We decided to go on a multi-day wilderness trip and feel a little guilty about not really wanting to rough it. What defines a true outdoor adventure anyway? A sleeping bag and a thermos? We want to take a generator but don’t want to wimp out on the authentic experience. I guess we are modern campers who want some amenities with us just in case. We want a nice meal, hot coffee for breakfast, and a clean spot. No bugs, no rain, no pain.

When it comes to necessities on the road, a good little small generator immediately comes to mind. Who wants to go to sleep at six o’clock in the evening and wake up at dawn as the light pours in your tent as you have been sleeping for eight hours? We want to stay up late by the fire and drink wine, but we want to light up the outside of the tent to ward off predators–human and otherwise. Security is always a factor.

There are lightweight models that aren’t too heavy to carry or take up too much room in the van. We decided to read small generator reviews online and we’re looking at simple ones that don’t malfunction with infrequent use. Quiet and clean for recreational use is the description we are using. Reliable and worry-free are good adjectives too. Portable means a lot. A 600w power pack has been recommended by a friend—just a big battery with an inverter. I hear that they can last for years. We are told not to go with units that only use motorcycle batteries, however, as they are not always fully rechargeable. Also note that there are gas-powered models and those that require motor oil.

So, practical and trustworthy units are on our agenda. A big plus is that the generator can run an electric blanket, an air mattress, a fan, and/or a cooling unit. Talk about luxury! Some of these devices can be energy hogs, however, and aren’t all that necessary. For cell phones and small lights, the generator is divine.

We are also thinking about the iPod speaker doc possibility. Having music is nice, but the sounds of nature are probably a better experience, unless animal noises put your nerves on edge, but then you wouldn’t be out camping, would you?

Everyone has an opinion on the best and you can go a little crazy reading what people say about camping trips—stereo music, LED lamps, programmable light bars, and more. Maybe we should keep it simple and not spend a bundle just yet. We don’t expect the most sophisticated trip and certainly don’t welcome the noise we are told accompanies some generators. It shouldn’t be on non-stop, should it?

So off we go to select our little motor of choice. We hope to get some help at the outset. We don’t know the brands or features for average campers who don’t have an RV parked in their driveway. It’s just us folks on a little weekend adventure that we don’t want to turn into a total fiasco.