Backpacking has always been a great opportunity to be intrepid, but it comes with the downside of giving up on your electronic devices. Thankfully, nowadays there are solar-powered devices that allow for clean energy generation on the go.
They’re compact and lightweight enough to be carried with you when you hear the call to adventure. If, like us, you’re tired of not being able to charge your phone in the middle of nowhere, join us in our quest to find the best solar charger for backpacking.
We’ll provide all the relevant data needed to determine what’s the best backpacking solar charger. After a few necessary explanations, and reviewing the best solar chargers we could find out there, you’ll know all there is to know.
From there, you’ll be a lot closer to indulging yourself in the conveniences of the modern era during your expeditions.
Factors To Consider Before Buying A Solar Charger for Backpacking
There are several details to keep in mind when you’re looking for the best solar charger for backpacking. To get the best performance you’ll need to take into consideration the following factors:
1. Solar Panel Size
The size of the solar panel is one of the main things to consider when you’re buying a solar charger. It will determine the amount of space available for photovoltaic cells.
A bigger panel will be able to generate a larger amount of energy. For backpacking, space efficiency is a must, so it’s smart to go for something foldable.
2. Energy Transformation Rate
This quantity is expressed as a percentage of all the available solar energy transformed into electricity by the generator. This means that a panel with higher transformation rates generates more power than an equivalent sized one with a lower rate.
It reflects the solar panel’s efficiency, and going for a better performance helps you save some space when you’re backpacking.
3. Energy Output
It’s important to understand that different devices require different energy inputs to properly charge a battery. The amount of electricity available to the user under optimal conditions will determine the time it’ll take to fully charge the battery.
If you charge multiple devices simultaneously,. the energy output will be distributed among the charging devices.
Most solar chargers don’t work with every device. Conflicting charging protocols could damage your battery if you’re not careful. Be mindful of the supported devices before connecting an incompatible power storage unit to avoid risking your battery.
Likewise, features like fast charging are only available to selected devices under optimal conditions.
5. What’s The Best Solar Charger For Backpacking?
There are a few chargers that fill the requirements to be acclaimed as the best. These solar panels are the most efficient and effective way to harness the power of the sun.
We took versatility into consideration to find solar panels that make either the best solar charger for backpacking, camping, hiking or any outdoor activity.
Top 12 Best Solar Chargers for Backpacking/ Hiking 2020
1. Anker 21W Solar Charger
The outstanding performance shown by this charger exemplifies the best side of harnessing free clean energy to charge your devices. Its compact foldable design is a great way to save space when you’re traveling in the wilderness.
The folded solar panel takes about as much room in a backpack as an old laptop. Unfolded, it’s small enough to be attached to your backpack to charge your devices while walking from one place to another.
To attach the solar panel to your backpack, it includes an elastic loop on every corner. These elastic loops can be used to hang the solar panel in a selected spot such as a tree, a tent pole or similar surfaces.
If you decide to take a rest, you just need to place the solar panel in a location with enough direct sunlight. It’s made of quality materials, but it’s rather on the expensive side. But, overall, we think it’s completely worth the money.
- Fast Charging technology
- Well made
- It’s rather pricey
- Only includes 2 USB ports
2. RavPower 21W Solar Panel
At a mid-range price, this is a more affordable alternative to charge your phone when you’re backpacking. For its flawless performance, we awarded it a spot on this list. It’s one of our top picks for the title of best solar charger for backpacking.
This solar charger has the benefit of including three USB ports equipped with smart delivery technology. That translates to a faster and safer way to charge your devices. It does so by detecting the optimal energy input for your battery and sending an according output.
It reaches up to 2.1 amps on every port but only 4.8 overall. It’s above the standard, but it’s still a slight annoyance. On the positive side, this solar charger includes a smart system that distributes the energy input evenly among all the connected devices.
It’s foldable, compact and lightweight, to allow for easy transportation and set up process. This would be a great addition to any outdoor activity. It might as well be the best solar charger for camping.
