Portable Solar Panels – Enjoy Your Outdoor Adventures Worry Free

Discover The Best Portable Solar Panels For Your Next Adventure

Recently, we’ve seen a huge increase in interest in portable solar panels. And their continuing popularity is have a big effect on the survival industry.

And the reason is simple. Portable solar panels are incredibly useful in survival and wilderness environments, as well as making everyday camping more convenient and comfortable.

They work by turning the sun’s solar energy into electrical energy you can use to power your electrical devices. Devices such as:

  • Smartphones
  • Cameras
  • GPS untis
  • Satellite phones
  • Tablets
  • Flashlights
  • Headlamps
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • etc

The key to there usefulness is their portability – meaning you can charge these devices where ever you are, provided there is sufficient sunlight.

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen a big increase in the popularity of large solar power systems in the domestic housing sector. And although these systems provide a great service and help cut your power bill, they aren’t mobile and therefore not much good to us out in the wilderness.

That’s the reason these latest developments in the solar industry are so exciting. They allow you to run your everyday electronic items while away from home, using only the power of the sun.

The Advantages Of A Portable Solar Charger

Portable Power

The first and most obvious reason is simple. Portable power where you need it, when you need it.

Any avid camper should be seriously considering purchasing one of these great investments.

Never be caught short of battery life when you need to make contact with family or emergency services or are finding your way with your GPS device.

Or maybe you just want to keep the kids entertained while you sit back in the evening and soak up the majesty of the wilderness.

Free Power

Once you’ve purchased your setup – besides maybe a few small maintenance costs – you are essentially getting free electricity from the sun. Pretty cool, right?

And your solar setup will quickly pay-back the initial cost of the purchase as you charge your devices as you go. It’s win-win really.

Backup Power

If you are a seasoned survivalists, you’ve probably considered the consequences of a major power failure or grid collapse. If you haven’t, you should!

If the power grid fails, how will you keep your electronic devices from becoming rendered useless? Because once they’re out of juice, they won’t be coming back on.

Unless of course, you’ve planned ahead and have a way to charge these devices off-grid, with a little help from solar power.

Think about all the vital bits of information and survival books that you’ve got stored on your laptop, tablet and smartphone. If you can’t turn your device on, all that information is useless to you. Information that could save your life.

These portable solar panels are great for running a small backup energy system at your home.

But why not just get a regular, large-scale system installed on your house’s roof? Or a larger solar powered generator?

Well, ideally you would have these. But they are expensive, so they might not fit your budget. And you’ll also need a small-scale portable system for the simple reason that they are portable. You might have to vacate your house with little-to-no warning and your big rooftop system isn’t going to be any help to you then.

It’s recommended to have a large-scale energy system to run your house off-grid. But it’s essential you have a portable system to take with you.

Who Are Portable Solar Panels Designed For?

Campers and Backpackers

Because portable solar panels have such a wide variety of applications, they are great for keeping your devices running at your campsite.

Anyone who was been camping before can relate to running out of batteries on essential devices such as flashlights, or even the annoyance of losing power on your USB speaker just as your favorite song starts playing.

Being able to keep your campsite running the way you want it to is an added luxury that should not be overlooked.

It may also prove life-saving in an emergency situation where you need to make contact with the outside world or track your path with your GPS device.

It’s because of these reasons that portable solar charges are becoming such a hot piece of essential camping gear.

Hunters and Fishermen

Carrying a phone and flashlight with you when out hunting or fishing is a smart and potentially lifesaving idea.

And most hunters and fisherman these days would no doubt have these items in their pack (and probably more).

So take advantage of your rest time during the day and charge your phones, camera, GPS devices or any other device you might carry.

Emergency Situations and Backcountry Travelers

Unfortunately it’s not uncommon to hear horrible stories of a family’s winter adventure turning to disaster. It’s as easy as taking the wrong road, at the wrong time and getting stuck in freezing cold conditions.

Once your car battery has been drained, you won’t be able to keep warm or keep your phones or emergency devises charged. And as your cell phone battery lowers, so does your family’s chances of survival.

Having the ability to keep your cell phone powered up and on might just give the emergency services the vital information they need before it’s too late. An extra minute of cell phone service might be all it takes to save your family’s lives.

Best Portable Solar Panels On The Market

If you are new to portable solar chargers, start out with something that’s small, portable and easy to use. Remember, you should look for a quality product that you can rely on, it’s not worth going cheap if you can help it.

Survival Frog EasyPower Solar Power Bank (Internal Battery)

Survival Frog EasyPower Solar Power Bank

Simple and reliable, the EasyPower Solar Bank from Survival Frog is a convenient portable power solution. No moving parts means that there are less things that could go wrong. The only parts you need are the USB cords to charge your devices.

It provides up to 5,000mAh of power (enough to charge a smartphone one to two times) and will charge any device that can connect to a USB port.

Its simple yet effective design incorporates a built-in power level gauge, letting you know exactly how much charging power you’ve got left. This feature also allows you to see how much longer it needs to fully charge in sunlight.

