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11 Best Camping Solar Panel chargers for backpacking & bike touring. Solar 21 charger

11 Best Camping Solar Panel chargers for backpacking & bike touring. Solar 21 charger

    of the best camping solar chargers batteries compared.

    Outdoor portable panels and power banks for bikepacking, backpacking, cycle touring, bicycle camping

    Keeping your phone, laptop and electronics charged while backpacking or bike touring remote areas can be a challenge.

    The best solar charger for bikepacking or backpacking are the same panels and battery sets, the needs of hikers and cycle tourers are alike, but choosing the best camping solar panel and power bank for your needs requires a fair bit of research.

    We did it for you, comparing the specs of cheap, budget, and more expensive solar panels and batteries to help you choose what to buy.

    But first of all, let’s try to understand a bit about how solar chargers work.

    Solar Panel output power

    The electrical power is measured in Watts, unite used to quantify the rate of energy transfer. The power is the product of Voltage and magnitude of electric current (measured in Ampere “A”) W=VA.

    Given that the output voltage of a USB port is always 5V, the more ampere the Solar Panel generates, the more power (Watts) it delivers, the faster your device will charge (assuming it can take higher Amperage, which most devices can do).

    solar cells generate more current, but that means usually means larger and heavier solar panels. The efficiency of the solar cells also plays a huge role, but most of the solar chargers listed here share similar solar cells specifications.

    Power Banks and Battery Packs Capacity

    The capacity of a battery is measured in Amper per hour, Ah, although the milliampere is more often used (mAh). A battery with a capacity rating of 3500 mAh could deliver a current of 3500mA for one hour. Higher mAh ratings for the same battery type will generally mean longer run times.

    Disclosure: Some of our articles contain affiliate links. This comes at no additional cost for you and helps us keep this website up and running. (as Amazon Associates we earn commission from qualifying purchases)

    How we compile our gear guides: during the almost 10 years of our team personally tested dozens of similar pieces of gear. For what we can’t test personally, we involve other people in the cycling community to give their feedback and opinion about gear they have used. Our decade-long experience in bicycle touring enables us to find the key cons and pros of every product we mention.

    The purpose of solar chargers

    To choose the best camping solar panel charger for your needs you must first assess what those needs are.

    Do you plan on spending days and days in a row hiking or cycle touring in remote areas without any chance to find a power outlet? Will you use your phone and electronic devices constantly, for hiking or bikepacking navigation, taking pictures and video with your action cam, listening to music or whatever? Will you rely on the solar panel as your only source of electricity to keep those devices juiced?

    If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then you need a more powerful solar charger, and possibly a high-capacity power bank.

    If instead, you plan to use the power of the sun only in emergency cases, to keep your phone alive, you can go for a smaller and lighter solar charger.

    Solar Chargers interruption issues

    Most of these solar panels may stop charging if there’s not enough sunlight (in the shade for example), the interruption recovery speed is the ability of the panel to resume charging when the sun hits it again.

    Some of the cheapest panels might fail to resume charging, it can be necessary to unplug the device and then plug it again, this is quite annoying, especially when you’re not looking at the charger.

    Some solar chargers perform very well in overcast weather, while some don’t.

    Ok, now that we have an idea of how they work, let’s dive into product comparison. Don’t forget that solar chargers also make great gifts for hikers, cycle tourers, and outdoor lovers in general.

    Goal Zero Nomad 14 PLUS Camping Solar Panel

    Probably the most famous backpacking solar chargers brand, GoalZero panels are expensive but very efficient.

    The Nomad comes in three versions, the lighter Nomad 7 (7 Watts), the compact and efficient Nomad 10, and this Nomad 14 Plus (14 Watts).

    The NOMAD 14 PLUS by Goal Zero has been re-engineered in 2021 to be lighter and smarter, with a newly included kickstand to keep the panel at the perfect angle and a power-flow indicator that ensures the best solar charging experience.

    The new auto-restart feature tracks power flow history and knows the difference between a device that is fully charged and one that disconnects due to environmental causes like lack of sunlight.

    If a device is disconnected before fully charged due to lack of sunlight the NOMAD 14 PLUS will reconnect and begin charging once the sunlight returns. Ideal for phones, GPS, headlamps, or FLIP 20/30

    You can choose between different packages, the solar charger only, with Venture 30 or Venture 70 battery packs, or even with the Guide 10 battery pack if you wish to charge AA batteries.

    Charges an iPhone 6 from 0 to 100% in 2/3 hours in perfect sunny conditions, works well even with an overcast sky. Dimensions: 17.5 x 11.22 in (unfolded), 8.46 x 11.22 in (folded).

    Goal Zero Nomad 14 Plus 1.8 lb826 g 1.4A14W18/22V

    Are Portable Solar Chargers Worth It?

