator keeps you powered under just about any circumstances as propane is hardly affected by cold temperatures. So unless you want to spend time in an area below -44F, which is the freezing point of propane, the ALP 1000-Watt propane generator will function.


The ALP 1000-Watt propane generator houses several different outlets like DC and USB and can be used parallel next to another ALP generator. It also comes with a light and an energy-saving mode which are both simply turned on or off with a switch at the back of the device. 

This lightweight and portable generator for camping is very small and will even fit on the floor of the backseat. The dimensions of this portable generator for camping are 18.2” by 10.2” by 14”, making this a minimal unit to take with you and probably one of the smallest ones on the market. 


It is less than 30lb, and it is equipped with a large, easy-to-grab handle integrated into the frame on the top side. The structure also allows for sturdy stacking on top, making it easy to place and remove the generator from just about any place in your car and bring it over to your campsite without too much effort. 

The ALP 1000-Watt portable generator has a runtime of about 60 hours on 20 lbs. of propane at a quarter-load. It would typically cost you $579.99, but at the moment, it’s on sale for $529.99 on alpgenerators.com. It is available in 6 color combinations: a green, orange, or blue frame paired with a grey or black unit.

A Gas-Powered Alternative


WEN 56203i 2000-Watt portable inverter generator

A gas-powered alternative to the ALP 1000-Watt propane generator would be the WEN 56203i 2000-Watt portable inverter generator. This portable generator for camping also has two DC ports and 2 USB ports in the back and can be parallel connected to a second generator. 

It holds a 4-stroke 79cc OHV engine combined with a 1-gallon fuel tank that runs about 10 hours on a quarter-load and has an Eco-mode that allows the motor to automatically adjust fuel consumption to save you money in the long run. It weighs 39 pounds and has a large external handle. 

WEN 56203i 2000-Watt portable inverter generator 2

When it comes to size, the WEN 56203i portable generator for camping is a bit bigger than the ALP1000-Watt generator. The dimensions are 17.3” by 11.5” by 17.7”.

The added height is primarily because the handle is on top of the generator, while the ALP’s handle is sunken into the generator. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t really stack something on the WEN portable generator. 

Editor’s Note: It’s important to consider the environmental impact of the generators you use. Gas generators, for example, can be messy and loud. Likewise, gas-powered tools are being phased out in the coming years in some locations (like here in California), so gas-powered generators might be added to that list. While I’ve listed a gas generator here, bear in mind the downsides of using them.

Portable Solar Generator for Camping

Jackery Portable Power Station

Now, suppose you are looking for a type of portable generator for camping that does not use any fuel like the propane and gas-powered options we just discussed. In that case, you can always opt for a portable solar generator for camping. 

The solar generator benefits from not relying on any fuels that you need to take along with you; it relies on sunlight instead. So if you have a good set of high-value solar panels, all you have to do is avoid snowstorms. 

Higher-quality solar panels will always help a portable solar generator for camping with enough fuel to charge some small electronic devices. However, they will charge slower in cloudy weather. 

Depending on how many panels you have and how many devices you need to charge, you may want to adjust your plans accordingly, as a portable solar generator for camping will obviously need solar power. 

Our choice for the best portable solar generator for camping is the Jackery Portable Power Station. It is easy to carry, but don’t forget that you will need to buy solar panels separately. However, this can be an advantage if you are planning to use it with any solar panels you already have on your Overlanding vehicle. 

Other Camping Gear We Recommend

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