Everyone relies on electronic devices in some form or the other in the modern era. After all, we view devices such as smartphones and tablets as extensions of ourselves. This technology connects us to the rest of the world at any given moment, which is why we need to ensure they are available when we need them the most
Anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors knows how difficult it can be to conserve the battery on your devices. For this reason, you should find the best solar power bank for backpacking.
What is a solar power bank?
Solar power banks are portable chargers that store energy from sunlight. These devices transfer the energy they’ve accumulated into rechargeable batteries which can then be used to charge your electronic devices. https://medium.com/@alphazee17/why-a-solar-power-bank-bb5b4470d1d6
The best solar power bank to take backpacking
Ravpower Solar Phone Charger 25000mAh – Best Overall Option https://www.amazon.com/RAVPower-25000mAh-Portable-External-Flashlight/dp/B079HPCZ3Q/
GRDE Wireless Portable Solar Power Bank 26,800mAh – Best features https://www.amazon.com/26800mAh-GRDE-Wireless-Portable-External/dp/B0835744VQ/
Nekteck Solar Charger 10000mAh SL-10000-B – Best value https://www.amazon.com/Nekteck-Rain-Resistant-Shockproof-High-Efficiency-Supported/dp/B01DEN66MK
ADDTOP Portable Solar Power Bank 25,000 mAh – Special features https://www.amazon.com/25000mAh-ADDTOP-Portable-Waterproof-Compatible/dp/B07FPHHNDL
Considerations before buying a solar power bank
If you are interested in purchasing the best solar power bank for your needs, you should assess the features of each one. Here are some things to look out for.
Each solar charger relies on the same principle. The solar panels on the device draw in solar energy and store it in the accompanying battery pack. Electronic devices can then be charged by connecting them to the battery pack.
This makes the solar charger’s form factor important. Some devices are compact in size, and as a result their solar panels may have a small surface area. These portable solar chargers may be easier to carry around in your hand, but their charging solar panels are likely to be slower at charging.
Conversely, a solar charger with larger solar panels may be able to charge up its batteries faster, but it may be more difficult to transport in your pocket due to its size and weight.
Many solar chargers can also be attached to a backpack. This makes them easier to transport and use when you’re on the move. If you plan to travel on foot during your backpacking adventures, a solar charger that can be affixed to your bag could be useful. https://voltaicsystems.com/backpacking-solar-chargers/
Some solar power chargers come with detachable solar panels. This option can be useful in certain situations, as solar panels tend to be bulky. If you intend to be outside for only one or two days, you may be able survive off the battery pack’s existing charge without needing to recharge it using solar panels.
However, if you intend to use the solar charger primarily for its solar charging capabilities, you should opt for one with an integrated battery back.
Another important quality to look out for is battery capacity. Most solar powered batteries on the market offer capacities between 10000mAh and 27000mAh. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=solar+power+bank&ref=nb_sb_noss_2 A battery with a higher capacity will be able to charge more devices before running out of power compared to a battery with a lower battery capacity.
The amount of battery capacity required to charge various devices is shown below https://solarpowergenie.com/are-solar-power-banks-worth-it/:
Smartphone: 3000mAh or less
Larger phones and tablets: 3000 – 10000mAh
Phones, tablets, laptops, and some small electronic devices: more than 10000mAh
People assume that a higher capacity solar charger will always be more useful than a lower capacity one. This can be true if you charge up each device beforehand. However, once your solar charger has completely discharged its battery, recharging it back to full capacity will take longer on the large capacity one.
This video demonstrates how long it can take to fully recharge the battery on a large solar battery pack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUNaTVkrqUU
The vast majority of solar chargers come with lithium ion batteries. This battery type is known for its high energy density and its low self-discharge rate https://www.electronics-notes.com/articles/electronic_components/battery-technology/li-ion-lithium-ion-advantages-disadvantages.php. These batteries can hold their charge better than Ni-Cad and NiMH type batteries.
It’s rare to find a battery for solar charger that doesn’t use lithium ion, as it is well suited for portable chargers.
