Best Backpacking Solar Panels: Efficient Energy on the Trail

In an era of technology and connectivity, the ability to maintain power for devices while exploring the wilderness has become increasingly important. Outdoors enthusiasts often rely on solar panels during their backpacking trips to keep GPS devices, smartphones, and cameras charged. A backpacking solar panel is a portable energy solution that harnesses sunlight to generate electricity, offering a sustainable source of power when off the grid.

Backpacking solar panels offer a reliable option for travelers looking to sustain their electronic devices during long hikes. These panels are typically designed to be lightweight and compact, making them easy to attach to a backpack or set up at a campsite. The efficiency of a solar panel, its ability to convert sunlight into electrical energy, is a crucial factor that affects its performance. Since backpackers are frequently on the move and face varying weather conditions, the best solar panels for this purpose are those that are weather-resistant and able to charge efficiently in different light conditions.

 

When considering a purchase, the key attributes to look for are panel efficiency, weight, durability, and charging capability. Higher efficiency panels will yield a greater energy output in a given amount of time, thus expediting the charging process. However, this should be balanced with the form factor, as carrying a bulky solar panel could hinder one’s mobility on the trail. Additionally, the chosen panel must be robust enough to withstand the rigors of outdoor travel, including exposure to the elements.

Identifying the most suitable backpacking solar panel entails assessing specific needs against the backdrop of product features and efficiency. Engaging in this assessment will enable hikers and outdoor adventurers to choose a solar panel that not only meets their power demands but also enhances their overall backpacking experience. With a wealth of options available, determining the best backpacking solar panel involves careful consideration of these diverse factors, ensuring that travelers remain connected, even in the remotest of locations.

Top Backpacking Solar Panels

For backpackers who prioritize staying connected and powered while on the trail, a reliable solar panel is a must-have. The following list comprises the most efficient and durable solar panels suitable for backpacking adventures. These carefully selected models offer a balance of portability, power output, and ease of use, ensuring adventurers can harness the sun’s energy wherever their journey takes them.

BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

Sale
[Upgraded] BigBlue 3 USB Ports 28W Solar Charger(5V/4.8A Max), Portable SunPower Solar Panel for Camping, IPX4 Waterproof, Compatible with iPhone 11/XS/XS Max/XR/X/8/7, iPad, Samsung Galaxy LG etc.
  • 【Upgraded Triple USB-A Ports】Each maximum output is 5V/2.4A and total maximum current of 3 USB is at 5V/4.8A. BigBlue 28w solar charger allows you to charge multiple devices at once. It comes with smart charge technology which can recognize your device smartly then providing optimal charging speed vary with different devices. BigBlue ensure 100% safe charging with overcurrent, overheating and short-circuit protection.
  • 【Higher Solar Conversion】Highly efficient SunPower solar panel convert up to 24% of solar power into free energy in enough sunlight, which is the most durable panels at present, standing up to elements and wear and tear better than conventional panels. This special PET polymer surface protects solar panel from occasional rain or wet fog and three ports are covered with rubber cover to protect them from dust or water damage.
  • 【Portable Camping Solar Panel】BigBlue solar charger is a great option if you’re taking an extended camping trip or if you’re traveling somewhere with an unreliable power grid. With compact size (11.6 × 6.3× 1.3in folded) and lightweight (20.5 oz) design, it is portable and light enough to fit into any camping backpack or hiking daypack. It is also a must have for stashing in an emergency kit.

 

Outdoor enthusiasts would find the BigBlue 28W Solar Charger a reliable companion for its efficient charging capabilities and durable design.

Pros

  • Compatible with multiple devices, facilitating simultaneous charging
  • High solar panel conversion efficiency for quicker charging in sunlight
  • Compact and lightweight, ideal for backpacking and emergency preparedness

Cons

  • Not suitable for charging in low-light conditions
  • Cannot be used to charge laptops or larger electronics
  • Requires additional cables for certain devices, like Apple products

Hefting the BigBlue solar charger on my latest backpacking trip was a breeze, with its lightweight and foldable design fitting snugly into my pack. While traversing sunny trails, I found it exceptionally easy to clip the charger onto my backpack, allowing me to power up my devices on the go. The charger’s durability was evident as it faced the rugged outdoors without any sign of wear or tear.

