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We have all been there: that horrible moment when you realize that you forgot to charge your phone in the middle of a hike. It is unsettling to think that you will be without a phone or electronic device. Surely, there has to be some way to prevent such a dreadful scenario from happening.
There is! Now is the best time to jump on board with the solar revolution. Pick up a camping solar charger and see what all the fuss is about. Powerful, lightweight, and economical—a portable charger that works on solar energy can transform your camping experience.
We’re going to help you decide which camping solar charger to purchase. After reviewing numerous solar chargers on the market, we know how to choose the most reliable and affordable ones available.
It’s time to harness the power of the sun.
What is a Camping Solar Charger?
Solar chargers work on one principle: the infinite energy of the sun. Like solar panels attached to the roof of a house, portable solar chargers will convert solar rays into electricity through photovoltaic panels. The panels draw in energy, covert it, and store the electricity in a small internal battery. From there, you can transport that energy to any electronic device connected via a USB cord.
Simple, right? That is why having a camping solar charger around will revolutionize your campsite. Imagine having your devices freshly charged every morning!
In short, solar chargers have several great benefits:
- The ability to charge devices without electrical outlets
- Having your phone charged for emergencies
- Safer, quieter, and lighter than a generator
- An eco-friendly product that runs solely on the sun’s rays
- Free power from the sun
Best Camping Solar Charger: Reviews
As with every review that we do, our analysis of the following solar chargers is based on camping and backpacking expertise paired with a passion for adventure. We hope that you can narrow down your options using our recommendations, but you should know that there are thousands of camping solar chargers out there.
We have rated the best solar powered chargers on a scale of 1 through 10 by looking at four key components: the size of the solar panels, the battery capacity, portability, and overall features.
Here are the best camping solar panels and chargers:
Best Solar Powered Charger: BigBlue 28W Foldable Solar Charger
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[wpsm_reviewbox title=”BigBlue 28W Foldable Solar Charger” description=”he BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger produces the most power of any portable solar charger we’ve tested, and it has unique features that make it more versatile and durable, including three output ports (versus two on most other chargers), a weatherproof port protector, and an expansive but lightweight array of panels to catch every last ray of sunlight.” pros=”Extremely fast charging speed thanks to large panel surface area;Wide compatibility with small devices: Micro USB for 5V Android devices, DSLRs, Apple phones, and more. ;Auto-restart feature with quick recovery;Durable carrying case and foldable design;Comes with a built-in ammeter;Simple, easy to use design ;” cons=”Struggles to charge two devices at once;Slightly heavier and bulky, given the surface area of the panels;” score=”9.5″ ]
The BigBlue 28W Foldable Solar Charger is an absolute favorite and has gotten some of the highest marks on this list. Not only is it capable of charging on sunny or cloudy days, but it has incredible portability, a fast-charging speed, and even has an extremely affordable price tag.
One of the neatest features of the BigBlue Solar Charger was the auto-restart function that switches the unit back on after interruptions. You never have to worry about your device going uncharged for hours. Although the charge may be a bit slower after an interruption, knowing that the solar charger automatically restarts is a huge blessing.
Next, consider the wattage. 28W is around the middle ground, putting the charge speed at around average. The solar charger comes with 2 charging ports, but you should only charge a single device at any time, given the size of the product.
In terms of durability and portability, the BigBlue received much praise. The panel performs well in damp, humid conditions, and it comes with a canvas covering that holds up through all kinds of abuse. The materials are resistant to abrasions and sun exposure, making it ideal for the campsite. However, it is a little bulky and heavy (23.5 ounces), which is why this solar charger did not receive a perfect score.
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Best Compact Solar Charger: Dizaul Solar Charger 10000mAh
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[wpsm_reviewbox title=”Dizaul Solar Charger 10000mAh ” description=”This heavy-duty charger allows you to be in contact with the people your need, regardless of your whereabouts, as it makes sure your phone is always charged. With a power capacity of 10,000mAh, it is more than enough for an outdoor expedition. It has a double recharging functionality, as it can be recharged via USB charger or solar energy.” pros=”Compatible with a large number of devices, including iPhone 12, iPhone X, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy, Huawei P10, iPads, Google Pixels, and much more. ;LED indicator light shows how much energy is left;Shock-absorbing silicone corners and ABS materials;Rated IPX4 waterproof;Features a hook it and LED flashlight;Can charge up to 4 devices at the same time; includes a wireless charger on the back;” cons=”The included clip/carabiner is low quality and will break easily;Does not recharge itself quickly ;Struggles to charge larger electronic devices, such as iPads;” score=”8.5″ ]
Perhaps the size and weight of the BigBlue model did not appeal to you. The Dizaul Solar Charger is an excellent substitute, especially since it feels rather futuristic in both design and functionality. The Dizaul Solar Charger is sleek—about the size of a smartphone—and has multiple methods of receiving a charge. The internal battery can be charged either by solar power or from a standard electrical outlet.
