We’ve all been there.
Lost up a mountain and your phone dies.
Just arriving in a new city and all your accommodation details are on your phone. Problem is – it’s flatlined.
You’ve “misplaced” your phone charger.
Having our mobile devices suddenly give out can be a real problem in certain situations – especially if it’s an emergency of some sort. Even with the best laid plans, phones, tablets and laptops can still lose power at a vital moment – even if we were sure they’ve had a full boost.
But friends! This is the 21st Century! Dead devices while in the field should be a thing of the past – and indeed they can be.
Solar power banks and portable chargers are a must for any serious traveler or outdoor enthusiast.
Below, you’ll also find a handy buying guide to clue you in on what to look for in these potentially life saving gadgets.
- TOP 19 Best Portable Chargers & Power Banks 2020
- Beston Portable Charger
- Hobest Solar Charger
- Dualpow Portable Solar Battery Charger
- Foxelli Dual USB Solar Charger
- Zonhood Solar Charger Power Bank
- Blavor Solar Power Bank Qi Portable Charger
- Portable Power Bank by KaruSale
- Feelle Portable Solar Charger
- Solar Bluetooth Speaker with Power Bank
- Bonai Solar Charger
- RAVPower Solar Panel Charger
- Outxe Rugged Solar Charger
- BigBlue Solar Charger with Digital Ammeter
- Wildtek Waterproof Portable Solar Charger Panel
- Voltaic Systems Amp Portable Rapid Solar Charger
- MyCharge AdventureMega-C Portable Charger
- Solar Camp Solympic Hue Portable Solar Charger
- RAVPower AC Outlet Portable Charger
- Anker Dual USB Solar Charger
- What is a Solar Power Bank/Portable Charger?
- Frequently Asked Questions
TOP 19 Best Portable Chargers & Power Banks 2020
Beston Portable Charger
Review: Kicking us off is this Beston power bank portable charger. This really is the no-frills end of the market, but it’s got enough clout for most casual users, or to get you out of a jam if you need it.
Fully charged, it’ll give you roughly 2 X charges for most flagship smartphones.
- Slim, stylish, portable design.
- Fantastic price.
- Double USB port.
- No solar option.
- Case might not withstand too much wear and tear.
Hobest Solar Charger
Review: One of the best budget solar power banks, this Hobest model is water resistant, dustproof and shockproof.
It offers 2-3 charges for mobile phones when fully powered, with the back-up of solar charging if you need it while on the go.
- Three lighting modes for emergencies.
- Great price.
- Available in a variety of color schemes.
- Solar charge might not be the strongest – don’t rely on it too much.
Dualpow Portable Solar Battery Charger
Review: Offering 30,000mAh, this solar charger ups the ante for how many times it will charge your devices. They estimate it will boost a standard iPhone up to six times before giving out.
It’s a perfect option if you’re going on longer camping trips, or you’ll be without mains access for a while.
- Water resistant, dustproof and shockproof.
- Three modes of lighting.
- Belt hook.
- A little on the bulky side.
Foxelli Dual USB Solar Charger
Review: The first of our foldable, tri-paneled solar chargers is this effort from Foxelli.
They’re well known for their outdoor gear for hiking and camping, so it comes as no surprise that this is one of the best portable solar chargers for camping and backpacking on the market.
- Super lightweight and portable.
- Sturdy, weatherproof design.
- Pocket to store your device while charging.
- Available in 10W and 21W.
- Solar charger only – you can’t pre-charge from a mains outlet.
- Less durable than a brick power bank.
Zonhood Solar Charger Power Bank
Review: Incorporating both a rugged and stylish design – which is not often easy to do – is this Zonhood solar power bank.
Geared towards outdoor pursuits, this is a great device at a reasonable price – especially if you’re going to be near water as it will take a heavy splashing with its IP65 rating.
- Tough, durable case.
- 3-mode flashlight.
- Carabiner included.
- Solar charger not the strongest.