      Cory Gunther


  • August 9, 2022, 2:46pm EDT
  • Harnessing power from the sun is a great way to recharge gadgets or your smartphone for free while you’re out camping, going off-grid, or dealing with an emergency. However, portable solar panels aren’t free and are not always effective. So, are portable solar chargers worth buying?

    A portable solar panel is exactly what it sounds like. You can take a small set of panels anywhere, aim it at the sun, and then use that power to recharge your phone or a portable battery pack.

    USB solar chargers are a great option if you’re taking an extended camping trip or other activities. And while I’d recommend a portable battery first, those will inevitably run out of juice, not to mention can be heavy if you’re going on a hike. Portable power stations are great, too, but they’re even bigger and way too heavy for most adventures. Plus, once you use it enough, it’ll run out of battery.

    That brings us to portable solar panel chargers, which give you free on-demand power anywhere the sun shines. While they certainly have limitations and speed constraints, here’s what you need to know, why I own several, and a few worth buying.

    How Solar Panel Chargers Work

    Before we dive into portable solar panel usage scenarios, charging speeds, and what to buy, we wanted to quickly mention how they work.

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    A portable solar panel works essentially the same way as a regular solar panel on a roof. That said, they’re smaller, likely not as efficient, and if the power goes directly into a device, it’ll be somewhat slow.

    When the sun shines on a solar panel, the panel cells absorb energy from the sunlight. That energy quickly creates electric charges that move around the positive and negative electrical fields inside the panel cell, letting the energy flow into a storage device or battery.

    Think of it like magnetic fields, only electric. In a panel, the sun gets absorbed, electric charges move, then flow through the electric field and into your smartphone.

    Can a Portable Solar Panel Charge My Phone?

    The short answer is yes, absolutely. Portable solar panels can easily recharge a smartphone, tablet, or drone, or juice up a portable battery pack for use later. However, there is a slew of different variables you’ll want to consider before buying one.

    For starters, these only work when there’s sunshine, and some areas get a lot more rays than others. So, a portable solar panel won’t be effective if you’re somewhere like Alaska in the winter, which doesn’t see the sun all that much. Locations with more sunshine (and fewer clouds) will benefit the most.

    In my Anker 515 portable solar charger review, I had excellent results charging a Galaxy S21 Ultra and Pixel smartphone in the blistering sunshine here in Las Vegas. However, it’s not powerful enough to recharge a MacBook Pro or larger items. And while brands sell bigger “portable” panels, it’ll depend on your needs.

    Unfortunately, not all panels are worth buying, in my opinion. I own a few Jackery panels, which work great, but smaller panels from unknown brands aren’t worth it. I have a small portable solar charger roughly the size of a smartphone. It’s mostly useless. That’s because it simply doesn’t have enough solar panel material (or real estate) to actually draw enough power from the sun to make it worth the effort.

    Depending on the weather conditions, the Anker 515 can recharge my phone from 0-50% in around 90 minutes or so, which is terrific for going off-grid or in an emergency. One of those tiny phone-sized panels can’t, so keep that in mind.

    Don’t get me wrong. A tiny portable solar panel charger can give you a few percent and enable a text or phone call in an emergency, so they certainly have benefits. It’ll just depend on your wants and the situation.

    Solar Charger, Anker 24W 3-Port USB Portable Solar Charger with Foldable CIGS Panel for Camping, PowerPort Solar for iPhone 12/SE/11/XS Max/XR/X/8, iPad, Samsung Galaxy S20/S10/S9/S8, and

    Anker’s 24W flexible solar panels can charge three devices at a time at up to 9w per device.

    Best Solar Charger For Backpacking Adventures

    Heading on a backpacking trip and want to keep your gadgets powered up for the duration? Find the perfect solution in our buyer’s guide to the best solar-powered charger for any and all backpacking adventures!

    In 1907, boy scouts founder Baden Powell came up with the motto ‘Be Prepared.’ And while the contents of our backpacking kit might have changed since then, these words are still relevant today.

    From cell phones and GoPros to Kindles and power banks, these days backpackers are carrying more power-hungry gadgets in their packs than ever before. While running out of juice on some of these items might cause a minor inconvenience, with others it could spell disaster.

    To help ensure your backpacking trips are both inconvenience- and disaster-free, we’re here to help. We’ve identified 8 of the best portable solar chargers to help keep your gadgets juiced up and ready to go no matter where your backpacking trips take you.

    Our Top Picks by Category

    Disclosure: My Open Country highlights products we hope you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the sale revenue from our partners at no additional cost to you. This never drives our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended – you can read more about our editorial process here.

    best, camping, solar, panel, chargers, backpacking

    Editor’s Choice

    BigBlue 3

    The BigBlue 3 is our choice for the best backpacking solar charger. Its six panels give it enough power and efficiency to power up your devices fast, and its three outlets allow you to charge multiple devices simultaneously.