This is also one rugged little solar charger. The solar panel is weather-resistant, so you can use it during a rainstorm and still get a charge. The charger is also wrapped with shockproof, eco-friendly silicone. It is finished off with rubber paint and a grip for anti-skidding. There is also a nifty hole to attach a carabiner, so you can hang the solar charger to your backpack.
Adding to the durability are included rubber caps that cover the USB ports. Dust and water will be unable to get in while using the caps.
We also cannot overlook the high-speed charging capabilities. Among the solar chargers in this list, the Dizaul model has some of the fastest speeds. This is because of the combination of a QC 3.0 output and an 18W charge. Integrated into the charger is a 10000mAh battery, which is more than enough to power your smaller devices.
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Best Robust: Anker Solar Power Bank 10000mAh
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[wpsm_reviewbox title=”Anker Solar Power Bank 10000mAh” description=”This water, dust, and shock-resistant solar charger is the ideal portable power source for any situation—whether on the beach, in your backyard, or during a blackout.” pros=”Features dual 15W USB ports (when charging two devices, it is 7.5W per output);The battery has a 10000mAh capacity to fully charge two smartphones;Can connect to a wall charger for a full recharge in only 5.5 hours;Has an SOS flashlight mode;Universal compatibility with multiple devices, including iPhones, iPads, Samsung, and more;Lightweight and portable enough to put into your backpack for traveling or hiking;Can store solar power even while charging devices;” cons=”Solar charging is slower than wall charging, taking 3-5 days in direct sunlight;” score=”9″ ]
The Anker Solar Power Bank 10000mAh charger is stylistically not too different from the aforementioned Dizual solar charger at first glance, but it has a bunch of features that make it a truly beefy addition to your camping essentials. First off, Anker is a trusted name in terms of electronics, including portable power banks. You know you are getting an item that is going to do what it claims, and that means a lot when adopting innovative technology.
The Anker Solar Power Bank is designed for outdoorsy people. It is dust, water, and shock-resistant, so you can bring it wherever your adventure takes you. The item was also rated as IP64 for dust and water protection in every direction. An impressive achievement.
You also know it is going to be durable because of the built-in SunPower monocrystalline panels that have an efficiency of 21.5-23.5%, one of the highest ratings for portable solar chargers around. While solar charging may take several days to complete, the panels are more efficient than the competition.
The battery has a capacity of 10000mAh. It will charge up phones and smaller devices in a blink. Plus, the battery was constructed with heat-resistant materials, ensuring that the solar charger will not get damaged by intense sun exposure.
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Best Lightweight (But Decent Charge): Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel Recharger
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[wpsm_reviewbox title=”Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel Recharger” description=”Rugged and Modular – Detachable kickstand provides optimum angle placement, natural shade for charging devices and a vented pocket for temperature regulation. Weatherproof layering easily sloughs rain and snow.” pros=”Rugged and durable construction for all weather conditions;Features monocrystalline solar panels ;Charge smaller devices quickly ;Ultralight design that is loaded with features, including a built-in, LED indicator and kickstand;Auto-restart function;” cons=”An eye-popping price tag;Some tests revealed that the solar charger may have inconsistent charging for some devices, making it incompatible with more finicky devices, like the new iPhone X. This can be amended by charging a power bank.;” score=”9″ ]
Despite the size of the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel, it is astoundingly lightweight. If you are an avid backpacker that wants to spend days out in nature, then the Goal Zero Nomad 7 is going to make you a very happy camper. The camping solar charger has an impressive weight of 12.8 ounces, features a compact design, and can be unfolded to increase surface area in a matter of seconds.
Why is it called the Goal Zero Nomad 7? It has an output of 7 watts. Yes, that may seem a bit small, but it is more than enough to power a small device, such as a GPS, headlamp, rechargeable flashlight, or even a cell phone. However, you should account for the lack of an internal battery.
