Solar Chargers for Backpackers: A Guide

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The advent of technology and its incorporation into our daily lives has revolutionized the way we conduct our affairs, including recreational activities such as hiking and backpacking. Today, solar chargers for backpackers are increasingly reliant on electronic devices like smartphones, GPS watches, and handheld GPS devices for navigation along the trails. However, these devices, particularly smartphones with GPS turned on, hardly last more than a day without needing to be recharged. This is where solar chargers come in, providing an indispensable tool for long backpacking trips.

In this article, we delve into the depths of solar chargers, discussing their types, critical considerations, and finally, the best options currently available in the market.

Powering Your Adventure: The Role of Solar Chargers

A solar charger is a device that utilizes sunlight to generate electricity, enabling you to recharge your devices or a battery pack. The beauty of a solar charger is its sustainability. Unlike traditional power banks that eventually run out of juice, solar chargers offer an inexhaustible source of energy as long as sunlight is available, making them a reliable companion for extended trips.

Solar Chargers for Backpackers: Types and Features

The Types of Solar Chargers

There are three main types of solar chargers, namely panels-only, panels with integrated battery pack, and panels with detachable battery pack.

  • Panels-only Solar Chargers

These are the most popular solar chargers, capable of charging a variety of devices directly or charging a power bank. Even if your solar panel not charging battery, these can function by connecting the solar panels to your device, allowing the sunlight energy to charge your device. However, it’s crucial to verify the compatibility of the charger with your device, particularly the connector type.

  • Solar Chargers with Integrated Battery Pack

In these chargers, the solar panels and the battery pack come as a single unit. Their compact nature makes them perfect for attaching to a backpack. However, their non-modularity means you can’t use the battery pack or the solar panels independently.

  • Solar Chargers with Detachable Battery Pack

These are essentially panels-only chargers accompanied by a power bank, which you can use separately if need be.

Critical Considerations for Buying Solar Chargers for Backpackers

When purchasing a solar charger, certain factors should guide your decision:

  • Larger and heavier solar panels charge battery packs faster, but smaller, lighter panels are easier to carry and pack.
  • Solar panels are either rigid or semi-flexible. Semi-flexible panels are foldable for easy portability, offering a large surface area when deployed.
  • The output of solar panels, measured in watts, signifies the amount of sunlight they convert to electricity per hour. The higher the output, the better.
  • Solar panels often come with attachment points to secure them to your backpack, ensuring optimal sunlight exposure.

The Best Solar Chargers for Backpackers

Based on their quality, price, and durability, the following solar chargers come highly recommended.

BigBlue Solar Panel 28W

The BigBlue Solar Panel 28W is an exceptional panels-only charger suitable for charging devices like smartphones and headlamps directly or powering a battery pack. Its advanced technology identifies and replicates your device’s original charging protocol, offering the fastest possible charging speed via its three USB ports. This solar charger was also mentioned as the best solar phone charger 2022 and it still stays on that list! It is also equipped with attachment points for easy backpack attachment and offers reliable performance with its water and dust resistance features.


  • Type: Panels-only solar charger
  • Output: 28 Watts
  • Compatibility: Three USB ports
  • Additional features: Water and dust resistant, advanced technology for optimized charging speed


  • It offers a high output of 28 watts, ensuring fast charging.
  • The presence of three USB ports provides the ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously.
  • Its water and dust-resistant feature makes it highly durable and perfect for outdoor usage.
  • Advanced technology mimics your device’s original charging protocol to provide optimal charging speed.


  • The charging speed might not match the device’s original protocol in cloudy or rainy conditions.
  • It does not come with a battery pack, which can be inconvenient for some users.

BioLite SolarPanel 5+

The BioLite SolarPanel 5+ is a solar charger integrated with a 2200mAh battery pack. Weighing only 14 ounces, it features a built-in kickstand, battery/charge strength indicator, and corner latches for easy attachment. Its sundial enables optimal alignment towards the sun, ensuring efficient charging.


  • Type: Solar charger with integrated 2200mAh battery pack
  • Output: 5 Watts
  • Weight: 14 ounces
  • Additional features: Built-in kickstand, battery/charge strength indicator, corner latches for easy attachment, sundial for optimal alignment.


  • Integrated 2200mAh battery pack provides a ready power storage option.
  • The built-in kickstand and sundial ensure optimal alignment with the sun.
  • The battery/charge strength indicator allows for easy monitoring of the charging process.
  • It is lightweight, making it ideal for backpacking.


  • The 5 watts output might not be sufficient for users with high power demands.
  • The battery pack is not detachable, limiting its versatility.


PowerTraveller Falcon 21

This panels-only charger, PowerTraveller Falcon 21 allows direct charging of up to two devices from its three efficient solar panels. The panels, made of durable fabric, can withstand water splashes from any direction for up to five minutes. The Falcon 21 uses monocrystalline cells from SunPower that produce 25-35% more power than conventional cells, making it ideal for long backpacking trips.


  • Type: Panels-only solar charger
  • Output: 21 Watts
  • Compatibility: Can charge up to two devices directly
  • Additional features: Durable fabric panels with IPX4 rating, monocrystalline cells from SunPower for high efficiency.


  • The 21 watts output offers a satisfactory charging speed for most devices.
  • Monocrystalline cells ensure high power production, making it ideal for long trips.
  • The panels’ IPX4 rating means they can resist water splashes, enhancing their durability.


  • It lacks an integrated or detachable battery pack.
  • Although it can charge two devices simultaneously, more USB ports could have increased its versatility.


For avid backpackers, solar chargers are no longer just a nice-to-have but an essential tool that ensures they stay connected even in the great outdoors. Whether it’s for navigation or keeping in touch, having a reliable and sustainable power source can make a significant difference. Now that you’re familiar with the various types of solar chargers and their features, you’re well-equipped to make an informed buying decision. So, power up your adventure with solar chargers for backpackers and explore the world without ever worrying about running out of battery. Read more interesting pieces on solar power only on Solar Power Knowledge Hub

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John Anderson

My initial goal assisting my loved ones with solar power information has expanded into a commitment to share my knowledge to the broadest range of individuals. Knowledge empowers us!

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