Reviews

Best Solar Chargers For Backpacking (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

The best solar chargers to carry with you when you’re far from power sources.

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON March 15, 2021

When you’re backpacking, you need to carry only the necessities — but since you’ll be trekking out into nature, far from all of the comforts of home, you need to make sure you’re carrying items that offer a lot of value for their size. A solar charger is the perfect trail companion. Slim and compact, a solar charger will fit into any pack without adding much weight, and it gives you critical versatility when you’re camping out in new places. A single solar charger can recharge your phone, your GPS, and even other gadgets. And you can easily recharge the charger itself while you’re hiking, exploring, or hanging out at your campsite. Check out the products we’ve picked as the best solar chargers for backpacking right here.

Best Overall
Blavor Solar Power Bank
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Summary
Summary

A highly durable solar power bank that includes handy features just for backpacking.

Pros
Pros
  • Compatible with many phones
  • Two flashlights and a compass are built-in
  • IPX4 waterproof
Cons
Cons
  • Rubber port covers can weaken or rip with use
Best Overall
Blavor Solar Power Bank
Best Value
Elzle Portable Charger Power Bank
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Summary
Summary

An affordable solar power bank with smart charging and special outdoor-ready features.

Pros
Pros
  • Charges two devices at once
  • Protected against dust and dirt
  • Extra bright 6 LED flashlight
Cons
Cons
  • Solar panel can malfunction
Best Value
Elzle Portable Charger Power Bank
Honorable Mention
BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Charger
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Summary
Summary

A high-quality solar charger that packs multiple panels and more ports without taking up much space.

Pros
Pros
  • More panels for more power, faster charging
  • Uses smart charging technology
  • Works with phones, cameras, and more
Cons
Cons
  • May not get as many watts as it claims
Honorable Mention
BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Charger
Solar Chargers For Backpacking Close Up
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Benefits of Solar Charger For Backpacking

  • Compact and lightweight. Solar chargers are the perfect backpacking companions thanks to their compact, lightweight design. These devices are small enough to stash in any backpack, and many include hooks so they can hang off your pack. They won’t weigh you down, a critical detail when you’re trying to fit everything you need outdoors  on your back.
  • Unlimited power. With a solar charger, you’ll never have to worry about recharging your power source. Thanks to the solar panels on these specialized chargers and power banks, you can simply place your charger in the sunlight to get more power. It’ll recharge any time it’s exposed to sunlight, with no need to plug into electricity.
  • Significant charging capacity. Solar chargers offer wide-ranging capacities. Some offer 10,000 mAh while others offer up to 26,000 mAh or more. This gives you plenty of power to recharge your smartphone multiple times. However, it also provides enough of a capacity to charge multiple devices or larger devices, like tablets, cameras, and more.
  • Outdoors-ready durability. Because many solar chargers are built specifically for outdoor use in activities like backpacking, hiking, camping, and even fishing, these devices are quite durable. Many are dust- and dirt-proof with protected charging ports, while others are waterproof. It’s also common for these devices to be impact- or shock-proof, protecting you in the event of drops and falls.

Types of Solar Chargers For Backpacking

Panel-Only Chargers

A panel-only solar charger is the simplest kind you’ll find — it’s merely a compact set of solar panels. It can be a single panel or a fold-out collection of panels that can collapse easily. These solar panels can be used with a wide variety of different chargers, storage batteries, and devices to provide solar power while you’re on the go outdoors. The biggest disadvantage is that while a panel-only charger collects sun power, it has to be connected to something to use that power.

Panel and Integrated Battery Chargers

A panel and integrated battery solar charger is the most common type available. These devices look like your typical battery-based portable power bank, but they feature solar panels on the exterior. It’s an all-in-one device, which makes these solar chargers incredibly convenient. All you have to do is plug your devices in to recharge — the solar panel will add power in daylight, and all of that power is automatically stored in the integrated battery.

Panel and Independent Battery Chargers

A panel and independent battery charger is like a panel and integrated battery charger, but there’s one big difference. The solar panel and the battery pack can be separated from one another. This can be beneficial if you want more versatility. For example, you can remove the solar panels and use them on certain generators; you can also remove the battery and carry it as a backup power source without bringing the solar panels along.