Blavor Solar Power Bank Qi Portable Charger
Review: This 10,000 mAh solar power bank has the great addition of offering a wireless charging option.
Simply place your phone on the back of the charger and, depending on your cell model, you should be getting between 1-3 charges out of this bank.
Handy if you don’t want to fiddle around with cables (and your device is wireless enabled of course).
- Wireless is a real plus.
- Useful compass keyring included.
- Choice of colors.
- Again, don’t rely on the solar charge – it’s only a back-up.
- Because of the design, wireless and solar charging won’t work simultaneously.
Portable Power Bank by KaruSale
Review: While not being a solar charger, this is a solid option with a whopping 50,000mAh and four USB charging ports.
It’s a no-nonsense design that will keep your devices fully juiced up when you’re out and about. You’ll struggle to find this much mAh for the price.
- Great price for what you get.
- Four USB ports.
- No solar charge option.
- No good against the elements.
Feelle Portable Solar Charger
Review: A company that specializes in solar power, FEELLE have been bringing this tech to the market since 2008.
This is one of their most popular models, it’s a hybrid foldable/brick design that’s waterproof and durable. It claims to be able to charge most smartphones 10+ times.
- Powerful solar charge.
- Stylish yet durable design.
- Available with three or fours panels.
- Only one belt hook/loop for attaching to your gear.
Solar Bluetooth Speaker with Power Bank
Review: Speaking of all-rounders, it doesn’t get much more all-rounder than this. A solar powered bluetooth speaker with power bank incorporated.
It just might be the solar charger you didn’t realize you needed until now.
- Social music on the go – an obvious “pro.”
- Shock and waterproof.
- Good sound for the price.
- Not a specialist power bank/solar charger.
Bonai Solar Charger
Review: Another power bank with four USB ports, this effort from Bonai has the bonus of being a high capacity charger that incorporates the solar panel option.
Bonai is a company that specializes in batteries and chargers, and this model could be the overall best solar charger power bank featured here.
- Durable, portable design.
- High capacity would suit most users.
- LED flashlight.
- Choice of colors.
- Not the most attractive device out there.
RAVPower Solar Panel Charger
Review: Ravpower started making laptop and cell phone batteries, but quickly branched out into other, quality charging products.
This foldable design is super powerful considering its size, packing some highly efficient solar technology in a durable package.
- Sleek and portable.
- Waterproof coating.
- Handy pocket for your charging device.
- Solar power only – no mains charging.
Outxe Rugged Solar Charger
Review: Rugged outdoor specialists Outxe produce a variety of products that are meant to stand up to anything the elements can throw at them.
This solar power bank is about as tough and durable as they come – ideal if you’re getting up to more extreme adventures out-of-doors. Or if you’re just clumsy and you’ll drop it in a puddle.
- Solid, military style design.
- Super fast charging for compatible devices.
- It’s a brick. Doubles as a self defence weapon. (Which could be a pro or a con.)
BigBlue Solar Charger with Digital Ammeter
Review: Another company specializing in chargers, Big Blue have added a digital ammeter to this model, so you can actually see the strength of the charge as the sun does its work.
And with four panels boasting high energy conversion, this 28W device will easily keep you connected while on the go.
- Built-in ammeter.
- Compact, foldable design.
- Pocket for your device.
- Solar charger only.
Wildtek Waterproof Portable Solar Charger Panel
Review: With an emphasis on environmental protection, Wildtek develop products for the outdoor enthusiast, including this rather beautiful solar panel portable charger.
It’s fully waterproof too, even down to the USB ports. Great for peace of mind on your kayaking adventure.
- Clean and sharp design.
- Built-in stand – no need to worry about laying it on energy-sapping surfaces.
- Small percentage of the purchase goes to help the environment.
- Solar power only.
Voltaic Systems Amp Portable Rapid Solar Charger
Review: Hailing from Brooklyn, Voltaic Systems is a portable solar power company that has created a practical and funky design with this effort.
