To keep your essential devices fully charged while on the road, you need a strong, portable source of power that won’t let you down on your outdoor treks. While there are various options available to keep your devices charged out on the trail, solar chargers have become the selection of choice for many backpacking enthusiasts everywhere.
If you’re looking for a sustainable, reliable source of energy to keep your mobile devices at 100% on the trail, the best solar charger for backpacking might be for you.
Keep reading for a detailed guide to selecting the best backpacking solar charger, plus the top 5 options available that make a valuable addition to any backpacker’s gear.
The top 5 solar charger for backpacking we recommend for 2021:
The first element you need to take into account when selecting the best solar charger for backpacking is the type of device or devices you plan on bringing on the road with you.
For instance, if you only travel with a small mobile device or a GPS navigator, a solar charger with fewer bells and whistles will serve your needs well. However, if you’re bringing several devices that drain power fast, you’re definitely going to require a solar charger with plenty of specs and a high level of efficiency.
One component you want to keep an eye out for when selecting the best solar charger for backpacking is the connectors the product sports. Almost all solar chargers include a USB port, which is compatible with the vast majority of electronics out there. However, if for instance, you are bringing a device that requires an adaptor, you’ll need to make sure the solar charger you pick has one too.
You will also need to consider where you will charge the solar device and how you will go about doing it. You can secure your solar charger to your gear or a bicycle to absorb sunlight while you’re on the trail, but the charger itself shouldn’t be so heavy that the weight impedes your performance.
When selecting a solar charger, it’s important to think about the weight of the charger and compare it to the overall weight of your gear, to ensure you have enough surface space and capacity for charging.
If you’d rather rev your solar charger once you’re at the campsite, you’ll probably have more space to work with and don’t need to necessarily pick one of the most compact options. If you’re going to be charging on the trail though, a compact solar charger is your best bet.
You also need to consider whether or not you’d prefer an internal battery in the best backpacking solar charger. Some, but not all, solar chargers feature an internal battery that you can also use to charge your mobile device if you so prefer.
The integrated battery definitely makes it easier to keep your device powered up. All you do is charge the battery during the day with sunlight, then wait to charge your electronics once you reach the campsite in the evening.
Here are the primary features you need to look for to ensure you’re selecting the best solar charger for backpacking.
While we just touched on this briefly above, the first feature you need to look for when selecting the best solar charger for backpacking is an integrated battery. If you want more options to charge your device on the go, a battery is going to be an important component. The great thing about a solar charger with a battery is that you can use it with an additional power bank for extra charging capabilities.
Of course, the downside is that a battery is going to add more weight and take up additional space in your gear. However, if you want to have total access to your device during the day and charge the battery during that time to be used later, the extra weight might be worth it to you.
There are 3 kinds of solar panels used in the best solar charger for backpacking: CIGS panels, Polycrystalline panels, and Monocrystalline panels. CIGS panels offer great flexibility to the user, but they are designed from thin materials that don’t last long. So, the best solar charger for backpacking for durability and efficiency uses either Polycrystalline panels or Monocrystalline panels.
Polycrystalline panels are manufactured from multiple crystal ingots, while Monocrystalline panels are made from 1 crystal ingot. The former is the more cost-effective option, while the latter is more energy efficient.
You can determine a solar panel’s efficiency by its percentage value, which indicates how it converts electricity from sunlight. The higher a device’s efficiency value is, the better that is for you. For example, Polycrystalline panels typically have an efficiency value between 18 and 20%, while Monocrystalline panels have values from just over 20% up to 25%.
There are some specification terms you need to know when picking out the best solar charger for backpacking. A panel’s electric current or flow rate is indicated by amperes, while electrical power is tracked in watts. If you bring small devices on the road with you, a solar panel between 3 and 5 watts will suffice.
Panels featuring 5 watts of power could offer a full charge within 3 to 6 hours. If you want to charge more than one mobile device at the same time, you’ll need a charger with panels of 10 watts or more. The highest ampere or flow rate most panels feature is between 2 and 2.5A.
USB ports are a standard feature of the best solar charger for backpacking, but also pay attention to any adapter ports if your device requires such. The use of adapters will drain your power faster, so you might want to consider using a device with integrated batteries to conserve your power longer.
Here are the top 5 best solar charger for backpacking products on the market currently. Keep scrolling for our honest review of each, plus our number one pick from the group.