In full sunlight, the device proved highly effective, topping off my smartphone’s battery with reassuring speed. The three USB ports were a godsend, letting me charge not only my phone but also my camera and portable speaker, all with room to spare for my hiking partner’s gadgets.

However, it was on overcast days that I felt the charger’s limitations. The solar panel’s reliance on bright sunlight meant slower charging times, nudging me to manage my power usage more carefully. Additionally, while hiking through remote areas, I pondered the usefulness of the charger for those carrying laptops, a device it unfortunately cannot accommodate.

In short, the BigBlue 28W Solar Charger shines for the right user—someone in need of a lightweight, efficient, and sturdy power source for smaller electronic devices during sun-drenched outdoor adventures.

FlexSolar 20W Charger

 

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20W Small USB Solar Panel Charger 5V USB-A PD2.0 USB-C Foldable Portable Lightweight ETFE Power Emergency Panel IP67 Waterproof Hiking Camping Backpacking for Phones Tablets Power Bank
  • 【usb solar chargers】Built in 1* USB-A and 1*USB-C output ports. Each ports is max 15w and the max power of the each port is 10W in case of the both usb is used togher. It can charge directly your phones,power banks, usb fans,tablets,watches and other medium small usb 5V electronic devices in the sunlight. Perfect for your power emergency outdoor.Note: cann't store the power. You can prepare a rechargeable battery packs and charge it with solar panel during the day for the use at night.
  • 【Portable solar panels 】 2 folding panel with 1.5lbs (700g) lightweight design. The unfolded size is 18*12*0.6inch and 12 * 9.8 * 0.6 inch of the fold size which is similar with ipads. Easily put it into your backpack, hold it in your hand or store it in your car. 4 hanging hole feature and with 2 inclueded carabiners, convenient to hang usb solar panels on the backpack to charge your devces while you are hiking. Perfect for hiking, camping or backpacking to power emergency.
  • 【Smart Charging Sun Power Panels】Integrated IC automatically make the auto-restart function which allows consistent charging becomes reality even when moving in or out of the shadow and detects the connected devices and provides the optimized charging, and an included LED light shows the charging status. The red light is on and means that solar panel is normal and you can chage your devices. FlexSolar ensure safe charging with overcurrent, overheating and short-circuit protection.

 

Outdoor enthusiasts seeking an efficient and durable solar charging solution will find the FlexSolar 20W Charger a reliable companion on their adventures.

Pros

  • Exceptionally lightweight and foldable for portability
  • Equipped with both USB-A and USB-C ports for versatile charging
  • Built with ETFE lamination for durability and weather resistance

Cons

  • Cannot store power for use without sunlight
  • Maximum power limited when using both USB ports simultaneously
  • Junction box is not waterproof

Hefting the FlexSolar 20W Charger, one immediately notices its lightness and compact form. Its folding design makes it no more cumbersome than carrying a tablet, slipping unobtrusively into any backpack. On reaching camp, the device unfurls easily, ready to soak up the sun’s rays.

The charger’s performance in direct sunlight impresses, efficiently powering devices and making one feel a bit more secure even in the wilderness. Its dual USB ports, catering to both USB-A and USB-C connections, mean that both a phone and a power bank can be topped up simultaneously, ensuring one stays connected.

Durability is another hallmark of the FlexSolar charger. The ETFE lamination stands up to the rigours of outdoor use, enduring abrasions and resisting water, aside from the non-waterproof junction box. It’s clear this solar panel is made to withstand diverse environmental challenges.

In summary, the FlexSolar 20W Charger emerges as a solid choice for hikers and backpackers who prioritize energy efficiency and equipment resilience. The convenience of its lightweight, foldable design, coupled with its robust ETFE construction, makes it an ideal piece of gear for off-grid power. Though its inability to store electrical energy might require some planning, its reliable performance under the sun is reassuring.