    At the same time, it folds up to the size of a magazine and weighs only 23 ounces, so it can fit in your pack without taking up too much space or impacting too much on the overall weight.

    It’s also easy to use. All you need to do is unfold the panels and plug your device into the port in direct sunlight. You can attach it to your backpack while on the go or to a tree or tent using the four clip hooks.

    The BigBlue 3 protects its panels with industrial-strength PET polymer material making it capable of withstanding light rain. In addition to its durability and high efficiency, it comes with a built-in digital ammeter. This shows the charging amps and also uses SmartIC Technology to provide the best charging speed for your device.

    While we’re big fans of the Anker PowerPort Lite, the BigBlue 3 wins our award on account of its speedier charge times and far superior performance on less-than-bluebird days.

    Bottom line: With its compact size, foldable design, high-quality components, speedy charge time, and wealth of additional features, the BigBlue 3 offers the best value for money out there.

    Best Backpacking Solar Charger: Our Top 8 Picks

    Editor’s Choice

    The BigBlue 3 is a punch-packing charger that’s absolutely ideal for buyers with multiple power-hungry devices.

    This is the most powerful product on our list, with an actual output of 20 watts max. It comes with six IPX4-rated, water-resistant solar panels that fold out. The benefit of having six panels of solar cells is that it makes charging your devices faster. However, it also means that the BB is quite heavy. At 23 oz., this is no lightweight, but the added power makes it well worth it in our eyes.

    We were particularly impressed with the high-efficiency rating of the panels, which ranges from 21.5 to 24%. With most panels hovering somewhere between 15 to 20%, the BB3 represents a significant upgrade. In the field, the BB3 also outperformed all of the competition in cloudier conditions.

    (Confession: We honestly never knew that a solar panel could charge without direct and strong sunlight before the BB3 proved us wrong!)

    When folded, the Big Blue 3 has similar measurements to a magazine at 11.6 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches making it compact enough to fit into most backpacks. The included hooks allow you to attach it to your backpack or anywhere else suitable to catch the sun’s rays. For a hiking solar charger of this size, the 23 oz. weight is reasonable.

    It comes with three output ports so you can charge devices at the same time and is compatible with the usual small devices. It also has enough output to charge most DSLR cameras. It comes with a micro-USB cable, but you’ll need to use the original cable if you want to charge Apple devices.

    One standout feature of this charger is that it comes with an integrated digital ammeter. Given that it already offers good value without the ammeter, this gives it the edge over many of its competitors. The digital ammeter measures and displays the number of amps, which allows you to find the ideal position to place your panels to get the best results.

    To top things off, the BB3 charger uses SmartIC Technology to identify the connected device and deliver the fastest charging speed possible.

    However, the Big Blue 3 isn’t entirely flawless. It comes with a zippered pouch that, at first glance, seems like a useful addition for holding your devices. But the sun-facing black will get super-hot, and any device you put inside it is liable to overheat.

    • High-efficiency rating
    • Fast charging of up to three devices at once
    • Can charge DSLR cameras
    • 24-month warranty
    • Inbuilt Digital ammeter
    • SmartIC Technology
    • Performs well in cloudy weather
    best, camping, solar, panel, chargers, backpacking

    Bottom-Line: A slightly heavy but otherwise outstanding charger that packs plenty of features and nigh-on unrivaled power. A great pick for short backpacking trips and one of the best camping solar chargers out there.

    The 4 best solar phone chargers of 2023

    The struggle to keep your phone charged while out and about is real, especially while on the road, during camping trips, backpacking, at festivals, or spending the day in the park. The good news is that there is now an easy charging solution. solar phone chargers.

    These portable chargers allow us to take advantage of free and abundant solar power to ensure that we’ll never be without a backup for charging all of our phones, no matter where we are.

    There are virtually thousands of options for solar phone chargers available online. But don’t worry, we did the hard work for you and scoured the internet for the best solar phone chargers in 2023.

    Note: This is an unbiased review: we have no financial ties with any of the companies mentioned, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising. The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing.

    Why you can trust SolarReviews:

    SolarReviews is the leading American website for consumer reviews and ratings of residential solar panels and solar panel installation companies. Our industry experts have over two decades of solar experience combined and maintain editorial independence for their reviews. No company can pay to alter the reviews or review scores shown on our site. Learn more about SolarReviews and how we make money.

    The best solar phone chargers of 2023

    Here are our picks for the best solar phone chargers on the market.

