If you’re one of the millions of people who use a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea, you might be wondering if it’s possible to go camping with your machine.
You want to be able to enjoy the outdoors without sacrificing sleep quality while also feeling confident and prepared with using your CPAP while camping.
Your biggest challenges include:
Limited access to a power source. Most campsites do not have electricity, and even if they do, it may not be convenient to use.
Difficulty packing and transporting your equipment. CPAP machines are often bulky and heavy, and they can be difficult to transport, especially if you’re backpacking or hiking to your campsite.
Environmental factors. For example, extreme temperatures can affect the performance of your machine.
Limited resources. Camping with a CPAP machine might additional items, such as extra batteries, cleaning supplies, and backup equipment.
Little to no experience. Camping with a CPAP machine for the first time can be nerve-wracking.
The good news is that it is possible to go camping with a CPAP.
The benefits of taking your CPAP camping
Camping with a CPAP machine can be an intimidating prospect, but when done right, it can also be a rewarding experience.
Here are some benefits you’ll enjoy:
- Better sleep
- More confidence
- Lower anxiety
- Lower risk of complications associated with sleep apnea
- Greater enjoyment in your overall camping experience
The most CPAP-compatible camping options
When planning your camping trip, consider whether your campsite will have access to electricity.
You have two popular CPAP-compatible camping options: campsites that come equipped with power sources and RVing.
Campsites with power sources
If you prefer traditional camping in a tent, consider looking for a tent campsite that offers power outlets.
Several campgrounds, such as KOA campgrounds, have clean and well-maintained sites with power sources available—however they may be designated for RVs and camper vans only, so be sure to check with the campground before you book.
These sites are great for keeping your CPAP running all night, especially if you use a humidifier, which can drain batteries quickly.
Keep in mind that these powered campsites typically come at a higher price, so be sure to include the extra cost in your camping budget.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to pack an extension cord and adapter to ensure you can easily access the power source from your tent.
This way, you’ll have a seamless and stress-free experience using your CPAP while camping.
Another excellent option for camping with a CPAP machine is RVing.
Modern RVs often come equipped with power outlets that you can use to power your CPAP machine.
Traveling in an RV offers the added comforts of home, including temperature control and a cozy bed, making it a convenient and enjoyable option for those with sleep apnea.
When planning an RV trip, check your RV’s power specifications to ensure it can accommodate the needs of your CPAP machine.
Some machines might require an adapter to plug into your vehicle’s battery or a portable power source.
Make sure you have everything you need to power your CPAP on the go.
For both of the above camping options, preparation is key.
Going camping with a CPAP where there’s no power source
If you’re planning a more traditional camping trip where there are no wall outlets to plug your CPAP machine into, you’ll need to consider ways to power it.
Ideally, you want a battery that lasts between 15-20 hours for optimal use and know how long it takes to charge the battery (usually around 8 hours).
There are a few ways to power your CPAP machine while camping without access to a wall outlet:
Use a generator
A generator is one option you have, but it’s probably not the best because they can be noisy and require fuel to run.
When choosing a generator, opt for a quiet one to avoid disturbing your campsite neighbours.
Make sure you have enough fuel to last the duration of your trip, and always follow safety guidelines when using a generator outdoors.
Use a marine or auto battery
A deep-cycle, lead-acid battery is another option to power your CPAP during camping.
These batteries are designed to provide continuous power and are commonly found at auto parts stores or any place that sells mobility scooters.
To connect your CPAP to the marine battery, you’ll need a compatible power adapter, which may be specific to your CPAP machine’s brand and model.
Use your car
Using your car battery as a power source is also possible.
You’ll need an inverter that converts your car’s 12-volt DC power to the required power for your CPAP machine.
Keep in mind that using your car battery frequently for this purpose can shorten its lifespan, so it’s a good idea to have a spare or use a separate car battery.
Get a portable power station
A portable power station, like the Jackery portable power station, is a convenient and compact way to power your CPAP machine while camping.
These power stations are specifically designed to power everything from CPAP machines to laptops, making them an ideal choice for camping with a CPAP.
They range in capacity, so choose one that can last for the duration of your trip based on your CPAP’s nightly power consumption.
Consider CPAP-specific power accessories
In addition to the above options, there are power accessories designed specifically for CPAP machines.
These accessories will help ensure you can maintain your therapy even while off-grid.
Note: It’s important to always bring a backup power supply and your CPAP machine manual with you while camping since they can be helpful in troubleshooting any issues you might experience.
CPAP-related equipment you’ll need to bring
You’ll want to make sure you have the following equipment with you before you set off on your camping trip:
A travel-friendly CPAP machine
When you’re planning to go camping with a CPAP, it’s best to use a travel-sized CPAP machine.
These machines are smaller, more portable, and fit easily into your backpack or travel bag without adding too much weight.
Brands like GBRIBOO offer reliable travel CPAP machines specifically designed for your camping trips.
Humidification is an important aspect of positive airway pressure therapy.
Having a humidifier integrated into your CPAP machine or as a separate attachment can make your therapy more comfortable, especially in dry environments.
Some travel CPAP machines come with built-in humidifiers, while others can be used with a compatible portable humidifier.
Make sure to check your device’s compatibility before heading out on your camping trip.
An inverter is a handy piece of equipment that allows you to convert power from one source to another.
For example, if you’re camping at a site with access to a power outlet, a 12V inverter can convert a car battery’s power to one that’s compatible with your CPAP machine.
Alternatively, if you’re camping completely off-grid, a solar panel inverter can convert solar energy into the power needed for your therapy.
Check your CPAP machine’s power requirements and invest in a suitable inverter to ensure uninterrupted sleep therapy during your camping adventure.
How to prep your CPAP machine for camping
Before you head out, take some time to prep your machine so it’s in good working order.
Start by checking your machine’s filters.
A clean filter helps your device run smoothly and can spare you from breathing in pesky allergens, dust, or bugs while camping.
If your filter looks dirty or worn, replace it with a new one. It’s also a good idea to carry spare filters with you, just in case.
Bring extra CPAP accessories, such as masks, tubing, and filters, in case anything gets damaged or dirty during your trip.
Additionally, be sure to bring your CPAP machine manual with you in case you need to troubleshoot any problems with your machine while you’re camping.
You may also want to consult your doctor beforehand.
They can provide tips or recommendations specific to your condition and ensure that you’re prepared to handle any potential issues or emergencies that might arise.
They might also suggest adjustments to your therapy settings based on your camping conditions, including altitude or humidity changes.
Last but not least, consider bringing CPAP wipes to clean your mask and equipment, as these are designed to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other harmful substances.
How to pack your CPAP machine for camping
When it’s time to pack your CPAP machine, you’ll want to make sure everything is secure and protected from the elements.
To ensure that your CPAP machine and accessories stay clean and functional during your camping trip, it’s important to keep it clean and dry.
Pack any power cords or adapters in a waterproof back (like a dry bag) and store them near the top of your bag for easy access.
If possible, use a hard-shell case for your machine, as it will better protect your device against bumps and drops during your trip.
You should also consider bringing along cleaning supplies such as wipes and a brush to clean your machine and mask.
Finally, once everything is packed, check the weather forecast and adjust your packing list accordingly.
For example, if you’re expecting wet or cold conditions during your camping trip, you may want to bring extra dry bags and wool blankets to keep your CPAP machine insulated and dry.
This way, you can be sure that your device will remain in good condition throughout the duration of your trip.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to enjoy a comfortable camping experience with your CPAP machine.
Here’s to many restful nights under the stars with your trusty CPAP machine by your side!
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).