You might be prepared to survive a few nights in the wilderness, but is your phone?
Even survivalists can suffer from “nomophobia” – the fear of being without a smartphone.
We’ve found 10 ingenious ways for you to ally those fears and keep your phone charged, even if you don’t have a charger or electricity.
How To Make A DIY Phone Charger
Before we launch into the different ways you can charge your phone, I first want to explain how you can make a phone charger out of any USB cable.
You can convert any USB cable into a charger for your phone, even if it doesn’t have the correct connector.
- Cut off the connector end of the cable, leaving the USB connector in place.
- Strip the insulation off the cable to reveal the four wires inside.
- Strip the red and black wires until you have exposed around one inch of metal wire.
- Remove the battery from your phone.
- Tape the ends of the red and black wires to the battery contacts, being sure to match the red wire to the positive pin and the black wire to the negative.
- You can now use any of the methods below to charge your phone.
10 Ways To Charge Your Phone Without Electricity or A Charger
#1 Use Your Body To Power Your Phone
The human body uses electrical signals to operate. At rest, your body produces around 100 watts of power. Sprint to the other side of the forest, and you could produce as much as 2,000 watts!
Either way, it’s enough to charge your phone – you just need to figure out how to harness it.
This approach does require a charging cable but you can always make your own. You’ll also find having your phone to hand beneficial, along with a couple of silver coins, a piece of paper, and a paper clip.
- Plug a USB charger into your phone or use the DIY approach above.
- Attach the paperclip to the USB connector at the other end.
- Slip the piece of paper in between the outside of the USB connector and the paper clip.
- Place one coin on either side of the USB connector and hold them in place with your finger and thumb.
- The electrical charge flowing between your finger and thumb will bring your phone back from the dead.
You can see this method in action in the video above.
#2 Use a Hand Crank Phone Charger
A hand-crank phone charger converts your muscle power into electrical energy.
As you crank the handle, it activates the dynamo inside the charger and generates power. The best hand crank phone chargers can charge your phone by around 2% after just 3-5 minutes of cranking. If you want to get it fully charged, you’re going to have your work cut out for you.
Many hand-crank phone chargers come with special connectors that allow you to hook it up to your phone even if you don’t have a charger nearby. They also come with in-built batteries so you can store your hard-earned power for use later on.
#3 Fire up Your Phone On a Camp Stove
Some innovative camping stoves use a thermoelectric generator to convert the heat from a fire into electricity. The BioLite CampStove 2 can generate and store 3 watts of electricity so, it can work as a power bank even after your fire’s gone out.
The BioLite CampStove also has a Smart LED Dashboard so you can keep an eye on your fire’s strength, power output, and fan speed settings.
This thermoelectric technology is surprisingly effective and can, theoretically, charge your phone as quickly as plugging it into your home power.
#4 Fidget your Phone into Life
Fidget-powered smartphones could well be the future for survivalists. Imagine you could convert simple actions like spinning your phone around your finger into juice for its batteries. Thanks to Mikhail Stawsky, the inventor of the Rotel Mechanical Mobile, you can.
These phones use kinetic energy to provide a fun and eco-friendly method of getting juice into your phone. You can insert your finger into the hole provided and spin the phone around your finger to bring it back to life.
Alternatively, you can opt for the second model, which has a twistable bottom to keep your idle hands busy and provide power for the phone.
#5 Power your Phone with Motion
The AMPY Portable Motion Charger uses inductor technology to convert your body’s energy into juice for your phone.
The more vigorous your activity, the more energy you generate. Whether you decide to wear the device or keep it in your bag, it will still produce enough electricity to revive your phone.
According to the manufacturers, “1 hour of vigorous exercise can provide up to 5 hours of standby smartphone battery.”
Vigorous seems to be the key here as some users have struggled to produce much charge simply hiking. Running, on the other hand, should do the trick, but you’ll have to make sure you have enough survival food to keep your batteries charged.
#5 Harness the Sun’s Power with a Solar Charger
Rather than relying on vigorous activity to charge your phone, the best portable solar chargers use the power of the sun for charging on the go. You can attach them to your backpack or hang them in a tree and let the sun do the rest.
This solar charger from BigBlue uses solar panels with high conversion efficiency for faster charging. It also has a built-in intelligence chip that detects your device and delivers the fastest possible charging speed.
You will still need a charger cable to utilize a portable solar charger, but you now know how to make your own so, that’s not an issue. The only problem is, these devices don’t include a power bank so, you won’t be able to save your power for later.
#6 Use a Portable Solar Power Bank
Similar to a solar charger, the best portable solar power bank can both harness and store the sun’s energy. Although not as effective or as fast as a dedicated solar charger, a portable solar power bank will give you enough juice to make a few emergency calls.
A high-powered, fast-charging unit like the BLAVOR Power Bank will pair your device with the fastest charging power available and can charge several devices simultaneously.
You don’t even need a charger for this one as it comes with wireless charging technology. Any Qi-enabled device, such as an iPhone 8 or a Samsung Galaxy S9, can be charged without bothering with cables.
#7 Create a Charger Using an Onion and Energy Drink
There is some debate about whether this technique really works, but it’s so ingenious, I thought it worth mentioning anyway.
All you do is drill a couple of holes into either side of an onion and then soak it in an energy drink, like Gatorade, for half an hour. Take the onion out and dry it off and then insert the USB connection on your charger into the onion.
While some argue that an onion can’t produce enough electricity to charge a smartphone, millions of people have been convinced by the video above.
Why not try it out and see for yourself?
#8 Give your Phone some Fruit Juice
There are numerous videos on YouTube showing people charging their phones with a lemon, orange, apple, or even banana. By inserting two metals, zinc and copper, into the fruit to create positive and negative poles, the acid in the fruit will interact with those electrodes, creating a small voltage.
A single piece of fruit isn’t going to get you very far, however. This experiment gives a more realistic idea of what you can expect and uses just under 600 oranges to fully charge an iPhone. I can’t imagine anyone squeezing that much fruit into a bug-out bag!
#9 Drive the Energy into your Phone
If you’re lucky enough to have a car to bug out in, you can plug your phone into your car’s power supply outlet to give it an extra boost.
You will need a car charger adaptor to make use of this energy source, but it’s one of the simplest ways to keep your phone alive when nothing else can.
#10 Power Up with a Laptop
If your phone has died, but your laptop still has a battery, you can steal from one device to feed the other. Simply plug the USB connector of your DIY phone charger into the USB port on your laptop.
If you can make a DIY phone charger, you can use any of the methods above to charge your phone whether you’re at home or bugging out in the mountains somewhere.
Some are more effective than others, but all should give you enough power to make at least one emergency phone call. Whether that means letting your mom know you’re alive or summoning search and rescue, it’s worth it.
Leave a comment
Just wondering. Not in the wilderness – but at home my cordless phones use AAA rechargeable batteries. Could I use those batteries in other devices and recharge them using my cordless base? It would save me buying a battery charger.
Maybe you could. But I do NOT recommend it. If you use a crappy charger for your batteries, they can easily overheat/get overcharged — which makes them “go bad” (lose capacity) faster. I’m not trying to sell you on an expensive battery charger. But rechargeable batteries are expensive, and because of that it’s best to take care of them IMO. I invested in a good smart charger with a digital display (shows lots of info like how full they are and slows down charging as they reach full charge) for my Enloop rechargeable batteries and I’m really glad I did. Now I don’t have to “guess” whether they are fully recharged or not, know how much capacity is remaining and also know that they will last me longer.