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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:

    Introduction: How to Make a Solar IPod/iPhone Charger.aka MightyMintyBoost

    About: I’m a former bicycle industry designer turned professional jeweler. I like working with my hands and am happiest when I’m in the shop building my creations. If you need help with your project just let me know! About Honus »

    I wanted a charger for my iPodTouch and the MintyBoost was definitely my first choice. I wanted to take it a bit further and make it not only rechargeable but also solar powered. The other issue is that the iPhone and iPodTouch have large batteries in them and will deplete the two AA batteries in the MintyBoost rather quickly so I wanted to increase the battery power as well. What I really wanted was a MightyMintyBoost!

    Apple has sold over 30 million iPodTouch/iPhone units- imagine charging all of them via solar power. If every iPhone/iPodTouch sold was fully charged every day (averaging the battery capacity) via solar power instead of fossil fuel power we would save approximately 50.644gWh of energy, roughly equivalent to 75,965,625 lbs. of CO2 in the atmosphere per year. Granted that’s a best case scenario (assuming you can get enough sunlight per day and approximately 1.5 lbs. CO2 produced per kWh used.) Of course, that doesn’t even figure in all the other iPods, cell phones, PDAs, microcontrollers (I use it to power my Arduino projects) and other USB devices that can be powered by this charger- one little solar cell charger may not seem like it can make a difference but add all those millions of devices together and that’s a lot of energy!

    There are some really nice features about this charger:

    It’s solar powered! It’s small. Large battery capacity- 3.7v @2000mAh On board charger charges via solar, USB or wall wart. Accepts input power from 3.7v to 7v. Remove the solar cell after charging and you have a nice compact USB power supply. Unplug the solar cell and use the Velcro to secure the MightyMintyBoost inside a backpack or messenger bag- now plug in a larger solar cell attached to your bag for even faster charging. Using a slightly larger solar cell (6v/250mAh) you can generate enough power to fully charge an iPhone in about 5.5 hours and an iPod Touch in 4 hours.

    Building this is really easy and straightforward- it only took me around an hour so follow along and build one for yourself!

    Safety note and general disclaimer: Be careful cutting the Altoids tin as it can have some really sharp edges- file them smooth if necessary. Assemble this at your own risk- while it is really easy to build, if you mess something up there is the potential to damage the electronic device you are trying to charge. Be careful in your assembly and soldering work and follow good safety practices. Only use a type of battery charger specifically designed for the type of battery you are using. Please read through the entire Instructable before asking questions- if there are are any questions just ask and I’ll help out as best as I can!

    Step 1: Tools and Materials

    Here’s what you’ll need to build your own MightyMintyBoost:

    Tools: Soldering iron Scissors Wire cutters Pliers (or muiltitool) Multimeter Metal shears Clear packing tape

    Materials:MintyBoost kit Lithium polymer battery charger (the original one specified was discontinued) For better performance use the Adafruit Solar Lithium charger (connections are similar but it’s slightly larger- see update below)3.7v 2000mAh Lithium Polymer batteryJST connector/wireSmall solar cell 2 x 3 adhesive backed Velcro Small double sided adhesive squares Altoids tin

    7/10/10 UPDATE: Adafruit now also sells all the parts you need to make this a bit more mighty. Have a look here!http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2010/07/09/how-to-make-a-solar-mintyboost-a-solar-power-charger-for-your-gadgets/

    7/18/11- ANOTHER UPDATE: Adafruit recently introduced a new LiPo charger that is specifically designed for solar charging that has much better performance. It’s not as small but the performance gains make it worth it. Have a look and read about the design here-https://www.adafruit.com/products/390

    The single cell Lithium Polymer charger can accept input power that ranges from 3.7 to 7v maximum. When the cell reaches full charge the charger will automatically switch to trickle charging. When charging using the mini USB port, the charging current is limited to 100mA. When charging using the barrel plug jack, the charging current is limited to 280mA.

    The solar cell maxes out at approximately 5v @ 100mA in bright sunlight. If you need faster charging simply use a larger solar cell- a 6v cell @ 250mA would work very well and they are easily obtainable and inexpensive. I used the size of solar cell that I did because I wanted it to be super compact.

