The sun shines down on you. There is not a cloud in the sky. In the woodland clearing on top of the hill, you see “God’s fingers.” In other words, you see the sun’s rays. It is a magical day. Birds chirp. Leaves rustle. Branches crunch underneath your feet. If you want to make full use of your outdoor experience, then it helps to have The Best Portable Solar Panels for Camping in 2018. When you have the top of the line, you make the adventure a lot more enjoyable.
Before we get started though, you may want to check out my article on The 7 Principles to Leave No Trace in Printable Form. Since I know you care about the environment (you’re reading an article on solar panels for crying out loud!), you may want to refresh yourself on leave no trace ethics. Our planet needs all the help it can get. You can make a difference. Click on the link below to learn more.
Anyway, let’s get started!
Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panels
If you want to charge your phone, tablet, GPS, camera, or portable device for under $100, then this is the way to do it. You can strap one of these on your backpack during your day hike and the sun will charge it right on up. It is ultra lightweight, portable, and weather resistant. Did I mention that it is durable? It can withstand the elements quite well.
If you are planning a backpacking trip through the sunny wilderness, then this is something seriously worth considering. You can charge up your phone for those spectacular wilderness shots in no time flat. With your USB cord, you can directly charge up your device. You do not even need a battery. You just hook it right on up.
On these solar panels, you can find two ports, a USB port and a 12V port. If you need to charge two devices at the same time, the Nomad 7 will split the difference between the two. Be aware that you are reducing the amount of charge when you use it this way.
On Amazon, it does only rank at 3.9 stars, but it comes in at under $100. That is a solid deal. It will easily charge up a small device, but do not expect it to take on a laptop or a car battery. When opened up, the Nomad 7 is about the size of an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper. Do not let its size deter you though. It packs a punch. It really is quite portable. You will barely notice the extra weight difference as it hangs effortlessly off your pack.
Renogy 100W Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Compared to regular solar panels, it weighs 70% less. It only weighs 4 lbs. You really get a lightweight solar panel, taking the load off of your backpack. You might think that this solar panel loses durability as a result. That is not the case. It is made of Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) material, which means for a higher corrosion resistance and a wider temperature range, as opposed to Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) material, which is less comprehensive. In short, you get higher performance.
Where regular solar panels cannot reach, this flexible solar panel steps into the mix. It can flex up to 248 degrees without any problems. If you are looking for a runway model, then this is the solar panel you want to bring to the show. This bad boy is thin baby. At only a tenth of an inch tall, this solar panel looks like a line when you see it from the side. Compared to its rigid counterparts, it is barely noticeable.
On Amazon, it has 4.5 stars out of 25 reviews. While there are not too many reviews for this product, the brand has a solid reputation. With more and more people buying this solar panel, you can expect only the highest quality.
Acopower 120W Portable Solar Panels Suitcase
In this handy dandy suitcase, you can charge up your devices in no time flat. Unlike the other suitcases here, this one is a lot lighter. You get the flexible paneling and the hard suitcase all wrapped into one. If you are new to portable solar, then this is a splendid way to go. You get a lightweight product at only 8 lbs and an assortment of accessories: a suitcase, 10A charge controller, removable MC4 connector cables, alligator clamps cables, and user manual.
While this product may be more expensive than the other models here, you get the highest conversion energy in the world at 25%. If you want to charge your laptop, phone, and camera, this bad boy will have no problem charging all three right on up.
It also has a lot of flexibility. You can charge your gear with these panels facing the direction of the sun or you can sling it on your backpack and connect it to a battery pack.
Another important factor to consider is the customer service. You get a high quality response rate from this brand. If you run into trouble, they have your back. In my opinion, customer service for an expensive product matters. You need it when looking at solar panels. These bad boys are not cheap. You want to make sure you are doing everything right.
On Amazon, it averages 4.5 stars out of 37 reviews. While the number of reviews may not be the highest, it is not insignificant. As time goes on, the number of reviews will only increase.
Nature’s Generator, 1800W Solar/Wind Powered Generator
Now we are starting to get into the big boys. This puppy is expensive, but well worth the money. On a single charge, you produce 720 watt hours. In this package, the two main components are a solar panel and battery. The wind turbine does not come with it.
