Best Solar Charger For Backpacking 2017 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Backpacking is a fun way to get out of the house and enjoy the nature, but since routes are so long, we might need our electronic devices to see work-related emails. Additionally, we use electronic devices to find our way and see new and adventurous events in nature. The best solar charger for backpacking enables you to see all of these events and never get lost.

These solar chargers are designed to charge any device, but how effective are they and which of them is the best to suit your needs? We have done some of the legwork and tested many of these chargers to see if they work and which ones are the best. We have also included a buyer’s guide to help you see which of the features are the most important for you to look out for.

Who Should Buy A Solar Charger?

The solar charger is designed for outdoor use, but many of them can also be used indoors if you need your mobile device without being close to a charging station. While backpacking is one of the key activities when these chargers come handy, they can also be used for camping and hunting purposes. The one thing we have learned about having a portable charger is that you only realize you need one when it is too late.

What Should You Look For?

best solar charger for backpacking

While this buyer’s guide is designed for you to see which features are the most important when buying a charger, it also served as our judging criterion to ensure that you find the best quality chargers without being overcharged or ripped off by fake brands. Here are the most important things you should consider before buying a solar charger:

1. Wattage

Solar chargers come with different watts and this will make a massive difference depending on the device you would like to charge. Smaller devices like mp3 players only need a 4-5W charger, while larger devices like an iPhone need a 7W charger. Your iPad will need a charger with at least 15 watts to keep it going.

The higher wattage charger also tends to be recharged much sooner and they will only take around 1-2 hours, while the lower wattage chargers, will often time take as long as 3-4 hours. You will need to decide on the device that you will be charging and see how many wattages it needs to be fully charged. If you are traveling to an area with less sunlight, the higher wattage chargers should be much better.

2. Power Output

The power output is generally measured in amperage and the higher the output, the larger the device it can charge. While any output will eventually charge the device, something like an iPad will never be fully charged with a 1.3 amp charger. The larger 2.1 amp charger will be capable of doing this and complete it in a much faster time.

3. Weight

The charger is something that you will be carrying with you for the entire trip and if the charger is too heavy, it might become a burden to bear. The weight should be as low as possible, making it easy to carry in your backpack without putting too much weight into the bag. However, we do not imagine the charger making too much of a difference if your bag is already overpacked.

4. Portability

Leaving your device and waiting for it to recharge can be quite frustrating, but if your device has an inner pocket to stash the device and carry them together, you could continue without having to carry them in your hands.

The easier it is to carry the device and use it at the same time, the more functionality you will have and devices can be charged anytime and anywhere.

5. Versatility

In today’s modern world, we are not happy with having just one device and we would like to have technology all the time. Some of the newer and more high-end chargers come with two or more different charging ports. These ports can also have different amperages for you to charge the phone and the tablet on their specified power output level. The more versatile the charger is the more electronic devices you can carry.

6. Accessories

Not many accessories are available for the solar charger, but some of them do include loaded adapters and charging indicators to notify you when it has been recharged in the sun. If you are looking for even more portability, you can look for a solar charger with a carabiner to carry along with you whilst charging your device.

7. Connector

Most solar panels come standard with a USB connector that will work on modern device chargers. The problem is that many people love taking photos and not all cameras work on these chargers.

Having the right connector makes a massive difference and if you are thinking of charging your camera, you should check the connectors to see if you have one that works with it.

8. Solar Panel Type

Last but certainly not least, you will need to decide which type you need. With 3 main types of solar chargers, it can be hard to make that decision and we have found a few details on each to help you make that decision.

- CIGS: CIGS are the smallest and most flexible solar panels. These panels are made from fabric and they can fit virtually anywhere. They are the cheapest to manufacture, but they have an obvious flaw n the flexible materials. These panels tend to wear and tear much faster.

- Monocrystalline: Monocrystalline are some of the older panels and these are a little heavier. However, they are also much more rugged and they tend to last a little longer. The only problem is that they can become quite heavy to carry around.

- Polycrystalline: These panels are made up of multiple crystal ingots in each cell and this means that they take a little longer to charge. The monocrystalline crystals are singular and pure, making them around 4% more effective at charging and recharging devices.

Our Top 5 Best Solar Charger For Backpacking Choices

Now that you understand which of the features are the most important, you might also be wondering which charger we rate the highest. Luckily, we have done this and chosen 5 of the top chargers we tested that proved to stand the tests and provide us with great value for our money. Here are the top 5 chargers on the market today.

** Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's review on Amazon

Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme Tactical

First, on our list, we have the Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme Tactical solar charger and this is one of the most rugged chargers you could find. It has a power output of 9000mAh and it is capable of charging most 5-volt devices. It is quite small and includes an additional pouch for you to store the charger and the device you are charging.

