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    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:

    How Long Does It Take a Solar Charger to Charge a Cell Phone?

    Cell Phones are becoming increasingly essential for daily living.

    In off-grid living, they help in keeping communication with friends, family, colleagues, and the likes.

    For this reason, a solar charger is important to charge a cell phone outdoors.

    Smartphones are very portable, making them easy to use outdoors.

    However, the main problem is their duration of charge with solar chargers.

    A solar charger will charge a typical cell phone in 2.5-3 hours from a 5W solar panel, 1.3-1.6 hours from a 10W panel, 52 minutes to 1.1 hours from a 15W panel, and 39-50 minutes from a 20W panel. These stats are based on a solar charger utilizing 80-100% of its listed power output.

    Both the wattage of your solar charger as well as the battery size of your smartphone come into play when estimating recharging times.

    The average charge times for various popular smartphones can be seen below. BigBlue 28W solar charger (portable solar panel)

    Goal Zero Venture 35 Solar Kit with Nomad 10 (portable solar panel with battery bank)

    Hiluckey Solar Charger (power bank with embedded solar panel)

    • Portable solar panel with USB ports – Plug in your phone directly into the panel
    • Portable solar panel with a battery bank – Either plug your phone directly into the panel or use the battery bank to charge from solar first before using the battery bank to charge your phone
    • Power bank with embedded solar panel – Solar panel is sealed to the battery bank

    Most solar power banks with embedded solar panels have a good size battery but lack solar panel output power.

    The best “solar charger” for recharging your cell phone is a portable solar panel of 10W or more along with a battery bank.

    Using the solar panel to recharge the battery bank will be the best way to recharge your cell phone from solar because solar power is inconsistent due to weather changes.

    This could affect the way the panel charges your phone if you connect them together without the use of a power bank.

    compare, reviews, solar, online

    For example, I used my Nomad 10 solar panel to directly charge my iPhone 7 and it worked successfully, however, any Cloud cover would stop the charging and my phone would go back and forth from charging to not charging.

    Charging a power bank would simply allow a faster charging process because it will provide consistent power to recharge your phone – as opposed to your phone constantly going in and out of sleep mode to show it’s charging.

    If you’d like more information on power banks with embedded solar panels, I created a list of the top models and go into more detail on them in my article here: Top 7 Solar Panel Battery Banks – A Battle for Power.

    Top 3 Solar Phone Charger Examples

    The following examples will be portable solar panel models that can be used to charge your phone directly or indirectly via an optional battery bank.

    In several cases, you can buy these in a kit along with a battery bank, like the Goal Zero Venture 35 with Nomad 10 kit (affiliate link).

    BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger

    The BigBlue 28W USB solar charger is one of the most suitable chargers for cell phones. It possesses four different foldable SunPower solar panels that are very compact.

    Also, it has three 5V/2.4A (max) USB output ports for simultaneous device charging.

    However, the panel is best used with a maximum of two USB ports simultaneously to get the full 5V/2.4A for both ports.

    This means that the USB ports combine for a maximum of 24W of output (5V/4.8A), which is not 28W but is still a relatively high number for a portable solar charger.

    According to reviews, the BigBlue 28W USB solar charger appears to deliver a good output in sunny and, surprisingly, cloudy conditions.

    On the downside, the BigBlue is a long solar panel when unfolded (33 x 11 x 0.2 in). Hence, users need to remain conscious of their size when using it for backpacking needs.

    Nekteck 21W Solar Charger

    The Nekteck 21W solar phone charger has three solar panels and two standard USB-A ports.

    Each port is capable of 5V/2.0A when one port is used, but when using both ports, the maximum amperage is 3.0A (15W max).

    Like the BigBlue, the Nekteck outputs less power than the panel says in its listing. That being said, 15W is enough to power up a smartphone or multiple phones when needed.

    Although it has less power than the BigBlue panel, it’s more compact with an unfolded length of 26.2 inches.

    This may be easier for you to mount onto your backpack or tent as it is about seven inches shorter than the BigBlue.

    Impressively, it is also a lightweight solar charger, weighing only 18 ounces in total.

    Goal Zero Nomad 10 Solar Charger

    The Nomad 10 is an impressive product from Goal Zero.

    It comes with a foldable solar panel, which has a wide surface area.

    It weighs 1.2 pounds, which makes it relatively heavy, but compact.

