I was joking with a friend the other night that I don’t like surprise camping. When I’m gearing up for a weekend in the woods, I’m in the mindset of having zero power and getting bit by no-see-ums with a cold beer in my hand. Completely cool with roughing it.
But when the electricity goes out during a major storm, like Hurricane Irma, it’s different. You’re staring at a black TV, with companions that are sweaty and sticky, and you’re wondering about the chicken thawing in the freezer.
Prep work leading up to a storm can be chaotic. Families of four are loading 20 gallons of water into their carts, flashlights are sold out and no one has seen batteries in days. Luckily, most of your backpacking and camping gear can also be used in the days following a storm when you might not have electricity.
Let me tell you, when the alternative is having a flashlight wedged between your teeth as you go about your business, there’s nothing better than having a lantern in a dark bathroom. We kept this collapsible one from Etekcity on top of the tank for quick use. Just…keep some bacterial wipes nearby.
Headlamps are also a solid option. They’re hands-free, which is ideal when you’re rummaging around your garage in the dark, making outdoor repairs in the middle of the night, or trying to cook dinner. Check out the review we did for the One80 Light. It’s lightweight and bright enough to illuminate an entire room — Camping Is Easy co-founder Erik compared it to having a train light on your head.
Remember all of those sold-out batteries at the supermarket? Don’t be left in the dark when your AAs die and opt for a rechargeable flashlight instead. There are a variety of different ones on the market that use hand cranks or solar power to charge up. Secur Dynamo has a great waterproof model that never needs batteries. It can run for 90 minutes after charging for an hour in direct sunlight, or for 80 minutes when cranked for one minute.
After days of having no electricity, the last thing you want to eat is another peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Stock up on the same backpacker food that you bring on the trails. These freeze-dried meals only need water to become a hot lunch or dinner.
As a plus, many storm preppers don’t think of heading to the outdoor aisle when stocking up on food, meaning that it’s less likely to be sold out. Try OMEALS, an award-winning outdoor food brand that offers self-heating, fully-cooked homestyle meals and snacks. They have awesome options like Lentils with Beef that need only three to five ounces of water to make. In just five minutes, you’ll have a hot meal.
For an easy way to heat up water, use your propane stove or alcohol burner. It’s faster than firing up the grill, especially for smaller jobs like making tea. My boyfriend and I bought this Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove during our last hiking trip through the Smoky Mountains last year. We pulled it out to boil some shrimp that we had in the freezer.
Pro tip: It’ll take some patience, but it’s better to cook in smaller batches. You’re dealing with less heat than usual, and it can take awhile for water to boil.
Portable Water Purifier
Your water supply might be contaminated in the days following a storm. If you’re under a boil advisory, use a lightweight water purifier like Grayl Ultralight Purifier Bottle to filter tap water for drinking purposes or brushing your teeth.
Living with no A/C during the day is one thing — falling asleep in the humidity is another, especially if you live in Florida. Erik lives on the beach and swears that his rechargeable fan saved his life. This one from HAITRAL is meant for a three to four person tent, can be stood up or hung from the ceiling and doubles as a light.
- Battery Powered Radio: So you still know what’s going on once the cable goes out.
- Power Banks: Keep your devices charged with the power bank or USB power supply that you normally take on trips. Just make sure they’re all charged up before the electricity goes out.
- Portable Solar Panel: The bad thing about power banks is that you can normally only get one or two uses out of them before needing to recharge. A lot of campers like to use lightweight portable solar panels to recharge their devices. The SunnyBAG LEAF+ (which we reviewed here) can is lightweight and can produce power even when partially shaded.
- Games: Pull out those board games and playing cards – you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands. Remember you’ll be stuck in a house with the other players for hours – I personally refuse to play Monopoly after a Hurricane Matthew game that went awry.
- Dungeons & Dragons: We personally rode out Hurricane Irma with a marathon D&D session. The core of this fantasy role-playing game is storytelling. You and your friends can gather around a table and create characters that embark on an adventure, using a variety of dice to predict outcomes. A session can last hours, giving you plenty of time to kill while the lights are out. Learn the basics here.
Want a Grayl Ultralight Purifier Bottle of your own? We’re currently giving one away! All you have to do is follow us on Instagram and tag two friends in our post.