Best Portable Projector for Camping

If you are planning a camping trip where you want to enjoy a movie with a large group of friends or snuggle up with your partner then you are going to want to know what is the best portable projector for camping.

There’s a range of models available with many pros and cons as well as a few other considerations to make. Don’t worry though, as we have put together the ultimate guide on how to enjoy a fantastic movie experience in the great outdoors without the stress of trying to figure it all out for yourself.

In a hurry?

Need to quickly know what are our three top portable projectors for camping? Look at the list below and click the link to find the latest prices.

A full review can be found further down this article.

The all-rounder option *** Editors choice ***

Anker Nebula Mars II Pro All

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The mid-budget option

ViewSonic M1+

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The tight-budget option

VANKYO Leisure 3W

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Considerations

Power

Power is always a key consideration to make when choosing what gear to bring with you on your camping trip. Portable projectors for camping is no different. The good news is that some portable projectors actually come with an inbuilt battery meaning that you won’t need to try and find an external power source when playing your favorite movie outdoors.

Weight

As you will be carrying around the projector, it’s important to consider its weight as you don’t want to work up a sweat carrying the portable projector along with your camping equipment. Luckily, most portable projector manufacturers have considered this aspect to make your day a little more comfortable.

It’s also worth checking that your portable projector comes with its own carry case to keep the projector, cables, and remote in one place.

Luminosity

The luminosity or brightness of your portable projector will be absolutely key. The last thing that you need is for your fellow campers not to be able to see your movie night.

It’s critical that your projector will be capable of competing with the environmental brightness.

The brightness of any portable projector is measured in lumens. A projector offering 3000 lumens should be sufficient for most situations however brighter projectors are available too.

Connectivity

It’s important to ensure that your projector has compatible display ports to allow it to connect to your laptop with ease. If it doesn’t, don’t worry as there are many adapters available to allow your laptop to ensure that both your portable projector and laptop are compatible.

Adapters generally work fine however not having to use them in the first place means that you have one less thing to fail and go wrong in between your presentation.

Audio

If your presentations don’t require sound or video playback then you can skip this consideration.

That said, if you don’t wish to bring along external speakers to your trip you will need to consider your audio options. Obviously, your laptop could be used to deliver the audio playback however please check the audio quality of your device first.

Another option is to purchase a portable projector with an integrated speaker. These aren’t usually particularly powerful. If you do require an integrated speaker then ensure that it is at least a 10-watt mono or stereo speaker.

Keystone

Keystone correction, otherwise known as “keystoning” is the ability to adjust the projected image so that you can align it correctly in an even/straight rectangular format.

This is especially important for portable projectors as you can’t guarantee how high or low the surface will be that you are projecting from as well as how far from the screen you will be. All these factors mean that your default image will be skewed. Keystoning allows you to adjust the projected image to accommodate these variables.

Look out for this feature when selecting your perfect portable projector for camping trips.

Media Player

Given that you will be camping in a field without all of the home entertainment perks of a Blu-ray player etc, you will have to think about how you will deliver your movie or TV show in as easy a way as possible.

Some options are to copy the video onto a USB flash drive and plug it directly into the projector, stream the video from a mobile device wirelessly, or cable the projector up with a laptop. The options available to you will depend on what connectivity options are available on the projector.

You could also stream directly from a Chromecast, Roku, or FireStick however the main issue here will likely be your Internet connectivity. The great outdoors isn’t known for the best network connectivity so it might be worth bringing the video content with you.

Throw distance
“Throw” is the distance from the projector lens to the screen. The throw ratio is a calculation that you can use to calculate how wide the image will be in feet, for every foot the projector is away from the screen.

The calculation is:

Image Width = Throw Distance / Throw Ratio

Therefore with a throw ratio of 2, for every 2 feet the lens is away from the screen, the image width will increase by two feet.

Portable Projector for Camping Reviews

Anker Nebula Mars II Pro

The all-rounder Editors Choice

The Nebula Mars II Pro is the most well built and feature-rich portable projector on the market at the moment and would be ideal for any camping trip. It’s no wonder that this projector won our Editors Choice award and it comes highly recommended.

Firstly, the build quality of the unit is second to none. It looks stylish. It is a solid unit that doesn’t feel like it is going to break. The upright, rectangular shape gives this projector a sturdy base from which to project from which makes it feel less likely to fall over. It also comes with a handy leather carry handle making it feel like the most portable of the projectors in this article.

The Mars II Pro comes with an inbuilt 12,500mAh battery allowing you to continuously use the projector for up to three hours. If that isn’t enough time, the projector can be plugged in using its 19V plug. The battery takes 3 hours to charge from flat.

The projector comes with a 500 lumens image that is more than sufficient for playing TV shows or movies in the evening or during the nighttime. The image quality projected from the DLP IntelliBright lens creates a sharp, colorful 720p image that may not be home cinema-quality, but will look impressive in the great outdoors.

