Best Camping/Hiking Solar Chargers – Reviews and Guide 2020

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Last Update: 11.Jun.2020

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Anker 21W Dual USB Portable Solar Charger

Touted as a high-performance machine, Anker's panels have often been among our winners, earning that spot mostly for their reliable, high-quality manufacturing. They have always produced a well-made, dependable product. This panel is a featherweight compared to the other 20W panels in our tests but holds its own among the other heavy hitters. This panel doubles the efficiency of last year's winner the Anker Powerport 15W but is somehow still lighter than the Goal Zero Nomad 7W and the Instapark Mercury 10W
Best Choice Go to Amazon Shop

Goal Zero Venture 30

Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit, you can keep your phone juiced even on the roughest adventures. This weatherproof recharger withstands harsh conditions and can take a beating so you never have to be apprehensive about taking it into the field, and it has enough capacity to charge your phone and tablet so you can stay connected even when you're far from home. A 65 lumen light on the recharger makes it easy to see what you're doing in the dark. The solar panel is also chainable so you can boost capacity by linking up your other Goal Zero solar panels. Whether you're following a trail or forging a new one, stay powered up with the Venture 30.

by Willie Test

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Last Update: 11.Jun.2020

We have never been more reliant on technology and with the introduction of new gadgets each day technology is becoming more integrated into our lives. Take smartphones, for example; these devices are equipped with everything that you need. You can do almost everything with it but doing everything means that it will run out of juice pretty quickly. And even in the modern age, most smartphones have very pathetic battery life.

Other devices like your GPS, torch, etc. also run on a battery that doesn’t seem to last for long. To solve this issue you need a good quality power bank in your backpack to stay equipped and connected. But there is no point in investing in a power bank that runs on electricity when you are going out in the wild for days.

Therefore, you need to invest in a solar power charger because you won’t need a power outlet to charge it. It will need the sun and will keep all your devices going until your trips last. But you need to invest in a good quality solar charger and to sort you out with this, we have developed this buying guide.

Anker 21W Dual USB Portable Solar Charger

While power banks have already become the norm when it comes to extending the life of portable devices, power banks with solar panels are still beginning to boom.
Touted as a high-performance machine, Anker's panels have often been among our winners, earning that spot mostly for their reliable, high-quality manufacturing. They have always produced a well-made, dependable product. This panel is a featherweight compared to the other 20W panels in our tests but holds its own among the other heavy hitters. This panel doubles the efficiency of last year's winner the Anker Powerport 15W but is somehow still lighter than the Goal Zero Nomad 7W and the Instapark Mercury 10W
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

backpacking, hiking

Connector Type Used on Cable

usb, micro-usb

Weight

14.7 oz

Dimensions

11.1 x 6.3 inches

Efficiency

21.5-23.5%

Pros

Lightweight

Faster and safer charging

Superior Portability

Cons

Small pocket for accessories

Goal Zero Venture 30

This rugged and weatherproof Goal Zero Venture 30 power bank recharges your portable electronic devices when you're on the go. Its light, compact design is perfect for the airport or the hiking trail.
Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit, you can keep your phone juiced even on the roughest adventures. This weatherproof recharger withstands harsh conditions and can take a beating so you never have to be apprehensive about taking it into the field, and it has enough capacity to charge your phone and tablet so you can stay connected even when you're far from home. A 65 lumen light on the recharger makes it easy to see what you're doing in the dark. The solar panel is also chainable so you can boost capacity by linking up your other Goal Zero solar panels. Whether you're following a trail or forging a new one, stay powered up with the Venture 30.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Backpacking, camping

Charge Time (hrs)

USB: 5; solar: 8 - 16 hours

External Charge

USB / Wall

Battery Included

Yes

Battery Type

Lithium Ion

Battery Capacity (Wh)

29 watt hours

Battery Storage Capacity (mAh)

7800 milliamp hours

Power Output to Device

2 x USB port: 5V up to 2.4A (12W max)

Material(s)

Nylon / rubber

Dimensions

4.5 x 3.25 x 1 inches

Weight

8.8 ounces

Pros

Optimized to charge quickly from Goal Zero solar panels

Works with Apple, Android™ and Windows devices

Waterproof

Battery pack capacity

Cons

Not seen

Benefits of using solar charger

When you are out there scanning the sceneries you will be using different devices. These devices will keep you going and make your trip a lot easier. For instance, you can use your GPS for tracking or your smartphone to get in touch with someone who will be joining you on your trip. Of course, with a smartphone, you can do a lot of other things too.

You need to charge your flashlight as well so that you can use it in the dark. There are various other items as well that you need on your trip. Imagine your world if one of these devices run out of juice and it happens when you needed it the most. Now you take out your power bank and it is out as well. You will have to cut your trip short just because your devices are out.

This is where a solar charger comes in! You won’t have to worry about batteries anymore. Your charger will keep charging itself when the sun is out and then you can conveniently use it to charge any of your devices when they run out of battery. You can carry on your trip for longer without any issues.

