Portable Solar Panels – Enjoy Your Outdoor Adventures Worry Free

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Helping You Find The Best Portable Solar Panels For Your Next Great Adventure

There’s been a recent boom in portable solar panels. And their increasing popularity has taken the survival world by storm.

Why? Because they’re so incredibly useful in wilderness and emergency situations. Not to mention how convenient they are for camping and outdoor adventures.

These portable devices turn solar energy from the sun into usable electrical power. Energy to power any device that relies on electricity to function all while on the go.

Portable everyday carry gear such as:

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Cameras
  • GPS units
  • Flashlights
  • Headlamps
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Etc.

The key here is the portability of these solar chargers.

People have been installing large solar panels systems for years now. The market for large solar generators has also been on the rise recently as well. And while these systems are no doubt powerful, they are not mobile.

That’s why the latest portable solar panels are so exciting. They allow you to harness the power of the sun with a device that fits in your backpack or pocket!

So today, we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • The Benefits Of Owning A Portable Solar Charger
  • Who Are Portable Solar Panels For?
  • Best Portable Solar Panels For Camping and Survival
  • Best Portable Solar Setups
  • Pros/Cons Of Portable Solar Chargers
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Portable Solar Panel Charging A Phone

The Benefits Of Owning A Portable Solar Charger


Portable Power

So the first reason you should own one of these devices is power on the go.

If you enjoy camping, hiking, hunting, or any outdoor adventure, you should invest in one.

That way, you can keep all your small electronic devices charged and at the ready, just in case. Whether it’s to call a loved one, stay on track with a GPS device or charge some batteries for your flashlight.

Not to mention the benefit of powering a cell phone in an actual emergency situation.

“Free” Power

Next is solar power is “free” power – after you’ve invested in a way to capture it and store it. Sure, portable solar panels cost more than a few packs of batteries, but it’s a just one-time investment.

An investment that will easily pay itself off over time.

After the initial investment, you get to charge your devices anywhere for free.

Backup Power

If you’re a regular visitor of Skilled Survival, you’ve thought about your power failure options. If you haven’t, now is the time!

When the power grid goes down, all your home devices have a finite power life remaining. Once the battery hits zero, it becomes an expensive paperweight until the power comes back on.

All those survival books on hunting and foraging you saved to your tablet? Gone.

The full-color step-by-step survival guides on your laptop? The ones detailing how to build everything from a single night shelter to a full log cabin? Lost without power.

And while GPS satellites will continue to send data, it doesn’t matter if your GPS devices are dead.

So they’re smart for small-scale backup energy systems.

But why should you invest in a portable solar charger and not an extensive roof solar array/battery bank system?

First off, large rooftop solar systems are great.

If you can afford to add them to your home as a backup power system or to get off the grid, you should. But, they’re not portable.

It’s a good idea to have a sizeable alternative energy system for survival. But it’s still helpful to have a smaller scale system for your everyday carry devices.

Who Are Portable Solar Panels For?


Campers and Backpackers

Portable solar charges are great for camping in remote sites or the comforts of a state park.

At either location, you’ve undoubtedly come across times when you’re getting low on power.

Being able to charge up the camera for a few more photos or to boost the GPS for you to follow your trail out is a great option. And as portable solar panels get smaller and more efficient, you’ll hardly notice it in your pack!

Solar chargers are quickly becoming essential gear for camping.

Hunters and Fishermen

Most hunters and fishermen carry at least a cell phone and a flashlight with us into the field these days.

More and more, they’re also carrying camera equipment, rangefinders, and a GPS. That adds up to a lot of different spare batteries and chargers.

A portable solar charger can take advantage of downtime in the middle of the day to charge all your devices.

Backcountry Travelers and Emergency Situations

Every winter, we hear stories of a family outing turned deadly. When someone blindly follows a seasonal road and find themselves stuck in freezing cold weather.

Many times, these people used up their vehicle battery to keep warm. However, eventually, their vehicles become powerless. And their cell phones start dwindling along with their chances of rescue.

Using a portable solar charger to gain a few minutes of cell phone power can be enough to send an emergency text. It can also help ping a cell tower, giving searchers a general search area to focus on.

