In this quick guide, we’ve made a small list of some of the best solar panels for camping & hiking in the market currently.
There are tons of products available, and do you know which ones would be appropriate for your outdoor use?
Our team has researched and even tested some of the products on this guide to see if they are able to reach their potential power output.
Let’s check them out...
Best Portable Solar Panels For Camping and Hiking!
Goal Zero Nomad 50 - Fastest Charging
Why Get This One? The Goal Zero Nomad 50 is by far the fastest charging device before spending over $250. If you need speed and a rugged product, this is the one to get.
Fast Charging - Fastest 3-6 hrs charge on Sherpa 100AC power bank that are used to power high drain devices such as laptops, speakers and multiple USB powered devices
Easily Foldable Plus Kick Stand - Carry it anywhere you want and deploy the kick stand into place at multiple angles to maximize solar exposure
Multi Charge Ports - Works for USB, vehicle cig plug, and solar ports to connect additional solar panels for even faster charging speed
Convenient Plugs Container - Store all your cords in the side mesh pocket without needing a separate bag to carry them.
- Wireless Qi (output): 5W max
- USB-A: 5V, up to 2.4A (12W max), regulated
- USB-C PD ports (input/output): 5 - 20V, up to 3.0A (60W max), regulated
- AC inverter (output): 110V, up to 0.9A (100W max), 60Hz, modified sine wave
- Charging port (input, 8mm): 14-22V (50W max)
SUNPOWER 110 WATT FLEXIBLE SOLAR PANEL - Best For RV
Why Buy This One? Install it easily over curved surfaces without cracking or losing power. It's built to bent for unconventional use.
Lightweight- Weighs less than 5 lbs, making it extremely portable- enough to be put on a backpack while trekking and not feel a difference.
Long-lasting material- Built with solid copper foundation - weather, rust & corrosion-resistant. Durable for military-use, and most importantly, provides the most power it can for its tiny weight.
Flexibility- With each panel providing a foldability of 30 degrees, the top-grade material provides the solar panels to be easily transported and hooked to a surface to be set up within minutes to be ready to transform energy from the sun.
ACOPOWER 60W Foldable Solar Panel Kit - Best Portability
Why Buy This One? Acopower specializes in foldability to accommodate its audience with mobility. The simple design allows the panels to be folded into a briefcase; some of the larger designs fold multiple times into the size of a briefcase.
Budget-saving moves- for just $170, this panel comes with a power bank, so there’s no need to buy a separate one for your panels- once it’s charged, it’s ready to be used. It also comes with a stand to be aimed towards the sun for maximum efficiency- no need for mounting brackets!
Portability- Folding into the shape of a suitcase, this solar panel barely takes up any space in vehicles and RVs. The user can easily relocate the panel via the carry handle.
Accessories- Not the right outlet? No problem! Acopower allows many accessories to be hooked up to allow the user to connect a variety of power banks.
DOKIO 220 Watts 12V Foldable Panel - Best For Tents
Why Buy This One? It can be folded- four panels into one small package to easily carry around just like the Goal Zero Nomad 50 and Acopower. Only four inches thick! this solar panel is a must-have for any outdoor use
Packing power- Use it on top of RVs, cars, tents, anywhere with an open space and pointed towards the sun for maximum efficiency.
High Conversion Efficiency - Squeeze high efficiency out of monocrystalline for greater power transfer
Included PWM Controller - Protects against overcharging, short circuit, reverse current to increase battery life and system performance
Voltaic OffGrid Solar Backpack - Best For On-The-Go
Why Buy This One? For those that spend their days out in the sun, this low-cost investment could save you a lot of inconvenience of having a low battery when out in the open.
This investment also includes a USB battery pack that stores battery life, so you don’t have to buy a bank for storage (unless you want to).
Spacious- Holds up to five-and-a-half gallons of equipment. Water bottle, first-aid kits, spare clothes, food, camera and more!
Always Keep You Ready- Charge your essential devices such as camera and phone in 2.5 hrs completely during your trip. Never miss great shots of the wildlife, nature, and the sky.
Accessibility- Two USB ports allows easy access to charging on the go. This isn’t only for hikers- it can also be a great addition for most college students as they go from building to building during the day.
Eco-Friendly - Made from recycled soda bottles for more greener and safer consumer usage.
Waterproof - Use it in the rain and snow! No worry if the backpack gets wet, The recycled PET material makes this backpack lightweight and water-proof.
Blavor Solar Power Bank, Qi Portable Charger - Best For Small Devices
Why Buy This One? You may not use it daily as your primary charging device, but it stores sunlight energy slowly and then it's ready for use.
Dual Capabilities- Not only can it charge its bank’s battery through solar power, it can also be normally charged with a micro-USB cable. Just leave it in the sun and let it charge!
