You’re about to take the perfect nature pic with your cell phone. Right when you need it most, your phone dies. You’re nowhere near an outlet so how will you recharge? The best hiking solar chargers will help you power your electronics even when you’re out in the wild.

Taking a few extra pairs of AA batteries on your hike won’t do the trick. Today, most electronics rely on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. You’ll need an external charger to keep your electronic devices running on your hike. Luckily, there are reliable, lightweight solar chargers that can recharge your devices.

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to help you when it comes to gearing up for the outdoors. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what to consider when buying a hiking solar charger and show you our selection of the best models available.

 

 

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST HIKING SOLAR CHARGERS

PICTURE
SOLAR CHARGER
BEST
BATTERY INCLUDED
OUTPUT CAPACITY
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SOLAR CHARGER
BEST
BATTERY INCLUDED
OUTPUT CAPACITY
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
Instapark Mercury 10M18U Solar Panel
ALL-AROUND
Yes
10 Watts
1.2 lbs.
$
4.3
Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit
ALL-AROUND
Yes
7 Watts
1.5 lbs.
$$
4.1
Anker PowerPort Solar Lite
LIGHTWEIGHT
No
15 Watts
12.5 oz.
$
4.3
Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme Solar Charger
LIGHTWEIGHT
Yes
3 Watts
1.0 lbs.
$$$
4.0
Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight
MULTIPURPOSE
Yes
1 Watt
14.4 oz.
$
4.4
WakaWaka Power
MULTIPURPOSE
Yes
1050 Milliwatts
7.1 oz.
$
3.9
Nekteck Solar Charger
INEXPENSIVE
No
20 Watts
1.4 lbs.
$
4.6
X-Dragon Solar Charger
INEXPENSIVE
No
14 Watts
1.1 lbs.
$
4.4
Aukey Solar Charger
INEXPENSIVE
No
20 Watts
1.8 lbs.
$
4.4
ECEEN Solar Charger
INEXPENSIVE
No
13 Watts
1 lbs.
$
4.3

 

 

HIKING SOLAR CHARGERS 101

 

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST HIKING SOLAR CHARGERS

 

1. AMPERAGE, WATTAGE, AND VOLTAGE

Look at the packaging for solar chargers, and you’ll see a lot of language about amps, watts, and volts. To understand what you’re getting, you need to know what these words mean.

 

WATTAGE

Wattage (watts) is a measure of power. As Goal Zero explains it, a watt-hour measures the power flow that occurs over one hour. Wattage is the measure of the solar panel’s power output capacity.

 

AMPERAGE

Amperage (amps) measures electrical current. The amp-hour is the amount of time a battery can supply that current.

 

VOLTAGE

Voltage (volts) is defined by About.com as the “electric potential energy per unit charge.” If you aren’t science minded that definition probably sounds abstract. Essentially, it’s the charge stored in a battery.

 

What does this mean? You want to know if your solar charger can supply the power you need. To get there, you can use a simple equation: watt – hours = amp – hours x volts

If there are devices you want to keep charged, find out their amp-hour and volt information. Plug those numbers into the formula. The answer will help you find what kind of wattage you need your solar charger to supply.

 

 

2. EXTERNAL BATTERY

Some solar panels include an external or internal battery. A traditional solar panel only works when the sun is out. Daylight may not be the best time for you to repower your electronics. This additional battery charges from the solar panels during the day. This lets you harness the energy from your solar panels at night.

For external batteries, there’s one more confusing abbreviation you need to learn: mAh. A mAh is a milliamp-hour, which measures battery capacity. This is the current that’s discharged by your charger over the course of an hour.

According to Ubergizmo, the bigger the number, the more energy your unit can store. If you’re going to use charger paired with an external or internal battery, select one with a large mAh number.

 

 

3. CHARGING EFFICIENCY

Some solar panels can take 18 hours or more to power an external charger or electronic device. That amount of time exceeds daylight hours in most places. If you need to recharge your electronics a lot, choose a solar panel that can charge faster.

You should also consider the weather in your region when you select a solar charger. Most solar panels struggle to charge in cloudy weather. However, some fare worse than others. If you’re hiking in the rainy season, solar panel efficiency can make all the difference.

 

 

4. OUTPUT CONNECTIONS

How many devices will you be charging? What kind of cords will you need to plug into your charger?

Most solar chargers have at least one USB port to connect your electronics. Some even have multiple connection points to charge several devices at once. Before you choose your solar charge, think about what you’ll need to charge while on the trail.

 

 

5. SIZE AND WEIGHT

Anytime you’re hiking or backpacking, size and weight is an important factor. The larger your solar panels, the more efficient they will be at charging. However, they’ll also take up more space in your backpack. Some solar chargers fold and take up very little space. Others are larger and bulkier.

You’ll also need to consider the weight of your solar charger. There are some devices that are less than a pound. Others are between one to two pounds. You’ll have to choose whether the benefits of the larger devices are worth the tradeoff of extra weight.