The good thing is that there are a number of gadgets available today that you can charge using your sun energy. Even camp stoves are available that you can charge with a USB port. Now imagine what you can achieve with your solar charger.

Battery

The portable battery packs not only vary in terms of output and capacity but also in terms of technology weight and size.

  • NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride). These batteries are very similar to AAA or AA batteries that you can recharge. A solar charger with these batteries are very convenient particularly for the devices that have replaceable batteries just like your GPS, headlamp or camera. Just swap the batteries out instead of charging your device.
  • Lithium-ion and lithium polymers. These are the most common types because they are very similar to the battery packs that are used in your personal electronics.
  • Lead-acid. These batteries are heavy and large in size but you are also in for excellent output and battery capacity.

Charger type

There are three kinds of backpacking solar chargers available on the market. Let’s have a look at each one of them briefly.

  • Panels-only. These panel chargers are the best option for those who already own a power bank. Just connect the power bank with the panel and your bank will charge with solar energy. If in case your bank has enough power for your trip, you can leave the panel at home to reduce the backpack weight but make sure that you check the compatibility of the panel with your bank by closely checking the connector type.
  • Panels with integrated battery pack. This charger is very compact in size and the battery back along with the panel will come as one piece. Hence, you can attach them to your backpack conveniently. But of course, you cannot detach the panels from the battery pack for those short one night trips.
  • Panels with detachable battery pack. This charger comes with a battery pack that you can detach from the solar panel. If you don’t need the panel, you can leave it at home or at your base camp. It will enable you to reduce your backpack weight significantly.

What to look for when buying a solar charger?

These chargers are available in different sizes and capacities and there is a huge range available on the market. It is important for you to invest in the right products or prepare yourself for suffering on all your trips. And ultimately you will have to buy another one which is just a wastage of your hard-earned money. To ease things up a bit, we have developed this guide for your assistance so that you can make the right decision.

Charge Interruption Recovery

There are chances that you couldn’t use your solar charger in full sunlight at all times. This is especially the case if you live or hike in an area that doesn’t receive much sunlight. Shady or cloudy areas will impact the charging activity to a certain degree.

For the best charge interruption recovery of a solar charger from a point where it was in the sun to a point where it was in the shade and back, you need to go for high wattage power. Larger power backup feature more solar cells that get exposed to the sun at the same time. This makes it easier for the charger to recover quickly after an interruption.

Charging Speed

Charging speed is highly dependent on two aspects: wattage and cell quality. Of course, if you want high charging speeds then not only you need to go for high wattage chargers but the quantity of cells is equally important. A larger solar panel that has more wattage will charge your phone pretty quickly.

Multiple Device Charging Speed

Again if you are looking for multi-device charging speeds then you will need even bigger panels and even more wattage. But of course, you will have to give up on weight because with larger panels and more wattage, a solar charger will weigh more too.

Durability

Another important factor to consider here is durability. Make sure the panel that you are considering for your next trip comes with some kind of safety protection. Some of the models come with a case or a bag while some models have a rubber casing on them. Such protection will make sure that your solar charger can last for many trips.

Weight and Portability

Surely, you want to go for a hiking solar charger that is large in size because it will have a better charging speed and charge recovery as well. But as you are going for a backpacking trip, such a power backup will significantly add weight. Therefore, you need to balance things out a bit and go for the right size and capacity without compromising on either.

Storage capacity

The storage capacity of a backpacking solar charger will tell you how much charge it can store to use later before it needs a recharge. You can find out how many charges you can get by comparing the size of the battery in the devices that you want to charge and the storage capacity. Amp-hours of milliamp-hours (mAh) is the indication of storage capacity. You need to keep in mind that it is not electrically efficient to charge one battery from another battery 100%.

Battery Pack

Typically you don’t charge your devices directly from a solar panel because the flow of electricity has a lot of fluctuations. You will need a battery pack for the charging process. Battery packs are available in various storage capacities and power outputs. Larger storage capacities and outputs will increase your charging speeds and you can also charge different devices at once. But with larger size weight will also increase. So you will have to make your decision carefully.

Accessories

The best portable solar panels and chargers for backpacking come with different attachment points that allow you to easily attach your solar charger to your backpack. These chargers need the sun to operate and you need to keep them out of your backpack for the charging process to run. So keep them out in the sun during day time when you are hiking.

Conclusion

The best solar charging solution for backpacking are those that not only come with high wattage and large panels but are also light in weight. Of course, you will need a charger that can conveniently charge your devices in a quick time and still remain with plenty of juice, but large-sized solar chargers are heavy in weight too and they will add to the overall weight of your backpack. Therefore, make your choices wisely and don’t get too carried away with those high mAhs.

Maybe you will need a large one only if you are planning your trip to a place that doesn’t see much sunlight. But keep in mind large-sized solar chargers also take longer time to charge as compared to their smaller counterparts.

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