For premium power on the go, solar chargers have emerged as a fantastic option to keep your essential devices charged whether you are camping on or off the grid. Even if you like to stay totally unplugged when out on the trail, it’s always wise to have a backup energy source to keep your devices powered up in the event of an unexpected emergency.
Keep reading for a detailed guide to selecting the best solar charger for camping, plus the top 5 solar chargers for any outdoor enthusiast.
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The top 5 solar charger for camping we recommend for 2021:
You’ll have several types of products to pick from when looking at the best solar charger for camping, so it’s important to know the differences between each, so you pick the right one for you.
The first type of solar charger is a portable solar panel without an integrated battery. To use a solar panel, you just connect your mobile device to it, place it out in the sun, and leave your device to charge up.
The primary downside with solar panels is that you won’t be able to conserve power for later use. If you’re traveling in cloudy weather and pull out your panel to charge your device, it will be essentially worthless to you because the charger won’t have the available sunlight it requires to run properly.
You can opt to bring a separate power bank and use the solar panels to charge that, then connect your devices to the bank. Just bear in mind that this will add extra weight to your gear.
Your second option when hunting for the best solar charger for camping is going to be a solar panel with a battery pack. These types of solar chargers feature an integrated battery. You simply charge the battery then connect it to power up your device. A solar panel with a battery pack is a fantastic option to bring lots of power with you on the go and store it for later use.
The only real problem with solar panels featuring a battery pack is that they are slow to charge. It takes a while to charge the battery, and the battery can time some time to power up your device too. When picking this type of best solar charger for camping, you have to make sure that the battery size and specs are compatible with your device as well.
The third type of best solar charger for camping is a solar power bank. If you’re taking a shorter camping trip, a power bank that serves as reserve power to rev up your devices could suffice. For instance, if you are taking a weekend backpacking trip and just using your device for activities like taking pictures, a power bank with 7,000mAh specifications could charge your phone 2 or 3 times.
For a point of reference, a power source’s battery capacity is measured in mAh (or milli-Ampere-hours).
Solar power banks feature an integrated solar panel that you can charge with a regular wall outlet or with solar energy. The panels on power banks are very small, so they do take a while to charge, which is why they are a better choice for shorter trips where you require an emergency backup source of energy.
If you’re only interested in finding a solar charger to keep your phone powered up, there are also solar cell phone cases that you can put over your device. You just place the solar panel portion of the case in the sun to charge. Of course, the main downside here is that you can only use this kind of solar charger to keep your mobile devices going.
Here’s exactly what you need to know to ensure you pick the best solar charger for camping for your outdoor adventures.
The first features you need to consider when hunting for the best solar charger for camping are the watts and amperage the device has to offer. If you simply want to charge your mobile device on the go, you’re still going to need a solar charger with at least 10 watts or more.
The best solar charger for camping sports at least 2 amps (a measurement of the solar current), so you can charge everything from your phone to larger devices like tablets and laptops. If you really are only concerned with charging your phone, a 1-amp unit could work for an older device.
Consider the weight of the unit when picking out the best solar charger for camping to meet your needs. Some chargers are more portable than others, but if you’re going to be on the road for longer periods, lightweight is key. On the flipside, the more lightweight your solar charger is, the slower it will charge your devices.
You’ll need to account for at least 12 to 20 additional ounces of weight in your gear at minimum when transporting a solar charger, and probably more if you pick a heavier unit that charges faster.
The best solar charger for camping needs to sport user-friendly components, such as a design that you can secure to your backpack to keep it charging as you go. You should also look for solar chargers with panels that you can prop up to get the most out of each hour of sunlight.
Keep an eye out for flexible solar charger panels that are easy to fold up and use. If you select rigid panels, you should still be able to fold them to secure in your gear.
The best solar charger for camping has an efficiency rating of 22% and above. Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s rating specifications when picking out your camping solar charger. Monocrystalline solar panels have the best efficiency ratings with polycrystalline and CIGS panels coming in at second and third place for efficiency.
Another solar charger component that indicates the unit’s efficiency is the surface area of the solar panel. The bigger the solar panel is, the more extensive its surface area will be, providing far greater efficiency to capture solar energy.
Check out the top 5 best solar chargers for camping!
Our first choice for the best solar charger for camping is the Anker 15W Dual USB Solar Charger, a virtual powerhouse of solar energy for any outdoor enthusiast. It is a fantastic choice for both on and off the grid camping adventures, featuring a quality design that will restore the charge if shadows pass by and block sunlight for a few moments. You can also purchase this model with 21-watt specifications if you find a need additional power.
