3 Best Portable Solar Chargers For Your Next Outdoor Adventure
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3 Best Portable Solar Chargers For Your Next Outdoor Adventure

By SS Contributor | Last Updated: February 2, 2018

Portable Solar Charger In The MountainsHow To Find The Best Portable Solar Charger For Your Next Great Adventure

There’s been a recent boom in portable solar phone chargers.

And their increasing popularity has taken the survival world by storm.

Why? Because they’re so incredibly useful in wilderness and emergency situations.

Not to mention how convenient they are for camping and outdoor adventures.

These portable devices turn solar energy from the sun into usable electrical power.

Energy to power any device that relies on electricity to function all while on the go.

Portable everyday carry gear such as:

The key here is the portability of these solar chargers.

People have been installing large solar panel systems for years now. The market for solar generators has also been on the rise recently as well.

And while these systems are no doubt powerful, they are not nearly as mobile for everyday carry.

That’s why the latest portable solar chargers are so exciting.

They allow you to harness the power of the sun with a device that fits in your backpack or pocket!

So today, we’ll be covering the following topics:

**Note: If you just want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.


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Portable Solar Panel Charging A Phone

THE BENEFITS OF OWNING A PORTABLE SOLAR CHARGER


Portable Power

So the first reason you should own one of these devices is power on the go.

If you enjoy camping, hiking, hunting, or any outdoor adventure, you should invest in one.

That way, you can keep all your small electronic devices charged and at the ready, just in case. Whether it’s to call a loved one, stay on track with a GPS device, or charge some batteries for your flashlight.

Not to mention the benefit of powering a cell phone in an actual emergency situation.

“Free” Power

Next is solar power is “free” power – after you’ve invested in a way to capture it and store it.

Sure, portable solar chargers cost more than a few packs of batteries, but it’s a just one-time investment.

An investment that will easily pay itself off over time.

After the initial investment, you get to charge your devices anywhere for free.

Backup Power

If you’re a regular visitor of Skilled Survival, you’ve thought about your power failure options.

If you haven’t, now is the time!

When the power grid goes down, all your home devices have a finite power life remaining. Once the battery hits zero, it becomes an expensive paperweight until the power comes back on.

All those survival books on hunting and foraging you saved to your tablet?

Gone.

The full-color step-by-step survival guides on your laptop? The ones detailing how to build everything from a single-night shelter to a full log cabin?

Lost without power.

And while GPS satellites will continue to send data, it doesn’t matter if your GPS devices are dead.

So they’re smart for small-scale backup energy systems.

But why should you invest in a portable solar charger and not an extensive roof solar array/battery bank system?

First off, large rooftop solar systems are great. So are larger solar-powered generators.

If you can afford to add them to your home as a backup power system or to get off the grid, you should.

But, they’re not portable.

It’s a good idea to have a sizeable alternative energy system for survival. But it’s still helpful to have a smaller scale system for your everyday carry devices.


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WHO ARE PORTABLE SOLAR PANELS FOR? 


Campers and Backpackers

Portable solar charges are great for camping in remote sites or the comforts of a state park.

At either location, you’ve undoubtedly come across times when you’re getting low on power.

Being able to charge up the camera for a few more photos or to boost the GPS for you to follow your trail out is a great option.

And as portable solar chargers get smaller and more efficient, you’ll hardly notice it in your pack!

Solar chargers are quickly becoming essential gear for camping.

Hunters and Fishermen

Most hunters and fishermen carry at least a cell phone and a flashlight with us into the field these days.

More and more, they’re also carrying camera equipment, rangefinders, and a GPS. That adds up to a lot of different spare batteries and chargers.

A portable solar charger can take advantage of downtime in the middle of the day to charge all your devices.

Backcountry Travelers and Emergency Situations

Every winter, we hear stories of a family outing that turned deadly.

When someone blindly follows a seasonal road and finds themselves stuck in freezing cold weather.

Many times, these people used up their vehicle’s battery to keep warm.

However, eventually, their vehicles become powerless. And their cell phones start dwindling along with their chances of rescue.

Using a portable solar charger to gain a few minutes of cell phone power can be enough to send an emergency text.

It can also help ping a cell tower, giving searchers a general search area to focus on.


As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Portable Solar Panel Charging A Phone On Large Rocks

BEST PORTABLE PANELS FOR CAMPING AND SURVIVAL 


For your first solar charger, we think you should consider a small, portable model.

Here are a few of the best portable solar chargers we’ve used and own.

1. Anytime Charge Solar Power Bank

Skilled Survival highly recommends the Anytime Charge Solar Power Bank.

Why? Because it’s one of the most durable, compact, and cost-effective portable solar chargers on the market today. But don’t let its compact size fool you, it’s also got a massive 10,000 mAh battery capacity!

The massive battery storage is enough to charge any of your devices multiple times. Plus, with dual charging outputs, you can power multiple devices at the same time!

Simply plug in your devices via the supplied USB cable (you can use any USB cable) and press the power button.  Your device will begin to take power from the Anytime Charge right away.