Just because a battery is missing doesn’t mean the Goal Zero Nomad 7 is going to falter. The outer layer is coating in a weatherproof shell that helps it function optimally even when the sky is dark or rain or snow is falling. This is one of the few solar chargers that work in wintry conditions.
One cool feature would be the LED indicator that gauges the solar strength and an accompanying kickstand that helps you set up the solar charger optimally.
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Best Budget Solar Charger: YOESOID Solar Charger 20000mAh
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[wpsm_reviewbox title=”YOESOID Solar Charger 20000mAh” description=”For a low cost, you can get a fantastic little solar charger. If you are looking for a solar charger that is about the same size as your smartphone (but costs infinitely less), check out the options available from YOESOID. There are several colors available—blue, red, green, and so on—so you can choose your favorite. ” pros=”Can be charged via the sun or through an electrical outlet;Has a multi-function flashlight ;Shockproof, dustproof, and waterproof, so you can take it on all kinds of adventures;Comes with a Micro USB cable and carabiner;Weighs only 252 grams/0.55 lbs;20000mAh can charge an average smartphone 5-8 times before needing a recharge;Can be attached to your backpack with included carabiner;” cons=”Cannot be left out in direct sunlight for long or exposed to high heat;Lacks the longevity of more expensive solar chargers;” score=”8″ ]
The price tag is more impressive when you consider the included features. The YOESOID Solar Charger has an internal battery of 20000mAh. The battery is also rated for safety and has a guaranteed lifespan of 1000 recharges. Better yet, the solar charger is compatible with numerous devices, some that even the more expensive chargers cannot hook up with. This includes Go-Pro cameras, tablets, and a host of smartphones.
Other useful features include enhanced portability. The outer edges of the solar charger are covered in silicone, PC, and ABS materials, making it shockproof. The USB ports have rubber caps to keep water from getting in, improving resilience further. You also get dual USB ports and an integrated LED flashlight with two modes: SOS strobe and conventional.
At the top of the solar charger, there are indicator lights that show the status of the battery. You know when the charger is getting solar energy and when something is charging via USB. Overall, it is an impressive offering for such a budget-friendly price.
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Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Solar Powered Charger for Camping
As you can see, solar chargers are available in a variety of sizes and types. Even the slightest difference between material or the size of a panel can dramatically change the functionality—and the price tag.
With so many options, you may be struggling to select the best solar-powered charger. That is why you should consider some key factors. The first thing you should do is ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What devices do you plan on bringing?
- Where do you plan on charging your solar charger?
- Will you need an internal battery?
These are important questions to ask yourself because it will change the kind of solar charger you are looking for. Panels with lower specifications are built for a single phone or GPS. Larger electronics require larger solar chargers.
Some solar chargers can be clipped to a backpack or have a compact surface area to make them more convenient to travel with, but that could impact the performance.
Here are some other things to think about:
Solar Panels & Size
Solar panels have three main types that are commonly found in solar chargers. This includes CIGS panels, Polycrystalline, and Monocrystalline panels. CIGS panels are made with layers of selenide, indium, copper, and gallium; though they are lightweight and easy to make, CIGS panels are not durable enough for backpacking and camping.
That narrows down your options to the other two. As the name depicts, monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels utilize crystal ingots to alter solar energy into usable electricity. Monocrystalline panels have less energy loss and are more efficient, while polycrystalline panels feature more crystals and are easier to make.
The most durable is a monocrystalline panel, but they are also rigid. You will need to be careful during transport.
Regardless of the type of panel, size is just as important. The more surface area a solar panel has, the better it will work. The most compact and lightweight models are going to have less surface area and, therefore, work more slowly. Larger panels will collect a greater amount of sunlight and have faster-charging speeds.
You may have looked at several camping solar chargers with integrated batteries. Some will charge directly from the panels and not have storage. The integrated battery, though, is far more liberating, because you do not have to rely on the sun to charge your devices. You can choose the time and place to connect your phone to let it charge.
The good news is that any portable solar panel can be partnered with a power bank, though this increases the bulk and weight of your backpack.
The size of the solar charger is what will affect portability the most. Some are small enough to fit into a pocket, while others will need to be folded up and stored away like a laptop. The more powerful the solar charger, the bigger the size, as well.
