There’s a grand debate over how much electronic time kids should have, both on the internet and here in our home. Our rule is that tablets, computers and games on Mom and Dad’s phones don’t work in the National Parks.
When Big E was smaller and didn’t understand how parental controls worked, it was easy to just turn off the the screen and claim the electronics really didn’t work while we drove through beautiful places. Now he’s figured us out, so instead it’s just a family rule.
But what about those monotonous times in between national park destinations? We’re on a 6,000 mile National Park to Park Highway road trip after all. In those times, I don’t mind if my kids play video games, in fact I encourage it. If they are entertained, and possibly learning something they won’t be fighting with each other or asking me to entertain them. Also, I’ve been working on my computer throughout the trip and it’d be hypocritical of me to say I get to use electronics while my kids can’t.
Having electronic devices on any trip means you have to have a way to charge them. While the car is running we can charge things off the vehicle battery, but that’s not the best option for getting energy while camping.
That’s where our trip sponsor, BioLite Energy came in. BioLite manufactures stoves, lights and solar panels that work double duty. In addition to efficient cooking from burning wood, the BioLite Wood Burning Campstovecharges your electronic devices. It’s really cool.
We’ve used the BioLite Wood Burning Campstove quite a bit on our National Park to Park Highway trip. It’s great for boiling water, which we needed every day. Finding and breaking down sticks so they fit in the camp stove was a little bit of a hassle, but the abundance of free fuel balanced that out. The built in fan keeps the heat going strong and with the BioLite KettlePot the BioLite Wood Burning Campstove worked great as a stove. Unfortunately the grill attachment was just too small for our family.
Since it boiled water so fast, there wasn’t sufficient time to charge electronics well. For charging, I prefer using a solar panel. BioLite’s SolarPanel 5+ is lightweight and portable with a built in battery, stand and sun dial to maximize the charge. The five watt panel was enough to charge my phone to half capacity during a moderately sunny day. We strapped it on the back of our bike trailer to charge on the go, or set it on the dashboard of our truck to charge while driving. But with our constant need for energy the SolarPanel 5+ wasn’t quite enough.
That’s why my favorite BioLite product was the NanoGrid. The PowerLight flashlight/lantern is also a power station to recharge phones and cameras. It’s bright, rechargeable and hooks up to SiteLights, extending the glow throughout the campsite. Charge the PowerLight at home and the internal battery stores electricity to use while you’re in the outdoors. The PowerLight would work great for about a three day camp out before running out of juice.
The other thing I like about BioLite is its commitment to bring clean energy everywhere. As a carbon neutral company, BioLite creates cleaner energy solutions for indoor cooking fires in India and Africa through the BioLite HomeStove . A portion of every purchase is reinvested in its mission to bring energy everywhere.
For you parents out there, how do you balance electronics on a road trip? What do you allow?
BioLite Energy gave me the items above for review. My opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links. See all of our National Park to Park Highway Sponsors here.