Best Solar Chargers for Backpacking in 2021

Goal Zero Nomad 10

Goal Zero Nomad 10

A solar charger is a very useful gadget for long backpacking trips because it allows you to easily recharge your electronic devices such as a handheld GPS device, hiking watch or a smartphone. Since many backpackers rely on these devices for navigation along the trails, solar chargers have become very popular. Especially those who use smartphones for navigation on trails (check out our test of the best hiking apps) appreciate solar chargers, because no smartphone with GPS turned on constantly runs for more than a day without being recharged.

Solar chargers absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity which charges your devices or the battery pack. Unlike regular power banks which get drained sooner or later, solar chargers are suitable for very long trips because they allow you to recharge your devices as long as you have sunlight available.

In the following we listed the best solar chargers currently available to make your buying decision a little easier. We only listed high-quality solar chargers that come for a good price and provide good durability.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

1. Buying a Solar Charger – What is important?

Type:

There are three types of solar chargers; panels-only, panels with integrated battery pack and panels with detachable battery pack.

Panels-only

These solar chargers are the most popular because they can be used to either charge smartphones, GPS watches, headlamps etc. directly or to charge a power bank. You simply connect the solar panels to your device and the device will get charged with sunlight energy. However, before purchasing such a solar charger make sure that it is compatible with your device (connector type).

Panels with integrated battery pack 

These solar chargers are usually very compact – the solar panels and the battery pack come in one piece. Therefore, they are great for attaching to a backpack. The disadvantage is that they are not modular. You can’t use the battery pack without solar panels or solar panels wihout the battery pack.

Panels with detachable battery pack

These solar chargers are basically panels-only chargers that come with a power bank. You can also use them without the included power bank.

Size and Weight:

The larger (and heavier) the solar panel, the faster it charges the battery pack. However, keep in mind that smaller/lighter solar panels are easier to pack and carry.

Type of the Solar Panels:

There are two types of solar panels: rigid and semi-flexible. Semi-flexible solar panels can be folded for easy carrying. When you need them, you simply unfold them and position them towards the sun. The main advantage of semi-flexible solar panels is that they have a large surface area despite being very small when packed.

Solar Panels Output:

The output of solar panels is measured in watts – the higher the output the more sunlight they convert to electricity per hour.

Attachment Options:

Solar panels typically have attachment points, so you can attach them securely to your backpack. Keep in mind that you need sunlight for solar panels to work and therefore you should keep them out of the backpack during the day when you will probably be hiking.

Battery Pack:  

Although panels-only solar chargers can charge devices directly, it’s much more convenient to charge a battery pack (power bank) instead. Battery packs store more electrical energy and allow you to recharge your devices during the night when you are not using them. Battery packs differ in storage capacity and power output. The storage capacity is measured in mAh. The higher the storage capacity, the more times you can recharge your devices. However, keep in mind that a larger storage capacity also increases the weight and size of the battery pack. Most battery packs have a power output that is sufficient for charging electronic devices such as smartphones, GPS devices and GPS watches. However, battery packs can rarely charge bigger electronic devices such as laptops.

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2. The Best Solar Chargers Review

Best Solar Chargers for Backpacking

Best Solar Chargers for Backpacking

The Best Solar Chargers – List

  1. Goal Zero Nomad 10
  2. Anker PowerPort 21W
  3. BioLite SolarPanel 5+
  4. SunJack 15W
  5. PowerTraveller Falcon 21

Comparison

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Feature/Product Goal Zero Nomad 10Anker PowerPort 21WBioLite SolarPanel 5+SunJack 15W Portable Solar ChargerPowerTraveller Falcon 21
Weight1 lb. 2 oz. (510 g)15 oz. (425 g)14 oz. (390 g)1 lb. 6 oz. (600 g)16.5 oz. (470 g)
Dimensions 9.5 x 14.5 x 0.75 in. (24 x 18.4 x 3.2 cm) Folded11 x 6 x 1.1 in. (28 x 15 x 3 cm)10 x 8 x 1 in. (26 x 20 x 2.4 cm)10.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 in. (27 x 17 x 3 cm) Folded6.3 x 11 x 0.4 in. (16 x 28 x 1.1 cm)
Folded
Type Panels-onlyPanels-onlyPanels with integrated battery pack Panels-onlyPanels-only
Solar Panels TypeSemi-flexible Semi-flexible RigidSemi-flexible Semi-flexible
Solar Panels Output10 watts21 watts 5 watts15 watts21 watts
Battery Pack Capacity//2200 mAh//
Battery Pack Rechargers iPhone 8//1.2 times //
Solar Recharge Time for Battery Pack//2 hours //
Goal Zero Nomad 10