Top Brands

BigBlue

A consumer electronics company that was first founded in 2015, BigBlue offers a wide array of different products for everyday needs, including backpacking-friendly solar products like the BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Charger. With a focus on new technology, you can trust that BigBlue products will survive both the outdoors and all of your charging needs. 

Blavor

Since 2001, Blavor has created innovative, high-tech products made just for mobile power. With a selection of products made for your charging needs and portability, items like the Blavor Solar Power Bank are perfect for packing when you’re headed far from home and sources of electricity. 

Solar Charger For Backpacking Pricing

  • Under $30: There are a wealth of solar chargers priced at less than $30, including high-capacity options. Most within this price range are compact, slim power bank-style devices. 
  • $30 and up: If you’re willing to spend more than $30, you’ll be within the price range of top-tier, high-capacity solar chargers. You’ll find options with more panels, more power, and even more features.

Key Features

Large Solar Panel Surface Area

If you want a solar charger that works when you need it and is effective at harnessing the sun’s power, you want to choose a device with a large solar panel surface area. The larger the solar panels (or the area they cover), the more sunlight those panels will be able to collect. Larger panel surface area also helps a charger turn sunlight into power faster. So, if you want the most bang for your buck, you want to go bigger.

High Wattage

The wattage of a charger’s solar panels is also an important factor. While it might not seem critical, it’s a measurement that tells you how much electricity a charger’s solar panels can generate. The higher the wattage, the more electricity the panels will generate — meaning you’ll get more power at a faster speed. If you have power-hungry devices or opt for a charger with smaller solar panels, look for a higher wattage.

Multiple Charging Ports

Multiple charging ports mean a charger offers more versatility and convenience. Sure, one charging port will do the trick when you’re outdoors (and not on your smartphone all day long). But choosing a charger with multiple ports gives you the ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously. It also means you can share your charger’s power with others if needed. 

Large Battery Capacity

All of the power your solar charger collects is useless if the included battery can’t store it all. That’s why a large battery capacity is an important feature. A battery’s capacity tells you how much it can store for you to use for your devices. While many solar chargers offer about 10,000 mAh capacities, you can find larger options — some up to 26,800 mAh. If you’re planning long backpacking trips or simply need more power, a larger capacity is a must.

Other Considerations

  • Waterproof Rating. While many solar chargers claim they’re outdoors-ready with waterproofing, it’s important to check whether or not a charger is carrying a waterproof rating. Some are merely water-resistant; so, make sure the charger you choose features an “IPX” rating to show how well it will hold up in wet conditions. 
  • Shockproof Construction. To ensure your solar charger will work no matter what happens while you’re exploring the great outdoors, make sure you choose a shockproof model. With shockproof construction, you’ll be able to drop, toss, and even take a serious fall with your charger — and it should still survive. Because these events can easily happen while backpacking, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Hooks. While this might seem like a small detail, having a hook or set of hooks attached to your solar charger can be particularly helpful while backpacking. They allow you to hang the solar charger (or just the panels) from your backpack while you’re hiking or hanging out in the sun, offering a convenient way to recharge.

Best Solar Chargers For Backpacking Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Blavor Solar Power Bank

The Blavor Solar Power Bank is an all-around excellent solar charger, one that you’ll be able to rely on over many miles of backpacking. This charger offers just the right capacity — 10,000 mAh of power — and includes all kinds of protection against outdoor elements. Constructed from premium ABS material and powered by a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, this little charger is compact enough for any pack yet tough enough for dirt, dust, and more. It features two USB charging ports plus dual built-in flashlights and a compass, extra features that can come in handy while you’re camping. Even though it’s small in size the exterior solar panels can capture plenty of power, though you’ll want to keep in mind that recharging the battery does take some time via solar. And this solar charger is Qi wireless capable, meaning it’ll work with smartphones and other Qi-enabled devices. 