Need even more power while you hike? Check out our guide to the best solar backpacks.

 

Best Hiking Solar Chargers

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/Vitalalp

 

HIKING SOLAR CHARGERS REVIEWS

 

1. BEST ALL-AROUND SOLAR CHARGERS

INSTAPARK MERCURY 10M18U SOLAR PANEL

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping
BATTERY INCLUDED: Yes

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 10 Watts
WEIGHT: 1.2 lbs

PROS: Solar panel + rechargeable battery pack, foldable, weather-resistant, battery pack can charge via solar or USB, two USB ports to power two devices at once, comes with USB charging cable, pocket for storing devices while they charge, loops to hang solar panels

CONS: Inefficient in areas with less sunlight, battery pack is clunky

 

 

 

GOAL ZERO VENTURE 30 SOLAR KIT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: Yes

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 7 Watts

WEIGHT: 1.56 lbs

PROS: Solar panel + rechargeable battery pack, charges electronics quickly, foldable, weather-resistant, battery pack can recharge via solar or USB, built-in micro USB cable, two USB ports to power two devices at once, attachments to hang solar panels

CONS: Expensive, can be sensitive to salt water, charges best when facing the sun, battery pack is slow to recharge

 

 

 

 

2. BEST LIGHTWEIGHT SOLAR CHARGERS

ANKER POWERPORT SOLAR LITE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: No

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 15 Watts

WEIGHT: 12.5 oz

PROS: Lightweight, charges electronics quickly, foldable, weather-resistant, two USB ports to power two devices at once, comes with micro USB cable, elastic loops for hanging solar panels

CONS: Doesn’t include external/internal battery, panels become very hot in sunlight, sometimes overheats electronics while charging them, can only charge electronics during daytime

 

 

 

POWERTRAVELLER POWERMONKEY EXTREME SOLAR CHARGER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking

BATTERY INCLUDED: Yes

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 3 Watts

WEIGHT: 1 lbs

PROS: Solar panel + rechargeable battery pack, large battery storage capacity, foldable, waterproof, battery pack can recharge via solar or USB, comes with multiple plugs/adapters, Velcro strap to hang solar panels, rugged

CONS: Expensive, bulky, battery pack is slow to recharge, solar panel can be inefficient in areas with less sunlight, not good at charging larger devices like iPads/iPods

 

 

 

 

3. BEST MULTIPURPOSE SOLAR CHARGERS

GOAL ZERO TORCH 250 FLASHLIGHT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: Yes

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 1 Watt

WEIGHT: 14.4 oz

PROS: Solar panel + internal battery; battery is rechargeable via solar, USB, or hand crank,can be used as a flashlight, integrated charging cable, rugged

CONS: Bulky, battery is slow to recharge, crank is inefficient, solar panel is small and can be inefficient in areas with less sunlight

 

 

 

WAKAWAKA POWER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: Yes

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 1050 Milliwatts

WEIGHT: 7.1 oz

PROS: Lightweight, charges electronics quickly, battery is rechargeable via solar or USB, has USB and micro USB ports, can be used as a flashlight, flexible positioning

CONS: Internal battery isn’t very powerful, not weather-resistant, inefficient in areas with less sunlight

 

 

 

 

4. BEST INEXPENSIVE SOLAR CHARGERS

NEKTECK SOLAR CHARGER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: No

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 20 Watts

WEIGHT: 1.4 lbs

PROS: Inexpensive, charges electronics quickly, foldable, weather-resistant, two USB ports to power two devices at once, comes with micro USB cable, does well in less sunny conditions

CON: Doesn’t include external/internal battery, heavy, panels become very hot in sunlight, can warp in heat

 

 

 

X-DRAGON SOLAR CHARGER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: No

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 14 Watts

WEIGHT: 1.1 lbs.

PROS: Inexpensive, charges electronics quickly, foldable, two USB ports to power two devices at once, comes with micro USB cable, attachments to hang solar panels

CONS: Doesn’t include external/internal battery, not weather-resistant, not durable

 

 

 

AUKEY SOLAR CHARGER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: No

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 20 Watts

WEIGHT: 1.84 lbs

PROS: Inexpensive, charges electronics quickly, foldable, weather-resistant, two USB ports to power two devices at once, built-in stand to adjust panel direction, does well in less sunny conditions

CONS: Doesn’t include external/internal battery, heavy, bulky, dips in voltage cause some electronics to stop charging

 

 

 

ECEEN SOLAR CHARGER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

BATTERY INCLUDED: No

OUTPUT CAPACITY: 13 Watts

WEIGHT: 1 lbs.

PROS: Inexpensive, charges electronics quickly, foldable, weather-resistant, two USB ports to power two devices at once, comes with micro USB cable, attachments and carabiners to hang solar panels, built-in stand to adjust panel direction, does well in less sunny conditions

CONS: Doesn’t include external/internal battery, built-in stand isn’t flexible, USB ports are in an odd location

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