Best Portable Panels Camping and Survival


For your first solar charger, we think you should consider a small, portable model. Here are a few of the best portable solar charges we’ve used and own.

Survival Frog EasyPower Solar Power Bank (Internal Battery)

Survival Frog Solar ChargerThe EasyPower Solar Bank (from Survival Frog) is dead simple and convenient. No moving parts and the only cords you need are the USB cables for the devices you want to charge.

It works with any device that has a USB port and provides up to 5,000mAh of power. That’s enough to charge a smartphone 1-2 times.

The built-in power level gauge is excellent for tracking your remaining charge. Or estimating how much more solar time you need to top off the battery. And, with the dual USB output jacks, you can charge two devices at the same time!

It’s also non-slip, with molded grips in the sides and rubber caps for the USB jacks. It includes a heavy-duty shock-proof design. This means the EasyPower can handle a beating and keep working.

portable solar panel

The body also includes a large handle at the top, making it easy to hang from your pack or in a sunny spot. They even include a small carabiner to do just that!

The EasyPower only takes up about as much space as a paperback book, 5.5”x3.0”x0.5” and 5.5oz.

It’s a GREAT option for anyone looking for a quick solution to keeping crucial devices powered up.


Lantern Solar Solar Power Bank (Internal Battery)

Lantern SolarThis week, I had a chance to test out the Solar Power Bank, from Lantern Solar.

The width and height measurements of the Solar Power Bank are almost the same as the EasyPower (5.4”x3.0”). But, it’s 0.25” thicker and weighs a roughly 2oz more.

It turns out those couple ounces must ALL be the extra battery.

The stand-out feature of the Solar Power Bank is the 10,000mAh internal battery. This is a massive amount of stored power – enough to charge the newest smartphones nearly four times!

Lantern Solar BankThat power is all accessed via a pair of 5.0V USB ports – one 1.0A and one 2.0A for faster charging on larger devices.

Wrapped around that large battery is a rubberized shell. It also has a small metal clip on the back to hang the unit in the sun or from a pack strap.

It’s not the most secure clip, but it’s enough to position the solar panel while in camp.

There’s also a subtle white panel on the back of the Solar Power Bank, which turns out to be nice diffused LED light. This is good for in camp chores and finding the zipper in the tent at night.

Pressing the power button once will turn on the internal battery status light. This shows you how much charge is left. Holding the button down for a couple of seconds will turn on the rear light. Hold it down again, and the light turns off.

Lantern Solar Charger

Simple controls and easy to do even with gloves.

My only gripe with the Solar Power Bank is the rubber dust cap over the USB ports. It’s not easy to get seated all the way and feels somewhat fragile. It’s also not a very secure cap, so I’m sure I’ll get dirt and grime inside the ports at times.

This is not the end of the world, but I wish the caps were better designed since the rest of the unit seems so well-built.

I’ll see how long it holds up to everyday use, but it’s a very minor issue. One I’ll gladly deal with in favor of the extra battery capacity.

The team over at Lantern was kind enough to provide 100 (20% off) coupon codes exclusively for our readers. Click here and proceed to checkout, then use code SOLARSALE20 to see if there are any coupon codes remaining. But you’ve got to hurry because they’re going to go fast.

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit (External Battery)

Goal Zero Battery Recharge KitThe Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit is a polished setup consisting of two major parts.

1 – The Guide 10 Power Pack
2 – The Nomad 7 Solar Panel

The Nomad 7 solar panel is a compact little unit at 9″x7″ X1.5″.

It weighs in at about 13 ounces.

That’s slightly heavier than some other comparable units. But that’s offset by extra features and a lot more durability than the competitors.

First off, the two solar panels are well protected in a robust nylon housing.

It folds up with magnet closures and has lots of attachment points to secure the unit.

This makes it easy to hang it outside your pack or clip it to a chair in camp.

On the back of the panel, there’s another nice touch – a zippered cable management pocket.

Opening it up, you find several options for connecting your devices.

There’s a standard USB outlet, providing up to 5V/1A straight to your phone, tablet, or anything else with a USB cord. Next, to that, there’s a 12V “Solar Port” which allows you to plug in a car adapter.