Focussing the image is handled by the device itself as it has an autofocus capability and usually takes 1-2 seconds to do this.

The unit has dual 10W speakers, which will be more than sufficient and enjoyable. Anker hasn’t skimped in this area of the design. The unit also can be used solely as a Bluetooth speaker, with a 30 hour playback time before you will need to recharge.

The Mars II Pro has a vast range of connectivity options. There are the standard USB and HDMI ports found on modern projectors but also 802.11n WiFi as well as mobile phone mirroring capabilities. The projector has built-in YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video as well as web browser apps. Essentially, you won’t be stuck for options on how to deliver your media.

Although the projector comes with a remote control, you can download the Nebula Connect app on either your Android & iOS in order to extend the projector management capabilities. For instance, this means that you can use the onscreen keyboard on your tablet or phone to easily search for your favorite shows directly on the device.

In summary, the engineers at Anker have thought of everything when it comes to outdoor, portable projection. Yes, the Mars II Pro is the most expensive reviewed in this article however, rest assured that No corners have been cut here. It is for this reason that the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro won our Editors Choice award for a portable projector for camping. You will not be disappointed.

Full specs

Charging Time
3 hours
Music Playtime
30 hours in Bluetooth Speaker Mode
Movie Playtime
3 hours
OS
Android 7.1
Wi-Fi
802.11a/b/g/n
Speaker
Dual 10W Speakers
Battery
12, 500mAh / 3.85V
ROM
8GB eMMC
RAM
1GB DDR3
GPU
Adreno 304
CPU
Quad-Core A7 Smartphone Chipset
App
Nebula Connect for Android & iOS
Focus Adjustment
Automatic
Throw Ratio
100 in at 10.1 ft; 80 in at 8 ft; 60 in at 5.7 ft; 40 in at 3.8 ft
Aspect Ratio
16: 9
Brightness
500 ANSI lm
Native Resolution
1280 x 720 (HD)
Weight
3.94 lbs
Height
5.43 in
Width
4.8 in
Length
7 in

ViewSonic M1+

***Mid-range budget****

The ViewSonic M1+ projector is a beautiful, small, light portable projector capable of delivering a good movie experience when camping.

Although the projector is capable of supporting 1080p inputs, unfortunately, the image displayed is downscaled automatically to a 480p output. This isn’t the end of the world for an outdoor projector however, it doesn’t compare to the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro reviewed above.

With an image brightness of 300 lumens, this image will be bright enough to be seen during twilight and nighttime however if you were wanting to watch some during the early-mid evening then you might be a little disappointed at the washed-out look.

Like other portable projectors from ViewSonic, the M1+ comes with a handy arm that allows the angle of projection to be tilted upwards in a number of ways to help you find the perfect picture on the campsite. The projector also comes with an extremely useful vertical auto-keystone feature to find the correct picture display.

The projector comes with two impressive 3W Harmon Kardon speakers. As these are Harmon Kardon, you can imagine how good the sound quality will be. The sound quality is superb for a portable projector.

There is a vast array of connectivity options available, such as 1x HDMI slot, 1x Micro SD Card slot, 1x USB Type C, 1x USB Type A, Wifi, and Bluetooth. You can mirror the screen from your Android or iOS device, although there is a slight lag in this feature but not enough to be a showstopper.

The M1+ also comes with 12GB of usable internal storage. That means you can copy over plenty of your favorite TV shows and films to the projector even before you set off from home!

The projector has an inbuilt battery that is reported to deliver up to 6 hours of battery life. We found that you could get 4 hours of battery life by turning on the battery saver mode feature; however, the image brightness is turned down with this mode. In the brightest mode, the M1+ delivered just over 2 hours of video playback before running out of charge.

A slight downside to note is that the input ports are found on the side rather than the back of the device. This meant that, if the projector was connected to a laptop via an HDMI cable that was located behind the projector, the HDMI cable would begin to pull the projector around, thus distorting the image.

This could have been avoided if the ports were on the back. A workaround is to place your wired device to the side of the projector.

In conclusion, the ViewSonic M1+ is a good device, capable of delivering good video playback when used in a camping setting. Its portability, range of connectivity options, and superb internal speakers make this a compelling device to take with you on your great outdoor adventures. Although the projector isn’t as impressive as the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro reviewed above, given the price of the M1+ it packs quite a lot in for a mid-budget device. This is why it was awarded the TechChiller mid-budget portable projector for camping award.

Full spec

Native Resolution
854×480
Brightness
300 LED Lumens
Image Size
24″-100″
Throw Distance
0.64m-2.66m (38″ @1m)
Local Storage
Total 16GB (12GB available storage)
Input
HDMI x1, 1x Micro SD (32GB, SDHC), 1x USB Type C, 1x USB Type A, Wifi 802.11g/n, 1x Bluetooth
Output
Audio out (3.5mm)
Speaker
3W Cube x2

VANKYO Leisure 3W

****Tight Budget******

So if you are looking for a light, portable projector ideal for pitching outside of your tent on an incredibly tight budget, look no further than the VANKYO Leisure 3W. Just remember though that the price is this low for a reason. That said, what this projector offers for the price is pretty impressive.