    Best overall solar charger: BigBlue 28W USB solar charger

    Our top pick, the BigBlue 3, with its four solar panels and a compact design. Image source: BigBlue

    Price: 68.96 Buy Now

    Pros: The BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger is our pick for the Best Overall solar charger. With four highly efficient foldable SunPower solar panels that fit into a compact bag, they can be easily stored in your backpack. It has two charging USB output ports, so it can charge up to three devices while still delivering decent power. Reviews consistently claim that the charger provides decent output in cloudy conditions, as well.

    Cons: This charger’s on the heavier side for solar panel chargers, weighing in at 1.3 pounds, even though it doesn’t come with an external battery bank. Although it will fit nicely in your backpack, it might weigh you down. If you want to store power for later, you have to purchase a battery bank separately.

    Compatibility: Most 5 volt USB rechargeable devices, including iPhones and Androids. Not compatible with the iPad Pro.

    Best budget charger: BLAVOR Qi Solar Power Bank Portable Charger

    The BLAVOR QI portable charger is a great option for avid hikers who need a durable portable charging option. Image source: Amazon

    Price: 26.99 Buy Now

    Pros: Because the BLAVOR Qi Portable Solar Charger is durable, shockproof, and weighs only 10 ounces. it is the best solar charger in terms of portability and is ideal for hiking and camping. It has over 25,000 reviews, with an overall 4.4-star rating on Amazon. This solar charger power bank adds virtually no weight to your backpack and is wireless. That’s right. you don’t have to worry about having a cord to charge your phone. Simply place it on the charger and you’re good to go. It also acts as a flashlight and comes with a compass.

    Cons: The BLAVOR Qi is so lightweight because it has only one small solar panel. This means it can take a very long time to charge using the sun. Most users will charge the battery as much as they can at home and then let it sit in the sun to top it off.

    Compatibility: iPhone, Samsung, Android, Windows, GoPro, GPS, tablets, and most USB charging devices.

    Best travel charger: Hiluckey Outdoor USB-C Portable charger

    Hilucky’s Outdoor solar phone charger has great reviews and is one of Amazon’s Choice picks for portable solar panels. Image source: Amazon

    Price: 46.99 Buy Now

    Pros: Hilucky’s Solar Phone Charger comes equipped with four fold-out solar panels that charge its battery bank. The included rechargeable battery can fully charge a smartphone over 7 times. It comes with LED light settings, making it perfect for outdoor use. It has enough USB ports to charge three devices.

    Cons: Having four solar panels makes it a little bulky, even if it does increase the surface area of the charger in order to collect sunlight. It will also add an extra 1.3 pounds to your backpack.

    Compatibility: Almost all 5V devices such as iPhones, iPads, tablets, and other smartphones.

    QiSa 38,800mAh Solar Power Bank

    The QiSa charger has a compact, foldable design that provides you power you can easily take with you. Image source: Amazon

    Price: 89.98 Buy Now

    Pros: QiSa’s charger is compact but doesn’t sacrifice on power. This makes it a great option to put in your backpack on a hiking trip or even take it with you on your commute, just in case. It can charge three devices at once and has a wireless charging function, so you don’t even have to fuss with cords. The device itself is waterproof and drop-proof. It also has a built-in flashlight!

    Cons: Although it has overwhelmingly positive reviews, some commeters report that the QiSa’s charging speed is a bit slow, especially when on the wireless charger. The wireless charger also has an auto-off function that can make be frustrating if you’re trying to juice up a dead phone. Plus, this is a more expensive option than some others on our list.

    Compatibility: most USB-C devices

    What features to look for in a solar phone charger

    When you’re shopping for a solar phone charger, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get the right one for your needs, including:

    The Best Portable Solar Chargers for Camping (15W to 100W)

    While I’m a big fan of digital detoxing, there are plenty of good reasons to bring a portable solar panel camping, like being able to charge devices, photo equipment or even your laptop so you can work remotely while enjoying the outdoors.

    There are a lot of options when it comes to solar panel chargers. In choosing the best solar chargers for camping, I only included ones which fit these requirements:

    • 15 to 100 watts: Anything less than 15 watts won’t keep you reliably powered. And chargers larger than 100W aren’t very portable and are better suited for RVs.
    • Portable: Don’t need to be mounted, are light enough to carry around camp and will easily fit in your car.
    • USB out ports: So you can directly charge phones, tablets and other small devices without conversion cables.
    • Durable: Ideally waterproof and able to handle falling over in bad conditions.
    • Extra features: Like being chainable or compatible with power stations.

    Comparison Table

    Note that the price-per-watt was based on at time of writing. may change!

