Although part of the joy of camping is getting unplugged from technology, there are also undeniable conveniences of having a source of energy. Whether you want to keep your phone powered in case of emergencies or just charge your GPS for navigation, having a camping solar charger is one way to make your camping experience more enjoyable. 

Thanks to solar energy, you can power basic electronic devices without needing to connect to an outlet. Not only does this help you maximize your adventure time, it’s also an environmentally friendly option. 

There’s a lot of variety in price and style when it comes to camping solar chargers, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. To help you out, we’ve done some research to select the best solar chargers for camping so you can find which product is best for your camping style and budget. 

Quick Answer: These are the Best Camping Solar Chargers of 2021

Product
Description
Overall Best Camping Solar Charger
Overall Best Camping Solar Charger

MPOWERD Luci Pro Lux Inflatable Solar Lantern + Charger

  • > $
  • > Lightweight design
  • > IP67 waterproof
Best Budget Camping Solar Charger
Best Budget Camping Solar Charger

MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern + Charger

  • > $
  • > Very durable
  • > IP67 waterproof
Best Solar Panel for Car Camping
Best Solar Panel for Car Camping

Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel

  • > $$
  • > Foldable
  • > Paired with power banks
Best Backpacking Solar Charger
Best Backpacking Solar Charger

Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel

  • > $
  • > Compact product
  • > Durable monocrystalline material
Runner-up for Best Backpacking Solar Charger
Runner-up for Best Backpacking Solar Charger

Powertraveller Extreme Solar Charger

  • > $
  • > Fairly compact
  • > Clamshell design
Best Solar String Lights for Camp
Best Solar String Lights for Camp

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights + Charger

  • > $
  • > Up to 20 hours of light
  • > IPX4 waterproof
Best Solar Charger for Groups
Best Solar Charger for Groups

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase

  • > $$$
  • > Briefcase style package
  • > Durable
Best Solar Camping Charger for Van Life
Best Solar Camping Charger for Van Life

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel

  • > $$
  • > Durable
  • > Temporary or permanent installation
Best Emergency/Survival Power Station
Best Emergency/Survival Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1500X Portable Power Station

  • > $$$$$$$$
  • > Long-term living situation
  • > Can be charged using a wall outlet or a 12V car port

Best Camping Solar Chargers

From car camping to nomadic backpacking across mountain tops, we’ve got something on this list to fit every camper’s needs! Read on to discover the best camping solar chargers and how to decide which is right for you. 

#1 – Overall Best Camping Solar Charger

MPOWERD Luci Pro Lux Inflatable Solar Lantern + Charger

MPOWERD Luci Pro Lux Inflatable Solar Lantern

Our pick for overall best camping solar charger is MPOWERD Luci Pro Lux Inflatable Solar Lantern + Charger

Specs
  • Style: Battery or solar panel
  • Best Use: Camping, backpacking
  • Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Collapsible: Yes

This inflatable solar lantern has dual functions as a charger and a light source during your travels. You can charge the battery either by using the solar panel located on the top, or plugging it in using the USB port. 

The light can last up to 50 hours on the lowest setting, or you can use the medium, high, or flashing setting for more light. You can also track how much battery is remaining by the indicator located on the side of the lantern. 

In direct sunlight, it takes the Luci Pro Lux about 14 hours to fully charge, or in less than 3 hours when using a USB quick-charge. 14 hours is longer than desirable for a charging time, so you’ll need to be mindful about how much you use it and keep it in the sun as much as possible while traveling. 

Thanks to the lightweight design and the fact that the lantern has a IP67 waterproof rating, the Luci Pro Lux is also what we bring with us on our Pakistan tours. It has a pleasant source of light, and keeps mobile devices charged while out on the trail. 

Pros
  • Nice source of light
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Collapsible design makes it easy to pack
Cons
  • 14 hours for full solar charge
  • Sometimes deflates easily

#2 – Best Budget Camping Solar Charger

MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern + Charger

MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2 Inflatable Solar Lantern

MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern + Charger is our pick for the best budget camping solar charger

Specs
  • Style: Battery or solar panel
  • Best Use: Camping, backpacking
  • Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Collapsible: Yes

Almost identical to the number one camping solar charger on this list, the Luci Pro Outdoor covers all the basics for what a portable camping charger should do without becoming too expensive. 

