If you are going on a long hiking trip, then you may want to consider investing in a portable solar charger for Backpacking. These Lightweight Solar Panels allow you to charge your electric devices such as your Smartphone, Hiking GPS, Hiking Watch, Emergency PLB, and Hiking Camera.
There are certain electronic devices that backpackers have become more reliant on, therefore, a portable solar panel has become more popular.
As long as there is sunlight available, then the charger will be able to store electricity and charge your other devices easily. If you also take a Lightweight Power Bank for Backpacking your electronics could potentially stay charged indefinitely.
In this article, I have put together the best portable solar chargers for hiking and backpacking that are on the market in 2023.
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Best Backpacking Solar Charger 2023
The Best Solar Charger for Hiking and Backpacking in 2023 are:
- Big Blue 3 28W Solar Charger
- Anker Powerport 21W
- Biolite SolarPanel 5+ 2.0
- Powertraveller Falcon 21 Solar Panel
- Goal Zero Nomad 10
Best Solar Charger for Backpacking – Overall
Big Blue 3 28W Solar Charger
Weight: 21 oz / 600 grams
> 3 USB-A ports to charge up to three devices at once.
> Can be folded down, for easy storage and portability.
> Solar Panel has a PET polymer surface, which protects them from rain or any kind of moisture.
> You need to put the solar panel in direct sunlight if you want it to charge quickly. It will charge in shade, but the device will just take longer to charge up.
The Big Blue 3 has three USB-A ports that allow you to charge multiple devices in one go. What we found really clever about this charger is that there is smart charge technology installed on this charger.
The Big Blue 3 can recognize the device you want to charge and provide it with the optimal charging speed. Alongside this there is protection against short circuits, overcharging, and overheating that comes along with this product.
The solar charger is quite portable as it can be folded down to about the size of a tablet. So can fit into any backpack and is light enough to carry around. If you go much bigger than this you would be better suited to use camping solar chargers.
It is a durable solar charger and the solar panels use a PET polymer surface. This protects the solar panels from any kind of moisture from rain, fog, or mist. Alongside that, the USB ports have a rubber covering to protect them from moisture and dust or sand.
Just unroll the charger and plug in our devices to charge. This solar charger can charge most backpacking electronics, but it cannot charge laptops or iPads.
Overall this is the best solar charger on the market at the moment. Although it weighs just over 20 ounces it is well suited to backpacking, especially if you are in a group of 3 or more hikers. This will also be a great solar panel for Bikepacking and bicycle touring.
Best Lightweight Portable Solar Charger
Anker Powerport 21W
Weight: 14.7 oz / 416 grams
> USB ports with super-fast 2.5A charging
> Can be folded down, for easy storage and portability.
> Solar Panels have a PET polymer surface
> You need to put the solar panel in direct sunlight if you want it to charge quickly. It will charge in shade but will take longer to charge.
The Anker Powerport 21W Solar Charger is one of the faster portable chargers in this review. It has a charging speed of up to 2.4 amps per port under direct sunlight. It is a very efficient charger, as it can charge two devices simultaneously at optimal speed.
Just like Big Blue 3, the Anker Powerport 21W Solar Charger can be folded down to make it easier to store and transport, however, the Anker is smaller, lighter, and only has 2 charging ports. If that is all you need this will work awesome for you.
This allows you to attach the solar panel to your tent, trees, or your backpack while you are on the move. It has a very thin and lightweight design that makes it ideal for anyone planning on long-distance backpacking trips.
Overall, the Anker Powerport 21W is the best lightweight foldable solar charger for backpacking and hiking. With 2 high-speed charging ports, this could be the perfect portable solar panels for couples when hiking, backpacking or bike touring.
Best Solar Power Bank for Backpacking
Biolite SolarPanel 5+ 2.0
Weight: 13.8 oz / 391 grams
> Comes with a kickstand that allows you to position the product perfectly towards the sun.
> A built-in sundial allows you to precisely angle your charger at the sun
> Has an integrated battery pack that will take only 2 hours to recharge itself.
> Small size, it is around the same size as a laptop or iPad.
> This is a pricey product, and one of the more expensive ones on our list today.
The Biolite Solar panel 5+ 2.0 is able to power all small devices from smartphones to GPS and tablets. This is due to the charger’s 3,200 mAh lithium-ion battery pack, or when the sun is shining.
I like the built-in kickstand that has a built-in sundial. As a result, you can take full advantage of solar charging with precise alignment with the sun.
The Biolite Solarpanel can recharge its integrated battery pack within 2 hours and produces 5 watts of power.
Overall, I like the Biolite Solarpanel 5+ 2.0 which is a lightweight solar battery pack and charger combination that will be enough for most people when hiking and backpacking. This is one of the best solar power bank for backpacking 2023.
Best Portable Solar Panels for Laptops and Tablets
Powertraveller Falcon 21 Solar Panel
Weight: 16.6 oz / 470 g
> The solar cells used on this product are around 25 to 35% more powerful than other cells.
> IPX4 Rated – These Solar panels can withstand light splashes of water
> Eyelets on the corners can be used to attach this product to a tree, tent, or backpack for convenient solar charging.