A dual USB output system means you can charge two devices at one time.

Its heavy-duty, sturdy, shock-proof, non-slip design incorporates molded grips and rubber caps to cover the USB outputs when not in use.

Also included on the body is a large top handle, so you can easily hang it from your pack, to charge up while you walk. It even comes with small carabiner included.

At 5.5”x3.0”x0.5”, it’s about the same size as a paperback and weighs around 5.5 ounces.

This really is a fantastic option for those looking for a quick power recharge for a small amount of devices.

Lantern Solar, Solar Power Bank (Internal Battery)

lantern solar

While being roughly the same size as the previous power bank, the Solar Power Bank from Lantern Solar weighs in at around 7.5 ounces.

However, this extra weight is not a bad thing, it’s just the weight of the added batteries, giving this great little solar charger a 10,000mAh internal battery. That’s enough power to charge your smartphone about four times.

This added battery power really is the stand-out design feature of this model.

Featuring a dual 5.0V USB output – 1x 1.0 A and 1x 2.0 A for quicker charging of bigger devices, its body is wrapped in a rubberized shell and features a small clip to hang the device from your pack for efficient charging.

Another handy feature of this unit is the in-built LED light to help you find your way around your campsite at night or navigate the trail after the sun has set.

One press of the power button will activate the internal battery status display, enabling you to see how much power is left. Holding this button down will activate the LED light. Hold the power button down again to turn the light back off.

It’s simple to use and great for winter, as the large buttons can be easily accessed while wearing gloves.

The only problem I came across with the Solar Power Bank was the USB dust cap is not very secure and is hard to fit correctly over the ports. This could lead to getting dirt and moisture inside the ports, so just pay particular attention to getting the cover on correctly.

It seems like such an unnecessary flaw, considering the rest of the unit is very well built and designed.

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit (External Battery)

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit

The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit is a very neatly designed unit consisting of two major parts:

  • The Guide 10 Power pack
  • The Nomad 7 Solar Panel

A fairly compact 9”x7” x1.5” design, the Nomad 7 solar panel weighs around the 13 ounce mark.

While that is a little more weight than some other units on the market, this extra weight is made up for by a lot of extra features and durability.

To start with, the two solar panels come protected in a sturdy nylon housing.

The unit folds up and is secured with magnetic closures and comes with a load of attachment points to secure it in place, making it very easy to hang from your pack or somewhere around your camp

On the back of the unit you’ll also find a zippered cable storage pocket, containing several different options for connecting and charging your devices.

As well as the standard 5V/1A USB outlet, you’ll also find a 12V “Solar Port”, allowing you to plug in devices that charge via a 12V car adapter.

As well as these two outlets, there is also a third “Mini Solar Port” which plugs into a wide range of Goal Zero products and a “Mini Solar Port” input that gives you the option of adding more panels for extra power.

The other half of this setup – the Guide 10 power pack isn’t just a simple battery pack.

It’s also a compact battery charger, allowing you to recharge up to four AA batteries at a time.

This allows you to charge up your empty AA batteries while using the newly recharged ones in you devices so you never run out of power.

It also comes with an adapter to charge AAA batteries if needed. This should come in quite handy, as a lot of headlamps take these smaller sized batteries.

Included on the Guide 10 is a small LED light that works great to help you find things inside your tent at night.

It will give you an impressive 100 hours of light from one charge and gives off adequate light to allow you to function inside you tent.

One possible drawback of Goal Zero systems is their price tag. So if you are on a budget, you might be better off looking for an integrated battery/solar charger like we covered previously.

These integrated, one-piece systems are often a little more rugged than their folding system counterparts and there are no wires or cords that might get snagged or broken on a trail.

The advantage of the folding systems however is they are more efficient, giving you more power whilst requiring less sunlight to charge.

So like anything, there are features and benefits of the different designs, so you should think about what is better suited to you.

Watch the below video for a review of the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit.

A Few Extra Portable Solar Charger Options

Aside from the three great portable solar charges we just covered, there are a wealth of different options available to suit you and your needs.

So check out this list of top quality portable solar panel options.

Best Portable Solar Setups

The best portable solar setup for you will most likely be a combination of the different systems mentioned above. Personally I use three different models – two with internal power packs and one external – which I use for different reasons and styles of camping.

Smaller internal battery systems are best suited for use on short trips. Basically, any trip that I won’t use more power than lighting my campsite for one night or giving my GPS a bit of a top-up charge.

These small portable charges are great for one day hiking trips, mountain bike adventures or a day out on a canoe.

Because they don’t weigh much and take up minimal pack space they also make a great addition to bug out bags, get home bags and survival kits.

However, on longer trips, it’s best to use an external battery model. The main benefit of this system being the ability to charge one battery pack while using another to charge your devices.

Although this setup is heavier and more requires more space in your pack, it will give you more power and allow you to charge more devices.

The external system allows you to charge your devices from a pre-charged battery pack while your second battery pack is charging in the sunlight. This allows you to find the most efficient location to setup your charger.