    The 10W, 6-7V panel comes with a built-in USB-A port, which functions effectively.

    I’ve used this panel to successfully charge my phone directly, but the best option is to use one of Goal Zero’s battery banks for charging up.

    The Flip 12 or Venture 35 are some options that are smaller for portability.

    The two downsides to this panel are its decreased power output compared to the previous two panels as well as its cost.

    The Nomad 10 by itself costs almost double that of the BigBlue or Nekteck panels.

    But its compact size makes it useable for almost any purpose (9.5 x 14.5 x 0.75 inches unfolded).

    You can see how the Nomad 10 worked in my own testing to charge my Sherpa power bank in my video below.

    You can speed up your solar charger by angling it perpendicular to the sun and charging one device at a time. A direct angle to the sun allows the charger to absorb as much sunlight as possible. Charging one device at a time avoids splitting the charger’s output power between multiple devices.

    If the device is placed outside your backpack while moving, please note that it may not charge fast.

    Since you are on the move, there’s a high probability that the panels aren’t always facing the sun resulting in inconsistent charging.

    If you want a faster charge from the solar phone charger, you may also consider using shorter cables.

    Please note that shorter cables don’t necessarily make the solar phone charger work faster. However, it helps in the overall charging speed due to a minimal amount of wasted energy.

    It may also be advisable to purchase a solar charger with a battery to help store power, which allows the user to charge at a time of convenience.

    Do Solar Phone Chargers Really Work?

    Solar phone chargers really work as long as they’re exposed to quality sunlight. It’s essential to pick a solar charger with at least 10 watts of power. A 10W solar charger will recharge a typical cell phone in 1.3-1.6 hours. Any charger less than 10W may output too slow of a charge to your phone.

    Solar phone chargers that are closer to 15 watts or higher can charge a mobile phone along with other devices simultaneously.

    The portability of your solar phone charger matters a lot.

    Hence, it is important to confirm the weight and dimensions (folded and unfolded) of any panel you intend to purchase.

    If your solar phone charger has large folded solar panels, it may be too heavy to carry.

    However, large folded solar panels may have higher efficiencies (charge devices faster) due to a wide surface area.

    For example, my Elecaenta 120W solar panel is massive and weighs almost 12 pounds! But this is clearly too powerful of a panel for simply charging a phone in most scenarios.

    Some solar phone chargers don’t function well compared to others, depending on their output.

    Ensure that you pick a brand of solar charger that works efficiently and that has good and honest reviews.

    If you ever come across issues with your solar charger, I have a guide to troubleshooting your panel to get it working again. I also have some maintenance tips to prevent you from running into any issues while using it off the grid.

    Is There a Difference Between Rechargeable and Solar Batteries?

    There is no difference between rechargeable and solar batteries. Solar batteries are used in storing chemical energy, which gets converted to electrical energy. Solar panels trap energy from the sun, and it gets stored in batteries for later use. Hence, solar batteries are rechargeable batteries.

    In some cases, solar chargers don’t come with rechargeable batteries (or any battery at all), which is usually a challenge.

    A significant example of a product that doesn’t come with a battery is the Nekteck 21W solar charger. Users will need to buy a separate battery pack to make it a power bank as well.

    Rechargeable battery

    Rechargeable batteries are electrical batteries that can be discharged and charged multiple times. However, they are produced in different shapes, sizes, and specifications.

    There are lots of different combinations of electrolytes and electrode materials utilized. Examples are nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), lithium-ion (Li-Ion), nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH), lithium-ion polymer (Li-Ion polymer), and lead-acid.

    Li-ion batteries are very stable batteries with a low self-discharge rate but high energy density and voltage capacity. Besides, they are very durable batteries.

    Li-ion batteries tend to last for eight or more years and have nearly zero memory effect. So, even if the are a little high, it is worth the investment.

    Continue Reading:

    E15 Solar Panel Charger Highlights.

    -IP67 waterproof and rugged materials make the solar panel work under unexpected weather and last longer than other solar panels.

    What Can Charge and Charge Time.

    Effortless charging via the integrated USB port under sunlight or pair with a power bank, the 15W solar charger can charge the following devices:

    What Can Charge and Charge Time.

