Best Solar Charger for Backpacking (Buying Guide)
Backpacking is an invigorating way to travel. Not just for outdoor adventures, backpacking can open up worlds of possibilities, introducing you to a light and nomadic way to see the world. With backpacking trips, you get a true feeling of independence, as all you need is packed away neatly and taken with you. One option for charging your devices while backpacking is to take a battery pack or power bank, which you can charge using a USB. However, although usually compact, these products can be very heavy, so aren’t ideal if you’re going on long walks or hikes with your backpack. The best solar chargers for backpacking are super lightweight, and can attach to your backpack, conveniently charging your devices as you adventure. Backpacking just got even more freeing!
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
- Features: Input: solar and DC 5v 600mA Output: USB port: 5v 700mA, Internal battery: Lithium-ion Polymer, Static Power Waste: <50uA.
And here’s an overview of the best solar charger for backpacking on the market today:
Best Solar Charger for Backpacking – Overview
1. Powertraveller Solarmonkey Portable Solar Charger
- Features: Input: solar and DC 5v 600mA Output: USB port: 5v 700mA, Internal battery: Lithium-ion Polymer, Static Power Waste: <50uA.
Many solar chargers for backpacking provide just enough juice to charge your smartphone while you hike. For many of us, this is all we need on a backpacking trip, as with all of the useful hiking apps around, and GPS and cameras on our phones and other gadgets can be cut down. However, many very adventurous outdoor enthusiasts want to take devices like GoPros to document their activities like climbing, skiing or mountain biking, or to travel with a GPS or flashlight for extra safety. This product has a feature called maximum power point tracker, meaning you can charge any device super fast, rather than waiting all day for it to charge completely.
If your solar charger needs are more basic, then this option may be unnecessary for you. At over $100, only consider investing in this product if your charging needs are more varied. With an internal battery voltage of 3.3, and a USB voltage output of 5v, this solar charger will keep you safe, and your devices charged, even on really long backpacking trips. The 2500mAh internal lithium polymer battery is an especially useful feature, meaning you have power output to keep charging your devices even if it’s not a sunny day, or there’s cloud coverage. The solar panels will charge the internal battery in just 12 hours in optimum light conditions.
Another feature that makes this product perfect for backpacking is that it’s extremely light and portable. It folds up neat and small, to be carried in your backpack while not in use. It also has hanging loops at the top of the case and belt loops at the rear, meaning you can easily tie it to your backpack and charge as you hike. This product is suitable for all-year-round use. The thermal insulation battery protection giving an operating temperature range of -10 to 90 degrees C. The durable design and materials mean you can take this portable charger with you on any backpacking adventure, and it will never let you down.
- Maximum power point tracker, super-fast charging
- 2500mAh internal lithium polymer battery
- Durable: operating temperature range of -10 to 90 degrees C
- Charges almost any device
- Quite expensive
- Not as light and portable as some other options
2. IBose Solar Phone Charger
- 🔑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, perfect for any backpacking trip. 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. For backpacking trips, this option combines lightness and portability with reliable power supply, meaning it’s a fantastic option for you if you’re looking to shed a few extra pounds but still invest in a durable product.
But despite its unique design, that fits with your iPhone, it doesn’t just charge that product. You can also use this portable solar panel to charge GoPros, Samsung, iPad Mini’s, GPS, or wireless speakers, and many other devices. One great feature of this dual-USB solar power phone charger is the Smart IC technology which automatically identifies your mobile phone, digital camera or any other device and adjusts its charging speed in order to prevent over-charging 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 from USB output. For backpacking trips, we need kit which is durable, reliable, and withstands all weather conditions. This product fits the bill. It’s waterproof to suit any climate or weather condition. This charger also has an emergency torch, so doubles up to act as survival gear, an invaluable aspect of backpacking kit.
- Emergency torch
- Can charge multiple electronic devices
- Unique concertina design makes it uber portable
- 10.000mAh Li-Polymer Battery
- Smart IC technology adjusts its charging speed in order to prevent over-charging or short circuit
- May be more suited for AC charging
- The cables sometimes need to be replaced
3. iClever USB Solar Charger
- [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, this product, and the previous two, have inbuilt batteries. The great thing about this feature for backpacking trips 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 top of its game. It has a high conversion efficiency, meaning that, with its’ sun-power mono-crystalline solar panel, this solar charger has a 28%-30% high conversion rate. It provides 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.
When backpacking, we have to be prepared for all eventualities and weather conditions. Backpacking solar chargers 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, with carabiners or paracord.