This inflatable design allows it to be packed down to just a 1-inch thickness, so you can easily slide it into your backpack or travel bag. The battery is chargeable either with a USB cable or by solar power, although it takes about 14 hours in direct sunlight to reach a full charge. 

The three brightness settings allow you to adjust the light setting as needed, and the lowest setting provides up to 50 hours of light.

For being so lightweight, the Luci Pro Outdoor is also very durable and has an IP67 waterproof rating. The compact design and sturdiness make it a great choice for backpackers and budget travelers looking for a suitable camping solar charger. 

Pros
  • Budget friendly
  • Solar or USB charge
  • Compact and durable design
Cons
  • 14 hours for full solar charge
  • Sometimes can press ‘on’ button by accident

#3 – Best Solar Panel for Car Camping

Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel

Meet the best solar panel for car camping: Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel

Specs
  • Style: Solar panel
  • Best Use: Car camping
  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Collapsible: Panels are foldable

Weighing in at 6 pounds, the Goal Zero Nomad 50 certainly isn’t the number 1 pick for backpackers, but it is perfect for car camping and long road trips. Unfolded, the panels measure 53 x 17 x 1.5 inches, and while folded up they pack down to a neat 17 x 11.25 x 2.5 inches. 

If you want, you can even purchase multiple panels to connect to maximize your power collection. The panels can also be paired with power banks like the Goal Zero Sherpa Power Bank to store power. 

For travelers who will be constantly returning to one base camp or who will be traveling by car, the Goal Zero Nomad 50 is the perfect power companion to keep your devices charged and ready for use no matter where the road takes you. 

Pros
  • Foldable for easy packing
  • Pairs with power banks
  • Durable design
Cons
  • Heavy (not for backpacking)
  • More expensive

#4 – Best Backpacking Solar Charger

Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel is one of the best backpacking solar charger

Specs
  • Style: Solar panel
  • Best Use: Camping, backpacking
  • Weight: 12.7 ounces
  • Collapsible: No

If the Goal Zero Nomad 50 was the perfect solar panel for car camping, then the smaller version of the product-the Goal Zero Nomad 5-is the ideal choice for backpackers in search of a camping solar charger. 

It’s a relatively compact product, measuring 9.5 x 7 x 1.1 inches and weighing only 12.7 ounces, so it fits easily into most camping backpacks. The kickstand allows you to adjust the angle in order to maximize your power collection.

Keeping your phone and other small devices charged while on the trail is possible with the Goal Zero Nomad 5. Thanks to the durable monocrystalline material, it’s also meant to be tough enough to withstand some jolts and jostles which are bound to happen with any backpacking trip.  

Pros
  • Compact and fairly lightweight
  • Durable design
Cons
  • Needs to be in a wind protected area
  • Takes a while to charge a device

#5 – Runner-up for Best Backpacking Solar Charger

Powertraveller Extreme Solar Charger

Powertraveller Extreme Solar Charger

Runner-up for best backpacking solar charger on our list is Powertraveller Extreme Solar Charger

Specs
  • Style: Solar panel
  • Best Use: Camping, backpacking
  • Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Collapsible: Foldable (clamshell design)

Our close-second choice for the best camping solar charger for backpackers goes to the Powertraveller Extreme Solar charger. It’s fairly compact and has a convenient clamshell design so it’s easy to keep safe while on the trail. 

The Powertraveller is a bit more expensive option, but it’s also a bit very durable and able to get power in lower light conditions than other solar chargers. You can also attach it easily to the outside of a backpack, bike pannier, or tent thanks to the simple mounting system. 

