Best Solar Backpacks: Reviewed, Rated & Compared
Value For Money Backpack
The Sunkingdom has a 12 watt solar panel, laptop compartment and is made of highly durable fabric.
Most Reliable Charging
The Fanspack has a 5.3 watt solar panel that can be removed. It is also a water resistant bag that is great for everyday use.
Best For Hiking
The Hanergy has a 10.6 watt solar panel with 2 USB ports. The external frame design makes it excellent for hiking.
If traveling intrepidly, without ready access to a wall socket for your charger makes you a little nervous, keep reading.
Clever designers and engineers have answered our modern-day, tech-reliant prayers and have created solar-powered backpacks. By harnessing the power of the sun through solar panels, you can charge your gadgets during a hike, fishing trip, or even on a normal work or school day.
Solar power is free, environmentally-friendly, and offers a safety backup for anyone at risk of getting stuck without access to power to charge navigational, light, or communication devices.
Before we explore the best solar backpacks, let’s take a closer look at the details and what to consider when shopping.
What are solar backpacks?
In the briefest terms, solar backpacks are a regular backpack with solar panels slotted into the exterior wall, facing upward and outward as you walk or cycle. They have a USB port and/or a battery pack so you can charge your devices.
Going into more detail, solar panels harness power from the sun and convert it to electricity which powers various gadgets such as phones, laptops, and tablets. Some solar backpacks come with a battery or power bank, whereas some don’t store the power, it can only be used directly from the panel via a USB port.
The solar panels work by exposure to sunlight (the brighter the better, overcast days aren't the best!), transferring one kind of energy (from the sun) into another kind of energy (electricity which can be used for charging). They’re environmentally-friendly, free to maintain and provide a power source when no other sources are readily available.
Wattage: wattage basically refers to how much usable power the solar panel is generating. It's easy to think of wattage in terms of a lightbulb; the more watts, the more light will be emitted into the room.
Therefore, the higher the wattage of a solar panel, the more power it can pump into your phone or another device. All solar backpacks have a wattage, and it will be clearly expressed in the marketing materials and manual. Some backpacks have a lower wattage of around 5 watts, while others have a higher wattage of 20 and up.
Transfer efficiency: all solar backpacks will have a section in their marketing materials referring to "transfer efficiency", marked with a percentage. This refers to the amount of energy gathered from sunlight which can be converted into usable electricity. Most solar backpacks sit around the 20% transfer efficiency mark, give or take.
Why might you need a solar backpack?
A solar backpack can really come in handy during a long hike. You can charge an emergency light, charge your phone for communication and navigation, or charge a tablet or small laptop if your hiking trip is research or work-related.
If you face a lengthy commute every day, having ready access to music and phone charge can make a huge difference to the way you spend your commuting time.
You can charge your phone or tablet as you walk to work or school, without having to scramble for a powerpoint once you get there.
Intrepid travels can often take you places where electricity and power outlets are very hard to come by. This can compromise your safety, as you can easily get lost or lose communication without a charged device.
A solar backpack can charge your phone or navigational devices to make sure you’re always in contact and can remedy any issue which comes up.
If you’re a nature photographer or you simply love to take lots of photos during hikes, it’s frustrating when your camera dies mid-hike. A solar backpack can keep your DSLR juiced so you can take photos for the duration of the hike (provided it’s a sunny day!).
Things To Consider When Buying a Solar Backpack
When purchasing any backpack, weight is a factor, and it depends on your intended use for your backpack. If you're planning on taking your backpack on long hikes with lots of items, you'll need a lightweight backpack.
This is to save your back and shoulders from unnecessary strain. For shooting across town from work or school, with only a few select items in tow, you can afford to go for a slightly heavier model.
Solar Capacity and Battery Power (watts + mAH)
Every solar backpack has a certain capacity for how much power it can generate, this is measured in watts. Some backpacks have around 5 watts per panel, and some can hold upwards of 20 watts.
mAH (milliamp hours) is also a unit used to describe the charging ability of a solar panel. mAH basically refers to how much charge the solar panel can supply to a device.