    ProductWattsWeightSize FoldedBlocking DiodeChainablePortsPrice Per Watt

    Best Portable Camping Solar Panels

    Anker 15W PowerPort Solar Panel

    Verdict: Choose if you need a lightweight solar panel for occassionally charging small devices

    best, camping, solar, panel, chargers, backpacking


    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 12.5oz
    • Folded Size: 11 x 6.3 inches
    • Open Size: 18.1 x 11 inches
    • Outlets: 2x USB-A (2.1A each, 2.1A max)
    • Chainable: No
    • Available At:Amazon


    The Anker PowerPort is my top pick for ultralight backpacking solar panels. It is just 12.5oz, which means it has 1.2 watts per ounce. Few portable solar panels come close to offering that much power per weight.

    While 15W is too low for campers who want to charge laptops or even tablets, it’s just right for keeping your phone, Kindle, or other small devices topped off during occasional use. You’ll probably want to use a power bank as it’s more reliable than direct charging. There are grommets so you can hang it from a tent, your car, backpack, etc. to capture sunlight.

    It is designed in a way so the solar panel folds down quite compact but still delivers enough surface area for capturing sunlight. There are Smart built-in features like auto-reset so you don’t have to worry about the charger stopping because of passing clouds. There’s also a blocking diode so the charge won’t drain your batteries instead of charging them in low-light situations.

    The brand Anker is also highly reputable and known for producing quality power banks and other portable power solutions. If you pair this solar panel with a lightweight power bank, you will have a very efficient, lightweight solar setup for camping or backpacking.

    • High quality solar panel
    • Lightweight setup
    • Very portable
    • Auto reset and blocking diode

    Check Price At Amazon

    Goal Zero Nomad 50

    Verdict: Still the best camping solar panel but has a very high price-per-watt


    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 6.85lbs
    • Folded Size: 17 x 11.25 x 2.5 inches
    • Open Size: 53 x 17 x 1.5 inches
    • Outlets: USB-A (5V, 2.4amp) and 8mm (14-22V, 3.5A)
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon, REI


    Goal Zero is by far the leader when it comes to portable solar chargers and panels. They make various types. Their small wattage chargers honestly aren’t great compared to the competition. However, their 50W solar charger is perfect for camping.

    The Nomad 50W has USB-A ports (5V, 2.4A) and a solar port (blue, 8mm, male). The solar port allows you to charge a power station.

    Note the Nomad 100W does NOT have a USB out port. Since the Nomad 50W chargers can be chained together (they can also be chained with the Nomad 100W or Boulder 100W). Even with cables, it almost costs the same two buy two Nomad 50s as one Nomad 100. Thus, I’d go with the Nomad 50 even if you think you might need more power later on.

    As for performance, the Goal Zero consistently does well on tests. They also are also very good at handling the elements. Several people have reported that the glue turns liquid in high heat, but not enough for the charger to come apart.

    • Very reliable brand
    • High-quality panels
    • Rugged build
    • Lightweight and compact for its class
    • Mostly waterproof
    • Can chain them with other Goal Zero panels
    • Pricier than lesser-known brands
    • Stupidly popular; the 50W panels are often out of stock
    • No USB-C outlet

    Check Price at Amazon and REI

    Jackery SolarSaga (60W and 100W)

    Verdict: All-around great solar panel for camping that is a fraction of the cost of Goal Zero

    Specs(for 60w solar panel):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 6.6lbs
    • Folded Size: 16.8 x 11.4 inches
    • Open Size: 35.2 x 16.8 x 0.2 inches
    • Outlets: USB-A (5V, 2.4amp), USB-C (5V, 3amp) and DC Output (22V, 3.09A, 68W)
    • Chainable: Up to 2 panels parallel
    • Available At:Amazon


    Jackery released the SolarSaga in 2020 to compete with the Goal Zero Nomad panels. They are available in 60, 100 and 200 watt sizes.

    Like the Nomad, the SolarSaga series are designed to be portable. They have a really nice folding design with a built-in rubberized orange handle. It looks sleek and professional and the hinges between the panels feels sturdy.

    There are two USB outlets so you can directly charge devices simultaneously. One of the ports is USB-C, which means you can get a faster charge.

    As for the DV outlet: The 60W has an Anderson connection and includes an Anderson-to-8mm cable to be used with the Jackery power station. Their 8mm cable isn’t the same as the Goal Zero cable; it doesn’t fit well in the Yeti power station. If you want to charge a Yeti with the SolarSaga, then you’ll need to get Goal Zero’s adapter cable.

    On the Gen 3 update, Jackery got rid of the Anderson on the SolarSaga 100W. Now it has an 8mmm adapter.

    While the ultralight design is appealing for portability, it does mean the SolarSaga panels aren’t that durable or tough. You won’t want to leave them unattended; even a slight breeze could send them toppling over. They are water-resistant to IP65, so don’t leave them in the rain either.

    How Does It Compare to Goal Zero Solar Chargers?

