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Backpack Solar Panels

Original Post
Greg Sage · · Sioux Falls, SD · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 221

While I use Backpacking and camping as a way to "unplug" from the world, there is also a need to be able to "connect" every now and then.
I have a couple small USB battery packs I can charge my phone etc. with...   But once they are dead, I am then truly SOL.

I have been looking at backpack/portable solar charging solutions...   But everything is "Highly Rated" it's hard to know what is actually good, and what isn't worth the time or money.

I figured I would ask you all...   What are the panels you recommend? or avoid?  

I am trying to keep size/weight down...

And I have a $100.00 ~ $150.00 "Budget"...  (Keeping in mind, the less I spend here, the more I can spend on other things I need to replace/update/acquire...)

Thanks in advance!!!

David Smrcka · · St. Paul, MN · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 6

I've been using a Biolite Solar Panel 5+. I'm able to keep my headlight, my Delores InReach and my iPhone ( used in conjunction with my InReach) charged. Best of all, it's only $80. It has two attaching points that I attach it to my pack's daisychains and charge my devices or the 5+'s internal 2,200 mAh storage battery while in the move. When in camp, it has a sundial that allows me to position it in relation to the sun for optimal output. 

Lesley Klein · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

I bought a cheap 12 watt solar panel on Amazon .   Paid 40 and it works great.   There are loads of them out there.   Buy a few USB batteries .   5200 or 7800.   They hold all the suns power and you can use it as needed...  

Derrick Cochran · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

I have one of the Goal Zero solar panels (Nomad 7) with a batter pack that comes with it. It is a little more on the expensive side, as it was $120 but it works amazingly. I take it with me everytime I go hiking or camping. You can also daisy chain them to get things to charge quicker if you are so inclined. 

Russ Bailey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Do the calculation to see how much those panels really can provide. Keep in mind that the panel may put out at rated capacity for a few minutes at solar noon if the panel is aimed correctly at the sun. Unless aimed at the sun the output will be little to nothing. Solar charging is centered around solar noon - early and late (say before 0900 and after 1500) does little to nothing. 

Bouncing along on the back of your pack most likely the units will do diddly. People claim how good they work but the science isn't there.

I use a power bank which is charged when electricity is available. That and batteries in good condition are the best bet. Important to not waste power - if your phone is searching for a signal it can really suck up the juice.

G.D. Punk · · Knox Vegas Tn · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 111
Russ Bailey wrote:

Do the calculation to see how much those panels really can provide.

I use a power bank which is charged when electricity is available 

I have thought the same on the solar panels. The places I go in the southern Appalachians the canopy doesn't allow for much solar radiation to get through. I've tried a power bank experiment before and it was junk. Any reccommendations? I know about MaH so you can skip that part....

Namekian Piccolo · · United Kingdom · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Hello, Greg, found you a list of solar backpacks that shoot your budget. They specialize in solar panel tools so you don't need to worry about the weight and the size, this thing is really cool in your camping material. 

  • SOLAR CHARGER BACKPACK (7W) - Enjoy free unlimited on-the-go power with the ECEEN® solar charger backpack - a perfect choice for any outdoor enthusiast. It comes with plenty of pockets & compartments for maps, documents, and essential gear. Perfect for backpacking, trekking, mountaineering, fishing or biking, it is made of high quality, rugged nylon fabric.
  • 7 WATTS HIGH-EFFICIENCY SOLAR CELLS - SUNPOWER® made-in-the-USA solar cells, with 22% transfer efficiency, are built into a protective anti-scratch hardened coating & sewn into high-wear PVC fabric for weather-resistant outdoor durability.
  • CHARGE A VARIETY OF DEVICES - Charge your device directly through a 5V USB port, equipped with the protection of our Voltage Stability Controller. With 10,000mAh waterproof Li-Polymer Battery pack it is perfect for iPhone, Samsung & other smartphones, External Battery Packs, GPS systems, MP3 Players, Bluetooth Speakers and more!
  • Ultra-Light. Ultra-Durable. Ultra-Awesome - The backpack is perfect for day-to-day use or occasional travel, and a great gift for any age. It's made from rip and water resistant fabric, and provides strength and long-lasting performance, with minimal weight. Stress points are reinforced with bar tacking for increased longevity.

Kimball Rexford · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

This 2-in-1 solar charger & lantern goes on the market any week now. I ordered one on the kickstarter. 


Russ Bailey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

That 7 watt panel is rated at 1000 watts/m2 - more or less solar noon for a few minutes on a very clear day with the panel aimed directly at the sun. The rest of the day is less to far less with maybe a 6 hour window where solar collection makes sense. The 22% is meaningless as that is included in the 7 watt calculation. If the panel is hanging on your backpack as you walk maybe you average from 100 to 200 watts available for collection. Any shade at all probably makes the output zero. Have fun with them but they are an expensive toy. 

Alakey Fry · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

I do not know how this inflatable flashlight can help in hikes, it's more like a toy. Although it can really be useful to photographers as a source of light.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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