Be aware that this set up is heavy. The generator weighs in at 90 lbs and the solar panel weighs 28 lbs. I definitely do not recommend that you bring it with you on a backpacking trip. It will just be too much to carry. If you are camping, then this is an excellent set up to have. With the wheels on both of them, you do not have to worry about carrying it on your back. It is really a necessity for the weight.
In an emergency situation, you do not need gas at all to run this guy, making it perfect for the post apocalyptic world. You can also sink this setup with your phone, monitoring the charge level of this battery from a distance.
On Amazon right now, it has 5 stars, but only 1 review. I do not know about you, but that is not reassuring. I looked at a similar product though, the GXNGPT Solar Powered Generator, Platinum System on Google. It is also from Nature’s Generator, but comes with three panels and two generators. It has 4.3 stars and 30 reviews, so you can trust the generator and solar panel you see above.
Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel Bundle Kit
Now this is a solid solar panel for RV and van campers. You can really trust this brand. With over 900 reviews averaging 4.4 stars, this is worth a serious look. For a full charge from this panel, you get 400W to use as you please. If you are looking to get a start in solar, then this puppy is worth your money. The brand proves itself again and again to be reputable, providing a high quality product to its customers. The panels are solidly built and reliable.
From some of the reviews I read, the customers spoke again and again to Reongy’s high quality customer service. If you get a dud, they drop ship to you. If you want to know how to set everything up, they have informational how to videos. You can really trust this brand to deliver.
If you are a college student like me, the cost is a deterrent. It is definitely out of my price range. Otherwise, you get a lot of bang for your buck. It also is a bit hefty at almost 20 lbs, but you are probably going to throw it on top of your car or camper or RV, so weight is not too much of an issue. I definitely would not recommend you go backpacking with it.
When you choose this solar panels, you get grid independence. In three hours on a fully sunny day, you can charge a 50Ah battery to 50%. That is quite fast, providing you with the energy you need in no time flat.
Goal Zero Nomad 20 Solar Panels
This girl is much like her brother the Nomad 7 Plus I mentioned at the beginning, but longer. You can easily charge up your USB devices faster than the Nomad 7 Plus, but at a bit higher price. It comes with an extra panel unlike its less expensive brother. It is durable and reliable, soaking up sun on a mountain side or in the middle of a desert.
At only 2.5 lbs, you will hardly notice its weight. If you are backpacker looking to step up your game, then it is worth your consideration. You get a lightweight, portable solar panel that can really hold up to the elements. At a sizing of 13 x 1 x 8.5 inches, it is a bit larger than a piece of paper, albeit a bit heavier. When you connect a battery up to this puppy, you can charge your devices day or night. If you want mobility and to charge everything, you can find that in this.
It comes with two ports, a USB port and 12v port. While it does charge faster than its less expensive counterparts, it does not charge too fast.
If you look at the construction of this set of panels compared to the other ones here, you have added protection. It really is designed for deep wilderness adventurers. The velcro on the outside protects it from the elements and the plastic screening allows you to charge your devices with no worries.
On Amazon, it ranks at 4.3 stars out of 123 customer reviews, so you know you can trust this product.
Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase
If you want to look official, then you need a briefcase. One of these will work splendid if you are camping or heading off the grid sometime soon. It features a rigid, anodized aluminum, and tempered glass construction. In other words, you get a high quality construction designed to protect your solar. Your panels are protected very well. If you have some testosterone fueled teenagers, they have to really set their mind to breaking it. In short, these panels hold their own. You get longevity with these panels.
At 25 lbs, it is heavy to carry around, weighing about as much as one medium sized plate at the gym. At the same time though, it is not too heavy. And with that extra weight, you get a faster charge on all your devices. It pairs well with the GoalZero Yeti battery, charging up the battery in no time flat. For a lithium 1000 station battery, these solar panels charge it up in about 10 to 20 hours, making it quite a short time. That is what it really is designed for, to pair with one of GoalZero’s batteries. It works best with one of GoalZero’s associated products.