Recharging the Anytime Solar Bank couldn’t be easier – just leave it in the sun and it will automatically fill the large battery bank back up ANYWHERE.

Plus, it’s splash resistant and comes with an emergency flashlight with a strobe function.

NOTE: At the time this article was published, you could snag some bonus Tactical Flashlights For FREE if when you buy multiple Anytime Solar Chargers. Click here now, to see if this deal is still available!

2. QuadraPro Dual USB Power Bank

QuadraPro Portable Solar PanelThe QuadraPro Dual USB Power Bank is a quality solar bank made by Survival Frog.

It’s got a huge 6,500mAH battery capacity with dual charging ability.

It’s also rugged, splash resistant, ultra-compactwhich are ideal features for any everyday carry or any outdoor adventure.

For example, The QuadraPro comes ready to go out of the box!

The slim design means you can slip this power source into your pocket or backpack so you can have power while you’re on the go!

Quadrapro Solar Panels usage images

3. Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit (External Battery)

Goal Zero Battery Recharge Kit

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit

The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit is a polished setup consisting of two major parts.

1 – The Guide 10 Power Pack
2 – The Nomad 7 Solar Panel

The Nomad 7 solar panel is a compact little unit at 9″x7″ X1.5″.

It weighs in at about 13 ounces.

That’s slightly heavier than some other comparable units. But that’s offset by extra features and a lot more durability than the competitors.

First off, the two solar panels are well protected in robust nylon housing.

It folds up with magnet closures and has lots of attachment points to secure the unit.

This makes it easy to hang it outside your pack or clip it to a chair in camp.

On the back of the panel, there’s another nice touch – a zippered cable management pocket.

Opening it up, you find several options for connecting your devices.

There’s a standard USB outlet, providing up to 5V/1A straight to your phone, tablet, or anything else with a USB cord. Next, to that, there’s a 12V “Solar Port” which allows you to plug in a car adapter.

Finally, there’s a “Mini Solar Port,” which plugs into a wide array of Goal Zero products. There’s also a Mini Solar Port input – which allows you to chain together several panels for more power.

The accompanying Guide 10 power pack is more than just a simple battery pack.

It’s a compact battery charger with some nice features. It accepts four rechargeable AA batteries that pop right into the unit for charging.

Once they’re topped off, you can use them in anything that takes AA batteries. Then pop in four more rechargeable AA’s to keep the energy production going.

There’s also an adapter to fit AAA batteries, so if you find you use more of those that will come in handy.

My headlamps nearly all use AAA batteries, so I’ll get a lot of use from this.

The Guide 10 also includes a small white LED bulb. So you can use it as an emergency flashlight or for quick light inside the tent at night.

It’s enough light to adjust your sleeping bag, find something you dropped, or open the tent flap to get out. And it’ll last over 100 hours on one charge.

If Goal Zero price is a concern, look for an integrated battery solar charger instead (which we just covered above).

Integrated chargers are battery/panel in one-piece units. So there’s nothing left behind and no cords to snag or break.

They’re often more rugged than folding systems too. But they often have less efficient cells. And they require more sunlight to charge a comparable amount of energy.

As with most things, there are always tradeoffs but you tend to get what you pay for.

Check out our review video below of the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit.

***The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit giveaway mentioned in the video has ended.


As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

BEST PORTABLE SOLAR SETUPS


I own all three portable solar charger models (the ones reviewed above).

Two have an internal power pack, and one is paired with an external battery pack.

I use them differently for different reasons.

Shorter Trips – Internal

The internal battery systems are best for short-duration trips. Ones where I won’t need more than one night’s worth of light or a partial GPS charge.

Enough power to find my way back to the truck, transverse backcountry mountain trails, or navigate an afternoon canoe trip.

These small solar chargers are lighter and take up less space in my pack than larger units making them excellent choices for “get home” bags, bug out bags, or survival kits.

Our Favorite Internal Battery Option

Skilled Survival recommends The QuadraPro USB Dual Power Bank.

It’s got a huge 6,500mAH battery capacity with dual charging ability.

It’s also rugged, splash resistant, ultra-compactwhich are ideal features for a vehicle emergency kit. 

Longer Trips – External

For longer trips, I turn to the external battery model. These allow me to use one battery pack while I charge a second.

This setup is larger and bulkier. But along with the weight increase, you’ll also get more power generation.

Instead of trying to power your devices directly with this setup, you’ll use the portable solar panels to power an external battery bank.

Charging a battery pack in this way, allows you to set up the charger in the most convenient location. And this prevents you from being tethered to it at all times.

With the GoalZero Kit above, an external battery bank was provided. However, this is not always the case.

Purchasing An External Battery Bank

If you purchase a portable solar panel that doesn’t come with an external battery, then you should buy one.

Many companies make USB battery packs. But, I prefer the most capacity for my dollar. These are usually the generic and off-brand battery packs.

Look for ones with a capacity of at least 10,000mAh and a price of around $25. It should have one 2.1A or higher outlet for fast charging and a few extra outlets are always useful.

