Getting off the grid and into the woods can be a chance to disconnect. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up all the comforts of home.
Having a portable generator for your camping trip can let you enjoy the experience even more. With a source of electricity at your campsite, you can bring things like portable lights, an electric stove, or even a screen to watch a movie under the stars. Plus, if you’re camping for an extended period, it can be extremely useful to be able to recharge your electronics at the end of each day.
When it comes to choosing the best generators for camping, the main considerations are portability and noise.
Depending on where you’re camping, you may have to hike your gear in a way from your car. In that case, every pound of your generator matters. Opting for a lightweight generator – one that weighs around 50 pounds or less – can make it significantly easier to get your generator from your car to your tent.
On the other hand, you can opt for a portable generator with wheels. In this case, keep in mind that you want a generator with relatively heavy-duty wheels that won’t flat halfway through your hike.
The other important thing to think about is the amount of noise your generator will produce. The last thing you want is for your wilderness solitude to be pierced by the sound of a generator’s engine roaring for hours at a time. And if you’re staying in a campground, starting up a noisy generator is a quick way to annoy your fellow campers.
When it comes to portability and quiet, it’s hard to beat inverter generators. These modern generators are significantly lighter, less noisy, and more efficient than conventional gasoline generators. Plus, you can use them safely to charge sensitive electronics like your smartphone or computer.
The main downside to inverter generators is that they are typically more expensive than conventional generators. But that price difference can be well worth it for having a generator that you actually look forward to bringing along on your camping trip.
Also keep in mind that your choice of generator affects the type of fuel you’ll need to carry with you. Most inverter generators run on gasoline. However, if you’re already planning on bringing a propane-powered grill on your camping trip, it may make more sense to opt for a generator that can also run on propane. In that case, dual fuel generators give you the versatility to produce power from either gasoline or propane.
Unfortunately, dual fuel generators are typically heavier and louder than inverter generators. But the added flexibility can be worth it, especially if you don’t have any neighboring campers that may be bothered by the noise.
With those considerations in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best generators for your next camping trip.
WEN 56200i 2,000-watt Inverter Generator – TOP PICK
- Rated Wattage: 1,600 watts
- Noise Level (25% load): 51 dB
- Estimated Runtime (50% load): 6 hours
- Weight: 48 pounds
This incredibly quiet and portable inverter generator is our top pick for your next camping trip. The 1,600 rated watts are more than enough to power lights, electronics, and even an electric grill in the backcountry, without offering overkill that would add to the weight and noise of the generator.
While the generator doesn’t have wheels for easier transport, it weighs just 48 pounds. So, as long as you’re walking less than a few miles, you won’t have any trouble moving this generator from your car to your campsite.
This WEN generator puts out 51 dB of noise at a 25% load, so it’s not the quietest inverter generator on the market. But saving a few more decibels could easily cost hundreds of dollars more, and this generator is already quiet enough to hold a conversation around.
The only downside to this generator is the short six-hour runtime at half-load. The culprit is the extremely small one-gallon gas tank. If you’re camped for more than a night or two, you’ll likely need to carry in a spare gas tank with you to keep this generator going.
- 1,600 rated watts
- Weighs just 48 pounds
- Quiet enough to hold a conversation
- Relatively inexpensive for an inverter generator
- Small one-gallon gas tank limits runtime
Champion 3,800-watt Dual Fuel Generator
- Rated Wattage: 3,800 watts
- Noise Level (25% load): 68 dB
- Estimated Runtime (50% load): 9 hours
- Weight: 119 pounds
This burly dual fuel generator from Champion is the perfect choice for extended camping and RV trips. The generator provides 3,800 watts of continuous power and up to 4,750 watts of surge power, so you can run everything from a portable refrigerator and freezer to an air conditioning unit. Better yet for RV campers, the outlet panel has an RV-ready outlet so you can plug directly into your vehicle’s power grid.
The ability of this generator to run on either gasoline or propane is another significant benefit. Many RV users keep propane tanks around to power a grill, so with this generator you can use the same propane tank for power and cooking. The large fuel tank also allows you to run the generator on gasoline for up to nine hours at half-load.
Of course, all of these features mean that the generator isn’t the best choice for true backcountry camping. The level of power is overkill for most trips that involve tent camping, and the 68-dB noise level is enough to be quite annoying when you’re standing outside with the generator. While the generator is mounted on burly wheels that can handle trails, the 119-pound weight makes it hard to life the generator in and out of a vehicle.
