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Having a solar panel charger for your devices is a great way to keep your battery and electronic devices charged when out in the wild.
Free energy from the sun is being exploited across the world to produce the power we need to run our everyday lives - there’s no reason that can’t extend to your electronic devices on a small scale.
It’s an efficient, sustainable way to keep connected and plugged into the world around you whilst on the move, and comes in handy if you have maps and other navigation aids on your phone, for example, you need to access when conventional charging isn’t available.
What can you use a solar charger for?
These solar panel chargers, as you’d expect, come in all shapes and sizes. We tested examples ranging from large, fold-out devices to more portable, budget-friendly options that look and feel more like what you’d expect from a conventional portable power pack.
Many of them work like trickle chargers you’d most likely find to attach to your car’s battery - delivering a smaller amount of power over a long period of time. Other options can connect up to smaller, external power packs to provide charge to then take out and about.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at a range of solar chargers on offer, from larger standing devices to integrated offerings with battery packs attached.
We’ve also included a couple of budget options that are smaller and offer maximum portability for camping and backpacking adventures.
Suitable for charging USB devices, this panel features a stand at the back allowing it to be propped up to make best use of available sunlight.
We liked its sleek design and rugged build - but it also delivers in the power stakes, offering between 10w and 30w of power a day to charge cameras, phones, tablets and laptop devices.
It’s also splash-proof too and offers a straight-forward way to charge your devices out and about.
This option often tops many of the ‘best buy’ lists and we can see why - we liked the built-in digital ammeter that shows the amount of amps present, and the integrated chip is said to control the level of power delivered to ensure a stable charge.
Its Mini-USB charging port has wide compatibility, but it’s worth noting that you may have to purchase additional leads or adapters to charge other devices such as laptops and phones.
This is a durable folding solar option built with ‘industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels sewn into a rugged polyester canvas’.
In direct sunlight it delivers fast-charging capability and provides enough power to charge two devices at the same time.
This was one of our favourite options, for a mid-range price and well-built, it also offers good travelling potential as it is thin, lightweight and felt especially portable.
If you’re looking for a slightly more budget option, that also fits snugly into your travel case, we found this option available on Amazon a good bet for small devices such as your smartphone when travelling and camping.
It features fast charging compatibility and a 26800mAh capacity, claimed to be enough to charge an iPhone XS up to 6-7 times without needing to put it back into the sun.
We liked the durable outer shell too, and for this money wouldn’t hesitate to pop in our bag for a weekend camping adventure.
A premium fold out product, this solar charger functions as the perfect travelling companion for more power-hungry devices, such as laptops and tablets.
Once folded out, we liked the included stand which allows you to use your devices while they’re charging.
There’s a 20V DC Output, or 5V USB ports, allowing numerous devices to charge at the same time.
It’s also IPX4 rated, meaning it can withstand splashes of water from any direction whilst the unit is folded up.
Another option from Powertraveller, this is a rugged, off-grid orientated product that for its price packs a punch.
Dual USB or DC power outlets can be used as trickle chargers - or alternatively link it up to Powertraveller’s PowerGorilla portable battery charger to store power there for use at a later date.
The tough outer casing and what feels like a strong, durable clamshell design we thought makes it a good option for more rugged adventures.