Anker PowerCore 10000

For example, The Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger fits the bill.

The other bonus of charging battery packs (besides pure storage) is managing the variability of incoming solar power.

Yes, most battery packs will accept a wide variety of incoming voltages. But “smart” devices are more restrictive on the incoming voltages.

This steady power requirement is to protect the internal circuits. But this built-in device protection makes direct solar charging challenging.

For example, voltage variations trick my phone into disconnecting.

This issue happens whenever a cloud passes overhead and sometimes for no apparent reason at all.

So it’s better to charge a battery pack first and then use the stored power to charge your devices.

This setup allows you to buffer out those pesky variations.

Thus, providing steady and consistent power to your devices.


As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

PROS/CONS OF PORTABLE SOLAR CHARGERS


As with any device, there are pros and cons to owning one. So let’s cover the advantages first and then go over a few challenges.

PROS

  • No Fuel
  • No Trace Left Behind
  • Silent
  • Modular
  • Lightweight

Let’s dive into each of these in more detail.

No fuel Needed

biolite camping stove

BioLite Stove

Solar is a clean energy source.

You don’t need liquid fuels or gases to run a generator. You don’t need to burn wood to generate heat to create energy like a Biolite Stove.

Instead, portable solar chargers just collect the heat from the sun to excite cells. These exciting cells convert heat into energy.

You get to capture the sun’s energy rays hitting the earth day in and day out. And while the sun’s energy is technically a fuel source, it’s abundant, available, and free.

No Trace Left Behind

Like the “no need for fuel,” you also capture the energy without leaving any trace behind.

It’s both a clean and zero impact energy solution.

Silent

In survival, you never know when evasion is the goal. One critical aspect of evasion is silence.

Capturing energy without a fire or a loud generator will keep your location hidden.

Modular

Many of these solar devices can be daisy-chained together to create a more powerful system.

Hooking up 2 or 3 or 10 portable solar chargers in series will increase your power capabilities.

This means you’d be able to capture more solar power faster. Allowing you to either power larger devices or fully charge your battery packs more quickly.

So buy one portable solar charger today and invest in more in the future.

By doing this, you’ll grow your solar system’s output over time.

Light Weight

Many of the original “portable” solar panels were quite bulky and heavy. By comparison, new portable solar panels are much lighter and more compact.

Many of the smaller models are the size of a deck of survival cards. And feature integrated batteries for power storage – and still weigh under 8oz!

CONS

  • Sun Required
  • Need Separate Battery Pack To Store Power
  • Variable Output Issues
  • “Perceived” Durability Issues

However, I believe the “cons” of a solar charger is either misunderstood or can easily be overcome.

Sun Required

The obvious argument against solar is that it only works when the sun is shining. That’s both true and false.

To be sure, at night, your solar charger isn’t going to be providing you with any electricity.

That’s why you need to pair it with a battery pack in the first place, right? But what about cloudy or overcast days?

The latest photovoltaic cells used in solar panels are more efficient than ever.

They can convert a larger percentage of the incoming sunlight to electricity.

So while they may drop in output on a cloudy day, they can still charge your devices over more extended periods.

Need Separate Battery Pack To Store Power

Solar cells don’t store power; they only convert solar to energy.

To store power, the device must either have an internal battery pack or you’ll need to invest in an external one.

Variable Output Issues

First off, the angle of the sun influences how much power is produced.

Pointing solar cells directly towards the sun captures the most amount of power. But, this requires constant fidgeting.

It’s a pain to continuously manage the orientation of the charger as the sun moves across the sky.

No, it’s not time-consuming and only needs to be done on the hour, but it does mean you can’t leave it for very long.

In desert climates, dust on the panels will reduce efficiency and keep you from charging even in full sun.

Also, the window tint in most cars is enough to reduce the collected power.

“Perceived” Durability Issues

Another misconception with solar chargers is that photovoltaic cells are extremely fragile. Again, both true and false.

Large solar panels (the ones used on roof systems) are sandwiched between layers of glass, laminate, or acrylic.

This allows them to take 120+mph winds, hail, and falling branches. The chances of breaking one of these after installation are significantly minimized.

On the other hand, portable solar charger designs have made some vast improvements. The latest ones are built for more rugged treatment than earlier versions.

They often feature plastic instead of glass. They also now have rubber or plastic bodies surrounding the cells.

FINAL WORD


If you’ve read this whole article, I know you’re serious about adding a portable solar charger to your survival gear.

I’d encourage you to get one for each family member and to be sure to test how it works with your devices.

Chances are, you already have small electronics in your EDC and Bug Out Bag. And you may even depend on them in an emergency.

Packable solar power is an EASY upgrade to your survival gear and your survival plans.

It’s a smart survival insurance policy. One to guarantee access to communications, navigation, light, and information when you need it most.

Jason K.

P.s. Do you know where the closest nuclear bunker is from your home?

There are a lot of natural nuclear shelters in the US that are absolutely free. And one of them is near your home.

Click on the image above to find out where you need to take shelter.
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