    Compared to the Goal Zero Nomad solar panels, Jackery’s SolarSaga panels are much lighter and thinner. They are half the weight and a fraction of the thickness (2.5 inches compared to 0.2 inches!). There is a built-in kickstand which can be adjusted to preset angles. Another plus is that the SolarSaga chargers support USB-C whereas Goal Zero does not.

    While Jackery solar chargers do perform well, the technology doesn’t seem to be as good as with Goal Zero. Some users have reported issues with the blocking diodes: in low light, the SolarSaga actually drained device batteries instead of charging them.

    • Very lightweight and compact
    • USB-A and USB-C ports
    • Built-in adjustable kickstand
    • Rubberized carrying cable
    • Comes with adapters
    • Not very waterproof
    • Easily toppled by wind
    • Not compatible with all power stations

    Renogy E. Flex 50W

    Verdict: Despite some performance issues, it’s still a great value and does its job well enough


    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 5.25lbs
    • Folded Size: 19.9 x 16.1 x 0.8 inch
    • Open Size: 32.5 x 19.9 x 0.2 inch
    • Outlets: USB A (5V, 2.4amp), USB-C (5V, 3amp), switchable DC (19V/2.4amp and 16V/2.8amp) and solar connector output (18V, 2.77amp)
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon


    Renogy is well known for their affordable solar panels. Most of the Renogy solar panels are not very portable. However, their E. Flex panels are the exception. In particular, their 21, 30 and 50 watt solar panels are portable and light enough to use at camp. Because of some performance issues (they don’t seem to be as efficient as Goal Zero or Jackery), you’ll definitely want to get the higher wattage version.

    Before buying this solar charger, make sure it is compatible with your devices. Even though it has an USB-C port, it won’t charge USB-C laptops. You can only charge laptops with 16V or 19V.

    The E. Flex 50W does have auto-reset, so you don’t have to worry that the charging will stop if a Cloud passes overhead. However, some users did report problems with it and had to unplug/replug devices to get them charging again. Likewise, it doesn’t do great at charging multiple devices at once because of amp drops.

    • Some issues with the auto reset feature
    • Not great at charging multiple devices simultaneously

    Check Price At Amazon

    RockPals Portable Solar Panel 60W and 100W

    Verdict: Okay choice if you will monitor devices while they charge. Otherwise, spend a bit more to get a SolarSaga.

    Specs (for 60W Upgrade):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 7.3lbs
    • Folded Size: 13.8 x 13.39 x 2.36 inches
    • Open Size: 58.2 x 13.8 x 0.2 inches
    • Outlets: 1x USB QC3.0 (3.3A), 1x USB-C (18W max), DC 18V/3.3A
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At: Amazon


    At first glance, RockPals solar chargers look great. They are very popular and get good reviews. The RockPals chargers also have multiple charging options, including USB-C, and are compatible with most power stations.

    Yet, there is a reason that RockPals solar chargers are cheaper than brands like Jackery and Goal Zero: they tech isn’t nearly as good.

    The main issue is that RockPals chargers don’t have a blocking diode. This means the solar charger could actually cause your device battery to drain instead of charge. Trickle charging is almost impossible because of this.

    Another issue is that the RockPals solar chargers don’t withstand high temperatures as well as some other camping solar panels. It has a max operating temperature of 120F. The panel can easily reach that temperature in summer, so you’ll need to place a white cloth (or similar) underneath the panel to reduce heat absorption into the panel.

    TogoPower 60W and 100W

    Verdict: Good choice if you are on a tight budget and know which cables you need

    Specs (for 60W panel):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 6.5lbs
    • Folded Size: 16×14.5×1.9″
    • Open Size: 50.7 x 16 x 1 inches
    • Outlets: USB QC3.0 (5-12V 3.4A max), USB-C (5-15V, 4.5A max), DC (18V/5.5A max)
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon


    Togo is a Chinese brand which makes cheap solar panels. I’m wary of buying from no-name Chinese brands but Togo is one which actually is of a good quality. Of course you won’t get nearly as much efficiency as the most popular brands, but it’s pretty good for a cheap solar charger.

    My main complaint about the TogoPower for camping is that it is very bulky. It only folds three times so it won’t fit in a backpack. You’ll have to carry it along your side like a briefcase.

    Also be warned that the Togo Power chargers don’t come with all of the cables you need. There may also be compatibility issues. Make sure you check if it will work with your power station and that you have the right cables.

    • Bulky even when folded
    • Not compatible with all power stations
    • Doesn’t include all cables

    TopSolar SolaryFairy 100W

    Verdict: Okay if you primarily care about price and don’t mind some glitches and compatibility issues

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 5.1lbs
    • Folded Size: 11.2×7.8×2.3″
    • Open Size: 52 x 22.4”
    • Outlets: USB-A 5V/3A max, USB-C PD 5V/3A max, DC 19V, DC 14.4V
    • Chainable: No
    • Available At: Amazon


    The TP-Solar chargers come in various sizes. Their 100W solar charger is great for camping because it folds down into a very compact package. It’s one of the few camping solar panels of this wattage that can easily fit in a daypack.