An external battery bank is provided in the Goal Zero kit mentioned earlier but not all companies provide a battery pack with their panels.

Purchasing An External Battery Bank

You’ll need to purchase a separate external battery if your portable solar panel doesn’t come with one.

There are many companies that make USB battery packs, including cheaper but still reliable generic brands.

I’d advise you to look for a battery pack with at least a 10,000mAh capacity. You should be able to pick a good one of these up for around twenty five bucks. The best ones have one 2.1A or higher outlet for fast charging.

This Anker PowerCore 10000 is a good option.

Another great thing about these external battery packs is they are much better for charging “smart” devices like phones and tablets. These devices are often more restrictive towards incoming voltages when charging.

This is because they require a steady power flow to help protect the internal circuitry. And while this is great for protecting your phone from dangerous voltage spikes, it means that charging these devices in direct sunlight can be difficult.

These voltage variations that stop your phone from charging could be caused by anything from a cloud passing overhead to a whole host of unknown reasons.

So charging a battery pack first, then connecting your devices to the power bank is a much better option for charging your electronics, as it will provide a steady power supply.

The Pros And Cons Of Portable Solar Chargers

As with anything, you should weigh up the pros and cons of a purchase before spending your hard earned cash. So let’s run through what these pros and cons might be.


  • – No fuel required
  • – No trace left behind
  • – Lightweight
  • – Modular
  • – Silent

No Fuel Required

A big plus of solar is that you don’t need gas or liquid fuels like in a generator or burning wood as with a bio stove. Solar is clean energy, so it’s good for the planet and good for your wallet.

Solar panels work by collecting the heat from the sun and using that heat to excite the solar cells. These excited cells then convert the heat into energy.

So why not utilize this free power source that is flowing down to us each and every day.

No Trace Left Behind

Because there is no need for traditional fuels, there is no trace left behind from the solar energy conversion.

Making it a very clean and zero impact way of collecting energy.


While portable solar panels used to be fairly bulky and were really only portable by vehicle, new innovations have made these systems considerably lighter and more compact.

There are many models on the market now that are no bigger than a deck of cards and come in at a total weight of under 8 ounces.


Another great feature is the ability of many of these models to daisy-chain together and build a more powerful system.

Connect three, four or ten portable charges together to increase your power output.

The system will absorb more sunlight at a faster rate, allowing you to charge larger devices or charge your battery packs faster.

Instead of outlaying the money to buy a big system today, you can start small and build your system up by adding more chargers in the future.


In a survival situation, you want to be able to go undetected and evade threats. Solar systems are perfect for this, as a loud generator will give your location away in no time!


  • Require sunlight
  • Separate battery pack required to store power
  • Variable output issues
  • “Perceived” durability issues

Require Sunlight

A frequently cited con of solar energy systems is that they’ll only work while the sun is shining. This is true at night and in parts of the world that don’t see the sun in the depths of winter.

But recent developments in solar technology mean that during cloudy days, your devices will still charge, albeit more slowly.

So make sure you run a two battery pack system and you shouldn’t have any charging issues.

Separate Battery Pack Required To Store Power

Because solar cells don’t store power (just convert solar energy to electrical energy) you are going to need something else to store the power.

So your system either needs to have an internal battery pack or you should invest in an external one.

Variable Output Issues

How much power is produced by your system is dependent on the angle of the sun compared to the device.

Solar cells that face the sun directly will capture the most power. But this isn’t always a viable option as it means you’ll need to move the solar panels every hour or so.

Something that may have a negative effect on your panels in a dusty climate such as a desert, is dust and sand on your panels. If there is dust on your panels they will be less efficient, even in direct sunlight.

Another thing to note is, if you are charging your panels from your vehicle, window tint will also reduce the efficiency of your panels.

“Perceived” Durability Issues

While the photovoltaic cells in your solar panels may be susceptible to breakage, they are a lot tougher than most people would think.

Larger panels, like the ones found on rooftop systems, are made with layers of glass, laminate or acrylic, allowing them to withstand forces of high wind, hail and even falling tree branches. The chance of one of these panels breaking after installation is quite low.

The small panels on the portable systems are now often made from plastic instead of glass and are made with rubber or plastic bodies encasing the cells, making them very durable.

As you can see, the “cons” of portable solar panels are easy to overcome with a little planning and thought and are greatly misunderstood.

Last Thoughts On Portable Solar Panels

If you’ve made it all the way to this point in the article, that’s great! It means you are seriously considering adding one of these fantastic systems to your survival gear.

It’s a good idea for each member of your family to carry at least a small internal battery system with them.

Electronic items are an everyday part of our lives now and we depend on them far more than we realize or like to admit.

In fact, you’ve probably already got electronic gear stashed in your bug out bag or EDC.

It’s an easy upgrade to make to your survival kit and will mean you’ll be able to harness the free energy supply falling around you every day.

A free energy supply that can be harnessed and used to supply you with valuable communications access, navigation, light and information even if the main power grid is down.

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