Finally, there’s a “Mini Solar Port,” which plugs into a wide array of Goal Zero products. There’s also a Mini Solar Port input – which allows you to chain together several panels for more power.

The accompanying Guide 10 power pack is more than just a simple battery pack.

It’s a compact battery charger with some nice features. It accepts four rechargeable AA batteries which pop right into the unit for charging.

Once they’re topped off, you can use them in anything that takes AA batteries. Then pop in four more rechargeable AA’s to keep the energy production going.

There’s also an adapter to fit AAA batteries, so if you find you use more of those that will come in handy.

My headlamps nearly all use AAA batteries, so I’ll get a lot of use from this.

The Guide 10 also includes a small white LED bulb. So you can use as an emergency flashlight or for quick light inside the tent at night.

It’s enough light to adjust your sleeping bag, find something you dropped, or open the tent flap to get out. And it’ll last over 100 hours on one charge.

If Goal Zero price is a concern, look for an integrated battery solar charger instead (which we just covered above). Integrated chargers are battery/panel in one-piece units. So there’s nothing left behind and no cords to snag or break.

They’re often more rugged than folding systems too. But they often have less efficient cells. And they require more sunlight to charge a comparable amount of energy.

As with most things, there are always tradeoffs but you tend to get what you pay for.

Check out our review video below of the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit.

Click Here To Enter To Win a Goal Zero Guide 10 Kit!

Make sure you click the link above and enter to win the Goal Zero Guide 10 Kit being reviewed in the video. This solar recharging kit was sent to us for free from Goal Zero for the purpose of this review and giveaway.

Thank you Goal Zero!

A Few More Portable Solar Charger Options

The 3 solar panels we just covered are the ones I’m most familiar with and have personally used. However, that doesn’t mean they are the only ones on the market.

Here are several more highly ranked solar panels you might be interested in.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Ultimate List Of Survival Gear. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Best Portable Solar Setups


I own three portable solar charger models (the ones reviewed above). Two have an internal power pack, and one is paired with an external battery pack.

I use them differently for different reasons.

Shorter Trips – Internal

The internal battery systems are best for short duration trips. Ones where I won’t need more than one night’s worth of light or a partial GPS charge.

Enough power to find my way back to the truck, transverse backcountry mountain trails or navigate an afternoon canoe trip.

These small solar chargers are lighter and take up less space in my pack than larger units making them excellent choices for “get home” bags, bug out bags or survival kits.

Longer Trips – External

For longer trips, I turn to the external battery model. These allow me to use one battery pack while I charge a second.

This setup is larger and bulkier. But along with the weight increase, you’ll also get more power generation.

Instead of trying to power your devices directly with this setup, you’ll use the portable solar panels to power an external battery bank.

Charging a battery pack in this way, allows you to set up the charger in the most convenient location. And this prevents you from being tethered to it at all times.

With the GoalZero Kit above, an external battery bank was provided. However, this is not always the case.

Purchasing An External Battery Bank

If you purchase a portable solar panel that doesn’t come with an external battery, then you should buy one.

Many companies make USB battery packs. But, I prefer the most capacity for my dollar. These are usually the generic and off-brand battery packs.

Look for ones with a capacity of at least 10,000mAh and a price around $25. It should have one 2.1A or higher outlet for fast charging and a few extra outlets are always useful.

For example, The Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger fits the bill.

The other bonus of charging battery packs (besides pure storage) is managing the variability of incoming solar power.

Yes, most battery packs will accept a wide variety of incoming voltages. But “smart” devices are more restrictive on the incoming voltages.

This steady power requirement is to protect the internal circuits. But this built-in device protection makes direct solar charging challenging.

For example, voltage variations trick my phone into disconnecting. This issue happens whenever a cloud passes overhead and sometimes for no apparent reason at all.

So it’s better to charge a battery pack first and then use the stored power to charge your devices. This setup allows you to buffer out those pesky variations.

Thus, providing steady and consistent power to your devices.

Pros/Cons Of Portable Solar Chargers


As with any device, there are pros and cons to owning one. So let’s cover the advantages first and then go over a few challenges.