Pros
  • Compact and durable
  • Attaches to packs, panniers, and tents
  • Functions in low-light conditions
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Takes a while to charge devices

#6 – Best Solar String Lights for Camp

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights + Charger

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights Charger

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights + Charger is our top pick for the best solar string lights + charger

Specs
  • Style: Battery and solar panel
  • Best Use: Camping, car travel, cabin
  • Weight: 11.3 ounces
  • Collapsible: No

There’s something relaxing and pleasant about string lights at a campsite. Whether you’re on a backpacking trip with some friends or spending a weekend at the cabin with your family, the Luci Solar String Lights are a great addition to your camping gear. 

Not only are the string lights perfect for illuminating your tent or campsite area once the sun goes down, but the USB port also allows you to charge some mobile devices. You’ll have up to 20 hours of light on a single charge, and you can monitor the battery life on the indicator on the side. 

Using the solar panel, the Luci Solar String Lights take a full 16 hours in direct sun to charge, or you can charge it in under 8 hours using the USB port. The IPX4 waterproof rating means that accidental splashes won’t result in your string lights being ruined. 

Pros
  • Fairly budget friendly
  • String lights or charger
  • Durable and can withstand some splashes
Cons
  • Takes a long time to charge
  • Solar panel needs clear direct sun

#7 – Best Solar Charger for Groups

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase

Our pick for best solar charger for groups is Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel Briefcase

Specs
  • Style: Solar panel
  • Best Use: Group camping, base camp, car travel
  • Weight: 25 pounds, 14.4 ounces
  • Collapsible: Folds into a briefcase

Although this solar panel is way too massive for any backpacker to consider, it’s the perfect choice for large groups, attending festivals, or long car camping trips. Unfolded the solar panel measures 40 x 26.75 x 1.75 inches, and once folded in half the entire thing fits in a protective carrying case in a briefcase style package. 

In order to charge your devices and store power, you’ll need to get a power generator such as the Goal Zero Yeti 150. The two devices together are certainly an investment, but one that can pay off many times over if you’re using them a lot. 

This solar panel can be easily transported, or permanently installed, for use at a cabin or a long-term base camp. It’s durable, and designed to last as long as you give it proper care and maintenance. 

Pros
  • Big and very effective
  • Comes with protective canvas bag
  • Durable
Cons
  • Heavy and cumbersome
  • Expensive

#8 – Best Solar Camping Charger for Van Life

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel is one of the best solar camping charger for van life

Specs
  • Style: Solar panel
  • Best Use: Camping, RV travel, car camping
  • Weight: 12 pounds, 6.4 ounces
  • Collapsible: No

For RV travelers or car campers looking for a solar panel installation for their vehicle, the Goal Zero Boulder 50 is a great option. This durable and efficient solar panel can be installed either permanently or temporarily depending on your travel needs. 

You’ll also need to purchase the Goal Zero mounting brackets in order to secure it on a roof, or use the kickstand for setting up the solar panel on the ground at camp. 

When paired with the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Generator or a similar product, this solar panel is the solution to keeping your laptop and mobile phone charged while on the road for long periods of time. 

Pros
  • Strong and durable design
  • Temporary or permanent installation
Cons
  • Heavy
  • More expensive

#9 – Best Emergency/Survival Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1500X Portable Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1500X Portable Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1500X Portable Power Station is our top pick for the best emergency/survival power station

Specs
  • Style: Battery or paired with solar panels
  • Best Use: Base camp, group camping, emergency preparedness
  • Weight: 45 pounds, 10.25 ounces
  • Collapsible: No

For those extreme campers out there, it’s worth mentioning this power generator on our list of camping solar chargers. Although it’s most definitely NOT a budget friendly option, if you’re serious about wanting to invest in solar power for a long-term living situation, then there’s a chance you might want to consider this generator. 

You can pair it with any of the Goal Zero solar panels to keep it charged, then have enough energy to power TVs, refrigerators, phones, laptops, and more.In addition to solar panels, the generator can also be charged using a wall outlet or a 12V car port depending on what’s available to you. 

The generator itself is fairly compact, considering its power capabilities. Measuring 15.25 x 10.4 x 10.2 inches, it’s also certainly not lightweight coming in at a bit over 45 pounds. Getting the Goal Zero Yeti Lithium 1500X is a big upfront investment, but worth it if you have the right lifestyle.   

