As a backpacker, you know the importance of being prepared for any situation. And that means having a backup plan if your main source of power fails. A solar charger is a perfect way to keep your devices powered up while on the go. But with so many options available, how do you know which one is right for you?
This blog will help you choose the best solar charger for your needs. We’ll take a look at some of the most important factors to consider, and review some of the top-rated models on the market. So whether you’re looking for a compact charger that can fit in your pocket or a powerful model that can keep your devices running all day long, we’ve got you covered.
Read on to find the best solar charger for your needs, or check out this buying guide from Charged if you need a little extra help.
What Type Of Solar Panel Do You Need?
Solar chargers come in a variety of styles and shapes, ranging from small portable units to large foldable panels that can be strapped to the outside of your backpack. They also vary in power, with some providing enough juice to fully charge a smartphone or other small device, while others are meant to keep your gear running for long periods or even indefinitely.
Here are some of the factors that determine what type of solar charger you need:
#1 Size And Weight
If you’re looking for a more portable option, you’ll want to look at smaller lightweight solar chargers. They are generally easier to strap onto the top of your pack or attach to the outside with clips and carabiners. This can make it easier to hike around while still having access to an external power source. But keep in mind that these chargers will not provide nearly as much power as larger options, so you won’t be able to charge multiple devices at the same time. They are also more expensive than external panels, but they are still cheaper than many AC-powered options on the market.
#2 Capacity And Charging Speed
How long do you plan to be away from an outlet? If you are spending several days in the wilderness without easy access to power, you’ll need a more powerful solar panel that can keep your gear charged for long periods. You’ll also want to look at how quickly it can charge different devices. Some panels offer two USB ports while others have larger DC connections. Keep in mind that the type of solar panels you would use to charge a smartphone may not be strong enough to power your laptop, so don’t count on just one device as a backup for long periods.
#3 Types Of Clamps Or Adapters
Do you have multiple devices that need charging? If so, look for a solar charger that can accommodate your entire backup battery. Many models come with built-in adapters, while others provide multiple options for different devices. For example, some may come with a USB port and micro USB adapter for smartphones (but if you need to charge an iPhone, you’ll need to look at the specific model). Other chargers have built-in carabiners that allow them to clip onto the outside of your pack, but they may not have an external adapter. Internal adapters can also wear out over time and need to be replaced.
#4 Power Source And Portability
Solar chargers use sunlight as their main power source. This means you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing a solar charger that can keep your devices running under cloudy conditions. Look for models with built-in storage batteries, like the Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer, which is rated to work even in low light conditions and automatically stores power in its battery during times of high sunlight.
Other chargers require you to connect your devices before connecting the panel, like the SUNLABZ Y-Charge. Some solar panels include a storage battery that allows you to charge up in advance and provides extra power during times of low sun.
#5 Ease Of Use And Repair
When you’re backpacking through an area with no cell service or other human contact, being able to easily fix a problem is a vital skill. Look for solar chargers that are well-built and durable but easy to open or take apart if something breaks. You’ll also want to look at how long it takes to set up your panel – if you have limited sunlight, you won’t want to spend a lot of time trying to get your devices charged.
Your top solar backpack charging choices should be dependable and easy to use, without too many bells and whistles that could break or get in the way when you’re on the trail. This includes AC or DC compatibility, storage batteries, and built-in adapters for different devices. You’ll want a fast setup that can charge multiple backup batteries in a short period of time if necessary.
Reviews of the best solar charger for backpacking
The Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Charger is our top pick for portable solar panels, combining a compact design with excellent performance and dependability. It comes with two USB ports to charge small electronic devices like smartphones, as well as an 8-watt AC inverter for powering laptops or other larger equipment. The Nomad 5’s small size and weight (14 ounces) make it perfect for backpacking or weekend trips. The built-in kickstand on the device’s solar panel enables you to position your panels on top of a backpack or attach it to a tree, handlebar, or tent – making it easy to capture even on the go. Simply attach your device to the Nomad 5’s USB port, flip open the panels, and set it out in direct sunlight. Other notable features of this product include its ability to hold a charge for up to six months when stored inside your home, as well as the fact that Nomad panels are compatible with other Goal Zero products so you can add a storage battery if you’d like.
The Anker 21W 2-Port USB Solar Charger is our choice for the best value, combining a solar panel with one of the smallest and lightest designs on the market at 7 ounces. It also comes with an 18-month warranty, which is double the industry standard. The solar panel itself is constructed from a premium monocrystalline silicon material that can produce an output of 3 amps per port – enough for a fast charge on a smartphone, tablet, or other small electronic devices. You can also attach multiple panels together to expand your charging capability.
The Anker 21W 2-Port USB Solar Charger is best for charging USB devices, like smartphones and tablets. It’s much cheaper than other models that can charge larger electronic items using an AC outlet or DC port.
Anker 21W 2-Port USB Solar Charger Unboxing & Setup
The Lixada 10-Watt Portable Solar Charger is a good option for anyone looking for a budget model that can still provide quick and easy charging of small electronic devices. The panel comes with a built-in monocrystalline solar panel, as well as a large pouch to store the panels when not in use. This product is best for charging devices directly, rather than powering larger items like laptops or phone chargers. It can also withstand extreme conditions down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a good choice for outdoor use year-round.
The Dizaul Solar Charger is a 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank that is waterproof/shockproof/dustproof. It is a dual USB battery bank compatible with smartphones and can charge iPhones, Samsungs, Android Phones, Windows Phones, and GoPros.
The Dizaul Solar Charger is made of ABS plastic and PC material, which makes it waterproof/shockproof/dustproof. At the same time, its tough design protects well against scratches, bumps, and drops. The high-quality polymer battery cells make it powerful yet safe for your daily use. It features an ultra-bright built-in LED flashlight by simply clicking on/off through the switch.
The compact size (7.08*3.27*0.98inch) makes it easy to carry around while traveling while its dual USB ports (5V/1A and 5V/2A) let you charge two devices at the same time, which is very suitable for outdoor activities like camping, travel, and hiking.
The Dizaul Solar Charger can absorb solar energy to charge your devices anytime and anywhere under the sun. Its dual input (Micro USB and Lightning), ensure you can get enough power in emergency situations when there is no access to wall chargers or sunlight. This product is solar-powered, eco-friendly and cost-effective.
My name is Alex Landry and I am an experienced solar PV engineer and an editor here at Tru Solar Score. I am an accomplished solar PV expert with over 12 years of installing off-grid solar systems in various states in the US. Between 2015 and 2019, I led a small team of energy audit analysts for a company based out of Oregon. I currently run this site full-time and when I am not testing a new solar PV product in the market, I am offering customized consulting on solar systems installations. You can reach me directly using firstname.lastname@example.org