    The downside of the compact size is that the charger has a lot of hinges. Hinges are often a fail point for folding solar panels, so it might not survive extensive use.

    One of the benefits of the SolarFairy charger is that it has four out ports for charging multiple devices, including car or boat batteries. It also supports USB-C PD charging devices. The downside is that the tech behind the solar charger can be a bit glitchy.

    Some users reported issues with the auto-rest (if a Cloud passes over, the SolarFairy might not start charging again without you resetting it). There are also several compatibility issues: it won’t work with all laptops or Goal Zero power stations. You can usually work around this by buying the right adapters yourself though.

    • Very compact when folded
    • Affordable
    • Lots of charging options
    • Actually works with car and boat batteries

    Specs (for 100W charger):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 8.8lbs
    • Folded Size: 15.16×8.23×3.15″
    • Outlets: 2x USB-A (5V, 4.8A total), DC 12-19V, PD Type-C 60W
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon


    BigBlue solar chargers come in various sizes. The best ones for camping trips are: 42w, 63w and 100w. When you break down the cost-per-watt, BigBlue actually is one of the cheapest solar chargers available. The 100W charger is an insanely good value and costs almost half the price of the Jackery SolarSaga 100W.

    All of the larger wattage BigBlue solar chargers are feature-rich. The tech prevents overheating, supports fast charging, and works even in cloudy weather. They also have multiple out ports (which vary depending on the wattage of the product). Make sure you check the features before you buy.

    While it isn’t recommended, you can use the larger BigBlue chargers to charge a car battery (according to the company though, it’s better to just use it for jump starting). It is possible to chain multiple BigBlue solar chargers together. You’ll need an MC4 cable which doesn’t come with the kit.

    I’d recommend getting the BigBlue 100W as it is the best value and compatible with the most devices. The 28W charger is good if you only want to charge small devices like phones on camping trips.

    I do NOT recommend the 28W BigBlue solar charger. It does not have a blocking diode, which means it will drain batteries instead of charge them in shady conditions. If you need a smaller solar charger, get the Anker 21W instead.

    Do You Really Need a Solar Charger when Camping?

    Don’t get me wrong: portable solar chargers are awesome and have come a long way. They’ve gotten smaller, more durable, and much more reliable.

    But you need to be realistic about what solar chargers can do.

    You aren’t going to be able bring a small, cheap solar charger camping and expect it to keep all devices reliably charged. In cloudy or rainy conditions, you might not be able to charge anything with solar.

    For this reason, a power bank or power station (which you pre-charge at home) may be a better solution for charging your devices while camping.

    What Size Solar Charger Do I Need for Camping?

    As a general rule, you’ll need at least a:

    • 10W solar panel to charge your smartphone
    • 50W to use a laptop a few hours per day
    • 100W to run a small camping fridge
    • 300-500W to run multiple appliances throughout the day, such as a fridge, lights, game console, and other devices

    Note that these are just generalizations. Calculating how much solar power you need for camping is actually pretty complicated. It will vary drastically depending on factors like the efficiency of the solar panels, how much peak light you get, and how your panels are angled.

    To calculate camping solar needs:

    • List all the devices you want to use
    • Calculate how many watts they use per hour
    • Multiply the watts by how many hours you will use the device per day
    • This gives you your watt hours per day
    • Divide the watt hours by how many hours of peak daylight you expect to get per day.
    • This is the minimum size in watts your solar panel setup needs to be
    • Multiply by 2-5x to account for inefficiency and to have a margin of error

    You’ll Need Battery Storage If You Want Reliable Power

    If you have high power needs or cannot let your devices die, then you will need battery storage. For small devices, this can be a small backpacking power bank. For larger devices and appliances, you’ll need to invest in a power station like the Goal Zero Yeti.

    How to Charge Devices with Solar while Camping

    There are two main ways you can use portable solar panels when camping.

    Option 1: Directly Charge Devices from the Solar Panel

    Almost all portable solar panels have USB outlets. To use them, you simply plug your device into the solar panel, put the solar panel in the sun, and let it charge the device.

    The main benefit of directly charging is that it is more efficient. When you use the solar panel to charge a battery and then charge a device, you lose some of the power. It’s lost through the cables, conversion, and through the battery. By directly charging your devices, you will get the most power from the solar panel.

    • No way of storing power: If you need to charge your device and it’s a cloudy day, you are out of luck.
    • Compatibility: You may not be able to directly charge some devices with certain solar chargers.
    • Overheat devices: If you don’t disconnect your device from the solar charger, it might overheat your device and damage it. Good solar chargers have overheat protection but even this won’t completely save your devices from harm.
    • Might draw power from your device! If a device is plugged into a solar charger and there isn’t much sunlight, the charger might drain the device battery instead of charge it. Good solar chargers have a blocking diode feature which prevents power from draining out of the device.