Number of charging ports
If you’re the type of person that carries two or more electronic devices around, you may need a solar charger that offers multiple charging ports. Some power banks come with only a single USB charging port, while others may feature up to three USB charging ports. https://www.amazon.com/RAVPower-25000mAh-Portable-External-Flashlight/dp/B079HPCZ3Q . The best solar chargers usually come with multiple types of USB ports for charging various kinds of devices.
Chargers with multiple charging ports are great option for backpackers who enjoy traveling in groups. Each of your travel-mates can charge their devices at once without having to carry additional power banks with them.
Many solar power banks are rated to be water-resistant or waterproof. The difference between these two qualities is that water-resistant devices can be exposed to water for short amounts of time without being damaged. So if you spilled some water on your device or left it out in the rain for a couple of minutes, it should be alright. However, your device may stop working if you submerge it in water for an extended period of time.
Solar power banks that are advertised as being waterproof are unlikely to get damaged if they fall into a body of water. This makes them useful for backpackers that intend to take them along for water activities such as canoeing or fishing.
We scoured the internet for the best solar power banks. We have narrowed down our selection to four great choices. Check out our review for each device below.
Ravpower Solar Phone Charger 25,000mAh
- 25,000mAh capacity
- Max output: 6.4A (32W)
- IP6 Water resistance
- Two charging methods and dual inputs
- 2 USB-A ports and 1 USB-C port
- Built-in flashlight
- High battery capacity compared to other power banks in our review.
- Three USB outlets.
- Can be charged via both inputs at once
- High battery capacity means it takes a long time to fully charge.
- Bulky and heavy (weighing in at 1.2 pounds)
The Ravpower Solar Phone Charger 25,000mAh is the best solar charger in our list. It features a high powered charger and a large battery capacity, which makes it capable of charging phones and other small electronic devices efficiently. It’s rugged design is shockproof, dust resistant, and water resistant.
This power bank’s massive battery capacity allows you to recharge your smartphone multiple times. You can also charge a tablet two or three times with this device on just a single charge. The USB-C port is also useful for charging laptops with USB-C chargers.
The built in flashlight can come in handy when you are traveling or camping. It features strobe, constant and SOS modes. This is one of the best solar chargers on the market, and should be your first choice if you are interested in charging your devices on-the-go.
GRDE Wireless Portable Solar Power Bank 26,800mAh – Best features
- 26,800mAh capacity
- Three USB outlets
- IPX4 water resistance
- Two charging methods
- Wireless charging
- LED lights with three different modes
- High battery capacity
- Charge up to four devices at once
- LEDs are bright enough to be used as flashlight
- Wireless charging is a rare feature
- Most expensive option in our list
- Water resistance could be better
- No USB-C port
GRDE’s 26,800 mAh wireless portable solar power bank offers more bells and whistles than the other options in our list. In addition to having one of the largest battery capacities we’ve encountered in a solar charger, this device features a wireless charging dock.
It comes equipped with powerful LED lights that can illuminate even the darkest of areas. The device also features a bright battery level indicator on its reverse side. The USB ports are illuminated, which makes plugging in your phone and other devices easy to do in the dark. It’s IPX4 certification means it won’t get damaged by the occasional rain shower; however, we don’t recommend taking it for a swim.
The only drawbacks of this charger are its expensive price, below average water resistance, and lack of USB C ports. This isn’t the best solar charger you can get for the price, but its high battery capacity and wireless charging capabilities certainly make it an attractive option for backpackers.
Nekteck Solar Charger 10,000mAh – Best value
- 10,000 mAh battery capacity
- Dual charging ports
- 2.1A output
- Dust and water resistant
- Built-in LED flashlight
- Affordable price
- Easy to use
- Rated for over 1000 recharge cycles
- Built-in hook loop makes it easy to attach to backpacks
- Lightweight and compact (weights only 0.5 pounds)
- Low battery capacity compared to other products we’ve seen.
- Buttons are difficult to press
- Rubber separates from device body after moderate use
At only $19.99, the Nekteck solar charger 10,000 mAh is the most affordable solar charger battery on our list. This device should be your to-go option if you want an emergency solar charging battery you can rely on. It is also the lightest solar charger on our list, coming it at only 0.5 pounds.