ELECAENTA Portable Solar Charger

ELECAENTA 22W Solar Charger with 2 USB Ports, 24% High Efficiency, IP54 Waterproof, Foldable & Portable ETFE Solar Panel Charger for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, LG and Outdoor Camping Backpacking
  • 24% HIGH CONVERSION RATE: Made of 3 well-build monocrystalline silicon panels, using high transmittance ETFE coating and micro-concave-convex design, an important specification of this solar panel is a conversion efficiency of up to 24%, which is one of the highest available. It is a ready-to-go solution for the camping backpacking
  • DUAL USB OUTPUT POTRTS: With 2 USB output ports (5V/3A per port, 5V/4A Max when using both USB 1 and USB 2.), it can charge 2 devices at the same time. Equipped with TIR-C technology and automatic charging, it automatically recognizes connected devices and delivers optimal current. [Please note that this product has no DC output, so it cannot charge your power stations.]
  • DURABLE & IP54 WATERPROOF: The well made ETFE laminate coating on the solar panel is highly waterproof, flame retardant, dustproof and self-cleaning, making this portable solar charger virtually indestructible and extremely durable. The Oxford cloth on the back is waterproof IP54, which protects against occasional rain and wet fog. Please keep the USB port dry when charging

For those in need of reliable off-grid power, the ELECAENTA charger is a robust companion, offering impressive efficiency in sunlight.

Pros

  • Achieves a high energy conversion rate, suitable for the tech-savvy backpacker
  • Capable of charging multiple devices simultaneously
  • Constructed with durable materials, built for outdoor resilience

Cons

  • Absence of a DC output limits charging to USB-compatible devices only
  • Waterproofing does not extend to the USB ports, requiring extra caution
  • Given its size when unfolded, finding the optimal charging spot might take some maneuvering

Tucked away in the wilderness, with the ELECAENTA in hand, power scarcity becomes a concern of the past. The solar panels unfold effortlessly, revealing a surprisingly light device given its durable build. The ETFE coating gleams under the sun, almost as eager as I am to see the devices spring back to life.

The dual USB ports are a thoughtful touch, allowing one to share the sun’s generosity with a friend or charge additional gadgets. Despite the lack of a DC outlet — a limitation I am willing to overlook — the device is indeed attentive, discerning the needs of my smartphone and tablet, catering to them with the appropriate charge.

True, I must be protective of the USB area when weather turns sour, but considering the ELECAENTA’s tenacity against the elements, it’s a small price. While its spread can be broad when splayed out beneath the midday sun, finding an ample spot proves to be part of the day’s adventure.

In such a compact form when folded, it’s a piece of cake to clip it onto my backpack with the carabiners provided, and hike into the great unknown. It’s an empowering feeling, knowing that as long as the sun is in the sky, my connection to the world remains within my grasp.

FlexSolar Mini Panels

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2 PCS Mini 6W Solar Panel Charger 5V USB Small Monocrystalline Power Emergency Panels IP67 Waterproof Camping Hiking Backpacking for Outdoor Security Camera Fans Phone Light Flashlight Small Devices
  • USB Solar Panel:With 2Pcs mini solar panels and 1* USB parallel cable. Each panel has usb-a output port(max 5v/1a), can directly in the sunlight to charge your iphones, security camera, flashlight and other small devices. Can also run connection between solar panel to do DIY projects,such as charge usb fan for the small chicken coop,etc.The total USB output cann't charge apple devices in case of the connection between two panels. Charging apple devices with single panel.
  • Portable Solar Chargers: Small size lightweight which the size is 10.66in x 6.88 x 0.1in and the weight is only 0.5 lbs and 4 metal holes design. Easy to carry around and use for outdoor emergency power, such as camping,hiking or backpacking. We provide you 2 free carabiners, which are good for you to hang on your backpack, tent, or tree, even when you are walking or resting, it will not prevent to power your equipment. Note:solar panels cann’t store the power.
  • High-efficiency solar panels:Made of the A+ Monocrystalline Cell and PET film lamination, can effectively convert solar energy into electricity, with a conversion rate of up to 24%. IP67 Protection waterproof grade which can work under unexpected weather and improve a longer life for your solar panels.

 

Outdoor enthusiasts should consider the FlexSolar Mini Panels for their compact design and functional versatility on the trail.

Pros

  • Highly portable with a lightweight and thin profile
  • Straightforward and convenient USB charging for small devices
  • Durable and waterproof construction suitable for outdoor conditions

Cons

  • Limited charging capability with maximum output at 5V/1A per panel
  • Cannot charge multiple power-intensive gadgets at full speed simultaneously
  • Not designed for substantial energy storage or charging larger devices

As someone who spends a fair amount of time in the great outdoors, the FlexSolar Mini Panels have been an integral part of my backpacking gear. Their slim form factor and feather-like weight of just 0.5 lbs per panel means I can easily slip them into my pack without feeling bogged down. With the added carabiners, hanging the panels on my backpack for a charge on the go is a breeze.