- Enough power for big appliances
- Dual fuel generator
- RV-ready outlet
- Nine-hour runtime on gasoline
- Three-year warranty
- Noisy and heavy
- Overkill for camping trips without an RV
Pulsar G2319N 2,300-watt Inverter Generator
- Rated Wattage: 1,800 watts
- Noise Level (25% load): 59 dB
- Estimated Runtime (50% load): 6 hours
- Weight: 47 pounds
This budget-friendly inverter generator from Pulsar competes with the WEN generator on weight, but trades off noise in exchange for more power. The generator is capable of producing 1,800 watts of continuous power and up to 2,300 watts of surge power, which opens up possibilities for running a refrigerator and freezer on your camping trip.
However, the 59 dB of noise produced by this generator can be somewhat problematic if quiet is a priority. While you’ll be able to hold a conversation around the generator at low loads, the generator noise can rival that of a conventional generator at full load.
Also note that, like the WEN generator, this generator has a very small gas tank. Again, you’ll be limited to just six hours of runtime at half-load, so you’ll likely want to carry a spare gas tank for multiple nights out.
That said, tent campers may still appreciate this generator for its useful outlets. The generator panel includes a USB outlet that is perfect for powering small lights or charging electronics. There’s also a 12-volt DC outlet so you can use the generator instead of wearing down your car battery.
- Relatively inexpensive
- 1,800 watts of continuous power
- USB and 12-volt DC outlets
- Somewhat noisy for an inverter generator
- Limited to six-hour runtime
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT 1,800-watt Generator
- Rated Wattage: 1,800 watts
- Noise Level (25% load): 52 dB
- Estimated Runtime (50% load): 13 hours
- Weight: 43 pounds
This inverter generator from Westinghouse is an incredible choice for camping trips. The generator is significantly lighter than the WEN generator while delivering 200 more watts of continuous power. And the larger fuel tank means that you can run this generator for multiple nights in the backcountry without carrying spare gasoline.
Still, this generator didn’t receive our top pick for a few small reasons. First, it’s somewhat more expensive than the WEN generator. Second, while it competes well on noise with the WEN offering, it’s still slightly noisier. On top of that, most tent and car campers won’t need the extra wattage most of the time.
One added bonus to this generator is the excellent support from Westinghouse. The company offers a three-year warranty on the unit as well as lifetime technical support in case you ever run into problems.
- Large fuel tank for multi-night use
- Extremely lightweight
- Quiet operation
- Three-year warranty and lifetime technical support
- Somewhat expensive
- Slightly noisier than competing WEN generator
WEN 56310i-RV 3,100-watt Generator
- Rated Wattage: 2,800 watts
- Noise Level (25% load): 57 dB
- Estimated Runtime (50% load): 5 hours
- Weight: 81 pounds
This unique inverter generator from WEN is a terrific option for campers who are committed to gasoline as a power source, but need more power than a 2,000-watt inverter generator can offer. At 2,800 watts of rated power and 3,100 watts of surge power, this generator is burly enough to handle multiple appliances. Better yet, it’s surprisingly quiet at just 57 dB – quieter even than the significantly less powerful Pulsar generator.
Another advantage to this generator is that it comes with a variety of outlets. You can plug directly into an RV’s power grid with an RV-ready outlet, or you can charge your small electronics with two included USB outlets.
The main trade-off with this generator is its weight. It weighs 81 pounds – so it’s not extraordinarily heavy, but it can be difficult to transport it over longer distances. While the generator is mounted on a set of wheels, they’re more suitable to paved roads than for rolling over rough trails.
Also keep in mind that the added power can suck up gasoline quickly. The generator runs for just 7.5 hours at half load, so you’ll want to carry a few gallons of spare fuel with you if you’ll be out more than a single night.
- Over 3,000 watts of surge power
- Surprisingly quiet for its size
- Includes RV-ready outlet and two USB outlets
- Two-year warranty
- Wheels are not suited for trails
- Relatively short runtime
Having the right generator for your next camping trip can open up a world of possibilities – lights, refrigerated foods, and entertainment. But when choosing a generator for camping, it’s important to keep in mind that portability and noise are at as much of a premium as watts. Our five favorite generators for camping offer the best blend of power and versatility for whatever trip you have planned.