On Amazon, it averages 4.4 stars out of 71 reviews, so you can sleep well at night knowing that it is well liked among your fellow consumers. For some of the reviewers, the GoalZero seemed a bit expensive compared to other options on the market, but it was still well favored. People like it.
SUAOKI 60W Portable Foldable Solar Charger and Panels
As a competitor to the backpack solar of GoalZero, suaoki is worth noting. Its comparison is probably the GoalZero Nomad 20, but a lot longer and with more panels at 65 inches. You get a lot more charge on this puppy than the GoalZero Nomad 20 and a lot more length, making it a bit clumsy to fit on a backpacking backpack. It will probably slap the back of your legs if you throw this on a backpack fully extended. You can prevent it from slapping your legs if you only extend it partially. If you are just camping, then this is worth serious consideration.
You get up to a 20% conversion which is incredible for the price. The product also includes a 10 in 1 connector (mac books excluded), so you can charge up your device with no problem with the connection. It only adds to the appeal of this foldable solar charger.
It includes two outlets, a USB port and a 18V DC outlet, so you can charge most of your devices with no problems. Another interesting part about this solar panel is that it comes in a briefcase. You get a lot of flexibility that way. It weighs in at 4.5 lbs, making it heavier than its GoalZero Nomad 20 counterparts, but it is still pretty light. It will do just fine on a backpacking trip.
On Amazon, it averages 4.5 stars out of 30 reviews. While there are not as many reviews as some of the other products listed here, it is past the critical 25 review threshold, so you know you can take the reviews with serious consideration. In this solar panel, you get high quality for an excellent price.
Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase with Controller
With corrosion resistant aluminum stand and heavy-duty latches and handles, this solar panel set up is durable to say the least. You get high quality for a fair price. Compared to GoalZero’s suitcase, you get a worthy opponent. For an RV or van camper, this work well. For a backpacker, I do not recommend it because of its weight. You do not want to be lugging this Great Dane along with you at almost 30 lbs. It is too heavy to carry for long distances.
Also, Renogy is a very good brand. As I said before, they have excellent customer service, responding to each one of your needs. If you need help, they respond fast to the emails and calls you send them. If you need help to set up your solar panels, they have informational videos to guide you through the process. I cannot recommend this brand more. They deliver a quality product and excellent customer service.
Behind the solar panels, you can find a controller that provides you with operating data to let you know the progress on your charge, giving you all you need to know.
It also has excellent reviews, averaging 4.5 stars out of 416 customer testimonials. That is a lot of reviews. Some complain about the dim led controller, but it is an overstated concern. You are not supposed to stare at it to know everything all the time. You look to it when you need to. Overall, the reviewers rate it as a product well worth their money. You get an incredible product for the price it is at.
BougeRV 100W Flexible Solar Panels
This is a worthy alternative to the other flexible solar panels I listed earlier in this article. For its solar cells, you will not find a better energy conversion rate, clocking in at 23% to 25%. For solar, that is incredible. To get that high a level is excellent for you. It means you can charge up your electronics quite fast.
At 5.73 lbs, it is a bit heavy for its weight class, but it is barely noticeable at such a level. You can attach it to your car or backpack without any issues and charge your devices right on up. It is water resistant, semi-flexible, and durable. The designers of this product have also eliminated 85% of cell failure rates, meaning that this solar panel will last you a long time compared to other ones on the market.
It is less expensive than its competitive counterparts, the Renogy, making it worth a serious look. Unlike its competitor, it did not state the maximum degrees to which it can bend, but it does not really make sense to bend it to a very high degree. Both are high quality solar panels.
On Amazon, it averages 4.3 stars out of 29 reviews, putting it at fewer stars than the Renogy but not by much. From what I read of the reviews, the customers were happy.
Are You Going to Get Outside this Week?
Well, you should be all set to go. You have selected one of the solar panels from this list and are seriously considering them. It is now time to test it out. Below this paragraph, you can find a link to AllTrails.com. It is my go to site for finding a trail near me. If you want to live the life you deserve, then it starts with a hike outdoors. It will be an excellent opportunity to test out that brand new solar panel. So what do you say? Are you going to get outside this week? You will become a better person because of it.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!