The charger contains a lithium-polymer battery that gives you great durability and it is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. The solar panel is capable of fully charging the charger in 18-22 hours depending on the level of sun it catches.

Unfortunately, this charger is quite expensive for the average backpacker doing it once or twice a year. This charger will be best suited for professional backpackers traveling the world.

Pros

  • The design is extremely rugged
  • It has a massive power output of 9000mAh
  • Has the ability to charge two separate devices
  • The charger is waterproof in up to 1 meter deep water

Cons

  • It is expensive compared to the competition

Instapark Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger

The Instapark Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger is more affordable and it features a polycrystalline solar panel. It features a foldable design, making it easier to carry and transport and the weight are only around 1.3 pounds. As a 10-watt charger, it is also designed to charge multiple devices and with 2 USB ports, it can charge your smartphone and your tablet simultaneously.

The charger does not need any additional batteries and this means that it leaves no carbon footprint, it also comes with two additional bonus 3000mAh battery packs for charging more devices. The price is really affordable and even though the size is rather large, this would be the ideal charger for the occasional backpacker.

Pros

  • The charger is really affordable
  • It leaves no carbon footprint
  • The 2 USB ports enable charging 2 devices simultaneously
  • It comes with two 3000mAh battery packs

Cons

  • The devices is rather large to carry and store

Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit

Next, we have the Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit and this charger features a 7800mAh and 30-watt design that should charge all of your devices you have on your trip. The battery pack can be charged manually and this will take around 4 hours, while fully charging it with the solar panels will take around 9 hours of full sun.

The charger is also foldable for portability, but even when open and in use, it is still waterproof, meaning that it can be left in the rain if you forget about it. The charger features 2 high-speed ports as well. This makes it possible to charge more than one device at the same time. It is rather expensive, but we would recommend it to avid outdoorsmen like campers and backpackers.

Pros

  • The 30-watt power capabilities helps it to recharge in just 9 hours
  • The design is foldable and portable, making it easy to carry
  • Features 2 ports for charging devices simultaneously

Cons

  • The charger is quite expensive

Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger

The Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger is an affordable high wattage charger designed for everyone. It features a lightweight and foldable design, making it compact and easy to carry around. The charger is designed to provide you with a power output of 2.3-amps, but this can be extended to 3-amps if it is used under direct sunlight.

At only 14.7-ounces, the charger is lightweight and easy to carry and features 2 different ports that can be used to charge your devices simultaneously. The only downside is the lack of durability and should the charger fall, it might be damaged.

Nevertheless, it is quite affordable and should be ideal for anyone in need of a solar charger for any backpacking or camping trip. It is also worth mentioning, that this charger does not work as many of the high-end chargers work on larger energy-hungry devices like iPad and tablets.

Pros

  • It reaches a power output of up to 3amps
  • 2 different charging ports for specific devices
  • The charger is really affordable for occasional backpackers

Cons

  • The design lacks some durability
  • Lacks the ability to charge larger devices like iPads and tablets

X-DRAGON 40W SunPower Solar Panel Charger

Last but certainly not least, we have the X-DRAGON 40W SunPower Solar Panel Charger and this reasonably priced charger comes with 40-wattage power capability. It is designed to power most of your 5-volt electronic devices and it has a power efficiency of between 22% and 25%. This makes it perfect for charging your larger items as well as smaller devices.

This solar charger also offers you versatility and it comes with 10 different laptop connectors and the additional carabiner for carrying it along with you. Even the foldable design makes it easier to carry around, it still lacks the lighter weight that you might need for your longer trips. Nevertheless, under direct sunlight, it has the ability to reach a power output of 2.8-amps.

The price is reasonable and what you would expect to pay for a mid-range solar charger. This one is quite versatile and we would recommend it for indoor and outdoor use. It should also be great for camping trips in sunny areas.

Pros

  • The charger has a power efficiency of between 22% and 25%
  • It has the ability to reach 2.8amps
  • The pack includes 10 different laptop connector
  • It has been reasonably priced

Cons

  • The device is quite heavy to carry around

Which One Will You Choose?

While choosing the best solar charger for backpacking is quite difficult, these options should narrow it down for you. However, choosing the best one is not the easiest of tasks and we have gone for the best combination of value and affordability. The Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit is not only designed for portability, but it also comes at a reasonably affordable price.

Now that you have the ideal charger, you should never have to let save power to keep your electronic devices from running flat on any trip.

Luna Anderson
 

I’m Luna and I’m truly in love with outdoor blogs. I want to give useful pieces of advice about travelling and outdoor activities through practical tips and tricks. Plan and go, nothing can stop you from exploring the world.

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