    Effortless charging via the integrated USB port under sunlight or pair with a power bank, the 15W solar charger can charge the following devices:

    ELECTRICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    MECHANICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    PACKAGING AND SHIPPING INFORMATION

    Q: Does the solar panel store power? A: No, there is no built-in battery in this solar panel. But it supports all the power banks charging, so that you can collect solar power and store it for using. Or just plug and charge your USB device.

    Q: If my USB device needs an input current of 1A, will the 3A output of the solar panel damage it? A: No. This solar panel has intelligent charging, automatically detecting the needs of your device, and delivering exactly what it needs. If your phone accepts 1A, the charger will deliver 1A to your phone.

    Q: How to clean the surface of solar panels? A: Please use a dampened soft cloth to wipe the surface of the solar module, and remove all dust or other adhesives as soon as possible to avoid performance degradation.

    Q: Does it keep work when gets wet? A: Yes, the durable and self-cleaning material provides lasting durability to protect against unpredictable weather conditions, and can easily withstand high temperatures, and are water-resistant, dust-proof and feature an IP67 rated junction box.

    Q: Does it come with charging cables? A: No, to make the solar panel more eco-friendly and affordable, it doesn’t include a cable. You can use your USB or Type-C cord to connect the solar pnale to charge.

    The Best Solar Chargers of 2023

    Cory Gunther / How-To Geek

    Sydney Butler

    Sydney Butler Writer

    Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He’s worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a FOCUS on Cyberpsychology in particular. Read more.

    Elizabeth Henges Commerce Editor Elizabeth Henges is the Commerce Editor for How-To Geek. She has close to a decade’s experience reporting on tech, gaming, and gadgets. Elizabeth has had her commerce work featured on XDA Developers, The Inventory, and more. She has also written for publications The Washington Post and The Verge. Read more. About How-To Geek

    Whether you’re dealing with an unreliable power supply or want to make sure you can charge your essential gadgets when far away from the grid, a solar charger is an essential part of your hiking, travel, or emergency kit.

    Amazon 30.99

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    How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read »

    24 Models Evaluated

    5 Hours Researched

    24 Reviews Analyzed

    What to Look For In a Solar Charger in 2023

    Before we get into what makes for a good solar charger, let’s clear up what we mean by “solar charger” since it’s distinct from concepts like a “solar power bank” or “solar panel.” A solar charger is a device that converts solar power using solar panels into an electric current suitable for charging devices, usually in the form of a USB power port conforming to USB power specifications. Solar chargers typically don’t have any power storage of their own, but you can use the charger with a power bank of your choice. In general, putting a lithium battery in direct sunlight is not a good idea, so it makes sense that most solar chargers don’t integrate them. Instead, you’d use a lengthy cable to connect devices under shade or in your bag, protected from direct sunlight. It’s important to use a solar charger with the necessary safety circuitry to prevent device damage. In models with poor safety controls, too much voltage may go to the device, damaging it. The charger may also keep pushing charge to the device even though it’s full. So look for mention of overcharge protection and other similar features. If you do use a charger that doesn’t explicitly mention these features, it’s usually a better idea to charge up an inexpensive power bank, rather than charge your tablet, phone, or other devices directly. Then use the power bank to charge your devices in turn. Size, weight, and mounting features are other key considerations. Small, foldable, and light solar chargers are more common now. Despite their size, they can produce usable amounts of power thanks to advancements in solar panel efficiency. Chargers may come with backpack mounts, kickstands, frames, or other mounting solutions. It’s best to pick one that matches your use case. For higher-capacity chargers, it’s always nice to have multiple ports to charge several devices simultaneously. Weatherproofing is a must since the odds of it raining at some point are virtually assured. Finally, an oft-overlooked feature is “auto resume.” Many solar chargers will stop charging when the sunlight drops below a certain level, and then fail to resume unless you manually reinsert the charging cable. Chargers with auto-resume ensure you don’t come back after a few hours to find that your device stopped charging ages ago.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Solar chargers don’t store energy, and they need sunlight to produce electricity, so sadly, you can’t use them without sunlight.

    Yes! Even if it’s cloudy or overcast, you’ll still get power from the sun. Things may not charge as quickly, but there’s still plenty of usable light.

    In theory? Yes. In practice? Apart from the flashlight putting out a low total amount of power as light, it’s not in the same spectrum as sunlight, and it would be so inefficient that there’d be little point.