Always Be Charging - It's charging as long as it's exposed to the sunlight when possible
Included Compass - A small built-in compass helps anyone who hikes an advantageous tool without carrying extra gear
Wireless Charging - Just sit your phone on the back of the charger and it's sending power to your phone! No cable needed!
Superior Durability- Four padded corners and strong material keep the charger from drop damage and protects the solar panel surface from drop contact
GoSun Chill Solar Cooler - Best For Camp Sites
Why Buy This One? For anyone looking to keep their drinks cool and their meat fresh, then this solar cooler is the choice for you! If you needed to freeze something, like ice cream or meat, this cooler can go below freezing for 6-to-8 hours as well.
The refrigeration technology keeps food and drinks cool and even frozen with no outlet nearby. With a lot of functions jam-packed into the size of an average cooler, you can be sure to chill out with this product.
Multi-model features- Use it as a small table & store cold goodies. This cooler comes with a power bank that can be powered by a regular outlet, but it can also be powered by the Flex Solar 30 Watt foldable solar panel that GoSun offers.
Power abilities- Charge other DC appliances, such as your phone, a flashlight, or even a fan.
Extended battery life- On a full charge - it lasts for 14 hours at a colder, 55 degrees Fahrenheit inside the cooler.
A normal cooler costs around $300 and feeds off of ice that’s extremely heavy to haul and leaves everything wet when melted- this gives a dryer, more powerful, renewable advantage to consumers.
What To Look For?
If you’re planning on hiking all day in the mountains, or in trails in the sun, the ideal size of solar panels should only be as big as you can carry.
A panel that can charge fast in a small period of time and doesn’t weigh you down can be hard to find depending on how much load you’re willing to carry.
The material can directly affect the efficiency of the solar panel due to how well it absorbs sunlight. The two main types of cell panels that solar panels come in are:
Depending on your budget, monosilicon tend to be slightly higher priced than polysilicon due to production cost, but they offer a high amount of absorbing power. Polysilicon produces more waste, on the other hand, but with less cost.
Research and innovations of technology has made polysilicon panels almost as efficient as monosilicon panels which makes polysilicon panels a better purchase when buying solar panels.
AMOUNT OF SUNLIGHT
While having sun exposure is an obvious factor, but it's not always consistent when you're on the move.
For hiking - if a panel is attached to your backpack, it will be the least effective due to no direct sunlight hitting the panels.
However, if you walk with your back facing the sun, or if the panels are mounted to your chest or head while walking towards the direction of the sun, it’ll be the most effective. There are some solar panels that twist, turn, and angle themselves to adjust to face the sun.
For stationary camping - There are stationary solar panels that are angled at the sun to gather as many sun rays as possible. There are some solar panels that also specialize in absorbing light through clouds on a cloudy day. Even though there’s still a hint of sunlight, it’s more effective for hiking with a solar panel on a sunny day.
The solar irradiance doesn’t vary since there’s nothing big between the sun and the Earth. The only big difference that could affect the amount of electricity produced by the solar panels would be:
- The time of day
- Angle of the sun
Solar chargers, in order to be efficient, need to be small enough to be carried around in your pockets or a backpack. The most ideal solar chargers are the foldable ones that are the size of a laptop. .
Not only are they portable, but they’re also able to charge and store hours of battery life, giving you a “second” battery for your phone or laptop.
The only downside to the panels that are small is that they’re slow- so slow that it might take a full day to charge the solar chargers.
PORTABLE SOLAR PANELS
Portability is everything to hikers and campers- the bigger the solar panel, the more power it produces, but the smaller it is, the easier to carry.
Size correlates to power which makes portability a big factor to many when purchasing a solar panel. If they’re foldable or carriable, it makes them semi-portable, as most of the time, no mounting and minimum set-up is needed.
You might also want to consider getting appliances that already have solar panels installed in them, such as solar powered camping fans.
FIXED MOUNTED SOLAR PANELS
Fixed mounted solar panels are only practical for RV use, not for high mobility camping or hiking trips.
FLEXIBLE SOLAR PANELS
The flexible solar panel allows the user to tape the solar panels to any rough objects such as backpacks, vehicles, even clothing!
Wearing a piece of clothing that charges your phone might sound like a dream back in the day, but it can currently be a reality.
Flexibility is a factor that is being added onto solar panels during recent improvements with material science- using other materials that are flexible provides more efficiency due to curvature. This allows sunlight to be captured at many, different times of the day.
WHAT DEVICES CAN YOU POWER OR CHARGE?
Depending on the size and power of the solar panels, they can charge numerous devices.
The smallest solar banks can hold enough electricity to charge a phone, flashlight, maybe even a USB fan. As you get larger and larger, you’ll be able to charge bigger devices that require more power such as a laptop or a camera battery.
Recently, manufacturers and engineers are trying out ways- and have been successful recently- to charge your electric car’s battery for safe, green charging on-the-go.