Best Value
Elzle Portable Charger Power Bank

If you’re looking for a good mix of power and price, the Elzle Portable Charger Power Bank is a great choice. This affordably-priced solar charger offers 15,000 mAh of power, all bundled in a small and lightweight package. And when you’re outdoors, you’ll love how this two-in-one charger performs. It features built-in 5-volt 1A and 2.1A USB ports, which allows you to charge one or two devices quickly. You’ll enjoy protection against issues like over-current and over-voltage, and the charger will work with all smartphones, most tablets, and other electronic devices. It’s even well-equipped for outdoor adventures, with a durable ABS build that’s dust-proof and well-protected. The charger comes with a lanyard so you can hang or carry it from your wrist, and a carabiner clip allows you to attach it to your pack for great sun exposure.

Premium Pick
BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Charger

The BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Charger is truly a top-tier choice. This solar charger gives you so much more than a basic power bank — it offers more solar panels over a larger surface area, more charging ports, and more capacity and efficiency. Lightweight and compact, this charger weighs just 20.6 ounces and the four solar panels can be folded or unfolded as needed. Three 5-volt, 2.4-amp USB ports mean you can charge three devices simultaneously, and the charger uses smart charging technology to recognize different devices and provide the optimal charging speed. The solar panels attached to the charger are highly efficient, converting between 21.5 to 23.5 percent of the sun’s power into energy with 28 watts. And they’re tough enough to survive everything from rain to fog to dust thanks to their PET polymer surface and rubber cover.

Fastest Charging
Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Solar Charger

If you want to recharge your gadgets fast while you’re far from home, the Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Solar Charger is the perfect device to bring along when backpacking. It’s a high-capacity power bank that recharges itself with solar power, featuring four foldable solar panels with high efficiency that’s four to six times faster than competing products. The built-in lithium polymer battery offers a 25,000 mAh capacity, meaning you’ll have enough power to recharge a smartphone 8-10 times. And two 2.1A USB ports let you charge two devices at the same time using the charger’s high-speed charging technology. You’ll also love how rugged and tough this solar charger is. It’s dust-, shock-, and waterproof thanks to its durable casing. There’s also a built-in LED flashlight with nine different modes and an included hook for easy hanging.

Honorable Mention
Riapow Solar Charger

It’s possible to enjoy wireless charging while you’re backpacking — you just need the Riapow Solar Charger. This advanced solar charging device can offer wireless charging that requires no cables, no wires, and no extra equipment. And that means you can carry less with you when you’re keeping your backpacking trip light. Able to support all Qi-enabled smartphones and devices, this charger offers inductive charging and an impressive 26,800 mAh ultra-high capacity. When full, it provides enough power for up to eight days. Featuring four USB ports, you can charge four different devices at the same time at quick speeds. It’ll even automatically detect each device type to provide just the right charging speed and power. Of course, this portable solar charger is also outdoor-ready, thanks to its sturdy construction and durable design.

Honorable Mention
Addtop Solar Charger

Solar power can be somewhat slow, but the Addtop Solar Charger allows you to enjoy almost the same recharging speed as a traditional power bank. With its great efficiency and powerful solar panels, which offer 92.5 watts, this charger can completely refill its power with 88 percent of the efficiency of any other power bank. And it’ll keep all of your devices and gadgets powered up while you’re backpacking with its large 25,000 mAh capacity. Featuring four foldable solar panels, this little charger is about the same size as an iPhone X. It’s equipped with two USB ports for dual device charging, and it includes all of the protections you need like overheating and over-charging protection. It also works as a flashlight, thanks to its built-in LED light. And you can easily attach the whole solar charger to your pack’s exterior, collecting sunlight while you hike.

Honorable Mention
Feelle Solar Charger

The Feelle Solar Charger is a fantastic option if you want a portable charger that’s built for the outdoors. It offers excellent durability, but it also works wonderfully fast. With three foldable solar panels, this little charger offers three times the speed when charging up via solar power compared to most competing products. It offers a maximum 4.5-watt output when in direct sunlight, gathering more solar power per panel. It’s even designed to attach to your backpack so you can effortlessly collect solar energy while you hike. When it comes to capacity, the battery paired with the solar panels offers 24,000 mAh of power. Two USB charging ports offer smart charging technology, automatically detecting different devices to offer just the right charging speed and capacity. It’s also widely compatible, and you can plug in smartphones, tablets, GPS devices, digital cameras, and more for a charge.

