The Best Camping Fans
|Camping Fan||Score||Diameter||Power Source|
|Top Pick: Geek Aire Rechargeable Outdoor Floor Fan||
|Best Value: O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Fan||
|10 in||AC/6 D Batteries|
|OPolar 9-Inch Battery Operated Fan||
|Odoland Portable LED Camping Lantern Ceiling Fan||
|4 in||2 D Batteries|
|Coleman CPX 6 Lighted Tent Fan||
|8 in||4 D Batteries|
We took 5 of the best camping fans out in the hottest July on record to see which could cool us off. The Geek Aire Rechargeable Outdoor Floor Fan was our favorite, though it has its limitations.
For stellar battery life, the O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Fan can’t be beat. It was a strong (and affordable) runner-up.
Everyone complains about camping in the winter, but summertime camping isn’t always easy. When temperatures soar, spending days in the sun and nights in the heat can be taxing. Especially if you’re car camping, a fan can ease the heat and sweat.
As we learned, not all camping fans are created equal. For full reviews and recommendations, read on.
Top Pick: Geek Aire Rechargeable Outdoor Floor Fan
The Geek Aire won us over with one major virtue: strength. When it came to moving air on hot days, no other fan could cool us off as quickly as this one. In our blowing test, this fan outperformed the field by a mile.
And there’s more to like about the Geek Aire. The rugged metal frame inspires confidence, and the fan is IPX4 certified for splash resistance.
A metal handle makes portability easy, and the angle is easy to adjust. This is the only fan in our test to use metal blades. It’s the heaviest of the lot, but it shrugs off any abuse.
Adjustable airflow is another highlight. The Geek Aire is the only fan in this test to use a knob to control blade speed, which means you can dial in the airflow to your preferences (or to maximize battery life). Compared to the discrete levels of the other fans, this version provides much more adjustability.
The Geek Aire runs on a 15,600 mAh rechargeable battery. If you have a separate power source — such as a portable battery charger — the fan can also run using an included power adapter. Three LED lights tell approximately how much battery remains. With a solar panel or power source, the Geek Aire would be an excellent fan for a base camp on a long trip.
The power options are both a convenience and a flaw. Running off AC power is nice, but you won’t generally be camping near an outlet. The rechargeable battery in the Geek Aire is good — better than the one in the OPolar — but it still can’t keep up with traditional batteries in longevity.
This is a tradeoff. It’s inconvenient (not to mention expensive) to replace a set of batteries every time you camp, especially when those batteries are hefty D-cells. But in our battery testing, the Geek Aire only lasted for about 15.5 hours at medium speed. That’s respectable (and may be enough to get through a weekend), but it pales in comparison to the O2COOL, our runner-up.
The other downside of the Geek Aire is price. This is by far the most expensive fan in our test, more than double the cost of the next most expensive entrant as of this writing. All the same, D-cell batteries are expensive — it doesn’t take too many trips before the Geek Aire starts to pay for itself.
If you want to invest in the best portable fan around, and you can live with solid but unexceptional battery life, this is a great fan. It’s built to last, and all you’ll ever need to do is plug it in to recharge.
- Diameter: 10 inches
- Power source: 15,600 mAh rechargeable battery, or AC adapter
- Our recorded runtime: 15.5 hrs
Best Value: O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Fan
The O2COOL fan doesn’t look like much. It’s a simple plastic frame, black on one side and tan on the other, hiding a 10-inch fan inside.
In practice, the O2COOL won our hearts with its combination of practicality and value.
This fan can run on either battery or AC power (using an included adapter). The battery compartment is a bit of a pain, requiring a screwdriver (and some patience) to get on or off.
It also houses a lot of batteries: the O2COOL requires 6 D batteries to run. If you burn through a set every time you camp, you’ll find yourself buying a lot of batteries.
But the upside is that this fan has incredible battery life. Its low setting still moves a respectable amount of air, and it lasted an astonishing 65 hours in our battery testing. The high setting scored a respectable second in our airflow testing.
The design of the fan isn’t the cleanest. A plastic tab at the top is the only gesture toward a handle, and the fan can’t be adjusted for angle. Two settings provide moderate adjustability in airflow, but even the switch feels a little flimsy.
Still, this fan is the second cheapest in our test as of this writing and remains affordable compared to the Geek Aire. As long as you’re okay buying batteries or using AC power, it’s exceptional value.
- Diameter: 10 inches
- Power source: 6 D batteries, or AC adapter
- Our recorded runtime: 65 hrs
Reviews of the 3 Other Camping Fans We Tested
All things considered, the OPolar didn’t fare too badly in this test. It was average in almost every way.
That starts with airflow, for which the OPolar fan finished exactly in the middle. The metal frame is well-built and easily adjustable, but the diameter of the blades seemed small.
Although it’s technically a 9-inch fan, the blades seem small within the frame. The narrow radius means that this fan moves less air than our award winners.
The OPolar can run off of either AC power or two proprietary rechargeable batteries. If you need longevity, though, we don’t recommend this fan — its rechargeable batteries were the first to give out in our battery test.
Still, the OPolar combines two difficult virtues: rechargeable power and an approachable price. If you want a cost-effective option and you can live with the battery life (or bring a power source with you), the OPolar is a reasonable choice.
A two-way switch controls the High and Low settings. Battery life is better on Low, but we generally needed the High setting when things got hot.
The OPolar’s rugged build is well-suited to camp life, but we wish both the blades and the battery were bigger. If they were, this fan would have been closer competition for our award winners.
- Diameter: 9 inches
- Power source: 5200 mAh rechargeable or AC adapter
- Our recorded runtime: 6 hrs
A budget-friendly dark horse in this test, the Odoland portable fan left us both impressed and underwhelmed.
