Many of us can no longer survive without mains electricity for a whole trip. It’s hard to live without a charged phone to contact friends and family, a go pro or camera to take pictures of a stunning hike, or a GPS to find your way. But instead of having to stay at an ugly RV park, to hook up to the mains electricity there, there’s a modern, eco-friendly solution, perfectly suited to even the most adventurous backcountry and primitive camping trips. And it’s found in the best solar panels for camping.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
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And here’s an overview of the best solar panels for camping on the market today:
Which solar panels will suit my needs?
For camping with solar panels, first of all you need to work out what size panel, or panels, you need. Off-grid panels are available in all shapes, sizes and structures. From flexi-panels that mold to the roof of your RV or trailer, to rigid panels and even foldable panels that can be erected when you set up camp and folded away again at the end of the day. Many of the options we have reviewed are really backpacking solar panels. You can attach them to your backpack as you hike, and charge your devices on the go.
The size of the panel you need depends on what you are aiming to get out of it. For the smaller tasks, such as trickle charging a power bank, a 5W or 10W would be enough. However, if you use your battery to power a portable speaker, a tablet or a smartphone, then you should look at a 50W to 80W panel to replenish the spent energy used up.
For larger lighting rigs and water pumps for your daily camp shower, you should aim to reach at least 100W worth of solar panels. For the larger RVs, where you would have all of these appliances plus a 24h fridge, you should have around 150-200W worth of solar panels to ensure enough charge: perhaps by using two or three solar panels on the roof. We’ve reviewed 6 solar panels on Amazon, ranging from the cheapest and smallest, to the more expensive and heavy duty. All in all, there’s a solar panel here to suit any camping trip!
6 Best Solar Panels for Camping – Overview
1. Solar Phone Charger 10.000mAh Power Bank-Portable Smartphone & iPhone Battery + Emergency Flashlight–(2) USB Ports+(4) Foldable Solar Panels
- 🔑NEVER RUN OUT OF BATTERY AGAIN thanks to the iBose premium solar battery charger which features 4 x solar panels and a huge 10.000mAh battery that will help you recharge your iPhone iPad...
This solar panel by iBose has a unique, concertina design, that is attached to an iPhone case. 4 solar panels fold up to the size of the phone, for ultimate portability. This design of solar panel is unique and makes this product stand out from the crowd. The 4 foldable solar panels are equipped with 4 monocrystalline solar panels (total 3.5W) for higher solar power absorption. It’s also now just over $40, a third of its original price, so get them while they’re hot!
But despite its unique design, that fits with your iPhone, it doesn’t just charge that product. You can also use this power bank to charge GoPros, Samsung, iPad Mini’s, GPS, or wireless speaker, and the list goes on! One great feature of this dual-USB solar power phone charger is the Smart IC technology. This automatically identifies your mobile phone, digital camera or any other device and adjusts its charging speed in order to prevent overcharging or short circuit; meaning you can have one charger for all your devices.
With its huge 10.000mAh Li-Polymer Battery, this model is a great option if you’re looking for a combination of portability and power. Another benefit of this model is that it comes with Dual USB 2.1 Solar Quick Charging Ports, so you can charge two devices in lightning quick time. This is a fantastic option if you’re going primitive or backcountry camping, as you can charge your devices anywhere, the product is also waterproof to suit any climate or weather condition, and it also has an emergency torch.
- 10.000mAh Li-Polymer Battery
- Smart IC technology adjusts its charging speed in order to prevent over-charging or short circuit
- Can charge multiple devices
- Emergency torch
- Unique concertina design makes it uber portable
- The cables sometimes need to be replaced
- May be more suited for AC charging
2. iClever USB Solar Charger 8000mah Solar Battery Pack Single Port with 12W Sunpower Panel for iPhone X / 8/7 / 7 Plus / 6S / 6 Plus, iPad Pro Air/Mini and Other Cellphone, Tablet
- [2 Way to Recharge This Power Bank- Both Solar and USB Rechargable]: Unlike other no-battery solar panel charger in the market, we adopt a built-in 8000mAh battery which can be recharged within 8...
Some camping solar panels on the market don’t come with a battery: they use the power from the sun directly to charge your phone. These models can sometimes be a bit unreliable, as you cannot always guarantee you’ll get consistent, strong sunlight. However, models like these have an inbuilt battery. The great thing about this feature is that you can attach the solar panel to your backpack as you’re hiking, so the battery can charge during the day, and then you can use it to charge your devices once you reach your campsite. This built-in 8000mAh battery can be recharged within 8 hours under strong sunlight or by USB Charger.