- Heavy-duty material built for the great outdoors
- 28%-30% high conversion rate, double that of some other models
- Can recharge the battery in 8 hours under normal sunshine
- Compact and portable, the same size as a tablet
- Isn’t that sturdy as a stand
- Have to rotate/ move it for optimum solar charging
- The cord does not fit an iPhone 6
4. Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger
- The Anker Advantage: Join the 50 million+ powered by our leading technology
When it comes to buying tech products on Amazon, Anker is one of our favorite brands. Although they’re not always specifically designed for outdoor use, they use incredibly durable materials, and represent really good value for money. Although this is one of the more expensive solar chargers out there, you can consider it as an investment piece. One feature of this solar panel, which makes it ideal for backpacking, 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 outdoor adventures, whether rain or shine, for years to come.
If you’re looking for fast charging, and reliable power outlets, look no further. This solar charger 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. And because there’s no inbuilt battery, it’s a lot more compact and portable than some of the other options we have reviewed.
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! If you’re a backpacker or hiker, then this is the ideal solution for you. It has a compact size 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.
- Super compact and portable
- Industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels
- 15W SunPower solar array is 21.5-23.5% efficient
- Provides enough power to charge two devices simultaneously
- Short circuit and surge protection technology keep you and your devices safe
5. 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 durable, rugged solution for a solar charger, ideally suited for outdoor adventures and backpacking trips. It’s totally weather-resistant and has 9 super useful ties on the outside, which means you can attach it to your backpack no matter the size or shape. Because of this weather-resistant material, it means that there’s an added benefit for backpackers: it will not only charge your devices as you’re hiking, but also protect your backpack and belongings from light rain. It folds down to a similar size and shape to a tablet or iPad, making this a really portable, light option for solar charger.
With this product you can use the USB ports and 12V ports at the same time, to charge most USB and 12V devices, however, despite its shape, this charger 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, bringing your own tunes and customized lighting to your campsite, making this a great option for a group.
- Rugged, weatherproof design
- Lots of attached loops, so you can attach it to your backpack with ease
- Quick charge
- Collects an impressive 7 wattage from the sun
- Works with most USB and 12V devices
- Works best with Goal Zero products and rechargers
- Doesn’t charge tablets
6. RAVPower Solar Charger
- Clean Energy Source: High-efficiency solar cells harness the power of the sun to convert up to 21.5-23.5% of solar power when exposed under direct sunlight
This product is a great option for backpackers, who need to keep portability and weight in mind at all times. Unlike the other models, it has a handy pocket for the charging cables and your devices, perfect for keeping your backpack organized. This charger is half the weight of similar solar chargers but equal in power. 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. It can be used to cover 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 primarily, as you have to be careful not to set this product upon 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. Using the solar charger in this way makes storage a breeze, and your devices will charge as you concentrate on the more exciting things. Although this product is water-resistant, it could be more so, so we would recommend to only use it on sunny days for optimum effect.
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.
- 24W solar charging technology increases the efficiency of charging by up to 21.5% – 23.5%
- 3D pentagon-shaped solar panel, for more surface area
- 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
Depending on the style of design you’re looking for in your portable charger, we have two winners for you. The first is Powertraveller Solarmonkey Portable Solar Charger. Consider investing in this solar charger if you’re looking for a compact solar charger, that folds up to about the size of a smartphone. This is the perfect option for you if you’re looking for a gadget that has an inbuilt battery, which you can charge up as you hike, and use it to charge your devices once you set up camp for the night. It’s also especially useful if you want to charge multiple types of devices, such as a GoPro, as well as your smartphone.
If you’re looking for a design that covers your backpack, and charges your phone and devices as you’re backpacking, directly from the sun, then look no further than the option from Anker. Without an inbuilt battery, some models aren’t hardy enough to fully charge your devices. However, this is not a critique you can use of the model by Anker. It’s heavy duty enough to charge two devices simultaneously just from solar energy. And, because it doesn’t have an inbuilt battery, it’s even lighter and easier to backpack with than most other solar chargers on the market.
For some camping trips, you might be staying at a campsite with hookups, where you can use the mains to charge your smartphone or other devices. However, if you’re going backpacking, harnessing solar energy is a far more sustainable and convenient option. Check out our top picks for the best solar charger for backpacking, to find the product that’s just right for your trip and budget! And to help you plan your trip, have a look at our recommendations for the best countries to go backpacking in.
Bonus tip: Check out this useful video to learn how to keep your devices charged while backpacking!