Honorable Mention
Aonidi Solar Charger

The Aonidi Solar Charger combines two of the most important features into one easy-to-carry charger: a ton of capacity for charging and fantastic long-term durability. It’s a great backpacking, camping, or hiking companion, with a 26,800 mAh capacity that’ll recharge some smartphones up to 12 times at full capacity. Offering 15-watt fast charging and three USB ports, this single solar charger can charge three devices simultaneously, automatically detecting the right current for each device for speedy recharging. In addition to its solar panels, this charger also features a body that’s made from premium fireproof materials with a high level of durability. It’s dustproof and shockproof, and it’s even rated IPX6 waterproof so the charger can survive just about anything outdoors. Backpackers will also love the super-bright LED emergency flashlight on the backside of the charger, which can save you space and eliminate the need for a full flashlight.

Honorable Mention
Nekteck Solar Panel Charger

Constructed with three slim yet highly efficient solar panels and smart yet small internal chips, the Nekteck Solar Panel Charger is powerful and effective, compact yet great at its job. And it’s all packed in a durable container. The solar panels, which are monocrystalline panels, offer a conversion efficiency between 21 and 24 percent. They feature a PET polymer cover plus an IPX4 waterproof rating to ensure they’ll last throughout all the challenges of being outdoors. After hours in the sun, all of the energy the panels have collected is directed to its two 3.0A USB ports, which can charge two devices at the same time. The charger uses advanced smart IC chip technology or microchips that recharge whatever’s plugged in quickly and safely. In all, the solar charger measures just 6.3 x 11.1 x 1.06 inches in size when the panels are folded.

Honorable Mention
IEsafy Solar Charger

If you have a lot of devices in need of power or are planning a lengthy backpacking trip, you’ll want to make sure you bring the IEsafy Solar Charger along with you. This charger is compact, but it packs an impressive 26,800 mAh capacity — enough power to recharge an iPhone up to 10 times. It’s a great choice for larger devices too. You’ll get renewable, on-the-go power from the four foldable solar panels. You can charge both your devices and the power bank itself at the same time thanks to these panels. Two USB charging ports, both of which utilize smart charging technology, automatically select the right charging speed for any electronic gadget you plug in. When it comes to durability, this charger is rated IP65 waterproof, which means it can survive everything from rain and snow to moisture and humidity.

Tips

  • A solar charger’s capacity can tell you how it handles devices of different sizes. If you need to charge more than your smartphone, you’ll likely need a bigger capacity for larger devices.
  • Solar chargers aren’t just for smartphones. They can work with some backpacking or camping gear too, like GPS devices or lanterns and flashlights with rechargeable batteries. 
  • For the ultimate flexibility, opt for a solar charger that allows you to remove the solar panels. That way, you can attach the panels for multiple solar devices and even bring them anywhere, getting a charge in daylight without having to carry the battery.

FAQs

Q: Do solar phone chargers work?

Solar chargers do work for smartphones. They’re basically like any other power bank — but you can recharge the battery itself via sunlight instead of plugging it into a wall outlet.

Q: What is the best solar charger for camping?

We like the Blavor Solar Power Bank, which is a great choice for backpacking, camping, or any outdoor needs. 

Q: How do you charge your phone while backpacking?

A solar charger is perfect for charging your phone while far from electricity. All you have to do is plug your smartphone into the charging ports on the charger, and it’ll power back up.

Q: What should I look for when buying a solar charger?

The most important features to look at are the size of the solar panels, their wattage, the battery’s capacity, and the number of charging ports. These features will help you decide if a solar charger offers enough power and versatility for your needs. 

Final Thoughts

The Blavor Solar Power Bank is our top pick for a solar charger that’s backpacking-friendly, with great durability and plenty of features. Another excellent product option is the Elzle Portable Charger Power Bank, which offers an affordable price and great reliability. Which solar charger do you carry while backpacking? Let us know below.