Several members of my family sleep with a CPAP machine. Most of the time, it is not overly burdensome as long as they are sleeping in their own bed where they have their system setup. However, our family loves to camp, and we needed to find a better solution for camping with a CPAP machine.
There are three easy solutions to camping with a CPAP machine:
(1) Simply camp somewhere that there is power at the campsite such as many KOA campgrounds,
(3) Buy a battery pack for your CPAP machine from the manufacturer of your CPAP.
In my opinion, the clear winner out of the three is to simply get a cheap battery station for your CPAP from Amazon, but I’ll discuss all three options and some tips below.
Using a Battery Station to Camp with a CPAP Machine
One of the absolute best options for a CPAP battery is available on Amazon. The PRYMAX Portable Power Station gets a FIVE STAR rating (with dozens of reviews). There are other good options, but we recommend the Prymax.
This is essentially just a big battery that you can use to power anything while camping, but in this case for a CPAP machine.
If you use a DC converter for your CPAP (which we recommend with this option), you’ll get more hours from the power pack. In fact, if you use the converter, you’ll get up to 4 nights usage with your CPAP (assuming you don’t drain it on other stuff) without re-charging.
Here are the answers to several commonly asked questions about camping with the Prymax power bank when camping;
- How long the battery lasts depends on your CPAP machine, but most people report several nights of use with a CPAP machine. It just depends on your CPAP and how much power it draws, but it will EASILY handle 3 nights of sleep (especially if you don’t use any humidification). With the Prymax Power Station, you can expect up to 4 nights of usage with a CPAP (using a 12-volt DC converter) and with THIS CONVERTER, you can split the charging for 2 nights for 2 CPAP machines!
- The power bank can be charged by plugging it into a car’s cigarette lighter, into the wall (takes 8 hours to charge), or even with the optional solar accessory. I haven’t tested the solar accessory but according to Prymax, it’s 8-10 hours of charging in full sun. It’s possible, but you’d better start around 8:30 or 9:00 am on a really sunny day!
- The battery is about 8.5″ x 7″ x 5″, so it would be possible to put it in a camping backpack.
- The battery weighs 6.5 pounds, so it’s a bit of a bear for backpacking but a great option for a drive-in campsite with no power.
- You can get longer use from the battery if you turn off the humidity function on your CPAP.
- The capacity of the batter is 90,000 mAh, so you can also charge your cell phone at night. There’s a USB plug on it as well.
- Some people use this battery as a backup for home use if the power goes out.
- The power bank has a built-in flashlight which is also convenient for camping.
- The solar charging option costs over $100 extra, but the regular chargers come included with the battery.
So to me, it seems that the very best option for camping with the CPAP machine is clearly a power bank. I think it works really well because it gives you so many options for a flashlight, for your CPAP, for plugging in your phone at night, etc. It may not be perfect for everyone, but it seems to me that this is the most popular option for camping with your CPAP machine.
However, it may not be perfect for every situation. You could bring it backpacking, but if I needed a CPAP and I was a hard-core backpacker, I’d get a dedicated portable CPAP unit AND the official battery for it. This will cost you a bit more (especially if your insurance won’t cover it), but it’s the best option for special situations like wilderness camping or backpacking.
Finding Camp Sites with Power for a CPAP Machine
If you prefer to camp in a park-like setting, then a good option for you may just be finding a campsite that has a power outlet for you to use. There are many campsites that have power outlets available, such as a KOA campsite, some National Park Service campgrounds that are more modern, or an RV park.
Keep in mind, though, finding a power outlet may not be reliable. I have found that many campsites have antiquated electricity and frequently have outages. Also, I have found that many RV parks have bad electricity which could potentially damage a CPAP machine. So make sure you check before you plug-in.
The more obvious problem with this solution is that you simply have a small number of campsites that you can choose from. However, you don’t have to worry about plugging in a battery.
Get a Battery for Your CPAP Machine from the Manufacturer of Your CPAP
Another option for powering your CPAP machine while you are camping is to check with the manufacturer of your CPAP machine to see if they sell a special travel battery pack. Many CPAP manufacturers make a special battery pack for traveling. You will probably find that these battery packs are far more expensive than just getting an external power station as I recommended earlier. However, this may be the only solution for a small subset of CPAP machines that are not compatible with external power batteries.
To find out if your CPAP machine manufacturer makes an external power pack, go to the website of the manufacturer of your CPAP machine and check for an external battery.
Another thing to check before buying is to look at the size of the battery. The battery that I mentioned earlier (that many CPAP users buy) has 40,800 Mela amps of power. Check to see how long the external battery for your CPAP machine lasts to see if it is better or worse. Also keep in mind that it is possible that the battery from the manufacturer would perform better and longer even if it is a lower mAH count.
Some Tips For Camping with a CPAP
I also want to mention that it is important that you find the solution for camping with your machine. It can be tempting for someone with sleep apnea to simply think that it is impossible to go camping or that you’ll never get a good night of sleep if you go camping. That can feel very limiting and can keep you from experiencing great things well camping.
So I just want to encourage you to find a good solution that works for you and to at least be willing to try it out.
Also, get to know your CPAP machine a little better. There may be ways that you can better utilize your CPAP machine when camping. For example, many CPAP machines allow you to turn off the humidity feature or possibly other functions that could allow it to have better battery life. So in consultation with your doctor, if you are able to turn down the power output to be perhaps slightly less comfortable but allow the battery to last much longer, then you may have a better experience when camping.
Last, the best advice that I can give you is to test out your portable solution for your CPAP machine before you ever go camping. If you get an extra no battery, test it at home for several nights until you understand exactly how long the battery will last, how long it takes to charge the battery, how are you can extend the life of the battery while using your CPAP, and just what to expect.
Disclaimer: In this post, I am sharing what I have learned about using a CPAP machine while camping. Sleep apnea is a medical condition and you should seek out the advice of a doctor who can give you the best information about safely sleeping while traveling with your CPAP machine. Always follow the directions of the manufacturer of your CPAP machine. Be aware that using an external power source other than the wall may not be 100% reliable and could present health risks.