In terms of charging, this product is really heavy duty. It has a high conversion efficiency. This means that, with its’ sunpower mono-crystalline solar panel, this solar charger has a 28%-30% high conversion rate: meaning it will provide you with 12W of power for recharging the external battery, while you work on your device simultaneously! This product is also built to protect your devices. The SmartID port detects your device intelligently and offers the maximum charge current allowed by your device and stable 5V voltage, to avoid overcharging or short circuit.
With outdoors gear, it’s always necessary to consider the durability of the product. It will need to withstand multiple trips into nature, in different seasons and weather conditions, and days being lugged around in your backpack. This solar panel is designed to withstand all the elements, temperatures, rain or dust: it has a wide temperature range of -20℃ to 80℃, is IP63 water-resistant, and is housed in a dust-proof canvas case. Another benefit of this model for backpackers is that it comes with eyeholes, so you can easily hook it to your backpack or tent to charge.
- Can recharge the battery in 8 hours under normal sunshine
- Compact and portable, the same size as a tablet
- Heavy-duty material built for the great outdoors
- 28%-30% high conversion rate, double that of some other models
- The cord does not fit an iPhone 6
- Isn’t that sturdy as a stand
- Have to rotate/ move it for optimum solar charging
3. RAVPower Solar Charger 24W Solar Panel with 3 USB Ports Waterproof Foldable Camping Travel Charger Compatible iPhone Xs XS Max XR X 8 7 Plus, iPad, Galaxy S9 S8 Note 8 and More, Black
This model by RAVPower is another different design of solar panel for camping. It’s half the weight of similar solar chargers but equal in power so you can bring it anywhere. It folds up to a small rectangle, but when folded out, it can be configured as a 3D pentagon-shaped solar panel, able to fully catch the sun’s rays at different angles.
This model will charge your devices very quickly. Its 24W solar charging technology increases the efficiency of charging by up to 21.5% – 23.5% compared to some other models. It also has three ports, so this is a much better option for you over the last two models if you’re going camping with a group, or have multiple devices you want to charge while you’re camping. Similarly to the other models, this solar panel has iSmart technology, which means the right amount of charge is delivered to your device to avoid overcharging or short circuit.
This product is a great option for solo backpackers. Unlike the other models, it has a handy pocket for the cables and your devices. It covers the whole of your backpack as you’re hiking, optimizing the amount of energy you can harness from the sun. We wouldn’t recommend this for use on campsites: you have to be careful not to set this product up on rocks, sand or concrete, otherwise, it can overheat. It’s much better used on your backpack, to conveniently charge your devices as you hike throughout the day.
- 24W solar charging technology increases the efficiency of charging by up to 21.5% – 23.5%
- 3D pentagon-shaped solar panel
- Can cover your backpack and charge as you hike
- Super light and portable
- Has a handy pocket for the cables and your devices
- 3 charging points
- Can’t set it up on rocks, sand or concrete, otherwise it can overheat
- Better used for backpacking
- Could be more water-resistant
4. Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel
- The Nomad 7 will directly charge most USB and 12V devices (not tablets). Most handheld USB devices, including: Cell phone, smart phone, GPS, MP3 player
This solar panel by Goal Zero is a rugged solution, ideally suited for outdoor adventures. It’s totally weather-resistant, and has 9 super useful ties on the outside, which means you can attach it to your backpack: it will not only charge your devices as you’re hiking, but also protect your backpack and belongings from a light rain. It folds down to a similar size and shape to a tablet or iPad, making this a really portable, light option.
With this product you can use the USB and 12V ports at the same time, to charge most USB and 12V devices. Don’t be fooled by the design though: this product can’t charge tablets. However, you can charge more than one device at one time. The Nomad 7 splits the incoming solar power between the two ports to charge devices simultaneously. And it charges fast. In about 4 hours of direct sunlight, this solar panel can fully charge your smartphone.
If you want to buy a whole tech set for the great outdoors, then this product is perfect to use with the following devices: Goal Zero Switch 8 & 10 Recharger, Flip 10 & 20 Recharger, Guide 10 Plus Recharger, Venture 30, Rock Out Portable Speakers, and Lighthouse Lanterns. You could charge a party with this solar panel and associated products, making it a great option for a group.