Double solar panels on the outside, while the product opens out to reveal handy internal storage complete with battery pack – similar to a small electronics organizer.
Designed to charge everything from smartphones to DSLR batteries, this device is a winner for travelers.
- Super cool, practical design.
- Powerful charge panels.
- Water-resistant casing.
- No built-in loops or attachment hooks.
- Battery pack susceptible to the elements if exposed.
MyCharge AdventureMega-C Portable Charger
Review: Producing top quality portable chargers, myCharge have knocked it out the park with this model.
A stylish, sleek design that packs a wallop in a portable and solid build. The built-in carabiner is very useful when you’re traveling off-grid, too.
- Attractive build quality.
- Highly portable.
- Ultra-fast charge.
- Things are getting expensive.
- No solar option.
Solar Camp Solympic Hue Portable Solar Charger
Review: A four-panel, water-resistant, flexible, dust and shockproof solar charger from a US based company specializing in solar powered tech.
The panels are highly durable and can be positioned in a variety of ways to maximize access to sunlight. You should be able to fully charge your phone in just under two hours in bright conditions.
- Super flexible construction – won’t shatter like many panels can.
- Thin, portable design.
- Choice of colors.
RAVPower AC Outlet Portable Charger
Review: Another RAVPower entry sees this universal portable power bank that really packs a punch. This baby is for charging larger electrical items such as netbooks and laptops.
It boasts 100W of output, so it’s more than capable of being a backup to a 65W portable computer. And if you’re just using it for a cell phone, then you shouldn’t worry about running out of juice at all.
- Award winning.
- Powers/charges many devices/appliances.
- Multiple ports.
- On the expensive side.
- You can’t take it on an aircraft.
Anker Dual USB Solar Charger
Review: Anker produce high capacity portable chargers, but this solar panel product packs a serious punch when it comes to giving your devices a boost.
It’s one of the fastest, most efficient solar chargers available. But then – it had better be for the price.
- Stylish design.
- Super-fast charge.
- Steel eyelets for ease of carrying/hanging.
- Pocket for charging devices.
- Solar backup only.
- Eye-watering price.
Solar power banks and portable chargers can come with a lot of jargon that might seem a little confusing at first – especially if you’re not used to the market.
Take a look at this handy guide which will hopefully explain the basics and give you a better idea of what to look out for when choosing the most suitable product for your needs.
What is a Solar Power Bank/Portable Charger?
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but some people can get confused when it comes to the types of chargers available.
A solar power bank will rely on the sun’s rays to convert its photons (light particles) into electricity. I won’t delve too much into the physics, suffice to say you need cloudless, clear skies for the best results.
If it’s just the portable charger (power bank) then it will be a separate battery pack that you charge up and use to boost your devices when required.
Then, you can also get a combination of the two.
In short, you can either purchase solar chargers with an integrated battery – usually housed within a single unit.
Solar panels by themselves, with USB charge ports – usually of a fold-out design. Ideally, you’ll need a battery pack to use in conjunction with these models, as charging your phone directly isn’t always advised and the panels themselves can’t store a charge.
Or simply a power bank that has no solar capabilities, that you charge from a mains socket or in your car before going off grid.
Of course, you can also use a combination of each to suit your purposes.
Perhaps the most important requirement, is how much power a charger is going to provide. It’s going to be pretty useless to you if you purchase a device without the clout to do what is required of it.
The output of solar panels is rated in watts. Again, the higher the number, the more power it will produce.
The downside to this, of course, is that the higher these numbers, the larger and more expensive the device is likely to be.
In order to identify the capacity right for you, you need to understand what you’re going to be charging. In other words – the specifications of the batteries of your electrical devices.
I could waffle on about this for a long time, but I found the video below to be clear, concise, mercifully short and particularly useful if you’re a total noob.
And if you really want to go back to school, try this explanation:
Size and Weight
Like anything that has the word “portable” attached to it, you would like to believe that it does indeed have the ability to be carried from A to B with ease.
