Need an affordable, lightweight, and reliable solar charger to keep all of your tech charged on your outdoor adventures? We have researched the best solar charger for backpacking (actually, five!). See how they stack up as we compare your most eco-friendly charging options for your busy lifestyle.
The Best Solar Chargers…
Backpacking is sort of a minimalist-dream. You can only take what fits in your backpack. If you are a reasonable person, you only pack what you can truthfully carry. It is a freeing and terrifying idea for most of us. “What if I forget my external battery pack, deodorant, dry pair of socks…!”
Revisit that first item on the list: “What if I forget my external battery pack?” You know the one. You plug it into a wall and charge and it up for a few hours. Then you plan to pack it in your bag with the cords to your phone, GoPro, and whatever else you need. Inevitably, it gets left plugged into the wall and you remember about halfway to your destination. Now you have no power except your car (if you even took a car!), and you know you will be without tech for the second half of your trek.
The best way I have found to avoid that chaos is to keep a portable backpacking solar charger. Yes, specifically for backpacking. These gadgets not only let us use clean energy to refuel our much needed technology, but are becoming more and more lightweight and cost-effective! Using one of the best portable solar panels for backpacking is so simple. Put the device in an area with full, direct sunlight to let the sun power the panels for device recharging.
What you need to Know
There are a lot of things you can know about solar chargers. The most important is that they are not a battery power bank. They must have sunlight to work. That being said, many pair well with a battery power bank, but we are not counting it against or for any of our picks if they do or don’t come with one!! We only care about the solar energy today. ☀️ I do not claim to be an expert on solar energy. I am simply an admirer and user! At the end, I will link you to some other great blogs which talk about the ins and outs of portable solar energy so you can learn more from the experts.
If you’re like me, your first objective is know which charger is the best fit for you. What makes it special? How easy it is going to be to find, purchase, and use? Say no more! The chart below breaks down our top five picks for solar charging while backpacking. There is definitely an option to fit exactly what you need. Click on each product’s name or scroll further for more information on our picks.
This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to find products I have mentioned. You don’t pay any extra and in some cases I could earn a small commission.
Our Picks: Overview
We have taken our top 5 picks for best solar chargers for backpacking and put them in this handy-dandy chart! Compare below and then click through for my insight to each.
Each of these backpacking solar chargers has merit, but finding the right one for me was challenging. Did I just want to be able to use it for travel or could I use it day-to-day?
|Product||Unfolded Size (in)||Weight (oz)||Charging Capacity||Picture|
|Ryno Tuff Solar Charger||18.1 x 11.8 x 0.12||16||21W|
|Blavor Solar Charger||6.1 x 3.2 x 1.5||21.7||5W|
|Nekteck Solar Charger||26.3 x 11.1 x .94||18||21W|
|Foxelli Dual USB Solar Charger||27.6 x 11.4 x 0.6||19.52||21W|
|Hiluckey Portable Solar Charger||6.1 x 3.3 x 1.18||16.8||3.75W|
Ryno Tuff Solar Charger
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Ryno Tuff Solar Charger
What I like: Lightweight, hefty charging capability, awesome company.
With a name like “Ryno Tuff,” this brand sounds like it can handle just about anything you throw at it. The Ryno Tuff backpacking solar charger is my top pick.
The Ryno Tuff Solar Charger itself is on-par with the rest of my picks for solar conversion – topping out at a 24% conversion rate in direct sunlight. Your regular portable devices will charge well in full, direct sunlight. These include cell phones, music players, GPS devices, and smaller digital cameras. The 2 USB ports are in a pouch that has an LED indicator letting you know that your devices are being received and charged (no mysteries!). Having a pouch for my USB inputs and and indicator sold me on this. For someone who loves an organized backpack and doesn’t have time to keep checking to see if my phone is receiving energy from the solar source, these elements are perfect!
This charger is so lightweight, 16oz (1lb), because it functions without a secondary power bank. No backup battery included. Like I said before, we’re not counting that against any of these solar chargers for hiking! If you’re planning to stop for awhile and charge things (say, during lunch!) or hike in full-sun where you can wear the panels on your backpack, this won’t be a problem. BUT. Ryno Tuff does sell a version of this with a battery pack. I have not tested the battery pack combo myself. If you do, I would love to hear from you regarding the combo!
Blavor Solar Charger (+ Power Bank)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Blavor Solar Charger
What I like: An all-in-one setup with wireless charging capability.
I said I was only going to talk about the solar chargers and leave the power banks and accessories aside, but with this package it is really hard not to talk about it!
The backpacking solar panels themselves are on par with the basic charging capabilities that I expect: up to a 24% conversion rate in direct sunlight. You do need the power bank in order to charge anything. The portable solar panels do not work alone. (Much like the Ryno Tuff panels do.) The bank can be used with or without the panels as all battery packs do, but it doubles as the “charging port” for these panels. The mandatory use of the pack adds a little bit more weight at 21.7oz, but the size of the panels are much smaller in comparison to the Ryno Tuff.
