Best Solar Charger for Backpacking 2018 Reviews

  • Jul 25th 2018

Having a solar charger when you are backpacking can be your most important piece of equipment. Being able to charge your smartphone or tablet when there is no power outlet available can be a lifesaver. It is also very convenient to be able to charge any device using a rechargeable battery with 5V over USB. Camera, GPS or a flashlight etc, to have free on-demand electricity for all your devices is a great thing.

We have looked at a few different types of portable solar chargers suitable for backpacking. There are basically two types. Backpacks with built-in solar panels and lightweight foldable solar panel chargers. Having the solar panel built in has many advantages of course, but it also locks you to that specific backpack. Most foldable solar panels come with hooks and steel eyes and are easy to hang on, for example, your old backpack. This article will take a closer look at the portable and foldable solar chargers, but, we also have another article about backpacks with built-in solar chargers which could be worth a read.

Quick Navigation

  1. The best backpacking and hiking solar chargers
  2. Things to consider when buying a solar charger for backpacking
  3. Comparison table
  4. RAVPower 24W Solar Panel
  5. BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger
  6. Anker PowerPort Solar
  7. Nekteck 21W Solar Charger
  8. Conclusion
This article has a focus on lightweight solar chargers for backpacking and hiking. If your budget allows for it you should also strongly consider using a portable power bank so you are able to store some power for the night time or cloudy days. You can take a look at our The best portable power banks for backpacking and hiking If you are looking for something a bit more powerful but with focus on power and performance instead of weight we suggest you take a look at The 5 best solar panel chargers for camping. If you want some general advice on how to use your charger you can read this article: What to think about when handling portable solar panel chargers

Things to consider when buying a solar charger for backpacking:

  • Weight, as light as possible. Aim for 1.5 lbs or less (0.65kg)
  • Size, as small as possible, both packaged and unfolded.
  • Durability, performance and overall quality. At least 20% solar cell efficiency
  • Powerful enough for your needs, 21-28 Watt is what we have looked for.
  • Water and weatherproof. Must at least be able to endure rain.
  • Number of available USB output ports for charging devices, 2 or more is ideal.

Comparison Table

RAVPower 24W Solar Panel


Highly efficient solar cells convert up to 21.5-23.5% of solar power into free energy. Charge up to three USB devices simultaneously. One of the most compact solar chargers on the market. Benefit from free solar energy in a lightweight foldable format you can always carry with you no matter where you go. iSmart technology automatically adjusts to connected devices and provides the optimal charging current to minimize charging time. Smart IC frequency technology detects all connected devices input and distributes current output accordingly for up to 3.2A. Waterproof sewn rugged polyester canvas for a weather-resistant device that won't let you down when you need it most. 4 hooks to best capture sunlight.

Specification

Power Class: 24W
Output: 5 V, 2.4 A Max
Closed size: 11.81 × 6.5 × 0.2 in (300 x 165 x 5 mm)
Weight: 26.4 oz (748g)

Pros

  • Lightweight and small size for a foldable solar panel
  • Very efficient energy conversion
  • Weatherproof
  • Tripple USB output ports

Cons

  • Not enough power to charge three devices at once

Check out RAVPower 24W Solar Panel on Amazon

BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger


The BigBlue Solar Energy Charger. Lightweight, easy to carry. When folded it has the same size and thickness as a magazine. Designed specifically for all those people wit passion for trekking, camping, hiking, picnics, fishing, boat, etc. Compatible with all USB rechargeable devices, with only sun energy. 100% Green Power and 21.5-23.5% Solar Efficiency. The package includes 4 hooks, allowing you to hook your solar panel everywhere (trees, backpacks, curtains, etc.) Waterproof and Internal Chip: Every time he loses contact with sunlight for a short period of time (dense forest, clouds, temporal passenger) will stop charging until he comes back into contact with the sunrays, without damaging your connected device. Built-in Ammeter and Pocket with Zip, keep your devices safe and clean. Being so feature packed is what makes this the best solar panel for backpacking in our eyes, we simply love it.

Specification

Power Class: 28W
Output: 5 V, Total 4.0 A Max
Opened size: 33.1 x 11.1 x 0.2 in (840 x 282 x 5 mm)
Closed size: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 in (282 x 160 x 34 mm)
Weight: 21.0 oz (595g)

Pros

  • Well designed with many smart features
  • lightweight
  • Very good value
  • Built-in Ammeter
  • Very efficient energy conversion
  • Weatherproof
  • Dual USB output ports

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than competition

Check out BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger on Amazon

Anker PowerPort Solar


The Anker PowerPort Solar is our premium pick for best solar charger suited for backpacking and hiking. We love that it got a very reliable power output and every single part of the charger is of high quality and despite of that it is the most lightweight. Anker has spared no cost on anything, it has durable PET plastic solar cells which are sewn into a casing of high-quality polyester canvas. This also makes the solar charger weatherproof and a bit of rain will not harm it in any way.

The power output is more than enough to charge two devices at the same time, provided there is sufficient sunshine. Anker uses a technology called PowerIQ to automatically detect what ampere to use when charging your devices. This ensures that all devices (under 3A) will charge as fast and safe as possible.

Specification

Power Class: 21 Watt
Output: 5 V, Total 3.0 A Max
Closed size: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
Weight: 14.7 ounces

Pros

  • Very high quality
  • ultra-compact
  • smart and fast charging
  • Weatherproof
  • Dual USB output ports
  • Very efficient energy conversion

Cons

  • Pricey

Check out Anker PowerPort Solar on Amazon

Nekteck 21W Solar Charger


The Nekteck was very close to being our best pick for a foldable solar charger suited for hiking and backpacking. It is as affordable as the BigBlue, is of high quality and has all the features you would want. It is still not as powerful as BigBlue but if you value portability over capacity this is could be a better choice since it is more lightweight.

Nektek 21 Watts solar charger is highly portable and ultra lightweight, it weighs in at only 18 ounces. The solar panels are of the same efficient construction as it's competitors and they are sewn into a rugged water-resistant canvas material. The canvas has 5 steel eye holes for easy hanging and a pouch for storing your appliances

Nektek has also integrated a smart chip technology in their charger. They call it smartIC, and it will make sure that your devices are charged as fast and safe as possible. Unlike our premium pick, the Anker PowerPort, Nekteck cannot provide 3A output on a single port, only 2A. Many phones will not require more than 2A when charging so this should not be a problem unless you want to charge more demanding devices.

Specification

Power Class: 21W
Output: DC 5V, 3A Max
Closed size: 6.3 x 11.1 x 1.06 inches
Weight: 18 ounces

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Weatherproof
  • Dual USB output ports
  • Very efficient energy conversion

Cons

  • Can only output 2A per USB port

Check out Nekteck 21W Solar Charger on Amazon

Conclusion

All portable solar panel chargers in this review are of high quality, highly efficient, and with great capacity. As our best pick, we recommend the BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger This is certainly one of the best solar panel chargers for your backpacking adventures or your hiking trips. It is affordable and has a very good capacity and is the best solar charger all-round.

If you want the best of the best our pricey premium pick is for you. The Anker PowerPort Solar is simply the best in every way, but it costs twice as much or more compared to it's competitors.

Our runner-up the Nekteck 21W Solar Charger is an excellent choice if you want the most lightweight and portable charger. The Nektech is however not as powerful as it's competitors and cannot output as high ampere for your devices making them charge a little slower.