I don’t know about you, but I go on adventures to get away from everyday life and see a part of this world not everyone gets to see. I also want to safely make it to and capture these beautiful places and—despite the technological advancements we’ve made—a battery charge won’t last forever. This is where portable chargers come in, specifically solar powered chargers.
Solar powered chargers give you an advantage over electric chargers because as long as you have sunlight, you have an energy source. This makes them a great backup battery for your phone, GPS system, camera, or whatever other gadgets you need on your journey. With the variety of wattages, amperages, and voltages out there, you’ll find solar charger that suits your specific outdoor needs.
If you’re just looking for a backup for your phone, a handheld solar charger will get the job done. On my trip to Havasupai, I bought a 10,000 mAh iMuto solar charger for $25 on Amazon and it was a great comfort to have. Granted, I didn’t use it much because the Grand Canyon isn’t exactly the most receptive location to cell service, but I felt safer knowing I had a backup. I actually use the charger almost daily when my phone is about to die at work. One portable battery charge will give me almost four full phone charges and could theoretically charge multiple devices at once (I have yet to test that).
However, if you’re headed on an adventure with a handheld solar charger I recommend electrically charging it beforehand. While the solar panel is a nifty feature to have, the limited surface area of the solar panel is not the quickest way to charge the battery. I never tried to fully charge mine via solar power, but some reviews estimate it would take more than 50 hours of direct sunlight to get a full charge.
If you have multiple gadgets to charge or want a faster charge, solar panels are the way to go. One of the best rated ones is the Goal Zero 42040 by Venture30, found on Amazon for $170. These panels don’t have an integrated battery like the handheld ones, so they often come with an external battery. The great thing about this is that you’re able to charge the battery faster, thanks to the larger surface area of the panels. However, panels aren’t nearly as convenient or lightweight as the handheld solar chargers and are often much more expensive.
When it comes down to it, you really can’t go wrong in choosing a solar charger. Whichever you decide will give you the comfort of a backup for your devices—that’s all you need. And a little parting advice: Cheaper isn’t always better and take reviews into account (but also with a grain of salt).