This portable charger battery features a silicon housing that makes it dust and water resistant. It is advertised as being able to hold up well in the rain and is rated for over 1000 recharge cycles. The main body features a hook loop that makes it easy to attach to backpacks.
This product does come with some drawbacks, however. It’s 10,000 mAh battery pack capacity is far smaller than the other chargers in our list. Many users have also reported that the buttons can be difficult to press, and that the rubber housing separates from the main body after moderate use. Despite these shortcomings, this is still the best solar charger under $20.
ADDTOP Portable Solar Power Bank 25,000 mAh
- 25,000 mAh battery capacity
- 2.1A output
- 4 foldable solar panels
- IPX7 rating makes it waterproof
- Compact when folded
- Dual USB output ports can charge two devices simultaneously
- Larger solar panel surface area speeds up charging
- Heavy weight (1.2 pounds)
- Produces a high pitched whining sound when charging
- Occasionally shuts off while charging
- Adhesive holding the panels isn’t very strong
The ADDTOP portable solar power bank 25,000 mAh is a unique device that features 4 fold out solar panels. This device offers the largest solar panel surface area of any of the devices on our list. It is also incredibly compact in its folded position, and has a length and width comparable to the iPhone X.
Another standout feature of this device is its waterproofing. Each solar charger in our list so far has featured ordinary water resistance, which could be useful against rain. However, ADDTOP’s solar charger takes it a step further with its IPX7 rating. This allows it to be safely submerged underwater to a depth of 3 feet https://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org/best-solar-power-banks/.
This would be considered the best solar charger on our list, but it does feature some drawbacks. It’s 1.2 pound weight makes it one of the heftier solar charger for backpacking. Users have reported that it produces a high pitched whining sound when charging, and that it occasionally shuts off after being on for a while. Some users have also mentioned that the adhesive holding the panels isn’t very strong, and comes apart after only a few weeks of usage. https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B07FPHHNDL/ref=acr_dp_hist_3?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=three_star&reviewerType=all_reviews#reviews-filter-bar
The winner of our solar charger roundup is Ravpower Solar Phone Charger 25000mAh. This is the best solar charger we have reviewed thanks to its balanced combination of features. Its battery pack has a capacity comparable to ADDTOP Portable Solar Power Bank 25,000 mAh and GRDE Wireless Portable Solar Power Bank 26,800mAh.
However, the area where this device truly stands out is in the number and types of USB outlets it possesses. The addition of the USB C outlet enables it to charge certain laptop devices, which is a remarkable feature for any power bank, let alone a solar charger.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is the best solar charger for backpacking?
A: The best solar charger for battery recharging in our list is the Ravpower’s Solar Charger 25000mAh. This device offers great battery capacity and multiple USB ports that can be used to charge two devices simultaneously. The USB C port can be used to charge laptops with a USB type C cable.
Q: What is the best portable solar charger?
A: In terms of portability, the ADDTOP Portable Solar Power Bank 25,000 mAh is one of the best solar chargers on the market. This charger has a compact design that is similar in size to the iPhone X in its folded position. This makes it small enough to fit in your pocket and take anywhere. It’s IPX7 rating protects it from rain and the occasional dunk in the pool (at depths less than 3 feet).
Q: Are solar chargers worth it?
A: Solar chargers can be useful in certain emergency situations. For example, many people have relied on solar power banks to charge their electronic devices following a natural disaster that caused a blackout. However, these devices do take a fair amount of time to recharge their battery pack via solar power. Even the best solar chargers still take multiple days to get fully charged under direct sunlight. https://innovate-eco.com/solar-power-bank-charging-time-how-long-to-fully-charge/
On the other hand, most solar battery packs can also be charged through electrical outlets, similar to ordinary power banks. If you are interested in trying out a solar charger for backpacking, you can purchase the Nekteck Solar Charger 10,000mAh for under $20.
Q: Do solar chargers work on cloudy days?
A: Solar chargers rely on sunlight to generate power and charge up their battery packs. These devices do work on cloudy days, but they produce only a fraction of the power they would otherwise produce on a sunny day. They work best when exposed to direct sunlight, so they may not be the best option for people who live in areas that experience cloudy weather for most of the year. https://cleantechnica.com/2018/02/08/solar-panels-work-cloudy-days-just-less-effectively/