Having a reliable backpack is an absolute necessity when you’re out camping or hiking. We use them to transport precious food, water, and the camping gear we rely on to protect us from the elements. Nowadays, however, many of us also like to take electronics out in the field, such as smartphones, tablets, music players, or laptops. We use them for GPS, entertainment, or communication in case of emergency, but these devices run on batteries, and sometimes a power outlet is pretty far away.
This is the reason behind the invention of solar backpacks. They gather energy thanks to the solar panels installed on them and allow us to charge our devices while we’re on the go. Solar power gives you peace of mind knowing your device will be working wherever you are and especially when you need it most.
This is why we have chosen 10 different models for our solar backpack reviews so you can find the one which one is right for you. Be sure to check out the buying guide at the end too — you will get more information about specific features and how to recognize a top-quality and top-rated product.
How To Choose The Best Solar Backpack – Buying Guide
A solar backpack is truly a great product because it has added versatility compared to a regular one. This makes it an excellent solution for our modern lifestyle. Of course, it still needs to be a proper backpack. This means it has to be strong and durable, with enough space inside for the things you need with you. In addition, the solar panel needs to be a safe and reliable power source to avoid potential surge risks for your devices. You need to think about how and when you’re going to use the backpack, and then select the features based on this decision.
Solar Power Capacity
This represents the amount of power your panel can generate. Solar backpacks use compact panels, which have a much smaller capacity than those used on home rooftops. The size of the panel is directly related to how quickly the backpack with the solar panel is going to charge your device or battery pack. This value is somewhere between 3 and 10 Watts per hour, depending on the size of the panel. More powerful panels are usually larger but the cell type affects the efficiency as well.
Battery Power and Usage
Some solar backpacks will come with a battery included, others will have just the panel with a USB port. The size of this battery also varies, some can charge your smartphone once, while others are capable of charging a laptop and multiple charges of a smartphone.
If you need to charge a large device or several devices at once, think about this more carefully. Otherwise, most batteries will be good for smaller devices. If a battery pack isn’t included you can use your own, or you can charge your equipment directly from the energy the panel creates. Unfortunately, the panel itself isn’t able to store the energy on its own.
When it comes to battery specs, the capacity of your phone or tablet battery is shown in mAH (milliampere-hours). Let’s say that the battery in your solar backpack has a 6000mAH capacity, and an average phone battery has about 3000mAh. It means a fully charged battery pack should charge your phone twice before it runs out of juice.
This refers to the time a solar panel needs to fully charge the battery. It depends on two things — power generating capacity and battery capacity. A larger and stronger panel will do the job faster, but it will take up more space and possibly be heavier. In addition, a larger battery pack is going to need more time to charge, so keep that in mind when you’re going out to buy one.
Most small USB devices like phones and tablets need 5 volts to charge, and manufacturers create solar backpacks so that they meet this requirement. This way you can safely use the backpack charger without potential risk to the battery inside the device. You should get a backpack that offers the voltage your device needs (keep in mind that laptops have different requirements).
To be efficient, a solar backpack needs to be exposed to sunlight. Manufacturers will specify the wattage it’s able to generate, but you should be aware that this is measured in ideal conditions. In cloudy weather, your solar backpack won’t be as effective. For this reason, you should try to keep in the sun as much as possible, even if it means changing the backpack’s position. Only this way can you be sure it will gather as much energy as possible.
More often than not, you will fully load your backpack with personal belongings, which can make it heavy. For this reason, it’s not very good if the backpack is heavy on its own. This won’t be a problem for short hikes, but if you decide you want to go for a long walk, your back may become sore, and the hike won’t be so enjoyable anymore. Most manufacturers will usually specify the weight of their product, so be sure to think about this and look it up.
Your new backpack needs to be spacious enough for everything you need, and this is particularly true for camping. You need to bring a lot on your trip, especially if you’re going with your family. Be sure to check the measurements before buying, you don’t want to end up with a backpack that is too small for your camping or hiking needs.
On the other hand, if you’re buying one for your child, then the solar backpack should be smaller in size to accommodate your child’s stature. Dimensions are not always related to weight, meaning that a larger backpack is not necessarily the heavier one. This depends on the materials used in making it, and of course, the solar panel and battery that comes with it.
Both the backpack and the solar panel need to be durable. Materials used should be strong and resistant to wear and tear. Most manufacturers use nylon, polyester, or PVC as products of choice because they are tough and easy to maintain. Many are waterproof which is an added plus.
You should also pay attention to the seams on your new backpack because the stitching should be done properly. This is usually the first place where the backpack tears after using it for some time. As for the panel, it needs to be able to withstand outdoor conditions without damage because it’s going to be exposed most of the time.
Pockets And Compartments
Every backpacker should have enough pockets, and in the right places too. The main volume inside can be split into several compartments, or you can have one large storage space. Take a look at this because a good design will allow you to properly pack your water, food, survival kit, or first aid kit among other things, without needing to take everything out before you find what you’re looking for.
Solar charging backpacks have tight pockets in which you can put the device that is being charged, which is very handy. In addition to this, the best solar backpacks will allow you to remove the panel and use it on its own. This is useful in many situations — you can leave the panel to gather energy in the sun while you take your backpack with you, or leave it outside the tent to harness the morning sun before you wake up.
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This is an added feature we thought was worth mentioning since we’re talking about camping and hiking. With this feature, you don’t have to store a water bottle inside or in a side pocket, because the backpack comes with a reservoir (bladder). This is a bag made of rubber or plastic, and you can fill it with water or another liquid of choice. There is a hose leading outside of the pack and it’s easy to use while you’re on the go. A hydration bladder allows you to hydrate on the go without stopping to get your bottle out of your pack.
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Q: What Is A Solar Backpack?
It’s a backpack that has a solar panel as an added feature. Besides being a regular backpack for carrying your belongings, it also collects the sun’s energy while you’re outside, and transfers it into power so you can charge your devices when you need it.
Q: What Are The Advantages of A Solar Backpack?
Compared to a regular backpack, you get an extra feature that is more than useful. There is a much smaller chance you will run out of power. For example, it can be very helpful if you find yourself in a situation where you need to call for help but you don’t have power in your phone and you didn’t bring a survival radio with you. Or you just want to power your gadget so you can listen to some music when going back home from fishing or kayaking completely waterproof oxford cloth.
Q: Why Do I Need To Buy A Solar Backpack?
Because they are even better than regular backpacks. You can take them on any outdoor adventure, and they will be just as reliable as any other non-solar backpack. Of course, you get an added benefit of green power. If the backpack is waterproof, you can take it kayaking or to the beach, and it will also keep things dry when it rains. And after the clouds are gone, they will start gathering energy for you.
Q: Can I Use My Device While Charging?
While this is possible, it’s not very effective. You won’t get much out of it, because most solar chargers won’t be able to keep up with the drain of a device in use. The solar charger is slower than your power outlet at home. For this reason, you should let the battery charge and then plug your device in. If you don’t have a battery and connect the gadget directly to the panel, you should let it be while it charges so you can use it later.
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Investing in a solar backpack is a very smart thing to do. As you’ve had the opportunity to see, a good solar backpack can go a long way — you can use it for everyday purposes as well as for outdoor activities. You may run out of power sooner than you think, and a power outlet is not always available. You now know what to look for when shopping, and we’re sure your new backpack will make an excellent addition to your gear.
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Have you tried a solar backpack that made it onto our list? Which one? How well did it work? Does it charge your battery quickly? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.