- Great price/value ratio
- iSmart+ technology built-in
- 3 USB ports
- It’s a little big for a backpack
3. Nekteck 21W Portable Solar Panel
This is one of the most inexpensive alternatives between our picks. At such a low cost, this solar panel is still an effective and reliable way to charge your phone when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere.
If you add a power storage unit, like a power bank, you’ll never have to give up on your phone when you’re outdoors hiking or backpacking.
It has some limitations, like the small amount of USB ports available and low maximum output current. The solar panel only allows for enough energy to charge the equivalent of one and a half smartphones simultaneously.
Leaving that aside, this solar charger it’s still completely effective and durable. It’s designed to match the optimal energy input of your phone, allowing for more efficient charging. On top of that, it’s waterproof to withstand dire climatic circumstances.
This solar charger was a pleasant surprise. For an item at that price, we would expect much less than what this charger had to offer. We were ecstatic to find such a great deal. It’s an item that we would definitely buy again.
- Great price
- Smart Charging technology
- Waterproof design
- Low output capacity
- Only 2 charging ports
4. BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
Another great alternative at a surprising price. This solar charger is a worthy contender for the spot as the best solar charger for backpacking. It’s all the things a good solar charger should be -: lightweight, efficient and reliable.
It’s a safe way to charge your phone due to its protection against overcharging, overheating and short circuits. The charger has a fair range of supported devices, Apple and Android models are fully compatible, being most popular.
To be sure, check beforehand to see if this solar panel supports your smartphone’s charging protocol. This solar panel provides a decent energy conversion rate, lending credence to its efficiency. It’s capable of fully charging a phone’s battery in the span of a couple of hours.
To completely charge the battery of a medium DSLR camera it takes an even shorter amount of time. This solar charger’s performance exceeded our expectations for the price range.
We’ll agree to the point that it has a relatively limited maximum energy output. It’s barely enough to charge two devices at the same time, but it’s still a great performance considering the price.
- Good price/value ratio
- Impressive amount of compatible devices
- Fast Charging
- Not waterproof
5. Foxelli Triple USB Solar Charger
It’s another one of the more affordable alternatives among our selected candidates for the spot as the best solar charger for backpacking. We liked it enough to claim that this is also our definitive pick for the best solar charger for camping under a budget.
It’s designed to be foldable and very lightweight. Once it’s attached to your backpack, you’ll hardly notice it’s there at all. If your tent has windows, you can even leave your phone inside the tent while it charges.
An adventure doesn’t have to imply giving up on your precious gadgets. With this solar charger you’ll get an outstanding energy conversion rate that’ll get your batteries charged in no time. Either for hiking or backpacking, this will make a great addition to your survivalist’s kit.
Sadly, this solar charger’s performance it’s too heavily influenced by the presence of optimal environmental conditions. This panel’s sensibility to light might be on the poor side of the spectrum. Still, it’s great when it’s used under the proper circumstances, well positioned under direct sunlight.
- 3 USB ports
- Water resistant
- Fast cCharging included
- It’s hard to generate the optimal output
- Distributes power unevenly between multiple devices
6. Choetech 19W Solar Phone Charger
This item from CHOETECH’s team is a great example of the things one should expect from the best solar chargers. It’s very efficient, compact and lightweight, all the things you want in a solar charger for backpacking. This is a little miracle worker and one of the best alternatives in the market right now.
In the pricing department, this charger sits comfortably in the middle ground. It’s neither cheap nor ridiculously expensive. The manufacturer didn’t cut any corners when it came to the materials used to assemble this piece of equipment.
The compact and adaptable design makes this solar panel easier to attach to your backpack when you’re going outdoors. It’s a great way to generate energy when you’re traveling around. This shows that this is a great candidate for the title of best solar charger for hiking.
A great thing about this solar charger is that it works with most devices. It generates a 5V output that’s compatible with most charging protocols available. Although energy conversion rate could be higher, it’s still a formidable alternative to charge your devices outdoors.
