Just because you’re away from a power outlet doesn’t mean you don’t want to use your gadgets. These solar chargers can keep your gear charged up even when you’re miles from civilization. Here’s our top picks.
You might be asking yourself why you need a solar charger in the first place. Wouldn’t a regular power bank be fine when out and about? Yes and no. It’s great to have a power bank on hand but batteries are batteries and not tiny dynamos—a power bank just gives you extra hours of juice, not the ability to produce the juice itself. If you’re camping or hiking for extended periods, it’s useful (and environmentally friendly) to be able to harness solar power in some way.
Now, to be clear, portable solar chargers are not as powerful as jacking your device right into a wall charger or power bank. None the less, they offer a great way to keep your devices topped off (or to charge up a power bank you can use after sunset to keep the party going).
With that in mind, we’ve focused on solar panels that feature large panels to help you charge quickly when the sun is blazing and those with batteries included to keep the power flowing even if the sun isn’t out. Here’s our pick of the bunch.
Best for Hiking: Floureon Solar Power Bank ($13)
Designed with the outdoors in mind, the Floureon 10000mAh Waterproof Solar Power Bank is lightweight yet rugged too. It can withstand a few knocks and it’s waterproof so it’s perfect for when you’re traveling off the beaten path.
In addition to providing solar charging it’s a power bank with 10,000mAh capacity and it allows for charging two phones at a time. When fully charged, for frame of reference, it should be good for charging your iPhone 8 2.5 times, or your Galaxy S7 just over 2 times. With it’s intended use in mind—charging in remote locations and while camping—the Solar Power Bank also has an SOS emergency LED light and a compass built in so you cans signal for help and potentially find your way out if it doesn’t come. The feature set and rugged design make it ideal for outdoor adventures.
Best for Portability: Aukey Solar Charger ($65)
Perfect for when you’re camping, the Aukey Solar Charger is super lightweight and very easy to pack away. That’s because it has a foldable design, so you simply fold it together and store it.
Its PET laminated solar panels are made from high wear PVC fabric so they’re water and weather resistant. They also promise a solar conversion efficiency of up to 23.5% which is higher than most of its competitors. Dual USB ports mean you can charge two devices at once, and it’ll automatically adapt to the power you require.
There’s no built-in power bank but if you know you’re going to be out in the sun for a while, this is an ideal backup source. If you need power available at all times though, it would be wise to pair it with a high capacity power bank.
Best for High Capacity Storage: ALLSOLAR Portable Solar Charger ($40)
If capacity is an important thing for you then the ALLSOLAR Portable Solar Charger is the device for you. Its power bank has a capacity of 24,000mAh which is more than enough juice for recharging even your most demanding gadgets multiple times. In addition to its high capacity design it allows for up to three USB devices to be charged at once.
The whole device is water and shock resistant. It’s dust proof too. It’s a little slow to recharge via solar power on account of the small panel size, but if capacity is the big requirement for you, you can’t really go wrong here—just be sure to leave it out to charge up in the sun well before you need it.
Best for Quick Charging: Outxe Rugged Solar Charger ($56)
The Outxe Rugged Solar Charger is great for outdoors use as it’s waterproof, dust-proof, and shock resistant. However, the reason why the Outxe Rugged Solar Charger is such a great purchase is because it’s fast. It has USB-C and micro USB charging sockets that offer fast charging not typically found on other models in the market. Who wants to spend a while waiting for their phone to recharge, when there are faster options out there? That’s where the Outxe Rugged Solar Charger excels.
While not the biggest hybrid panel/power bank model in our roundup, the 20,000mAh capacity is respectibly beefy. As well as that, you can easily hang it to your backpack with its two carabiners, soaking up the rays for as and when you need it. It has 3 modes of flashlight too, illuminating the darkness or giving a heads up that you need help.
Best Premium Choice: RAVPower 24W Solar Charger ($76)
Money no object? Consider the RAVPower Solar Charger 24W solar panel. It’s pretty stylish looking but also very easy to carry around, thanks to being half the weight of similar solar chargers. Foldable and coming with its own carry pouch, it offers increased efficiency over other devices on account of its larger and more effective panels.
The device has 3 USB ports, each able to automatically detect and deliver the optimal amount of power to your devices. As well as that, it’s constructed with a durable and waterproof nylon, so it can withstand most weather conditions. It also has four hooks so you can attach or hang it wherever is convenient for you.
It’s pricey for a solar panel that lacks a power bank, but it’s ideal if you need a lot of power while you’re away from civilization.