Our first pick for the best solar charger for backpacking impresses on many levels, with an affordable price, fantastic portability, and a great charge speed to see you through many outdoor adventures. We love the Anker Solar Charger’s 21-watt power, which is sufficient to fully charge as many as 2 smartphones and a tablet on the go. We liked the handy pouch this solar charger features, which is a great way to store your mobile device while it’s charging.
The pouch definitely isn’t large enough to hold a larger device like a tablet though. When fully extended, the solar charger features 26.4 x 11.1 x 0.2-inch specs, and durable stainless steel eye holes that you can secure to your pack or other gear as you prefer. We just love how durable the Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger is, with solar panels designed from industrial quality PET plastic.
You’ll have no problem getting a speedy charge from Anker’s USB Solar Charger, as the device features integrated PowerIQ technology that automatically alters amperage based on the device you’re charging. The solar charger features 2.4 amperage capacity for each port and 3A total. The charger is super lightweight and compact, including a 3-foot USB cable with the device.
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The next best solar charger for backpacking on our list by Goal Zero sports 2 primary components; a Nomad 7 solar panel and Venture 30 batteries. The entire kit is a virtual powerhouse to keep your devices charged on the go, compatible with everything from tablets and cameras to your iPhone. We also like the fact that this best solar charger for backpacking is sturdy enough to hold up in tough outdoor conditions.
We love that this kit is waterproof and that it is so powerful you can charge as many as 2 to 3 mobile devices at once. The kit sports a zipped pocket with a 1A USB Port, 8mm outlet for 12V devices, and an integrated plug you can connect to additional solar panels. The Nomad 7 solar panel component includes magnets to secure them shut and dual carabiners.
The Venture 30 battery component includes LEDs to light your path on tough, dark trails and integrated rubber for easy gripping. The battery pack even includes a Smart Charge mode for a fast, efficient charge.
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The Nekteck 21W Solar Charger made it to our review of the best solar charger for backpacking products for its power efficiency and fantastic affordability. One downside of this charger is that it doesn’t come with a battery, so if you’re set on a charger with a battery you might need to consider other alternatives. That said, the lack of a battery means this charger weighs just 18 ounces, making it a great option for lightweight backpackers.
The solar charger includes 3 panels with a fold-out design and total power rating of 21 watts. The panels have the capacity to attain a power conversion between 21 and 24%, so you can charge more than one device at the same time. We love that the solar panels are encased in canvas for extra durability, while the canvas sports 5 steel holes so you can secure the device to whatever you choose.
The Nekteck 21W Solar Charger includes proprietary SmartIC technology, sporting a microchip that identifies when you plug a device into one of the USB ports for a fast and efficient charge. Each of the 3 solar panels has between 800 to 1,000A output.
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The next best solar charger for backpacking on our list is the WBPINE Solar Charger, with a 24,000mAh power capacity that you can charge via a wall outlet or with its included 3 solar panels. We love that this solar charger comes with an integrated emergency light and flashlight, with a durable leather casing that will protect the device from breaking if dropped.
We were also happy to see that this solar charger sports seals over each port with water-resistant elements to protect the unit in damp conditions. If you are a frequent backpacker and tend to hike in tough conditions, this pick might be what you’re looking for. We love how quickly it charges up devices, with a chip built into each USB port. If exposed to heavy sunlight, the solar charger can attain 30 percent battery in 7 hours.
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Our final pick for the best solar charger for backpacking is a very compact, highly portable option with an integrated battery and dependable case designed from clamshell neoprene. You can secure the solar charger to your bike or backpack as you need to without issue, and it is powerful enough to keep all your key devices charged on the go, including flashlights, a GPS, smartphones, and more.
The solar charger works best when you charge the battery by sunlight and link your device right to the battery. You won’t need to worry about a circuit overload, because the battery includes safety components to protect your devices even in very high or low outdoor temperatures. In fact, you rely on the charger in temperatures ranging from 14 up to 194 degrees Fahrenheit.
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It was a close call, but after carefully reviewing each of the above solar chargers for efficiency, easy usage, and portability, we selected the Anker Solar Charger as our top pick from the group. We love how affordable it is, while still being really easy to take on the go. It offers fantastic charge efficiency with 21-watt power that lets you charge multiple devices at the same time.
We liked the mobile device pouch, stainless steel eye holes, and industrial quality PET plastic panels that will serve you well for many trips to come. With a total 3A capacity and lightweight, compact design, the Anker Solar Charger is the best solar charger for backpacking for any outdoor trek.