- Fast Charging
- Great compatibility
- Fair value to price proportion
- Only 2 USB ports
- Low maximum output
7. Be-Charming Solar Power Bank
This item not only harnesses the sun’s energy, but stores it in a separate power storage unit. That way, you can easily utilize the collected power under any circumstances, making it a more reliable choice. It’s a smart way to secure the generated energy and use it whenever it’s required.
The power storage unit can be attached to the solar panel and still deliver an optimal charging output to safely and quickly charge your phone. This is the performance one should expect from the best solar panels for backpacking.
It’s important to take into consideration that the included battery has a good amount of storage capacity.
When fully charged, the battery has enough power to fully charge about 4-5 phones. It could take a while to collect that amount of energy, but that’s something that comes attached to relying on the sun’s energy.
The battery also has a built-in LED light for emergencies. If you don’t need to bring a flashlight too, you can save space in your backpack, which is appreciated.
- Includes power storage unit
- Flashlight for emergencies
- Great energy conversion rate
- Only 2 USB
- Takes a while to recharge power storage unit
8. Suntactics S5 Ultralight Charger
The design took a slightly different approach and amazed us with its portability. When folded, it only takes as much room as a journal in a backpack.
Performance is outstanding for such a small solar panel. To fully charge an iPhone’s battery it only takes around two hours under direct sunlight. That’s a feat that only bigger solar panels achieve under the same circumstances.
The power output is a regular 5V USB connection, meaning that this charger is compatible with pretty much any USB device available. The internal circuitry it’s protected against environmental adversities such as dust, rain or humidity.
For something so small, it was impressively resistant to rough use during field testing. It’s not for every pocket, but it’s still a great deal due to its portability alone.
Overall, we think that it’s neither cheap nor overpriced, but rather fairly priced.
- Extreme portability
- Great USB compatibility
- It’s on the expensive side
- Only 2 USB ports
9. Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel
This is another compact and lightweight alternative to charge youryou’re phone when you’re backpacking. The Nomad 7 is a solar charger that performs flawlessly without compromising too much room in your backpack. We consider it the best compact mid-range solar panel available in 2020.
Unlike other extremely portable charging devices, this solar panel can be attached to your backpack to charge the battery while walking. It’s a welcomed addition, since it virtually adds no additional weight load if you’re carrying a considerably sized backpack.
The lightweight and simple design allows for better transportation even when unfolded. It has an interesting set of available outputs that comes in really handy when you’re going camping.
It’s compatible with both 5V USB and 12V connections, providing a wider range of chargeable items. You can charge your camera, smartphone, GPS and more using this compact solar panel.
The price is just a little above the average, but is a smart acquisition for the practical design and the overall performance. At that price, it’s only fair that it doesn’t offer the higher conversion rate of more expensive items. Still, it’s a solid investment.
- Compatible with every device
- Very portable
- Great price
- Energy conversion rate is rather low
10. Eceen 10W Solar Charger Panel
This is the best solar charger for a budget. It’s smartly built and practical to ensure a user-friendly experience. Even at such a low price, it’s still a solid piece of well-made equipment, and not overpriced at all.
If you’re setting up a camp, you can place it over your tent to harness energy from there. If you’re only looking for a handy tool to quickly charge your phone when hiking, this could be the right choice for you.
When you’re going to be walking around for hours with a heavy backpack, you need to save as much space as possible. To help you with that, it features a sleek and compact foldable design that fits comfortably almost any of your backpack’s pockets.
However, the energy isn’t evenly distributed among two devices when charging at the same time. That means one of the phones will charge as fast as it should under optimal conditions, and the other one won’t. Not every device is going to get an optimal amount of energy, delaying the charging process.
- Lowest price
- Highly portable
- Great compatibility
- Low energy output
- Doesn’t distribute power evenly between devices
11. Ryno-Tuff 21W Portable Solar Charger
This is the solar charger that has the best energy conversion rate for a reasonable price. The power cells used to build thesethis panels are the best available on the market. For all of that, it deserves a chance to be considered the best solar charger for backpacking under a budget
Two USB ports are available to the user, both equipped with smart technology to match your device’s optimal energy input. This is a common feature among higher-end products, but it’s something rare to find at a more affordable price range
This is one of the most practical items on this list, and something that could actually save your life in an emergency. It’s reliable and strong, fully able to withstand adverse climatic conditions.