The direct USB output capability is a standout feature. During a day-long hike, it kept my security camera and flashlight fully charged. Of course, with the sun playing its part, my devices were energized and ready for the night ahead. The panels’ intelligent chip ensuring safe charging is a reassurance that my gear remains in good condition.

Their weatherproof rating and high-efficiency solar cells are assets in unpredictable weather. I recall a trip where a sudden downpour ensued, and yet, these robust panels continued their solar magic, unhampered. However, it should be noted that while they’ve been reliable for small gadgets, more power-hungry devices like tablets would take significantly longer to charge, especially if the weather is overcast. The efficiency of the panels can vary with environmental conditions, which isn’t surprising but is definitely a factor to consider when depending on solar power.

In summary, the FlexSolar Mini Panels are a travel-friendly solution for keeping small devices charged during outdoor adventures. Although they may not replace heavier duty charging options, they complement the minimalist traveler aiming for a light and low-maintenance setup.

Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Charger

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Hiluckey Solar Charger 25000mAh, Outdoor USB C Portable Power Bank with 4 Solar Panels, 3A Fast Charge External Battery Pack with 3 USB Outputs Compatible with Smartphones, Tablets, etc.
  • 25000mAh High Capacity: The solar power bank charges up 6-8 times for a cell phone and 2.5 times for a tablet, great for a week-long trip.
  • Large Solar Panels: This solar charger comes with 4 high-performance solar panels that can reach 6W in direct sunlight to keep your phone up and running even in places without electricity.
  • Fast Charging: With the upgraded 15W output, the portable solar charger can fast charge an iPhone to 50% in 30 minutes. One USB C port and dual USB A ports achieve the simultaneous charging for three devices.

The Hiluckey Solar Charger is a robust companion for multi-day hiking trips, offering peace of mind with its renewable energy source and ample storage capacity.

Pros

  • Large battery capacity sustains devices over extended trips
  • Four-panel design maximizes solar intake for reliable charging potential
  • Integrated flashlight proves indispensable in emergency situations

Cons

  • Solar charging is slower compared to plugging into an outlet
  • Bulkier and heavier than non-solar counterparts
  • Hanging mechanism less intuitive than competitors

Having the chance to test the Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Charger has been a revelation. On a week-long trekking adventure, the solar charger’s meaty battery capacity was a lifeline, keeping a smartphone full of life for days. It was impossible not to appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the design; four expansive solar panels unfolded like a sunflower towards the daylight, drinking in the rays with an efficiency that was impressive for a portable device.

While the charm of solar power is its off-grid energy source, one must note that the solar charging process isn’t without its sluggish moments, especially on days when the sun plays hide and seek. With USB-C fast charging, though, the tides turn rapidly when near a power source. Devices perk up briskly, ensuring minimal downtime from all action.

Out in the wild, the charger’s built-in flashlight did more than just illuminate the path; it added a layer of safety during night-time sojourns. Although it tacked on extra weight, the trade-off for a powerful dual-purpose tool was justified. Carrying it, however, did require some rigging genius since its attachment loop called for a bit of improvisation, differing slightly from other backpack-friendly solar chargers.

In essence, the Hiluckey charger confidently walks the line between modern convenience and outdoor ruggedness. It stands as a testament to the power of harnessing the sun, fitting beautifully into the life of any adventurer who seeks to stay connected, even in the most remote corners of the world.

Goal Zero Nomad 10

Goal Zero Nomad 10, Foldable Monocrystalline 10 Watt Solar Panel with USB Port, Portable Solar Panel Backpacking, Hiking and Travel. Lightweight Backpack Solar Panel Charger with Adjustable Kickstand
  • HIGH EFFICIENCY PANEL: The 10W, 6-7V Panel has a built in USB port, great for small device charging
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: Weighs 1.2 lbs, Fits almost anywhere at 9.5x14.5x.75"(unfolded), 9.5x7.2x1.2"(folded)
  • VERSATILE: Hook it on your backpack while hiking, or prop it up with the 180° adjustable kickstand

 

For avid backpackers looking to keep their devices charged, the Goal Zero Nomad 10 is a sturdy choice with user-friendly features.

Pros

  • Portability is top-notch due to its lightweight design.
  • Built-in USB port enhances the convenience of charging on the go.
  • The adjustable kickstand allows for optimal solar positioning.