Goal Zero Nomad 10

1. Goal Zero Nomad 10

Suitable for:

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Camping

The Goal Zero Nomad 10 solar panel features built-in kickstand which clicks into place at multiple angles and allows you to position the solar panel perfectly towards the sun. It is made of rugged and durable materials, and can be strapped to your backpack, tent or other gear. The solar panel has an output of 10 watts and works perfectly with power banks from Goal Zero. The Goal Zero Nomad 10 solar panel is often combined with the Goal Zero Venture 30 power bank which has a capacity of 7800 mAh. The solar panel recharges this power bank in 4.5 to 9 hours. Nevertheless, the solar panel can also charge various devices such as cell phones, cameras etc. directly. The Goal Zero Nomad 10 is a powerful solar panel that is perfect for backpacking and other lengthy activities in the outdoors.

 

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Anker PowerPort 21W

Anker PowerPort 21W

2. Anker PowerPort 21W

Suitable for:

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Camping

The Anker PowerPort 21W is a panels-only solar charger and thus it is a good option if you already have a battery pack/power bank. However, the PowerPort 21W solar panels are also suitable to charge electronic devices such as smartphones, headlamps etc. directly. The Anker PowerPort 21W solar charger features the PowerIQ technology which discovers and replicates your device’s original charging protocol to provide the fastest possible charging speed. However, be aware that the solar panels will not generate enough electricity to match the device’s original charging protocol in case of cloudy or rainy weather. The Anker PowerPort 21W solar charger is also super lightweight and very small when packed. It has attachment points, so you can easily attach it on a backpack. However, it is not waterproof.

 

 

BioLite SolarPanel 5+

BioLite SolarPanel 5+

3. BioLite SolarPanel 5+

Suitable for:

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Camping

The BioLite SolarPanel 5+ is a solar panel with integrated 2200mAh battery pack. It features a built-in kickstand, battery/charge strength indicator and corner latches. The kickstand allows you to position the solar panel optimally towards the sun while the corner latches enable you to attach the solar panel to your gear. The solar panel outputs 5 watts and recharges the integrated battery in less than two hours. The BioLite SolarPanel 5+ weighs 14 ounces which is not a lot, considering that the battery is integrated. The solar panel is also equipped with sundial which helps you align the solar panel directly to the sun. The BioLite SolarPanel 5+ is a great option for various outdoor activities.

 

Pros:

  • Kickstand
  • Attachment points
  • Integrated battery
  • Sundial

Cons:

  • /

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SunJack 15W

SunJack 15W

4. SunJack 15W Portable Solar Charger

Suitable for:

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Camping

The SunJack 15W is a very durable panels-only solar charger. The solar panels have ETFE coating which withstands more temperature stress and chemical aggression than the typically used PET coating. The solar charger is also shock-, dust- and drop-proof. The solar panels are due to ETFE coating more efficient.  According to SunJack they have UV permeability of 95%. The solar charger has two USB ports and a built-in IC chip which identifies your device and maximizes charging speed. Therefore, it can efficiently charge two different devices simultaneously. It comes with a carabiner so you can easily attach it to a backpack. It is perfect for charging cell phones, tablets and cameras on long backpacking trips.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Efficient solar panels
  • Attachment points

Cons:

  • No kickstand – harder to position towards the sun

 

PowerTraveller Falcon 21

PowerTraveller Falcon 21

5. PowerTraveller Falcon 21

Suitable for:

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Camping

The PowerTraveller Falcon 21 is a panels-only solar charger. Nevertheless, it can charge up to two devices directly from the three efficient solar panels. The solar panels are made of durable fabric and IPX4 rated, which means that they can withstand water splashes from any direction for up to five minutes. The PowerTraveller Falcon 21 also has four attachment points in the corners, so you can easily attach it to your tent or other gear. It uses monocrystalline cells from SunPower which produce 25-35% more power compared to conventional cells. The PowerTraveller Falcon 21 is due to its power best for long backpacking trips.

 

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Author Information

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.