How to Choose the Right Solar Charger for Your Camping Trip

If you can’t bear to be unplugged when you go camping or backpacking, never fear. Now you can plug into a bevy of light, portable solar chargers to power your phone, camera, batteries, music player or other mobile device.

But first, what should you look for in a solar charger?

Portability

Portable solar chargers come in a wide variety of sizes that range from the dimensions of a mobile phone to some as big as a small rug or medium-sized briefcase. Before you buy, be clear on how much power you’ll need to to generate at any given time. If you’re backpacking, you’ll want lighter equipment. If you’re driving to your destination and setting up camp, you can take a heavier and more elaborate system.

Capacity

Hand-in-hand with size goes capacity. What kind of device or devices you’re charging, how many devices you need to charge and how many days, weeks or even months you’ll need power will determine the size of the charger you’ll need. Inhabitat has put together recommendations for everyone, from “light packers” to “extreme adventurers” and more.

Price

Solar chargers come in all price points. Once you figure out how much capacity you need and the size charger that will do the job, compare prices and ratings online to get the most affordable charger to fit your budget. Outdoor Gear Lab’s ratings overview does a good job here.

Compatibility 

Just about all solar chargers come with USB ports so you can charge any kind of phone or tablet that also has a USB port. However, some battery packs may only recharge using a wall outlet in which case your solar charger will be useless. Check to be sure that your devices can plug into your charger before you buy.

Flexibility

Will your charger only collect sunlight if it’s lying on a flat or angled surface? Or does it some in a case with a grommet so you can clip it to your backpack and let it charge while you’re hiking? Can you clip a few chargers together to maximize your solar collection time?

Durability

What happens if you drop your solar charger? Does it come in a case to protect it from damage? Especially for devices the size of a cellphone, make sure they will be protected against breakage. Also, check the warranty on the product as well as online performance reviews to get consumers’ feedback on how well a device does its job. And if you need something that’s waterproof, you can find it on this list.

Weather and Sun Availability 

An important consideration as you ponder your trip has to do with the sun itself. If you’re going to Costa Rica during the rainy season, I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t count on your solar charger to stay powered up. On the other hand, if you’re heading to the desert or just going camping when it’s likely to be mostly sunny, you won’t have any trouble recharging. The point is, a solar charger will operate most effectively when it can tap into solar power. There are lots of reasons to check the weather report before you leave on your trip. Add this one to the list.

Back-Up Battery Pack Instead?

If you’re going on a relatively short trip, say three days or less, a fully charged back-up battery pack for your phone and tablet may work just fine. If weight isn’t an issue, you may want to take both an extra battery and a solar charger. Plan your trip in advance so you can make an informed decision.

Or…simplify the entire process and just leave your mobile devices home. Isn’t that what getting into nature is all about?

Related:

5 of the Best Ways to Recharge Batteries
Solar-Powered Backpack Charges Gadgets

65 comments

Camilla V
Camilla Vaga6 months ago

thx

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

I do not recommend leaving the phone because you can call for help in emergency.

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

A phone can be used as a torch

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

Nice portable power

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Sue H
Sue H6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Richard B
Past Member 6 months ago

thank you

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Mike R
Mike R6 months ago

Thanks

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David C
David C6 months ago

Beautiful Day!

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John B
John B2 years ago

Thanks Diana for sharing the info.

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Leong S
Leong S2 years ago

noted

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