But as mentioned above, the most powerful portable solar chargers are likely to be on the more cumbersome side.
The size and weight of the device will depend on its capacity. And with solar panels alone, the more surface area they have, the more efficient they will be in creating energy.
Then it’s entirely up to you regarding what you want to carry or have the space to pack.
Having said all that, most portable chargers aren’t going to take up that much room and many of the best carry-on backpacks will actually have a dedicated compartment for a power bank anyway.
It’s not like you’re going to be lugging a car battery around on your back, is it?
The very nature of solar powered products means that it’s nearly always going to be used outside.
As a result, the best solar charger power banks will most likely be water resistant, dustproof and shockproof. Some of them may even be fully waterproof.
Even if they claim to be so, I wouldn’t recommend submerging them to find out.
But for the most part, a decent portable charger will be tough and durable to stand the trials and tribulations of being in the great outdoors – particularly useful if you’re keen on adventure sports, hiking, climbing and biking et al.
You’ll find that power banks for mains or internal use aren’t quite so well protected, and it isn’t actively encouraged to have them anywhere near water at all.
Slightly different from the size and weight category, this is how portable the unit actually is.
Does it come with carabiners or eyelets to attach easily to your gear? Do you intend to have it charging in transit? How easily could it hang from a tent or a tree? Does it come with its own case or would it easily fit in one?
All questions you should ask before making a decision in finding the best portable solar charger for cell phones.
Aside from doing the job the device was built for, many of these devices come with an array of other bells and whistles to attract your eye.
Flashlights and emergency signals are included in most solar power battery banks – very useful if you get into difficulty, or for rooting around in your tent in the dark.
Foldable solar panels will often come with a dedicated device pocket to store your electronics while they’re on charge.
And certain models will have more than one USB port so you can charge a number of devices at the same time.
Keep a look out for what extra features you might feel could be useful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some common questions people are likely to have before purchasing a solar power bank or portable charger.
Will it Fit My Phone/Tablet/Laptop/Electronic Massager?
Without a doubt, the most frequent of frequently asked questions is will the charger actually work on my model of phone or other electrical devices? Certainly, for most cells and tablets, the answer is likely to be yes.
Laptops and more powerful electronics require devices capable of producing a higher voltage, so bear that in mind.
My best piece of advice?
Check before you buy – both your device’s requirements and the power output of the charger you’re considering.
Do Solar Power Chargers Really Work?
The short answer is yes. However, a word of caution here – solar powered chargers are meant to be used as a backup option only.
Ensure that battery banks are fully charged before you depart on your trip and don’t rely on solar panels – however strong or efficient they might claim to be.
Of course, it should go without saying that if it’s chucking it down with rain you’re not going to enjoy mega solar power. Strong, uninterrupted sunlight is needed to maximize a charger’s ability.
You never know when the weather will be unaccommodating.
How Does a Solar Panel Convert Sunlight to Electricity?
Again, I could write hundreds of eye-bleeding paragraphs about this, but it would be much easier to simply point you in the direction of the excellent video below.
Can I Take it on an Aircraft?
Now this is a very good question and not to be taken for granted. It all depends on the type and capacity of the battery. If it’s a Li-Ion battery, it must be carried in your hand luggage. The limit airlines permit you to carry is 100W per battery.
This, however, can vary from airline to airline and should be confirmed beforehand.
As a rule of thumb, most low watt batteries/solar power banks/solar panels are perfectly fine – but if you’re packing some serious power you might run into difficulty.
As you might have guessed, there’s lots to think about when it comes to choosing solar power banks and portable chargers – and it can get quite complicated figuring out all the math.
I hope this article has gone some way to assisting your choice and clearing up the most important points, and that you find the best solar power bank for you.
Do let me know in the comments which model you’re considering and why – it’s always nice to hear some feedback.
Happy traveling and charging!
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