    It all depends on the peak wattage of the charger in question and how much sunlight you’re getting. Under good conditions, it’s totally possible to get the same charge rate as typical wall chargers.

    Best Solar Charger Overall: Anker 24W 3-Port USB PowerPort

    Anker has developed a reputation for affordable gadgets that perform better than they have any right to. The PowerPort Solar is a great solar charger, even more so for its low price point, and it’s the one we recommend most people in the market for one of these devices to look at first.

    Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, because if they’re dealbreakers for you, it’s best to know them upfront. First, there are no USB-C ports, so you’ll have to keep a USB-C to A cable handy for your USB-C devices. Secondly, this charger is not water resistant, so you’ll have to be vigilant for rain. The panels themselves have an IPX4 rating, but not the electronics box.

    If you’re happy with these small compromises, you’ll find a lightweight, foldable, and flexible solar charger with a built-in kickstand and enough power output to charge most phones and tablets at rates similar to wall chargers. Each port can provide up to 12W of power. Considering that common “fast” chargers are 18W and typical iPad wall chargers are also 12W, this isn’t a bad result.

    While it would have been nice to get more than 12W for single-device charging, Anker makes up for it thanks to its auto-resume charging if the sun is blocked temporarily. Whether you’re camping or want a backup power solution to keep in your car for an emergency, this is a fantastic choice.

    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

    The Anker PowerPort strikes the perfect balance between price and performance. It’s thin, flexible, and supports multi-device charging with auto-resume if sunlight is interrupted. It’s not 100% water resistant, but in every other way it’s a great deal.

    Top Ultralight Solar Chargers Reviewed (From 3.6oz)

    Need an ultralight solar charger for backpacking or a thru-hiking trip? Here’s a thorough review of the best options based on overall weight, power-to-weight ratio, and features.

    Most of the backpacking solar panels here are under 1lb. Honestly, it’s hard to find a charger lighter than 1lb but which will still reliably charge your devices (if it doesn’t work, it’s just dead weight!). I’ve also included some solar chargers which are heavier but more powerful. These could still be considered ultralight if you are backpacking in group and will share the weight between members.

    Quick Picks:

    Comparison

    You want more watts per ounce with backpacking solar chargers.

    ProductWattsOverall WeightWatts Per OzPorts

    Best Ultralight Solar Chargers for Backpacking

    Anker PowerPort Solar Lite

    Best For: Fantastic power-to-weight ratio plus great features

    In pretty much every list of the top portable solar chargers, the Anker PowerPort takes the #1 spot. There is good reason for this. The solar charger is very reliable, durable, and is lightweight for its wattage. It’s easy to use on the trail because there are elastic loops for attaching the solar charger to your pack and a for holding your devices.

    There are two versions of the charger which are good for backpacking: 15W and 21W. Of the two, the 21W is definitely superior. It only weighs a tiny bit more but will actually charge two devices at the same time. At 2.4A per port, it’s fairly fast – though note you’ll only get a max of 3A when charging two devices at once. Unfortunately, it is often unavailable.

    If you have perfect sunlight and angle it well, then you maybe could charge two devices at once with the 15W. But it’s a lot faster with the 21W charger.

    Unfortunately, the 21W solar charger is often out of stock — which is why the Anker 15W gets the #1 position.

    The charging ports are locating inside a canvas pouch, which means the solar charger is (mostly) water resistant.

    One slight annoying thing is that the Anker PowerPort charger closes with Velcro (which gets debris stuck in it). I’d rather have a magnetic closure instead.

    Lixada 10W Solar Charger

    Best For: Insanely cheap and lightweight solution for backpackers who understand solar

    I first heard about Lixada in discussions about solar panels on Reddit and backpacking forums. Lixada doesn’t have the name recognition as brands like Anker or Goal Zero, but they are starting to develop a huge fan base with ultralight backpackers. Part of the reason is because the Lixada solar panels are stupidly cheap and amazingly lightweight.

    Starting with weight: At 3.56oz, the 10W Lixada solar charger gives you the most power per weight of any of the backpacking solar chargers reviewed here.

    Not surprisingly, the Lixada is lacking in a lot of features. Most noteably, it doesn’t have an auto-reset feature – which means it will stop charging if a Cloud passes over it. You’ll have to unplug the device and replug to get it to start charging again.