Pros
  • Can provide lots of power
  • Compatible with Goal Zero solar panels
  • Charge by wall outlet, solar, or 12V car port
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Very heavy

Best of the Rest

Although these camping solar chargers didn’t make it onto one of the top spots on the list, they’re still worth mentioning and one of them might end up being exactly what you’re searching for. 

BioLite SolarPanel 5+

BioLite SolarPanel 5Plus

This relatively lightweight camping solar charger weighs 13.76 ounces, and comes with an integrated 2,200 mAh battery so you can continue to charge your devices even when the sun is no longer shining. 

When you’re at camp, use the kickstand to set up the solar panel in the optimal place, or while you’re on the go you can use the corner loops to secure it using a carabiner or rope. It takes about 8 hours to charge by USB, or under 3 hours with direct sunlight. 

The thin design also makes the BioLite 5+ easy to pack, so it’s a good option for campers or backpackers looking for a camping solar charger that won’t take up too much room. 

Powertraveller Solar Adventurer II Solar Charger

Powertraveller Adventurer II Solar Charger

A good choice for backpacking, camping, and hiking, the Powertraveller Solar Adventurer II measures 5.25 x 1 x 1 inches and weight just over 14 ounces. It can be charged either by the solar panel which takes 10-12 hours depending on sunlight, or in about 3.5 hours with the USB. 

One major advantage of the Powertraveller Solar Adventurer II is its durability rating. The IP65 rating means that it’s moderately waterproof-it’s not going to survive being dumped in a lake, but some rain or splashing isn’t going to harm it. 

Thanks to the integrated battery, you can also continue to charge your devices when the sun goes down, and it’s compatible with USB-C laptops. 

BioLite SolarPanel 10+

BioLite SolarPanel 10Plus

This foldable solar panel is a great addition for campers and backpackers to add to their gear. Weighing 1 pound 3.4 ounces, it’s a little heavier than some varieties, but it’s also larger and has a faster charging time. 

In direct sunlight, the battery can reach full capacity in as little as 2 hours, and you can keep track of how quickly it’s charging on the side indicator. To reposition the panel, there’s a 360 degree kickstand to obtain optimal position in relation to the sun. 

It’s a bit less durable than other models, but still has a n IPX4 rating which is enough to protect it against some splashing or mild dust. 

Goal Zero Nomad 100 Solar Panel

Goal Zero Nomad 100 SolarPanel

This is Goal Zero’s largest model of solar panel; it’s certainly way too big and heavy for backpacking, but for powering base camps or long term car travelers, it’s an excellent option. 

The foldable design makes it easier to pack and store when you’re on the go, and the durable materials are meant to be able to withstand some bumps and battering during your adventures. 

Like some of the other Goal Zero products, you’ll need to pair this with the Goal Zero Yeti solar generator or something similar. This camping solar charger may be a bit out of the price range for some campers, but for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, it’s a quality product and good investment. 

Luci Base Light

Luci BaseLight

Similar to our top picks on this list, this is Luci’s standard “base” model as the name suggests. Like the other Luci light models, it can supply up to 50 hours of light on one charge and is capable of charging mobile phones while on the go. 

The Base Light can take up to 28 hours to fully charge on solar power, which is more than the newer versions of the light. It can also be quickly charged with a USB cable, which makes it convenient for backpackers staying at hostels who want a personal light source.

It’s easily packable thanks to the collapsable design, and the strap on top allows you to attach it to a tent or pack as a light source for camp or while walking in the dark.  

We have been using this light for years on our tours in Pakistan and it is one of my all-time favorite solar power sources. Check out my Luci Base Light review here.

How to Choose the Best Solar Camping Charger

As campers become more and more interested in keeping their electronics powered even in remote areas, the options for solar camping chargers continue to expand. When deciding which solar camping charger is best for you, here are a few of the key considerations to take into account. 