    I could not find out from the manufacturer if the solar cell I used has a blocking diode. A blocking diode is used in many solar charging systems to prevent the solar cell from draining the battery during low light conditions. Instructables member RBecho pointed out that the charging circuit used negates the need for a blocking diode in this application. You can tell when the solar cell is producing enough power because the little red LED on the charger will come on during charging.

    Step 2: Build the Minty Boost Kit

    First build the MIntyBoost kit according to its instructions. It’s really easy to assemble- even a complete novice can do it.

    Instead of connecting the battery holder in the kit, we’re going to solder a JST connector to the MintyBoost PCB. This tiny connector will then allow the MintyBoost circuit to connect to the Lithium Polymer battery charger circuit. Make sure you get the polarity correct!

    Test the MintyBoost by connecting the battery pack (make sure the battery pack has a charge) and charger circuit. The MintyBoost connects to the connector marked SYS on the charger board and the lithium polymer battery connects to the connector marked GND.

    Now cut a notch in the Altoids tin for the USB port and use some double sided adhesive to mount the PCB to the Altoids tin.

    Step 3: Add the Battery and Charger

    Now cut a notch out of the other side of the Altoids tin to fit the charger and secure the charging circuit to the bottom of the Altoids tin with double sided adhesive. Reconnect the battery and the MintyBoost PCB to the charging circuit. Make sure nothing on the bottom of either one of the circuit boards is touching the bottom of the Altoids tin.

    Step 4: Add the Solar Cell

    There are a couple of different ways to connect the solar cell. The first is by simply shortening the connector leads and plugging the barrel plug into the barrel jack on the charging circuit.

    The second method is to replace the connector with another JST connector and plug it into the third connector marked 5v on the charging circuit. I didn’t have another JST connector handy so I just soldered a salvaged two pronged connector to the charging circuit where there are two open pins on the 5v line.

    Using the second method certainly is a bit cleaner since you don’t have the big barrel plug sticking out of the side of the tin.

    UPDATE- Since the original charging circuit has been discontinued, the best way to connect the new version Sparkfun LiPo charger is to splice a mini USB cable to the solar cell wires so it can plug directly into the charger. There is a simple guide on how to do this here-http://ladyada.net/make/solarlipo/

    Now attach the solar cell to the top of the Altoids tin using some 2 wide Velcro. I wrapped the battery pack with a layer of clear packing tape to help protect it. Then the battery pack is simple set down on top of the two circuit boards- it’s a near perfect fit.

    Now set your MightyMintyBoost out in the bright sun and charge it up! You should see a little red LED on the charger board light up. Once it’s fully charged connect your iPod/iPhone/USB powered device and enjoy!

    Step 5: FAQ and Additional Info

    Here’s a list of frequently asked questions:

    Q: Is it possible to overcharge the Lithium Polymer battery?A: No- the charger will automatically switch to trickle charging and then shut off.

    Q: Is it possible to drain the Lithium Polymer battery completely and damage it?A: No- the battery has its own low voltage cut off circuitry that will prevent it from completely discharging- the low voltage cut off is around 2.8v

    Q: Does the solar cell have a blocking diode to prevent it from draining the Lithium Polymer battery?A: No blocking diode is necessary- the Lithium Polymer charger prevents the battery from leaking current.

    Q: How long will it take to fully charge the Lithium Polymer battery and how long will it take to charge my iPod/iPhone?A: How long it will take to fully charge depends on the amount of sunlight available but as a rough guesstimate it would take around 20hrs using the small solar cell in direct sunlight. Using a larger solar cell could easily take half if not one third the amount of time. Those same figures would apply if you were charging it over USB or using a wall wart power supply.

    Charging your iPod is much faster. How fast it does it depends on your device’s battery capacity. An iPod Touch has a 1000mAh battery so it should fully charge it in around 2hrs. A 3G iPhone has a 1150mAh battery so it will take slightly longer and a 2G iPhone has a 1400mAh battery, so it will take around 3 hrs.