Firstly, let’s talk about image quality. With a reported luminosity of 50 lumens, this projector is only going to be used during the night time to be able to see the picture fully. As this projector isn’t bright, we wouldn’t recommend projecting this against a darkish colored material such as your tent canvas. Ensure that it is something quite light or ideally white.

Once the sky is sufficiently dark, the colors that the Vankyo presents are quite impressive given the price of the unit.

Although the VANKYO Leisure 3W product specs state that the projector is capable of supporting a 1080p image, this is only during the video input aspects. The projector will actually downscale the image to an 800 x 480 resolution, so please don’t expect to create an outdoor cinema with this projector.

The connectivity options available are quite impressive as it comes with the usual HDMI, VGA, and USB ports. The USB port allows the playing of media via external storage.

The VANKYO Leisure 3W also supports screen sharing with both iOS and Android phones and tablets. Although this only works by being on the same WiFi so you are probably going to struggle with this when out on the road.
A nice surprise was that the projector runs an OS called Koala TV which includes the YouTube app which will keep you entertained if you tether the projector with your phone.

A major downside, when compared to the other projectors reviewed in this article, is that it doesn’t come with an inbuilt battery. Therefore, you will have to find a way of powering this via the usual DC-in port. There are ways around this with the use of external PowerBanks but you will need to check that it is compatible prior to leaving for the great outdoors.

The projector chassis itself is well made. It’s light in weight, small and portable. In fact, it comes with its own carry case which is very useful. This projector is ideal to throw in the back of the car before going on your camping trip (actually, maybe don’t throw it!).

The sound quality from the 2W inbuilt speaker is ok given the price of the device however it doesn’t have much bass which leaves the audio playback sounding quite tinny.

There are two physical dials near the lens; one for focus and one for the vertical keystone which is very important given the fact that the options open to you on a campsite probably aren’t going to lend themselves to orientating a projector perfectly. As these aren’t automatic functions, Vankyo has cut a corner here to keep the price down but that is to be expected.

In conclusion, this definitely isn’t the most feature-rich and accomplished projector but that isn’t the point. Vankyo has created a superb will projector for people who don’t require the full movie experience that you get with other devices such as the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro. However, if all you want is something simple and affordable and are willing to forget about the device’s shortcomings, the VANKYO Leisure 3W is for you and that is why TechChiller believes that this is the best portable projector for camping trips if you are on a tight budget.

Full specs

Display Technology
LCD
Light source
LED
Resolution
800 x 480 (native)
Aspect Ratio
4:3/16:9/Auto
Speaker
2W
Dimensions
7.8 x 5.9 x 2.7 inch
Unit weight
0.9kg
Ports
1x HDMI, 1x USB A, 1x VGA, 1x AV in, 1x Audio out, 1x TF card slot

Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector

The Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector is an excellent choice for campers who really need to travel light but still carry some large display media entertainment.

When Vamvo named this projector their Ultra Mini Portable Projector, they weren’t kidding. This device is the size of a mobile phone and can easily fit in the palm of your hands. The device is 5.8 x 3 x 0.9 inches in size.

It also weighs just 0.6 lbs. You can therefore add this to your kit bag and you wouldn’t think that you were hiking around with a projector on your person.

The device is capable of 1080p input sources however the device will downscale these to a native resolution of 800 x 480. That said, the image looks fantastic and the colors are beautiful.

The device has a brightness of 1800 lumens so you’ll definitely want to watch your favorite movies or TV shows either during dusk or nightfall.

This tiny device is capable of creating quite large images with ease that is more than enough for a family to enjoy a movie night. The projector can display a picture of up to 100 inches without the picture becoming slightly blurred.

Speaking of blurriness, the Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector comes with a manual dial near the lens to alter the focus.

Setup couldn’t be easier as the projector comes with its own mini tripod which prevents the projector from moving and also offers multiple angles to get the best picture against your chosen outdoor backdrop. To help with this the device has an inbuilt automatic keystone feature.

The Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector comes with an inbuilt 5200 mAh battery that offers a realistic video playback time of approximately 2 hours on a single charge. It’s also possible to plug the projector directly into a mains socket if one is available.
There is plenty of connectivity options as the device has the usual ports such as an aux audio out jack, 1x HDMI, USB A, and a Micro SD card slot. The projector runs its own OS which comes preinstalled with a Netflix and Youtube app.

In conclusion, the Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector has decent all-around performance for camping enthusiasts that want to take some home comforts with them. The device won’t break the bank either which means that is a very attractive proposition. Unfortunately, we feel that the 2-hour battery life could be a problem if you want to watch a movie so we at TechChiller would recommend upgrading to the Anker Nebula Mars II Pro.