    It also doesn’t have a blocking diode, so it could actually draw power from your device in low-light situations. I wouldn’t ‘use the Lixada to directly charge devices. It’s more reliable for charging a power bank and then using that to power your devices.

    As one user pointed out though, the Lixada is great if you are willing to put the effort into understanding solar. Get yourself a multi-meter and test the solar panel under different scenarios (weather, light, cables, device…). Once you understand this info, you will be able to get away with using such a cheap and lightweight solar panel for backpacking trips.

    Goal Zero Nomad Solar Chargers

    Best For: Backpackers who don’t mind a higher weight-per-ounce in exchange for more reliability.

    • Watts: 5w/10W/20W
    • Weight: 12.7oz/17.6oz/33.6oz
    • Size: 9.5 x 7. X 1.1 inches (5w)
    • Auto Reset: Yes
    • Ports: 1x1A/1×1.5A/1×2.1A 8mm 1.3A solar port
    • Cost: – See price here at Amazon and here at REI.

    The Goal Zero Nomad used to be considered the best backpacking solar chargers. Now there are many other better options when it comes to weight. When you look at the amount of watts per ounce, the Goal Zero chargers are actually really heavy. The 5W and 10W chargers are also very slow.

    There is some good though. Goal Zero Nomad chargers are very reliable. The tech does a good job of matching charge output to device. You won’t have to worry about the auto-reset not workingn or the charger draining your device if you let it sit too long. It’s also waterproof to IPX6.

    If you are set on getting a Goal Zero Nomad charger, than I’d get the 10W or 20W. They aren’t lightweight enough for most backpackers but deliver more power and are chainable.

    Get it Amazon or REI

    ECEEN 13w Solar Charger

    Best For: Hikers who want a very cheap solar charger that works well enough in good weather

    The ECEEN is one of the cheapest solar chargers you can get which is still lightweight enough for backpacking.

    Considering how cheap this backpacking solar charger is, it surprisingly has a (mostly) reliable auto-reset feature. It’s also waterproof, durable, and easily straps to your pack.

    Now for the bad. The ECEEN does charge in full sun but won’t charge at all – not even a trickle – in low light. It’s also unrealistic to expect to charge two devices at once. The 2amps is only for ideal conditions and even then it won’t charge at a full 1amp per connection. Don’t bother with this solar panel for backpacking trips in fall, spring, or which will take you through shady forests.

    Voltaic Arc 10W Solar Charger

    Best For: Another budget solar charge for charging in sunny weather

    The Voltaic Arc 10W solar charger seems fantastic at first glance. 10W is perfect if you only need to occasionally charge small devices when backpacking. The watts-per-ounce is good and it’s a nice compact size.

    In clear skies and bright sun, the charging is actually very good. But, as soon as the weather gets a bit cloudy, the performance on the Arc 10W charger gets VERY slow.

    I also don’t like that the charging port is completely exposed. You’ll need to be careful that it doesn’t get wet or dirty. There’s also no for holding your device while charging.

    BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

    Best For: Backpackers with high energy demands or traveling in a group

    At 28W, the Big Blue solar charger is probably too large for most backpackers. But, if you have high power needs or there are multiple people in your group to share the weight, this is one of the best solar chargers you can get.

    It has a lot of nice tech features like overcharge protection and the auto-reset features works. The solar panels are actually efficient. And, while you will never get 100% of the advertised charging amount, it performs better than most other solar chargers.

    Do note that there doesn’t seem to be a blocking diode on the charger. If you leave a device attached to the charger in low-light conditions, it will drain your battery instead of charging it. You’ll need to unplug it in overcast weather, especially if multiple devices are attached.

    Note: This charger is not compatible with the iPod Pro.

    NekTeck 28W Solar Charger

    Best For: If you don’t mind taking a risk with a generic brand

    If this solar charger seems too good to be true, you are right. It doesn’t perform as well as some of its more well-known competitors and a lot of people were sent faulty chargers. Don’t expect to get a full 28W worth of charging power. The auto-reset feature can be finnicky and you might need to unplug/replug to get it to charge in cloudy conditions. The pouch is tiny and can barely fit many devices. And a lot of those 5-star reviews on Amazon seem to be fakes.