> There is no kickstand with this charger, therefore some people find it difficult to position it precisely towards the sun.
The Powertraveller Falcon 21 Solar Panel, is a foldable yet lightweight solar panel. However, you can charge up to two devices directly from the three solar panels.
You can charge devices such as smartphones, cameras, tablets, and GPS, all using the sun’s rays, using the USB and DC ports. It can charge some laptops that are under 40W. The monocrystalline solar cells produced up to 25 to 35% more power compared to other solar cells.
This solar panel is made from durable materials, so it can withstand whatever your backpacking trip throws at it. We also learned that these solar panels have an IPX4 rating, which means they can withstand splashes from water for up to 5 minutes.
Also, the eyelets that can be found, allow you to attach this panel to your backpack to use while walking or on trees. Note that power banks are not included in this unit so consider taking one with you.
Overall this is a powerful yet compact and portable solar panel charger that has enough power to charge tablets and some laptops.
Other Great Portable Solar Panels
Goal Zero Nomad 10
Weight: 17.6 oz / 499 grams
> Goal Zero Nomad 10 can be hooked onto your backpack to change on the go. Or you can use the flip-out kickstand to angle the charger precisely at the sun.
> Small, portable, and lightweight product
> 1-year warranty
> Many people have complained that the Goal Zero Nomad 10 produced 5 watts, not 10 when in use.
The Goal Zero Nomad 10, is known for its high efficiency. It also has a 180-degree kickstand that can be adjusted to get more of the sun’s rays. Alongside that from testing, we discovered that you can also hook this product onto your backpack even while on the move.
The 10 watt, 6-7 volt panel has a built-in USB port, which is ideal for single-device charging. You can use this charger alongside a power bank from Goal Zero as well.
However, the solar panel will take around 4 to 9 hours to recharge the power banks.
Overall, the Goal Zero Nomad 10 is showing its age as newer models with better technology produce better results. Having said that, it still does a good job as a solar charger for hiking and backpacking.
Solar panel charger relies on the sun, so you should be able to charge on the go with the solar panels out in the sunshine. However, when it comes to determining what kind of solar panel you want, there are a couple of things you need to consider.
Number of USB charging Ports
The first thing you need to decide is how many devices you will be using and how many will need to be charged during your trip. This will help determine how many USB charging ports you will need.
You also need to think about how long your trip is going to be. This is because, the longer the trip, the more gear you will need to bring. Therefore, you will need a solar panel that is small and portable, that doesn’t take up too much space in your backpack.
All the Portable Solar Chargers in this review are lightweight, portable, and suitable for backpacking trips. Most are more suited to hiking in groups or couples where it is a great idea to split the weight you carry so the overall load is lighter per person. Overall, most of these weigh similar to the weight of a Lightweight Backpacking Power Bank Battery.
Charging Time and Speed
There are a lot of options out there, but not all of them are really powerful. You want something that will charge your devices efficiently, so then it’s less of a worry for you on your trip.
Also, these chargers require sunlight to work. All these chargers will work when it is cloudy but not with the same level of efficiency. And any of the ones in this review will do a good job as a portable backpacking solar charger.
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Overall all the portable solar chargers in this review are awesome and can be a great addition to your lightweight backpacking gear list, or even your Bikepacking gear list.
Honestly, I find it too difficult to determine one Portable Solar Panel Charger to be the Best. If heading to the backcountry for a long period of time, these are best used in conjunction with battery packs to keep everything charged.
Here are several that are best suited to different situations.
- Big Blue 3 28W Solar Charger – Best Overall Backpacking Solar Charger, best for a large group and best for Bikepacking and Bicycle Touring.
- Anker Powerport 21W – Best Lightweight Solar Charger and best for a couple.
- Biolite SolarPanel 5+ 2.0 – Best Portable Solar Panel with Power Bank.
- Powertraveller Falcon 21 Solar Panel – Best Portable Solar Panel for Charging Tablets and Phones.
Frequently Asked Questions
It all depends on what is most convenient for you. It is important to keep in mind that the bigger the solar panels, then the more energy is going to be absorbed. Which then results in your devices being charged quicker.
However, you need to be aware of what much space you have to carry the charger around. A lot can be folded down and made more compatible. Yet, it does depend on how much and often you will need to charge devices.
If you are taking a very long backpacking trip, with an unreliable battery pack or power source, then you should consider purchasing a solar charger.
Even if it is just to be used in an emergency, you can always guarantee at some point you will get some sunlight to use the charger if you really need to.
They are convenient to have on hand and can provide you with a more reliable power source that you don’t need to worry about.
Yes, solar is a good way to keep all your electronics charged when hiking and backpacking. Especially if you are hiking in areas with lots of sunlight. If you are hiking in areas with lots of tree cover, rain or clouds then they are less efficient.
Both work well and both have limitations. If you are going on a short backpacking trip for a weekend or a couple of days a battery bank should be enough to keep your electronics and phone charged. If you are going for a week or more a solar panel will charge your gear better over a longer period of time.
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The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
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The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
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