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.
A highly durable solar power bank that includes handy features just for backpacking.
- Compatible with many phones
- Two flashlights and a compass are built-in
- IPX4 waterproof
- Rubber port covers can weaken or rip with use
An affordable solar power bank with smart charging and special outdoor-ready features.
- Charges two devices at once
- Protected against dust and dirt
- Extra bright 6 LED flashlight
- Solar panel can malfunction
A high-quality solar charger that packs multiple panels and more ports without taking up much space.
- More panels for more power, faster charging
- Uses smart charging technology
- Works with phones, cameras, and more
- May not get as many watts as it claims
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.