Weight and Portability 

As you can see from our list above, solar camping chargers come in a variety of sizes and weights. What works well for car camping probably isn’t going to be best for a lightweight backpacker-no one wants to haul around a 25 pound solar panel on a backpacking trip! 

In general, with increased weight also comes the capacity for more power. However, the heavier the solar panel, the more difficult it is to transport it.

best tents for backpacking
The Luci Base Light lighting up the inside of my tent in Pakistan. Photo: Chris Lininger

Each camper and traveler will have to make the call for themselves about what the best balance between weight and function is for them. 

Also keep in mind that heavier solar panels tend to be more expensive. If this is your first time purchasing a camping solar panel, you might want to go for one of the less expensive and lighter versions to see how you like it before making a big investment. 

Best Use

How you plan on using your solar charging device can help you determine which model is best for you. Everyone has their own style of camping, from rugged backpacking expeditions to simply going to spend a weekend at the cabin. 

luci light
Solar powered light – anywhere. Chillin in Bali. Photo: Chris Lininger

Although many of the camping solar panels on this list can work in a variety of settings, usually there are some restrictions about their best use. For example, if you have a car or camper van, it makes sense to invest in a larger and heavier solar charger than what you might get for a backpacking trip. 

Keep in mind that for some purposes you also have to take into account purchasing separate gear such as power generators or mounting brackets. 

Charging Speed 

The speed at which a camping solar charger can power up a phone or camera varies a lot depending on the device. Many of the smaller solar chargers are also chargeable by a USB cable, which is helpful since the small solar panels can take a long time to fully charge. 

There’s also some variation in how direct the sunlight needs to be in order for the solar charger to get power. Some of the more expensive and larger panels are able to function in much dimmer conditions, while smaller versions may require more intense light exposure. 

When shopping for a solar camping charger, check what the charge time is and whether it’s possible to charge via an outlet. Again, it all ties back to how you’re planning to use the solar charger and whether it makes sense to invest in a more expensive but faster charging model. 

Cost/Value 

Although some of the solar chargers on this list may look super cool, they may not be worthwhile investments in terms of price. If you’re just looking for a solar charger capable of charging a phone or camera for a day or two out camping, you probably won’t need to spend more than $50 or $60 on something that will work well. 

If you’re already an experienced car camping, RVer, or have a remote cabin, then it’s worthwhile to invest in one of the larger and more expensive models. For campers who know they need a regular source of power for long periods of time, a high quality camping solar charger can pay itself off quickly. 

The Benefits of Going Solar 

The biggest and most obvious benefit to solar chargers is the environmental standpoint. Investing in renewable energy sources, even if it’s something small like a solar charger, can add up in the long run. 

In comparison to petrol-powered camping chargers and generators, solar chargers are much better in terms of both pollution and noise. Instead of having a sometimes smelly and loud petrol generator, you can have a completely silent and odor-free solar charger, plus there’s no need to worry about hauling fuel around. 

best hikes in Pakistan
The sun: the ultimate charger of the universe. Photo: Chris Lininger

Solar energy is also much more convenient for campers and travelers who enjoy spending long periods of time outdoors. If you’re the type of person who enjoys week long thru-hikes or long camping trips in the mountains, having a solar charger is an excellent way to keep your essential electronics powered when you don’t have access to an outlet.  

Plus we all need to be hiking and traveling as sustainably as possible right?

Final Thoughts on the Best Camping Solar Chargers 

Now that you know what to look for in a camping solar charger and had the chance to look through our top picks, it’s up to you to make the decision about which model offers the best balance of price, size, and charging capacity. 

Whether you go with a convenient and collapsible solar charger like our top pick, the MPOWERD Luci Pro Lux charger for a backpacking trip, or something a bit bigger like the Goal Zero Nomad 50 for car camping and RV trips, know that you’re about to make your camping experience a bit more convenient.

luci base light
A bonus: the Luci Base Light won’t break the bank. Photo: Chris Lininger

As long as the sun is shining, your camera, phone, or GPS can always stay powered, even when you’re out in the middle of the wilderness. Not only is a camping solar charger useful, but investing in a renewable resource also makes your travels more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

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