If you are planning a multi-day hike in a sunny destination, the a solar backpack is a great piece of kit to take with you.
Choosing the right pack though can be challenging as there are so many things to take into account - voltage, energy storage, charging points, durability, weight etc.
To help you choose the right option, we’ve field tested the best solar backpacks and ranked them below.
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We reviewed over 18 solar backpacks for this article. Below are the best solar backpacks that made our short list.
Read our complete buyers guide for solar backpacks.
The ECEEN removable frame hiking pack is similar to a multi-day hiking backpack, but comes with a foldable solar pack preinstalled.
The pack is made of a 55% Nylon and 45% Polyester blend, creating a durable and water-resistant surface. The shoulder and hip straps are padded for comfort, and the shoulder straps automatically adjust as you put the pack on, ensuring the pack fits comfortably.
The 10W solar charger provides a maximum 1.5 Amp output and includes two USB ports, so is ideal for charging most smartphones.
If you are looking for a comfortable pack with a quality solar cell, then the ECEEN is a great shout.
This ECEEN multiday solar backpack has all the bells and whistles - 10W solar charger with 2 USB ports, high efficiency Sunpower cells, a quality pack and comfortable straps to help with the additional weight of the charger. It also comes at a great price!
This Sunkingdom solar backpack sports a cute compact design while not scrimping on any features.
Available only in the light grey, the PVC nylon polyester actually makes this backpack water resistant and rather durable. All the zippers are metal, so they are able to hold up to the wear and tear of frequent use.
With a 12 watt solar panel, the Sunkingdom has the highest wattage output of all the packs we’ve reviewed, and considering its price, that’s a pretty fair deal.
The compact design also does not mean you get less volume for storage, this backpack is more than sufficient as a daypack.
The Sunkingdom solar backpack is perfect as a daypack, providing good charging in direct sunlight. Without a battery pack, you will have to ensure the panels are exposed to direct sunlight for it to work properly.
SunnyBAG is a result of a KickStarter project. Their goal, as their tagline says “Fusing style, technology, and respect for nature in one go.” While the SunnyBAG EXPLORER+ is not a hiking specific backpack, it can quite easily be taken out onto the trails.
It is made of water–repellent ripstop nylon fabric, and it’s insulated for additional durability. With multiple compartments traditionally for tech gadgets, it has a 15-liter capacity, so you’ll be able to pack a light jacket and other small trail necessities.
The EXPLORE features a 6 watt 100% certified detachable solar panel which can charge a smartphone in less than 2 hours when used in direct sunlight.
This is a versatile backpack, whether you’re just running about in the city or out on the trails. Don’t get caught without power again. As long as the sun is shining, the EXPLORER + will keep you charged up, and charging forward.
The Voltaic Systems “Array” comes in at the top of the price bracket of all the backpacks we reviewed and there’s a reason for it.
The three solar panels on the front of the pack sit inside a hard plastic frame. This makes the backpack and the panels more resilient to the knocks that are to be expected from general use.
These panels output 10W of power when in direct sunlight, and paired with the lithium polymer battery, it will be like having your own personal generator on your back.
The Voltaic Systems Array is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of solar backpacks. While it’s smaller in capacity than some of the other backpacks reviewed, the included battery means you can store the energy generated while the sun in shining, and use it later. Multiple adapters are included for different devices with varying voltage requirements. If you are a gadget fundi, this bag will make an excellent addition to your collection.
This ECEEN pack is specifically designed for hiking and includes a 1.8L hydration bladder.
Available in a range of colors, the ECEEN is a sporty looking backpack with a slim design. The fabric is a lightweight PVC, allowing some degree of water resistance.
The solar panel is attached at 4 points with hook and loop fasteners, for easy detaching. At 7W it is capable of charging most Smartphones.
Solar backpacks are a high-ticket item, but ECEEN has introduced their range of backpacks, making them more accessible to more people. This hydration pack is great for the outdoor enthusiast, whether hiking or cycling, making it unnecessary to carry additional water bottles.
Here are some handy tips to think about when you’re shopping for a solar backpack. As you’ll quickly find, not all packs are equal, and a high price tag does not necessarily mean that the product is the best.
Voltage is, in layman terms, the amount of current flow. Each device has a minimum voltage requirement in order to be successfully charged. The solar backpack must output greater or equal the device’s voltage requirement. Check your devices to be sure.
Remember that the solar panels need direct sun exposure in order to generate the required power needed. If you are using the pack in conditions that don’t allow this, the pack will not work as desired.
Most of the backpacks only have a single USB port; this means you can only charge one device at a time. While this is sufficient in most cases, it’s worth considering using adapters if you need to charge more items simultaneously.
You’ll be carrying all of this technology on your shoulders so it’s important to keep in mind the extra weight from the solar panels, and where applicable, the battery.
Check for back support as well as padded straps for extra comfort.
Most of these backpacks can be used as a day-to-day bag, and not just when out hiking. For that reason, look for a hardwearing, abrasion resistant fabric, and good solid construction.
Most of these bags are designed to hold laptops and tablets. Bear this in mind when using it for hiking purposes. Look at the capacity of the bag, and take into account what you can fit into the backpack.
For more information about what size backpack you should get, check out our comprehensive backpack size guide.