The solar charger comes with elastic loops, so you can secure it to your pocket or to the rest of your gear with total ease. The solar charger features a 1-amp design and weighs in at just 12.5 ounces, so it is incredibly lightweight. It doesn’t come with an integrated battery, but you can use it alongside a power bank for an extra boost of energy if needed.
The Anker 15W Dual USB Solar charger sports a maximum 2.1-amp charging speed, with industrial grade PET plastic solar panels incorporated into the canvas design. We liked the safety features this solar charger provides too, with surge protection and short circuit technology.
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The Yolk Station Portable Solar Charger is one of the best solar chargers for camping products for its super thin design that features just 0.4 inches of thickness. The solar charger is very compact but powerful, with a 23.7% efficiency rating and auto reset technology if shadows pass overhead and reduce the charging speed of the unit. We really liked the LCD amp display that shows you the charging speed in real time.
We were also really impressed by the waterproof design of this ultra-thin solar charger, that sports an IP64 rating. The panel features a 5-watt power capacity, but you can add other panels into the design for extra power if you so desire. The only real issue with the Yolk Station Portable Solar Charger is that it is more expensive than some of the other choices on our list.
The panel will suffice to charge your mobile device, but you’ll definitely need another panel or two to power up a larger device like a tablet.
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The Suntactics S5 Ultralight Solar Charger made it to our list of the best solar charger camping products for its very lightweight design that comes in at just 7 ounces. The solar charger features a 1,200 mAh battery capacity with a 5-volt USB port. We like this charger so much because it is compatible with a wide range of devices, including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy models.
We were also happy to see that the Suntactics S5 Ultralight Solar Charger sports a water-resistant exterior and auto reset technology to reboot the unit if sunlight is temporarily blocked. The 5-watt power this solar charger has to offer is pretty impressive when you consider how light and compact the unit is. If you use it with a battery bank, you’ll still probably stay well under 12 ounces in total weight.
The Suntactics S5 Ultralight charger is a little on the pricey side, but if you tend towards minimalist camping and backpacking, the cost might be well worth it.
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The ECEEN Universal Foldable Solar Charger is the best solar charger for camping for its durable design made specifically for outdoor adventures. We love that this solar charger comes with an integrated stand so the panels will absorb the maximum amount of sunlight, along with straps for easy portability. The design is completely waterproof as well.
We love how lightweight this best solar charger for camping is, weighing in at a negligible 9.3 ounces total. The only real disadvantage with this 13-watt solar charger is that it has a slower charge period. If you want to charge more than one device at the same time it’s going to take longer. However, the 2-amp capacity will keep your devices going for long periods and likely allow for multiple recharges if you power up one device at a time.
The solar charger doesn’t sport an integrated battery, but it offers auto reset technology to reboot the unit if a shadow passes by. The panels are surrounded by high-quality polyester that is weather resistant and features hooks so you can secure the unit to your gear.
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Our final selection for the best solar charger for camping is the comprehensive Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit, which is one of the most popular, dependable options on the market. It features an integrated 7,800 mAh battery pack plus foldable solar panels, so you can transport the unit with ease and stay powered up for many hours on the go. We love the design of the kit that allows you to charge your devices straight from the panels.
You can also charge the power bank during the day and connect it to your mobile devices when you reach the campsite. The 7-watt solar charger is powerful enough that you can use it to charge 2 devices at the same time without negating efficiency. We liked the auto-reset feature that will hold a continuous charge even if clouds pass by overhead.
Another huge plus for us was the Goal Zero Venture 30’s weather resistant design, with an IPX6 waterproof rating. The Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit is a little heavier and more expensive than some of our other picks at 21.8 ounces, but its powerful, reliable energy will serve you well for lengthier camping excursions.
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While it might be more of an investment than some of the other chargers we mentioned, the Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit made it to the number one spot on our list. We loved the 7,800 mAh integrated battery with foldable solar panels, making this solar charger option portable while offering maximum power.
We were also pleased with the flexibility of this best solar charger for camping, as you can charge your devices straight from the panels or with the battery pack as you prefer. The solar charger lets you power up 2 devices at the same time, which is critical if you’re going on group camping excursions.
Plus, the auto-reset feature is really reliable and ensures the unit holds a continuous charge. The water-resistant and weatherproof design is exceptional. You just can’t beat the Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit for superior charging capacity, functionality, durability, and user-friendly ease.