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How to stay powered up while off the grid

How to stay powered up while off the grid
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Our digital lives rely on power. From smartphones to tablets to wireless earphones, everything needs juice and power outlets aren’t always handy when we’re traveling, camping or commuting.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to avoid the desperate search for an outlet when your battery ventures into the red zone. Your first line of defense against a drained battery is usually a portable battery backup pack, but that’s not your only option.

Here are some interesting ways to keep your power-hungry tech satisfied and functioning while on-the-go:

AnkerBox

Anker is a company known for its power-related products. It recently ventured into unusual charging territory with the launch of the AnkerBox pilot program in Seattle.

AnkerBoxes are vending-machine-like sources for portable phone chargers, but it’s handled like a bike-sharing system. You simply rent a charger when you need one and then return it to an AnkerBox.

You first download the AnkerBox app to locate and rent the devices. The first 30 minutes is free, while a full-day rental costs $1.99 with a maximum cost of $30. If you lose the charger, you pay $30 to cover the cost of a replacement.

Is this the future of phone charging for busy professionals and tourists? It’s certainly an intriguing concept that seems like it would work best in big cities where people tend to work and commute in a heavily populated area. It will be interesting to see if the pilot program is successful and Anker chooses to launch the system in other cities.

Click here to download the free AnkerBox app for iOS. Click here to download the free AnkerBox app for Android.

Off-the-grid power-ups:

Solar rechargeable LED lantern

Venturing away from the comfortable world of wall outlets can be a real challenge for gadgets that are used to getting plugged in every single night. A portable solar charger is one option.

These come in many forms, from solar-powered lanterns with USB ports to foldable solar arrays that can directly charge a phone while laying out in the sun. These can be great for camping trips, hiking expeditions, or beach getaways when you have the luxury to let them juice up for hours in the sun.

There is a solar rechargeable LED lantern available in Kim's Shop. Click here to learn more and pick it up for less than $50.

Pocket emergency LED flashlight & charger

What if you’re in a situation where it’s night and you have a power outage? If you have a hand-crank battery charger, then you can put some muscle into it (or let the kids have a go at it) and power up your devices that way.The good part of this is you don’t need anything other than some effort (and maybe a little sweat), and it works anytime, day or night. The downside is that it can take a lot of cranks to fully charge a gadget. But realistically, you probably only need enough power to make a quick phone call or send a text message.

The good part of this is you don’t need anything other than some effort (and maybe a little sweat), and it works anytime, day or night. The downside is that it can take a lot of cranks to fully charge a gadget. But realistically, you probably only need enough power to make a quick phone call or send a text message.

If you’re interested in having a multi-purpose emergency tool around, then look for a hand-crank charger with an integrated flashlight. Click here to check out the pocket emergency LED flashlight & charger available in Kim's Shop.

BioLite CampStove 2

Did you know you can charge your devices with fire? The BioLite CampStove 2 is one of the odder off-the-grid options for portable charging. It can cook meals, warm your hands, boil water, and power your smartphone.

The CampStove 2 works by transforming heat from a fire made with sticks (like a mini version of a regular campfire) into power. It even has an onboard battery that stores the power you generate for later use.

Add-on portable grill and pot attachments let you take care of dinner as you’re feeding your phone. While the stove is ideal for camping, it could also find a place in your at-home emergency kit.

Your ultimate plan to keep your gadgets working will probably involve multiple tools. You can keep a small portable power pack handy by throwing it in your backpack, purse or briefcase.

Pick up an off-the-grid charger (whether it’s solar, hand-crank, or fire-powered) for those camping vacations or as part of your home emergency preparedness kit. And someday, you may even find yourself renting a charger on an as-needed basis.   

More tips you can't miss:

5 helpful apps for your next road trip

9 money-saving tips airlines and hotels don't want you to know

How to tell it's time to get a new computer

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