Whether it’s for hiking, cycling, or an expedition into the wilderness, we always need to recharge our devices. Today, it’s almost impossible to travel without a smartphone, GPS, video camera, headlamp, or camera. That’s where the travel solar charger comes into play! This lightweight, compact, and durable accessory provides electricity by capturing the sun’s energy. This solar panel, sometimes equipped with an external battery, allows you to move independently. Another significant advantage is that you’re respecting the environment by using a natural resource rather than disposable batteries. So, what are the benefits of the travel solar charger?

How do you choose and use it for your outdoor activities? Let’s delve into this article.

Benefits of the Travel Solar Charger


With a solar charger, you no longer need to hunt for electrical outlets. Whether you’re hiking in the wilderness or cycling through a desolate land, this little accessory is a lifesaver. You become energy-independent. Thus, accessing electricity is no longer a hindrance to your journey. The portable solar charger allows you to stay connected in sparsely populated areas. You can keep in touch with loved ones and alert rescue services if needed. Albin Michon, a polar explorer and diver, uses SunMoove solar chargers with an external battery on his expeditions. Their lightness and efficiency serve him greatly in the world’s wildest places.

Environmental Respect

Solar chargers encourage you to reduce your environmental impact. By using solar energy, you naturally recharge your phone, GPS, or camera. Say goodbye to disposable batteries and other polluting energy sources! You can enjoy your electronic devices through a sustainable accessory. Your carbon footprint is significantly reduced. As a responsible traveler, you respect nature and the inhabitants of the country you visit. Your sustainable approach to outdoor adventures can even serve as a model.

Easy to Carry

Good news: the travel solar charger frees you from carrying packs of batteries in your bike bags or backpack. Often foldable, you can slip it into your luggage without it taking up space. Some brands, experts in solar equipment, manufacture ultra-compact, thin chargers lighter than a pack of cookies. CycloVagabond, a cyclist in remote areas, uses a solar panel with an external battery. Attached to his handlebar during his travels, the accessory is securely held and doesn’t add weight when he’s simply bikepacking.

Cost Savings

After investing in your solar charger, powering up costs you nothing. Indeed, this clever device saves you from spending a night at a campsite just to charge your phone or headlamp. Moreover, the initial investment results in significant long-term savings.

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Differences Between a Solar Charger and a Solar Panel

Photo Credit: Solar Brother

Photo Credit: Solar Brother

Solar chargers and solar panels operate on the same basic principle: they accumulate solar energy to transfer it to an external battery. However, there are differences between these two devices.

Foldable Solar Panel

It consists of one or multiple surfaces that capture sunlight. To recharge your devices, you simply connect them to the panel during the brightest hours of the day. However, if you’re traveling during overcast periods, you won’t get much energy. Indeed, the power of the solar panel decreases when the sun hides. A solution would be to choose an external power bank to store the energy.

Portable Solar Charger

A solar charger offers another way to access electricity while traveling. It’s made of a foldable solar panel connected to an external battery. Hence, it can convert solar energy into electricity and store it in a battery. This lets you recharge your devices in the evening or when it’s cloudy.

Beyond these basic devices, other all-in-one accessories make travel easier. Lanterns with batteries illuminate dark places while recharging your smartphone. Solar dryers, showers, and cooking equipment allow you to roam with great independence. Éléonore Lluna, a wilderness survival instructor specialized in natural autonomy, opted for Solar Brother’s Adventure Kit. This set of solar-powered accessories lets her start a fire or signal her presence in the middle of nowhere.

Choosing your solar panel or solar charger for travel requires considering several factors.

Storage Capacity

One of the most vital factors is the solar charger’s power and its battery capacity. Power is usually measured in watts (W), while battery capacity is expressed in milliampere-hours (mAh) or watt-hours (Wh). The higher the power and battery capacity, the more effectively your solar charger can recharge your devices, even on cloudy days.

Number of USB Ports

Similarly, ensure the device’s compatibility with your gadgets. For instance, if you want to connect a computer or a video camera, ensure the charger supports the necessary inputs and outputs. To recharge multiple devices, 2 to 4 USB ports are essential. Your choice of solar charger will depend on its intended use.

Size and Weight of the Portable External Battery

chargeur solaire en voyage

By design, a portable solar charger is meant to be carried in your backpack or on your bike for hours on end. Therefore, consider the object’s weight and size based on your planned journey. Your goal isn’t to burden yourself with yet another accessory in your luggage. Instead, you aim to make hiking more comfortable by traveling light, equipped with all the electricity you’ll need. The best portable solar chargers typically weigh under 500g and remain effective without weighing you down.

Type of Solar Capture

Solar panels can be made using different technologies, including monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and thin-film (CIGS, amorphous silicon). Monocrystalline solar panels offer high efficiency and are more effective in cloudy weather. They are the priciest on the market. Polycrystalline solar panels offer good value for money, while thin-film solar panels are lighter and more flexible but might have slightly lower efficiency.

Weather Resistance

If you plan to hike or travel in an area with unpredictable weather, invest in a solar charger resistant to rain, dust, and shocks. This ensures its longevity while equipping you with a reliable device for your outdoor activities.

panneau solaire avec batterie externe

Tips for Optimal Use of a Solar Charger While Traveling

To achieve the best performance from your solar charger, here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Choose a Photovoltaic Charger Suited to Your Activity:
    If you’re into fishing, a waterproof solar charger is a must. For hiking or biking, a sturdy device is more durable on routes with bumps, holes, and rocks. For those venturing into polar regions, a charger that withstands extreme temperatures is essential.
  2. Position the Charger in a Sunny Spot:
    It’s a given. To capture the sun’s rays, affix your charger to your backpack, your bike’s handlebar, or luggage rack. If the device is on the ground during your fishing session, ensure it doesn’t end up in the shade as the sun shifts position. Ideally, align the panels perpendicular to the sun’s rays.
  3. Plug in Your Devices When the Sun Shines:
    Schedule your device recharging during peak sunlight hours. Between noon and 2 p.m., the sun is at its zenith, providing you with 2 hours of intense solar capture.
  4. Maintain Your Equipment Well:
    Clean your charger regularly. Note: photovoltaic panels shouldn’t be cleaned with soap or chemicals. A soft cloth and some water will suffice without harming your gear. If it rains, ensure you dry the panels before folding and storing them.

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Want to Extend Your Energy Independence?

To lengthen your devices’ battery life without depleting your charger’s storage, you can conserve their power. To do so, dim your screen’s brightness, turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when not in use, close background apps, and limit the use of power-hungry apps. Similarly, if you’re embarking on a long journey, consider bringing a backup battery. A power bank provides an extra energy boost when the sun isn’t shining enough.

chargeur solaire portable solar brother Best Portable Solar Charger for a Successful Trip

As you can see, using a solar charger during travel grants you true independence. The quest for power outlets becomes a thing of the past. You carry your own electricity with you. Whether you’re in the wilderness, a remote location, or venturing into unknown territory, this accessory allows you to recharge your devices with a simple connection. With convenience and efficiency, you’re respecting the environment while harnessing the power of your smartphone, headlamp, mini-camera, or tablet.