    Q: The Lithium Polymer charger has an input voltage range of 3.7v minimum to 7v maximum- what if I want to use a higher output solar cell for faster charging?A: To use a solar cell with a voltage output greater than 7v, you need a voltage regulator to drop the voltage to a level that the charger can handle. You could use a 7805 voltage regulator to limit the output to 5v.they only cost about 1.50 and are very simple to wire up. The 7805 will give you as fixed 5v and is usually good up to 1A current. You could also use a LM317T which is an adjustable regulator, but it would involve a bit more circuitry to use. Some people also use diodes to drop voltage, since many diodes have a voltage drop of.7v

    The other option would be to use a 6v/250mA solar panel. This will stay within the current input range and voltage input range of the Lithium Polymer charger. Remember that you can also connect smaller solar cells in parallel to increase the available current- two 5v/100mA solar cells connected together in parallel will give an output of 5v @200mA

    Q: What if I want to use a charger with a higher input current limit?A: Sparkfun does have a Lithium Polymer charger that maxes out at 1A:http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8293

    Q: How would I connect the more powerful charger- there doesn’t appear to be a clear way to do this?A: To use the more powerful 1A charger you would need to wire a two way switch to the battery so that in one position the battery would be connected to the charger and in the other position the battery would be connected to the MintyBoost circuit.

    Q: Will this work with USB devices other than iPods and iPhones?A: You bet! There’s a list here: http://www.ladyada.net/make/mintyboost/

    Q: Won’t the inside of the Altoids tin short out the circuit?A: No- using double sided foam tape to mount the circuit boards keeps the bottom of the board from coming into contact with the inside bottom of the tin. If you’re really worried you can cover the inside bottom of the tin with clear packing tape.

    Q: How much does this cost? Can I build it for less? Is it cost effective?A: If you buy everything as listed it would cost 70.75 (not including the Altoids tin or shipping.) If you wanted to scratchbuild it using the MintyBoost PCB from Adafruit, building your own charging circuit and supplying your own parts from various sources you can save quite a bit. Both the charging circuit and the MintyBoost circuit are available online– just go to the web pages listed in the tools and materials section- they’re also listed at the bottom of this page.

    Both Maxim and Linear Technology supply free samples (according to their websites) of their ICs so you just need to provide all the other bits (available from places like Mouser and Digikey.) Using a slightly smaller solar cell and a 2200mAh battery it is possible to build it for a lot less:

    After adding up the small parts for the MintyBoost circuit, a small blank PCB for the charging circuit (you would have to etch the board yourself) and a mini USB connector, you could conceivably build this for around 21.00 (not including shipping or an Altoids tin.) It wouldn’t be exactly the same of course, but it would be functionally the same. I don’t know if the 2200mAh battery would fit into an Altoids tin either. It would be a LOT more work of course, and there could be a fair bit of troubleshooting if you’re not experienced in building these types of circuits or soldering surface mount components.

    So is it cost effective? Absolutely- it just depends on the amount of work you want to do. Either way, you get a very useful and versatile solar powered charger.

    Q: How did you calculate the power usage and equivalent CO2 values?A: Here’s the math-3.7v (LiPo rated voltage) x.1A (solar charge current)=.37W.37W x 12.5hrs (charge time based on average battery capacity) = 4.625Wh4.625Wh x 365 days = 1688.125Wh per year1688.125Wh per year x 30,000,000 units sold = 50,643,750,000Wh total used per year (50.644gWh)50.644gWh per year x 1.5 lbs CO2 produced per kWh used = 75,965,625 lbs. CO2 produced per year

    Granted these are more or less maximum values but they clearly show some potential for some serious energy savings. A 12.5hr solar charge time per day isn’t realistic for the majority of the planet but if you shorten the solar charge time to approximately 4.5hrs at a 280mA current the results still remain the same.

    The Best Solar Chargers of 2023

    Cory Gunther / How-To Geek

    reviews, solar, online, iphone, charger

    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

    Amazon 39.99

    Amazon 149.95

    Amazon 72.96 79.99 Save 9%

    Amazon 39.99 42.99 Save 7%

    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.

    reviews, solar, online, iphone, charger

    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.

    reviews, solar, online, iphone, charger

    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.

    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.

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    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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