For all the above-mentioned reasons, we think this is a valuable addition to the list of the 12 best solar chargers for backpacking in 2020.
It’s a great investment, though, because it’s something you can definitely rely on even during an emergency. You can count on it to charge almost any 5V USB compatible device in no time.
- Great energy conversion rate
- Smart energy deliver technology
- Low price
- Only 2 USB ports
- Alittle bulky
12. Choetech 14W Solar Charger
This is another contender from the guys at CHOETECH’s. Their quality products never ceases to amaze us. Out of all the items on this list, this charger stands out due to its high energy conversion rate and fair price.
The design includes four reasonably sized solar panels to harness the sun’s energy. Along with such a good energy conversion rate, this allows for a considerable upgrade in total energy available to the user.
Although it makes the solar charger slightly bulkier, it makes up for it by providing a good deal of extra energy.
For the price, it’s surprising that it’s able to withstand harsh environmental conditions. It’s waterproof and strong, ensuring that you can use it under any adverse circumstances. If there’s enough sunlight, you won’t have to worry about anything else.
The biggest downside to it is the lack of a second USB port to allow multiple devices charging at the same time. It’s not really a deal breaker, but we rather have more connections available.
Overall, it’s a fair deal, since the performance it’s better than most other items at the same price range.
- Great price
- Fast Charging
- Only 1 USB port
- Unfolded is rather big for a backpack
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do solar power chargers really work?
These solar panels rely on the sun’s energy to generate an electrical output. It’s enough energy to charge one or two devices under direct sunlight, but it may take a while. It mostly depends on the size and the technology employed to generate power.
In 2020, the best hiking solar chargers significantly reduced the amount of time necessary to fully charge the battery. Sadly, solar power chargers don’t work on every device. It’s important to check beforehand if your device is compatible with the solar panel to avoid battery damage.
2. Do solar chargers need direct sunlight?
Solar chargers won’t work at all unless they’re exposed to some degree of light. The energy is generated by an interaction between the photons that constitute light beams and the panel’s material. In this case, more light means more energy. The advisable conditions for the use of a solar charger would be under direct light exposure.
Nonetheless, they still work in non-optimal light conditions, but won’t be as effective. To make the most out of a solar charger, the use of a power storage unit is recommendedt. The battery will charge whenever an energy input is available, and the energy will be easily disposable under any circumstances.
3. How long does a solar charger take to charge?
The amount of time it takes for a solar charger to fully charge a battery depends on several factors. First, the battery’s capacity has to be taken into consideration. It takes longer to charge a 20.000 mAh power bank than a regular smartphone’s battery.
Then there’s the fact that solar chargers use the sun’s energy to charge the battery, so it won’t be as effective unless it’s exposed to direct sunlight. On optimal conditions and using the best solar charger, it would take about 2-3 hours to charge a cellphone. For a larger power storage unit, it could take a whole day to reach its maximum capacity.
4. What is the best solar panels for camping?
For camping, where saving space isn’t a pressing concern, it’s advised to pack a larger solar charger. With a larger solar panel, you’ll get better results at harnessing the sun’s energy to charge your batteries. Something with a good amount of charging ports would also be a valuable addition to your camping gear.
The best solar chargers considering these conditions were:
- Foxelli Triple USB Solar Charger
- Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel
- RAVPower 21W Solar Panel
Versatility, effectiveness and endurance are assured if you take any of these solar chargers to a tent in the woods.
Best Solar Charger For Backpacking – Your pick?
As we’ve seen, there is a good amount of variety to choose from if you’re looking for something to charge your phone when you’re backpacking. We hope you found something handy for your adventures between our thoughtfully selected picks.
Once you start charging your phone with the sun’s free clean energy, you’ll never want to stop. It was our pleasure to give you the relevant information to differentiate a regular solar panel from the best ones available on the market.
All you have to do now is make your choice and start harnessing energy in the smartest possible way.