Another portability factor is the weight. Experienced hikers and backpackers understand that weight can alter everything. You have already spent endless hours researching the weight of your backpack, your gadgets, and hiking gear. Don’t let a solar charger take the weight of your backpack over the edge.
Luckily, portable camping solar chargers are not going to weigh much more than your average power bank. Just remember that the size of the panels and the accessories included will vary—and the weight with it. Be sure to check the weight in the item specifications to make sure you know how much the charger will be adding to your equipment.
Wattage & Output Power
When you start comparing solar chargers, you should also be looking at wattage and output power. Become familiar with the terminology. Knowing what is considered satisfactory in terms of watts and amps can help you when finding the best solar charger for camping.
Amps represent the electrical current while watts pertain to electrical power. As an example, consider a solar charger that has 5 watts. This will provide sufficient energy for a simple cell phone or MP3 player. Yet, larger, more powerful smartphones, for instance, are far more hungry and will require a solar panel of 7 watts or higher to successfully charge.
If you are aiming to charge a smartphone, iPad, and other devices at the same time, you are going to need a charger that is capable of handling that. Aim for at least 15 watts.
Ease of Use
As with most electronics these days, using a solar charger is a bit more complicated than setting it in the sun. Many models will not function properly unless certain conditions are met. For example, some solar panels hook to your backpack. However, it will stop charging as soon as something comes between it and the sun. That means, you will be hiking for hours and the solar panel will have never charged.
Such features can be rather irksome and inefficient, especially if you are expecting items to be charged. Look for solar chargers that have things like “auto-reset technology,” which turns the solar charger back on after being disturbed.
Also, you should be aware that smaller is not always better. A smaller solar charger will take forever to recharge, making it more difficult to keep your devices charged.
Extras always make a purchase seem worthwhile. One product with a certain feature could make or break your decision, after all. Look for solar panels that come with free accessories, such as carrying cases or straps. Most come packaged with a single USB connection cord, but you could find solar chargers that are boxed together with prong adapters, charging indicators, alligator clips, and carabiners.
Make sure the extras are something you want and need before adding the solar charger to your shopping cart.
Deciding on the right equipment for your outdoor trips can be daunting, especially when it comes to keeping your devices charged. That is why we have reviewed some of the most popular solar chargers for camping available. Now, you know which ones are going to be great for larger devices or better for places with loads of dust or moisture.
Just remember that smaller watts are going to charge slower, while more surface area leads to faster charging. Consider what you want to use the camping solar charger for, and you will have no problems finding one that is right for you!
FAQs About Solar Chargers for Camping
Still, have questions about solar chargers? We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions for you and listed them here.
1. Is a solar charger helpful when camping?
You never know when you are going to need to pick the phone and call for pizza delivery (or emergency medical services). Having a solar charger around gives you peace of mind because you know that your portable electronic devices are always going to have power. After all, some campsites may not have electricity, but the sun will be available for a few hours at least. So yes, having a solar charger when camping is very helpful.
2. What is the best solar charger for camping?
The best solar charger to bring along for camping is going to fulfill the qualities mentioned in this article: decently sized solar panels, high battery capacity, portability, and other useful features. You want a lightweight solar charger that can either be folded up and packed away or attached to your hiking backpack or tucked into other equipment. You also want a solar charger that has quick charging features and a battery with enough capacity to fuel your phone or whatever device needs charging.
3. Do solar chargers have USB ports?
Of course! Most solar chargers available will have a least 1 USB port for you to charge your electronic devices. You will need a compatible charging cable. If you cannot find one that fits the solar charger and device, then you could locate an adapter to make it work.
4. How can I charge my solar charger?
This is one question that many people ask as soon as they unbox their new gizmo. Though it may seem like a straightforward activity, there are a couple of things to consider before plopping a solar charger in the closest sunbeam. Keep in mind that a solar charger needs direct sunlight to convert the light into energy. If the sky is overcast, your charger is not going to work as well as it would on a sunny day. Also, never place it somewhere damp or where it can get wet.
Also, you should keep the solar charger at a 90-degree angle to the sun. Most solar chargers will be unable to charge with only partial exposure. Make sure the entire charger is covered in sunlight.
5. Can I connect my devices to the solar charger while it is charging?
That is not the best idea. If the solar charger is gathering energy, the charge being sent to your devices will be inconsistent, and that can be harmful to any device you have connected to the solar charger at that time. Any spike or drop in electricity coming from the solar charger could completely ruin your phone.