If you’re looking for something small and plan to use a battery pack in collaboration with your panels no matter what, this might be the product for you. If you’re a little techy like my husband and like the ease of wireless charging, you need the Blavor Solar Charger and power bank. Your device must be Qi compatible. The convenience allows you to leave a few bulky cords at home!
Nekteck Solar Charger
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Nekteck Solar Charger
What I like: Basic, streamlined design for easy use.
As a person who likes to be on-the-go, I don’t want to spend a ton of time figuring out how to use a gadget.
At just over 26 inches long, this is the second longest unfolded charger on our list. The sleek design without any extra bells and whistles make it so simple to use. You’re on your own to find a power supply if you aren’t interested in plugging your devices directly into the panels. Nekteck does not advertise a “partnered” power bank. But that’s okay! Nekteck offers a 12-month warranty if the product defects under normal use and for the price it is totally worth it.
There are often sales on these backpack solar chargers. If you can get this for less than $50, it’s quite the deal.
Foxelli Dual Solar Charger
What I like: A built-in ammeter with flexible setup options. What initially drew me to these solar panels for backpacking was the built-in ammeter. You can see below that it is helpful to have an ammeter to tell how much amperage you’re actually getting since solar power relies on direct sunlight.
One other key benefit is in the design. With additional ways to hang, hold, and generally set up these chargers, you have more flexibility in where and how your charging station is set up. It has 11 “loops” in various configurations of rungs and elastic fasteners. You can be as creative as you want with your setup!
As for price, Foxelli Dual Solar Charger for backpacking often runs Amazon specials where purchasing multiple items from the company results in earning a % off of your entire order. If you’re like me and might purchase your solar charger well in advance of a trip, only to be gifted one for your birthday (stranger things have happened…), Foxelli allows you to return this solar charger no-questions-asked. The window for returns is up to 120 days from the date of purchase. A nice perk for the avid outdoors person!
NOTE: This is the 21W Foxelli solar charger, though you can get a 10W version as well. If you try both, let me know in the comments how they match up!
Hilucky Portable Charger
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hilucky Portable Charger
What I like: Ultra-compact. One of the smallest solar chargers on our list, the Hilucky portable charger can run double duty for light backpackers. It functions well as a day-to-day solar charger.
Comparable to the Blavor charger in style, this Hilucky charger gets rid of the wireless feature and a few ounces in the process. If you can trade wireless capabilities for 4oz less to carry, this is a good charger for you! Remember earlier when I was talking about being less overwhelmed by technology? Here we are again looking for the simplest solution.
Index of Solar Energy
All that to say, I absolutely respect wanting to know more with new tech. Sometimes you have a few moments to look things up. Luckily, these folks have it covered:
Watts, amperage, conversion rate, OH MY! Yes, there is a lot of terminology. It can get a little confusing even if you have an electrician in the house to explain it a few hundred times! Jot over to Solor Loco’s post on this HERE. They give you a rundown of the terms and some of the math behind solar energy.
How does solar energy work in portable panels? Essentially, direct, strong sunlight is absorbed by the panels. The cells use that sunlight to create electric energy. This energy then can be used to power other devices. There are a lot more ins and outs to this, and our friends at the Climate Reality Project have broken it down really well. Instead of reinventing the wheel to share with you how it works, we are sending you over there! They are talking about large-scale solar panels like you would see on a home or at a solar power plant, but the ideas are essentially the same.
What about Solar Charger Backpacks
You know those ones that have the Solar Panel built right into the backpack. I don’t like to be a “debbie downer” but in this case I’m going to urge a lot of caution. The best solar charger backpack I have found is the XTPower Hiking Solar Backpack which does a pretty good job of designing a backpack meant for hiking that also has a built in solar panel. However I’d only give it a B for true backpacking support. For the most part the backpacks with built in solar panels are focused on your electronics and not your comfort when hiking. You are probably better off with a separate solar charger to use with the backpack you love.
Have You Dreamed About a Camping Solar Charger too?
All of these will easily pull double duty as your solar charger for camping. Just find a sunny spot in your campsite and hang your charger out to gather a few rays. A quick caution when charging your solar charger at a campsite is to make sure it’s not laying on a hot surface like concrete or rocks. The extra heat can ruin the charger. If you can’t hang it, try laying it over the back of your folding chair or a line on your tent.
Hopefully you found the best solar charger for backpacking and it’s on its way to your home for your next trip! My goal is to be more practical with my energy usage this summer. When I get really good at using my portable panels regularly, maybe I can cut back on the amount of wall-charging power banks I own. (I counted four in the process of writing this blog… in a household of two people!) Remember, this is supposed to be helpful to us minimalists in cutting back on things that simply get in the way of our everyday and special travels!
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