Pros:

  • No Fuel
  • No Trace Left Behind
  • Silent
  • Modular
  • Lightweight

Let’s dive into each of these in more detail.

No fuel Needed

Solar is a clean energy source. You don’t need liquid fuels or gases to run a generator. You don’t need to burn wood to generate heat to create energy like bio stoves.

Instead, portable solar chargers just collect the heat from the sun to excite cells. These excited cells convert heat into energy.

You get to capture the sun’s energy rays hitting the earth day in and day out. And while the sun’s energy is technically a fuel source, it’s abundant, available and free.

No Trace Left Behind

Like the “no need for fuel,” you also capture the energy without leaving any trace behind.

It’s both a clean and zero impact energy solution.

Silent

In survival, you never know when evasion is the goal. One critical aspect of evasion is silence.

Capturing energy without a fire or a loud generator will keep your location hidden.

Modular

Many of these solar devices can be daisy-chained together to create a more powerful system.

Hooking up 2 or 3 or 10 portable solar chargers in series will increase your power capabilities.

This means you’d be able to capture more solar power faster. Allowing to you to either power larger devices or fully charge your battery packs more quickly.

So buy one portable solar charger today and invest in more in the future. By doing this, you’ll grow your solar systems output over time.

Light Weight

Many of the original “portable” solar panels were quite bulky and heavy. By comparison, new portable solar panels are much lighter and more compact.

Many of the smaller models are the size of a deck of survival cards. And feature integrated batteries for power storage – and still weigh under 8oz!

Cons:

  • Sun Required
  • Need Separate Battery Pack To Store Power
  • Variable Output Issues
  • “Perceived” Durability Issues

However, I believe the “cons” of a solar charger is either misunderstood or can easily be overcome.

Sun Required

The obvious argument against solar is that it only works when the sun is shining. That’s both true and false. To be sure, at night, your solar charger isn’t going to be providing you with any electricity.

That’s why you need to pair it with a battery pack in the first place, right? But what about cloudy or overcast days?

The latest photovoltaic cells used in solar panels are more efficient than ever. They can convert a larger percentage of the incoming sunlight to electricity.

So while they may drop in output on a cloudy day, they can still charge your devices over more extended periods.

Need Separate Battery Pack To Store Power

Solar cells don’t store power; they only convert solar to energy.

To store power, the device must either have an internal battery pack or you’ll need to invest in an external one.

Variable Output Issues

First off, the angle of sun influences how much power is produced.

Pointing solar cells directly towards the sun captures the most amount of power. But, this requires constant fidgeting.

It’s a pain to continuously manage the orientation of the charger as the sun moves across the sky. No, it’s not time-consuming and only needs to be done on the hour, but it does mean you can’t leave it for very long.

In desert climates, dust on the panels will reduce efficiency and keep you from charging even in full sun. Also, the window tint in most cars is enough to reduce the collected power.

“Perceived” Durability Issues

Another misconception with solar chargers is that the photovoltaic cells are extremely fragile. Again, both true and false.

Large solar panels (the ones used on roof systems) are sandwiched between layers of glass, laminate, or acrylic.

This allows them to take 120+mph winds, hail, and falling branches. The chances of breaking one of these after installation are significantly minimized.

On the other hand, portable solar charger designs have made some vast improvements. The latest ones are built for more rugged treatment than earlier versions.

They often feature plastic instead of glass. They also now have rubber or plastic bodies surrounding the cells.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Ultimate List Of Survival Gear. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Final Word


If you’ve read this whole article, I know you’re serious about adding a portable solar panel to your survival gear.

I’d encourage you to get one for each family member and to be sure to test how it works with your devices.

Chances are, you already have small electronics in your EDC and Bug Out Bag. And you may even depend on them in an emergency.

Solar power is an EASY upgrade to your survival gear and your survival plans.

It’s a smart survival insurance policy. One to guarantee access to communications, navigation, light, and information when you need it most.

Jason K.

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There are a lot of natural nuclear shelters in the US that are absolutely free. And one of them is near your home.

Click on the image above to find out where you need to take shelter.

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