The design of the fan is surprisingly nifty. This fan works best hung from the apex of a tent, where its small airflow is maximized and the ring-style LED lights can light up the tent floor like a tent lantern.
But even without a hook for hanging, the Odoland is useful. The light ring works as a stand, and the frame of the fan swivels for full adjustability. The fan can be turned on (with two settings) independently from the LEDs.
What’s more, the Odoland is the lightest camping fan in our test. This is the only fan that we would remotely consider packing out away from the car. Powered by just two D batteries, it remains compact.
But the Odoland’s airflow is as petite as its size. As is to be expected of its 4-inch blades, this fan came second to last in our airflow tests. It still helps on a hot evening, but it’s not much use for more than one person.
Battery life was inconsistent. Strictly speaking, the Odoland fan lasted more than 20 hours in our battery tests. But the blades had slowed to a crawl by 16 hours, speeding up only sporadically thereafter.
This is a fan we would consider if we wanted a luxury on a hot backpacking trip, or if we needed to hang a fan rather than take up floor space. With a couple backup batteries, the Odoland is a reasonable quality-of-life upgrade for a relatively small weight penalty.
For most uses, however, we’d stick to our award winners.
- Diameter: 4 inches
- Power source: 2 D batteries
- Our recorded runtime: 16 hrs
I don’t know where this fan went so wrong. In my experience, Coleman products are unremarkable but durable. Their tent fan proved remarkably bad and consistently flimsy.
The best thing about the Coleman fan is its hanging system. A metal loop connects to a magnetized clip, which mates with a metal plate through tent fabric.
It’s a nifty and effective way to hang the fan in any tent — no hooks necessary. The Coleman fan also includes a central LED light, which provides basic but effective lighting from above.
Those were the only two aspects of this fan that worked as intended. The flimsy plastic frame provides no adjustability, and the stand didn’t work on anything except perfectly flat ground. The Coleman finished dead last in our airflow test, failing to topple two aluminum cans from point blank.
Worst of all, a plastic tab on the battery compartment broke the first time I tried to replace the batteries. Without the tab, the compartment would spring open if it wasn’t held. I had to duct tape the whole apparatus just to finish testing.
Battery life is good. The Coleman managed a solid 31 hours of runtime. But that didn’t do us much good when the airflow was so weak.
Coleman also offers a rechargeable power cartridge and an AC adapter cartridge, but both are sold separately. That’s on top of the Coleman’s starting price, which was the second highest in our test.
It’s possible that we purchased a dud. But based on this experience, I can’t recommend this fan to anyone. I enjoy the nifty hanging system, but otherwise this fan was hard to like.
- Diameter: 6 inches
- Power source: 4 D batteries, AC adapter and rechargeable units sold separately
- Our recorded runtime: 31 hrs
Here are the best camping fans:
- Geek Aire Rechargeable Outdoor Floor Fan
- O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Fan
- OPolar 9-Inch Battery Powered Fan
- Odoland Portable LED Camping Lantern Ceiling Fan
- Coleman CPX 6 Lighted Tent Fan
How to Choose the Best Camping Fan for Your Needs
All camping fans are designed to make hot days and nights a little more pleasant. How and where you like your ventilation may change which fan works best for you. A few main features separate most fans:
The equation here is simple — more airflow means more cooling. Fans that moved more air were more effective at keeping us cool when it counted.
Increasing airflow usually means increasing the diameter of the fan. Even the OPolar, which has a strong motor and stiff plastic blades, couldn’t keep up with the largest fans in raw strength.
But with a larger fan comes an increased weight and greater power demands. Our two award winners are the largest fans in this test, but they also require the largest batteries. If you have limited space or need to travel light, that may not work.
Power Source & Longevity
Fans in this test came in both rechargeable and battery-powered variants. Both sources have their pros and cons.
Traditional batteries are easily replaced, and it’s relatively simple to pack a backup set. But appliances this big require hefty D-cells, which get expensive in a hurry. Especially for fans that use many batteries, replacement batteries will quickly outstrip the cost of the fan itself.
Rechargeable batteries avoid that problem — you’ll never have to buy another set. Rechargeables do take time to replenish, and it’s not as easy to carry a backup out in the wild. What’s more, rechargeable batteries fared worse in our longevity testing.
The question comes down to longevity and convenience vs. long-term cost.
Some fans can also be powered via an AC adapter. We appreciate this feature. Whenever you have a power outlet, you can power the fan directly from the wall without draining the batteries.
Two of the fans in our test are designed to be hung inside a tent. These fans also provide lighting.
Hang-able fans have to be light, which means less airflow.
Floor fans are generally more effective, especially on really hot days.
Still, some campers may not have room for a floor fan, or may want lighting as well. In these cases, the Odoland fan is the best option.
How We Tested
I needed a way to measure how much air each fan could move, so I set up a primitive home measuring system. I stacked two aluminum cans, then measured how the maximum distance at which the fan could topple the cans. The greater the distance, the stronger the fan.
Battery testing can be tricky to nail down. Manufacturers often list longevity only for the lowest setting, which may not reflect real-world usage.
To help get some consistency, I used the results of the airflow test to set fans as close as possible to a consistent middle ground for battery testing. Obviously it wasn’t possible to get all fans to a consistent airflow, but it helped establish a rough means of comparison, especially for competitors of similar sizes.
Battery testing itself was simple: starting with a full charge or fresh set of batteries, I turned each fan to the required setting and let it run until it stopped.
We took these fans out into the field for a sweltering New England summer to see how they held up to use and abuse around camp.