Camping might be one of the best methods to get away from the daily grind and take a break for a little while. However, as our lives become more and more dependent on electronics, the ability to disconnect properly can range from difficult to downright impossible.
Regardless if you’re just looking to charge up your cell phone, or if you want a tablet to watch some movies, run speakers for music, or keep some cold beers on ice, a portable generator is a great way to keep yourself electric and connected. Below are our recommendations for the best overall camping generator, the best camping generator runner up, and a heavy-duty option for when you need a little more power.
See the chart below for our recommendations, then below that for our feature considerations and buyer’s guide for ensuring your due diligence is a piece of cake. At the end of each review is a link leading to a more complete breakdown of that particular camping generator option.
Additional Generator Resources
Looking for some additional resources for portable generators beyond our recommendations for the best camping generator options? Check out these expertly-curated articles for more information:
- Portable Generator Accessories to Ensure Machine Longevity
- Portable Generator Transfer Switch: A 2020 Guide
- Generator Enclosures – Running a Generator in the Rain and Snow
Features To Consider When Looking For A Camping Generator
For the optimal “electrified” camping experience, it’s important to consider a few extremely important criteria. These features are crucial to ensure you get the best possible camping generator for your unique, individual needs.
- The volume (loudness) of the generator
- Overall size and portability of the camping generator
- Longevity and run time in rural environments
- The reliability of the portable generator
- Maintenance and service needs and requirements
- Of course… the overall cost of the portable generator
The volume (loudness) of the generator
How loud is the generator you will be running? While this may seem like an obvious concern, many generator purchasers in the heat of the moment will just get “whatever is cheapest”. Don’t fall for that trap, do your due diligence.
You’re looking at what appliances you can run on this tool and may not think about the volume until you’ve pitched the tent and start that engine up on a nice quiet evening. Your campground neighbors won’t be too happy with you if you brought in a loud machine to disrupt the calm atmosphere. Note: We also have a list of the quietest generators for your viewing pleasure.
Overall size and portability of the camping generator
Another easily overlooked aspect of your new generator. You’ll be lugging this tool in and out of your vehicle, moving it around the campsite, putting it away…
- Does it fit into your packed gear?
- Will you be hauling more weight than planned?
- Will a smaller generator provide you as much power as a larger one?
These are all important considerations when selecting the ideal camping generator.
Longevity and run time in rural environments
Fuel capacity does not always correlate with runtime. Your engine runs efficiently when well maintained and can fluctuate according to the load it is put under. You will want to compare similar load capacity run times against other manufacturer’s models with similar specifications.
Though one may have a larger fuel tank, that may only because the engine isn’t as efficient and might not run as long as another model.
For the shopping experience, you will want to keep the camping considerations in mind but there are additional factors to consider when shopping for the best generator for camping.
The reliability of the portable generator
When looking to purchase a generator, of course you will want to spend as little money as possible, but the most important aspect is whether or not the tool you just bought will function. Read up on reviews, weigh the cost against the benefit.
If you get a cheap deal or overspend, the result will always come down to, does it work? Inexpensive doesn’t always mean cheap, and costly doesn’t always mean quality. Find a generator that you know will work, otherwise you may be left out in the dark.
Maintenance and service needs and requirements
Any complicated device with moving parts and high demand for performance will eventually have problems. Look for a company that will support their product after it leaves the assembly line.
You spent the money for a functioning generator, make sure it stays functioning with proper maintenance, an accessible service repair shop, and if necessary, backed by a decent warranty.
For more information about generator maintenance, we recommend our article Generator Maintenance and Oil Change Pointers.
Of course… the overall cost of the portable generator
The features you get may depend heavily on the cost of the unit. More expensive models will have more of the considerations you want for camping. Quieter engines, smaller and more compact, and longer run times.
However, for a few dollars less, you may not care so much about the size of the unit, or maybe you’re not concerned with the runtime as you only plan to run it for an hour or two per day. There are plenty of options available to you when looking for the best generator to fit your camping needs.
Our Three Picks for the Best Camping Generator
Best Overall Camping Generator – Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter Generator
This Yamaha inverter generator is one of the better deals on the portable generator market today. Compact, quiet, and less expensive than others in the same class, this is an impressive unit.
Measuring at only 51.5 dB, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter Generator may be the best generator for camping while in a tent. When noise control is a premium, this reliable power plant hums away with minimal noise while still producing an impressive 1600 watts.
The Yamaha name carries plenty of clout with it and you know you won’t be left out in the cold when it comes time to maintain your machine. A reliable name means serviceable parts and prompt customer service if needed. Something the “unknown” manufacturers just can’t offer.
Features of the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter Generator
- Loudness: 51.5 decibels
- Size: x
- Type: Inverter Generator
- Run Time: x hours
- Wattage: 1600 watts
Runner-Up Option – Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator
Ask around among the small engine aficionados and they will tell you to get a Honda. Proving their dedication to quality and reliability, Honda recently upgraded this model to improve fuel delivery to the engine.
The Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator becomes the best generator for camping when you need to have power all night. This generator will still be running when you wake up in the morning as it will run for nine hours on a single tank at a 1/4 load.
The compact design and insulated casing keep the noise down between 48 and 57dB depending on load. Quiet enough that you can keep it just outside your tent and sleep comfortably knowing you’re not disturbing the neighbors.
Features of the Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator
- Loudness: Between 48 and 57 decibels
- Size: x
- Type: Inverter Generator
- Run Time: Nine hours at quarter-load
- Wattage: x
Heavy-Duty Option – Champion 3400 Watt Generator
When looking for the best generator for camping in an RV, the Champion 3400 Watt Portable Inverter Generator is a sure bet. Offering dual fuel sources, this generator is built to run on either gasoline or on propane with zero modifications, simply the flip of a switch.
Slightly larger than the other two models found on this list of the best camping generator options, what the Champion 3400 gives up in size it gains in strength. Capable of running your RV’s power with a built-in twist-lock outlet and powerful enough to run the air conditioner.
This increase in size and power did not come at a large cost to volume control. Measuring a mere 59dB, it is possible your air conditioner is making more noise than the generator running it.
Features of the Champion 3400 Watt Generator
- Loudness: 59 decibels
- Size: x
- Type: Inverter Generator
- Run Time: x hours
- Wattage: 3400 watts
Alternative Camping Generator Reviews
- WEN 56200i Inverter Generator – Portable Generator Review
- WEN 56380i Inverter Generator – 2021 Generator Review
- Rainier R2200i Inverter Generator – Review For 2021
- Briggs and Stratton P2200 Powersmart – Generator Review
Our Overall Verdict on Camping Generator Options
When camping but still needing a source of power, a good quality camping generator can make all the difference. Ensuring that you purchase a portable generator that meets and exceeds your individual needs and the needs of your family is crucial. We hope that the recommendations above will assist in ensuring you make the ideal decision. Enjoy being a happy camper!
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