Being always on the move while needing to keep your electronics charged can pose a dilemma. For example, a photographer who’s on a day-long shoot, traveling to and fro, needs battery backup. A business person who travels every day to meet clients and business partners needs to keep his laptop and smartphone charged at all times. A hiker needs to rely on a functioning GPS device while navigating the trails. A traveler who wants to constantly capture his every adventure needs a power-packed camera or smartphone.
With solar power backpacks, you can harness solar energy for you to charge your handheld devices on the go. Unlike a solar generator, solar power backpacks aren’t that costly – but sure, they are more expensive than regular backpacks. It doesn’t put any extra burden on users as well since solar panel on backpacks is lightweight.
What to Look for in a Solar Backpack
1. Charging Voltage
Voltage is important for solar backpacks. For you to be able to charge your devices, the solar backpack needs enough voltage. Choose a solar backpack with a voltage specification that is equal to or greater than the needs of your devices. USB devices typically need 5V to charge, so choose a 5V output solar pack or higher.
2. Battery Pack
A good solar backpack must have a battery pack since this will act as your fast-charging unit. Charging directly from the panels is slow, so for a quick recharge, head for the battery pack. The battery pack must be hefty enough to charge your devices.
3. Solar Panel Size and Orientation
A 7-watt solar panel is good for charging the battery pack in about 10 hours of sunlight. Higher wattage panels can charge battery pack faster. A solar panel on a backpack can easily charge on a regular sunny day. The panel must be facing the sun, and if you can, tilt it to about 45-degree angle to the sun’s rays to increase amount of energy available for the panel.
4. Direct Sun Access
Solar panels needs to be directly oriented at the sun as you use it. It has to be on the same side as the sunlight. Most solar panels are attached to the backside of the backpack, and it’s the good position. However, you can benefit more if the solar backpack has a detachable solar socket and expandable cables. When you’re hiking and you want to take a break in the middle of the day, you can place the detachable solar socket on the top of your tent or RV, while you’re taking a nap inside. This way, you don’t need to put the whole bag outside if you need power.
The more USB ports a backpack has, the better. Most solar backpacks come with only one port, so you can only charge one device or phone. If you’re traveling with more than one device, spending a bit more to get a pack with more charging ports will be worth it.
As with choosing any bag to bring on travels, the weight of a backpack is a big factor. Slightly heavier solar backpacks are fine for day hikes, but as the distance and time of the hike increases, a backpack’s weight becomes a more important factor. Also, the size of the solar panel and the storage battery affect weight, as the larger the capacity, the heavier it gets.
7. Size and Volume
If you’re looking for a day-hike backpack or carry-on bag for work, a small and medium-sized backpack is fine. But if you want to do some serious trekking, a bigger and larger backpack is what you need, since you need to bring more camping gear and supplies. This depends on what you will use the solar power backpack for.
8. Sockets and Pockets
A typical camping backpack has enough sockets and pockets, and you must look for the same, when picking a solar backpack. Make sure it has appropriate pockets for water bottles, first aid kits, gadgets, etc. There must also be a pocket or socket inside the bag for your devices to rest while it’s being charged.
A solar backpack you would use for travels needs to be built with high-wear materials to make sure it can withstand different outdoor conditions. A waterproof, shock-proof and dust-proof backpack is worth the investment.
The price is always a major factor when choosing what to buy. A higher cost usually correlates with better quality, less weight and increased durability. But depending on your needs, you must always pick a backpack that will give you the most bang for your buck. Some higher-end backpacks may have features that you don’t need, so it’s not a practical investment.
11. Other Features
Depending on your needs and preferences, there are other features that you might have to look for in a solar power backpack, such as:
- Hydration Bladder – Having a built-in hydration bladder saves the trouble of having to carry around water bottles on the side of the pack. This provides you easy access to drinking water, when you pack for hiking in the woods for a day or even longer.
- Integrated Power Bank – Some solar backpacks have built-in power banks that can collect energy in the daytime and save it for later use. This way, you can charge your devices even if it’s dark and the sun is no longer out. However, a power bank can add some weight in the backpack.
- Padded Laptop Sleeve – For business people who plan to carry their laptops in a solar backpack, a padded laptop sleeve is important for protecting your precious gadget.