Cons

  • It may feel slightly heavier compared to ultralight panels.
  • Charging efficiency dips in low-light conditions.
  • Premium build quality comes at a higher price point.

On a recent backpacking trip, this solar panel was a game-changer. The lightweight yet rugged design allowed me to attach it securely to my backpack, making the most of the day’s sunlight. Its compact size did not impede any mobility, and I hardly noticed the extra weight.

The Nomad 10 features an integrated USB port which makes for hassle-free charging. Phones, cameras, and even a GPS device reached full power efficiently. The high-efficiency panel performed admirably under the clear sky.

Having the ability to prop the panel at various angles thanks to the adjustable kickstand ensured I could easily find the perfect sun-catching position at rest stops. Although a bit pricier than some competitors, the dependable performance and robust construction justify the cost. On overcast days, however, patience was key as the power trickle was slow.

The Goal Zero Nomad 10 stands as a reliable companion for outdoor adventurers. Its solid build and thoughtful design cater well to sustained use in the wilderness, keeping your essential gadgets energized.

Buying Guide

Power Output

When selecting a solar panel for backpacking, the power output is crucial. Look for panels that offer sufficient wattage to charge the devices intended for use. Most backpacking solar panels range between 10W to 40W.

  • 10-15W: Suitable for charging smartphones or GPS devices.
  • 20-25W: Can charge several devices or a small tablet.
  • 30-40W: Best for multiple devices, including larger tablets.

Weight and Portability

As backpackers need to carry their gear, the weight and size of the solar panel are vital.

  • Lightweight (< 20 oz): Ideal for minimalists.
  • Moderate (20-30 oz): A balance between efficiency and portability.
  • Heavier (> 30 oz): For those prioritizing power over weight.

Durability

Backpacking equipment must withstand outdoor conditions. Seek solar panels with rugged design and materials that are:

  • Water-resistant: For protection against rain.
  • Scratch-resistant: To extend life span.
  • Reinforced corners/edges: For added durability.

Efficiency

Efficiency determines how well a panel converts sunlight into electrical energy. Higher efficiency panels work better in varying conditions.

Efficiency Range Consideration
High (>20%) Performs well in most environments
Moderate (15-20%) Effective in bright conditions
Low (<15%) May struggle in less sunlight

Additional Features

Additional features can enhance the backpacking experience.

  • Integrated Battery: Allows energy storage for later use.
  • USB Ports: Essential for direct device charging.
  • Foldability: Increases compactness for travel.

Examine these features to ensure the solar panel meets specific backpacking needs without compromising essential factors like weight and durability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting the right backpacking solar panel involves considering various features such as efficiency, durability, and power output. These FAQs aim to help backpackers choose the appropriate solar charging solution for their needs.

What should I look for in a high-quality backpacking solar panel?

A high-quality backpacking solar panel should have a robust build to withstand outdoor conditions, high efficiency for optimum sunlight conversion, and be lightweight for easy portability. Look for panels with a power output suitable for your devices and an appropriate surface area to capture sufficient sunlight.

How do I compare the efficiency of different solar panels for camping?

Efficiency is compared by looking at the power output relative to the size of the solar panel. Check the panel’s rated power and divide it by the surface area to get the efficiency. Additionally, review the solar cell type, as monocrystalline cells typically offer higher efficiency compared to polycrystalline cells.

Can you recommend a durable solar charger that’s suitable for backpacking?

For backpacking, a solar charger with a rugged design and resistance to weather elements is ideal. Brands like Anker and Goal Zero are reputable for producing durable solar chargers with features like reinforced corners and water-resistant materials.

What are the pros and cons of portable solar power banks for outdoor survival?

Portable solar power banks offer the convenience of storing energy for later use, which is beneficial during periods of low sunlight. However, they can be heavier and more expensive than direct solar chargers. Balance between the energy storage capacity and portability is crucial.

Is an ultralight solar panel effective enough for my backpacking needs?

An ultralight solar panel can be effective for backpacking if it provides adequate power for your devices and has enough surface area to compensate for its lightweight, thin design. They are effective for low-energy devices like smartphones and GPS units, but may not be sufficient for larger energy demands.

How much power do I really need from a solar panel to support my camping electronics?

Calculate the total watt-hours your devices consume per day and compare this with the solar panel’s output under optimal conditions. Panels around 10-20 watts are typically enough for charging small electronics, while larger setups may be needed for multiple devices or power-hungry equipment.

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