    Still, there are a lot of people who like this solar charger. It’s rugged enough to withstand abuse and the price is pretty cheap. So, if you don’t mind taking a risk on a generic brand, go for it — but please test it to make sure it’s working before you take it backpacking! The brand is pretty good about issuing refunds if yours is faulty.

    SunJack 15W Solar Charger

    Best For: Overall great solution for charging two devices at once

    While they don’t get as much attention as Anker or Goal Zero, SunJack is a very reputable brand of solar chargers. The weight is pretty good, especially considering how durable the solar charger is. It is (mostly) waterproof.

    There’s a mesh for protecting your devices and the charging port. The elastic Band for holding your device in place is a nice touch. I also like that they use a magnetic closure instead of annoying Velcro.

    The technology behind the solar charger also seems to deliver as promised. It will actually charge two devices at 2A each in good sunlight. There is Smart overcharge protection too. I would have listed this higher in my picks but it is often out of stock.

    Tips for Choosing Lightweight and Ultralight Solar Chargers for Backpacking

    Do You Even Need a Solar Charger?

    Backpacking solar chargers are cool devices but, for most short trips, you really don’t need one – especially if you aren’t using many devices. As David Roberts of Solargenerator.guide says, “If you aren’t going to be in a place where you can count on at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day, then don’t waste your money. Opt for a less-expensive power bank, instead.”

    For example, on a 7-day backpacking trip, I might need to recharge my headlamp batteries, camera battery, and/or Kindle. A lightweight 10,000mAh powerbank is more than enough to do this. Further, a powerbank is a lot more reliable than a solar panel when it comes to charging.

    2: Inadequate Wattage = Dead Weight

    Want a backpacking solar charger which weighs under 12oz? You’ll be hard pressed to find a setup which offers more than 5 watts of power.

    As a general rule, you will need at least 10 watts in order to reliably charge phones and other small devices while backpacking. Anything less than 10 watts means it will take forever to charge a device – even in ideal conditions!

    Also note that some devices won’t charge at low power. Nokia phones, for example, require 120mAh to start charging. If the low-watt solar panel can’t produce this amount, then the phone won’t charge at all.

    An ultralight solar panel might not meet your power needs. It’s better to carry a few more ounces for gear which actually works than lug around dead weight.

    Look At Watts Per Ounce

    Don’t make the mistake of just looking at the overall weight of a solar charger. Instead, you need to look at the watts per ounce. The more watts per ounce, the lighter the solar charger really is.

    For example, the Anker PowerPort is 13.7oz but has 21 watts. The Goal Zero Nomad 5 is lighter at 12.7oz, but only is 5 watts. As talked about above, it’s usually better to carry a few extra ounces and have a charger capable of doing the job.

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    Don’t Forget the Weight of Extras

    It’s worth noting that most manufacturers only list the weight for their solar panels. This weight does NOT include accessories like cables, 12volt-to-USB adapters, or charge controllers. These can add a few ounces to the setup.

    Likewise, you’ll probably also want a powerbank to use with your solar charger – which means anywhere from 2.5oz to 10oz more weight. This will allow you to store power for later and many solar chargers simply perform better when used to charge power banks.

    Reduce Your Power Needs

    The best way to reduce your solar charger weight is to reduce your power needs.

    The less you use your devices, the smaller of a solar panel you can get away with. Normally you shouldn’t get less than a 10 watt solar panel, and that’s in ideal conditions. To get away with a low watt solar panel, you’ll need to:

    • Keep your phone turned off or in flight mode (if you are using it for photos)
    • Download LUX to control screen background
    • Use Greenify app to turn off background apps without having to uninstall
    • Keep phone GPS off until you need it
    • If you listen to music on your phone, use earbuds instead of the speakers
    • Keep devices at “room temperature” Sleep with them on cold nights if you must.
    • Be stingy about taking photos and videos.
    • Set up camp on time so you don’t have to rely on headlamps at night.

    Be Realistic About What Ultralight Solar Chargers Can Do

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

    But they still aren’t perfect.

    You aren’t going to be able to strap a small charger to your backpacking, hike through a shady forest, and expect your devices to get fully charged.

    Want to really cut weight from your pack? Check out my eBook!

    Oftne, the most effective way to cut weight from your pack is to start with your food. My eBook has over 50 dehydrator backpacking recipes — most which have over 130 calories per ounce! Plus there’s tons of info on planning backpacking meals. I’ll even give it to you for half off.

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