Best Solar Power Backpacks
There are a lot of solar backpacks out there and here are some of the best ones:
If you’re an adventurer searching for the best solar hiking backpack, the ECEEN Hiking Backpack with 7 Walls Solar Panel will most probably have the features you are looking for. This backpack has a 7-watt solar panel and the 10,000 mAh battery pack has 5V USB port with a micro USB cable. This means, most smartphones and even tablets can be easily charged. The backpack itself has a roomy main compartment, with enough space to store laptop or notebook, books, gadgets, clothes, keys, and other camping essentials. It comes with a hydration pack that can store up to 1.8 liters of water. The bag itself is designed to withstand adventure, as it’s made of sport-quality, weatherproof PVC fabric, while still keeping itself lightweight. This backpack can be bought in blue, red, gray and green.
If you’re looking for a reliable and durable solar backpack, Voltaic Systems Array Rapid Solar Backpack won’t fail you. Voltaic Systems Array Rapid Solar Backpack is one of the highest-performing solar backpacks with 3 monocrystalline solar panels and a capacity of 20,000 mAh with an output of about 6 volts or 18 volts. This bag can completely charge most laptops quickly in just 6 hours, and only 1 hour for most smartphones. It has 3 USB ports that differ in surge power. This solar panel is removable and can be washed. The internal laptop sleeve is soft and has an effective design for easy charging. This backpack can also be charged in a power outlet. The bag itself is made of lightweight, UV-resistant fabric manufactured from recycled PET, making it an eco-friendly choice. This backpack model is available in gray and silver.
As the name suggests, ECEEN Waterproof Backpack 20L Dry Bag is a waterproof backpack that serves as storage for your essentials, charger for your gadgets, and a dry bag for your water adventure. This pretty floral solar backpack is your best companion when hiking, kayaking, fishing, camping, sailing and other outdoor activities where you might be near or around bodies of water, snow, sand, and dirt. It offers 7 watts of power, providing enough energy to charge almost all Android devices (you need extra transfer adapter if you want to charge Apple devices). It has water bottle pockets on the side and padded area inside for storing laptops up to 15” in size. The bag itself is durable, comfortable and equipped with a sealed fold system.
Lifepack Solar Powered and Anti-Theft Backpack specialize both in protecting your valuables and keeping your gadgets charged. This solar-powered backpack has a solar bank and a built-in USB port in the side pocket for easy access charging. It has an anti-theft design such as the integrated and retractable cable lock, which keeps the bag locked and secures the whole bag to keep someone from snatching it. It also has secret passport pockets and hidden pockets for credit cards. The removable 7W solar panel can be charged sufficiently to provide power for your gadgets. On the outside, it’s lined with thick EVA foam material and sponge. Inside, it features a Workzone and Lifezone layout: the Lifezone offers space for your personal items like clothes, keys, etc., while the Workzone has space for your laptop, headphones, and textbooks. This bag is available in black and titanium gray.
This one’s a great hiking backpack: ECEEN External Frame Pack Camping Backpack is built for comfort. It has a removable external frame that can be adjusted to the length of your torso, with some padded shoulder straps, dual density foam hip belt, and 3D breathable fabric cover straps. The solar panel is removable, too. The panel can capture a lot of solar energy up to 22% efficiency and comes with a high-capacity 10,000 mAH battery pack with double USB. Also, this backpack has a 2-liter hydration pack that passed FDA food detection and EU LFGB food safety detection, so you can easily drink water as you go on your hike.
This backpack is recommended for serious hikers. SolarGoPack Solar Powered Backpack has plenty of room for documents, gadgets, and gear, and comes loaded with 10,000 mAh battery and a removable 7-watt solar panel that clips to the back of the bag. The body of the backpack is loaded with solid suspension and frame for extra durability, plus it’s very lightweight and flexible. It has a soft and comfortable design, thanks to its padded straps. The overall design of the bag is casual, so you can use it for almost anything – travel, sports, hiking, camping, and school. The bag is available in colors red, light green and army green and is a great option for a solar charger.
Here’s a sleek-looking bag great for businessmen. Fanspack Solar Powered Laptop Backpack has a detachable solar power and is made for charging any 5V device. It has no built-in power bank, but you can charge your power bank here to use for charging your devices later. It has a padded slot inside that will fit up to a 15.6” laptop, plus plenty of room to accommodate books, clothes, wallet, keys and other personal items. It has a padded shoulder strap to make it comfortable to carry.