- Quick charge
- Rugged, weatherproof design
- Lots of attached loops, so you can attach it to your backpack with ease
- Works with most USB and 12V devices
- Collects an impressive 7 watts from the sun
- Doesn’t charge tablets
- Works best with Goal Zero products and rechargers
5. Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- TECHNOLOGY - Advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet minimizations enhance cell performance and provide a longer service life. Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame allows extended...
If you’re going car camping, or heading out into the great outdoors with your RV, then a more permanent, less portable, option of solar panel might suit you better. High in power but sleek and compact in size, this 100W solar panel is the perfect item for off-grid applications. Use it for your RV when camping, or during beach trips with the family, to power your group trip.
This product is easy to mount and set up in multiple ways and places: pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel allow for fast mounting and securing. There are also pre-drilled holes included for grounding. It’s compatible with different Renogy mounting systems such as z-brackets, pole mounts, and tilt mounts.
The main selling point of this product really though, is in the durability of the materials. With a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame, this solar panel will last you years of outdoors usage. You can be certain that it will stand the test of time, even decades. Especially with the advanced technology developed by Renogy: advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet minimizations enhance cell performance and provide a longer service life.
These hardy solar panels are the perfect option to make your trusty RV an eco-RV. Each panel weighs over 16 pounds, so you obviously won’t take this product with you as a backpacker, but for large groups who aren’t hiking for long distances, this could be your best bet. You can even use it at home, to make your urban life more eco-friendly too!
- Perfectly suited for RV off-grid camping
- Very durable materials and design
- 100W solar panel power output
- Lasts for decades
- You can’t get a true 100 watts from each panel, consider buying more than one
6. Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger, PowerPort Solar for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro/Air 2 / Mini, Galaxy S7 / S6 / Edge/Plus, Note 5/4, LG, Nexus, HTC and More
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This is the most expensive product we’re reviewing, but if you’re looking to invest in really reliable tech then Anker is a great company to consider. They produce incredibly high-quality products, for low prices, considering the materials they use. One feature of this solar panel, which makes it ideal for outdoors usage, is the durability of the materials. The industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels are sewn into a rugged polyester canvas. This weather-resistant product will last you all of your outdoors adventures, whether rain or shine.
This solar panel is also really powerful. It offers fast charging technology, that really makes the most of any minute of sunlight. Anker’s PowerIQ technology delivers the fastest possible charge up to 2.1 amps under direct sunlight. 15W SunPower solar array is 21.5-23.5% efficient, which is a lot more than the average camping solar panel, which is usually at about 15%. Thus, this product provides enough power to charge two devices simultaneously, without needing an extra battery.
If you’re a backpacker or hiker, then this is the ideal solution for you. It has a really compact size (11 × 6.3 in. when folded, and 18.1 × 11 in. when opened) and elastic loops on each corner allow easy attachment to backpacks, trees or tents. It even has reinforced holes at the corners too, so you can attach it firmly to trees or kit with a carabiner. This product is super lightweight at only 13.2 oz, and has an ultra-thin design (0.7 in. when folded, and 0.2 in. when opened). But it’s large enough unfolded, to cover your entire backpack, giving you reliable charger on the go, no matter how remote your location, and protecting your backpack from the elements too!
- Industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels
- 15 wattage SunPower solar array has high efficiency
- Provides enough power to charge two devices simultaneously
- Super compact and portable
- A perfect solution of portable solar panels for backpackers and hikers
- Short circuit and surge protection technology keep you and your devices safe
If you’re going backpacking or hiking, our winner would definitely be the Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger. It’s the most portable, light and reliable option, and the most suited to outdoors use, with it’s rugged, weather resistant design. If you’re looking for a solution for RV, trailer or car camping though, the Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel would be your best bet.
Modern eco-minded campers are harnessing solar energy on camping trips around the globe. If you venture out for camping trips often, then solar panels are a fantastic investment. They’re not the cheapest bit of outdoors kit, but they can revolutionise your outdoors experience, allowing you to go totally off-grid. The best solar panels for camping keep your devices charged as you hike, meaning you can venture off on even more remote and exciting camping trips.
Bonus tip: Watch this useful video to learn how to install solar panels onto your RV!