    Option 2: Solar Panel Power Bank or Power Station

    If you need a more reliable source of power, then you’ll need a battery for your solar panels. This can be a small power bank or a large deep cyclic battery. You connect the solar panel to the battery to let it charge. Then you charge your devices from the battery.

    • Can store power for later
    • flexibility: You can choose the size of the battery, type of outlets, and number of outlets to suit your needs.
    • Pre-charge battery: Charge the battery at home before your camping trip so you have power when you arrive and just use solar for topping it off.
    • complicated: You may need a more complex solar setup for camping, including a regulator and invertor.
    • Less Efficient: Some power is lost when it is stored in the battery and also as it passes through the cables en route to the device.
    • Power stations are expensive: If you need to power lots of devices, you’ll need a large power station. These are not cheap.

    Solar Charger Terms

    Before choosing a portable solar charger for camping, you’ll need to understand the basics of power.


    Solar panels are rated in watts. It essentially is a measure of how much power the panels are able to produce. Most portable solar panels range from 5 to 100 watts. Anything bigger than 100 watts is probably too large to consider “portable.” Watts are calculated as Volts x Amps.


    Volts is the energy potential of the solar panel. All USB cables run at 5 volts (thus anything that charges via USB takes 5 volts). Laptop charger cables can be as high as 25 volts.

    If you were to try charging your cell phone on a 12 volt solar charger, it wouldn’t be able to handle that much electricity. You’d see sparks and melting plastic! This is why we use invertors with high-power solar panel setups.


    The amount of electricity that can flow at once is measured in amps. Older cell phones will handle about 1 amp. Newer fast-charge phones will handle upwards of 2 amps. Devices which use more power (such as tablets) usually handle around 2 to 2.5 amps. Laptops might have 5 amps.

    Higher amperage means you can charge devices more quickly. For example, it will take longer to charge a laptop at 1amp than at 5 amps.

    Confused? A good way to think about watts, volts and amps is using a metaphor of water going through a pipe:

    If you have high water pressure (volts) and big pipes (amps), then you are going to have a lot of water (watts) going through the pipes.

    Watt Hours

    Watt hours (Wh) is how much power you need over time. It is measured as Wh = W x time in hours. This is especially important for calculating power needs of devices you will be running frequently, like camping fridges.

    Amp Hours

    The amount of power a battery can hold is listed as amp hours (Ah). It is calculated as Ah = Wh/voltage. Amp hours is important because it represents the amount of power being used over time.

    Choosing a Portable Solar Panel for Camping

    Solar Charger vs. Solar Panel

    A solar charger is a solar panel which has a USB outlet. It won’t be able to charge anything which uses 12v plugs. By contrast, portable solar panels may only have a DC outlet. Many 100-200W solar panels have both USB and DC.

    Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Panels

    Mono crystalline are considered the best type of solar panel. By comparison, poly-crystalline panels have boundaries between their crystals; these boundaries reduce efficiency. You’d need a slightly larger poly-crystalline panel to get the same power as a mono one.


    Good brands of portable solar chargers will list their efficiency rating. Anything above 22% is a fairly good efficiency. Yes, just 22%. Solar chargers will lose some efficiency over time.

    Blocking Diode

    A blocking diode only allows power to run in one direction. Without a blocking diode, energy from your device battery might run towards the solar panel, causing it to drain instead of charge. This is very important when charging in cloudy or low-light conditions.

    Almost all solar chargers have blocking diodes but some of the smaller or cheaper solar chargers do not.

    Price Per Watt

    To figure out the value of a solar charger, look at the price per watt instead of the overall price.

    Total price divided by watts = price per watt.

    Portable solar chargers are getting cheaper all of the time. It used to be that 10 per watt was a good deal. Now you can find quality portable solar chargers that cost less than 3 per watt. As a general rule, larger solar panels are cheaper per watt.

    Pay attention to whether the panel is monocrystalline or polycrystalline when comparing prices: poly is cheaper but not as efficient.

    Rigid vs. Flexible Solar Chargers

    Portable solar chargers are either rigid or flexible. As a general rule, rigid solar chargers are easier to set up but they might crack. Flexible solar panels can withstand some bending but are harder to prop open and blow away easier.

    Now that you’ve got power taken care of, what are you going to eat on the trail?

    Check out my eBook with over 50 trail recipes and lots of info about meal planning and nutrition for backpacking. Since you made it all the way to the end of this post, I’ll even give you 50% off.

    Resources for this article:,review-2857.html

    About the author /

    Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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