This does depend on what you’re charging. For example, a smartphone may require between 2000 and 3000 mAH to charge to 100%, but a laptop may need 5000 mAH to charge to 100%.
Before making your choice, look into the mAH requirements of the gadgets you will be charging most often, and match it up to the mAH of potential solar backpack choices.
Amount of Sunlight + Charging Time
You need to be aware that your solar backpack will only be at its most effective during bright, clear sunlight. The clearer the day, the faster and fuller your charging process will be.
Does it have a battery pack?
Some solar backpacks come with battery banks or battery packs. This means that you can store and save the power generated from the solar panels to use at another time.
Otherwise, you must charge your devices straight from the solar panel while the panels are gathering energy from the sun. You can also purchase a battery bank to use with your solar backpack if it doesn't come with one.
Keep aesthetics in mind, as you simply don't want a backpack you don't like the look of. This links in with the intended purpose. If you're after a backpack for taking to work, you'll want a smaller, sleeker, more professional backpack with minimal exterior detail.
On the other hand, if you're hiking or planning some tough travel, the aesthetics won't matter so much as the durability, weight, storage options, and size.
Any backpack you choose to buy should be durable. This is especially relevant for hard-wearing, long, and strenuous hikes when you’ll be carrying a heavy load and require your backpack to stand up to the elements. Look out for strong zips, tight seams, and durable, water-resistant materials.
Consider size and volume in relation to your own size and what you intend to use your backpack for.
If you’re super tall, you don’t want a tiny backpack pulling across your shoulders, and if you’re on the shorter side, you don’t want a big pack swamping you and coming loose at the shoulders.
Your budget is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when you’re choosing a solar backpack. There’s no point looking in a price range which is above your budget, as you’ll just get disappointed.
Plus, there are so many high-quality options for smaller budgets. Gear your search to the lowest end of your budget and work up from there. This ensures you’ll get the best bargain you can.
Be aware of the warranty before you buy a solar backpack. A good warranty will save you from extra costs should your backpack default.
6 Best Solar Backpacks Reviewed
1. Fanspack Solar Powered Laptop Backpack With USB Charging Port
Commuting, school, work, day trips
Yes - 15.6-inch laptop
Yes - Contact Manufacturer
This solar-powered backpack from Fanspack is designed for carrying your laptop and other gadgets in a city setting. It has a large main compartment with a padded laptop sleeve, with lots of room for books and other larger items.
It also has a smaller front compartment with small slots for phones and wallets etc. The design is minimal with a simple exterior, great for school and work.
A cool feature is that you can remove the solar panels to use outside of your backpack if you wish to. It doesn’t come with a power bank for storing power, but you can simply purchase one.
You can charge any USB-compatible device straight from the solar panel with the built-in USB port. It has a 5.3-watt panel, with a high-efficiency conversion rate of 24%, so you can easily keep your phone or small tablet charged.
It's not the best for hiking, as it doesn't have any suspension features like a hip belt, so you might find it a little hard on the back for long or strenuous walking. It's the perfect unisex city solar backpack for zipping between work, home, and school.
2. SunKingdom Solar Backpack
Day trips, traveling, commuting
20 x 13 x 6 "
Yes - 15.6 inches
This backpack from SunKingdom provides a high wattage of 12 watts and one attached USB port. This backpack is designed for a cool, comfortable back, thanks to the thick, air-flow encouraging back panels.
It's not really for long trips or hiking as you don't have the added safety and comfort of hip or chest straps. This means the backpack will likely strain your shoulders after a while as there's nothing to take the weight.
It's a great backpack for traveling when you're on and off a bus, or in and out of cafes and restaurants with a bit of walking in between. Great for work and college, as it has a lovely padded laptop compartment, enough space for clothes and books, and exterior drink bottle holders.
It doesn't have a power bank attached, so you can't store up the power. It must be sourced directly from the panels.
3. Kingsolar Multiple Function 12W Solar Backpack
School, traveling, day trips
23 x 13 x 3
This is a large solar backpack from Kingsolar, with 12 watts of power and two USB charging ports. It has been designed to offer a ventilated and supported back, with thick, ventilated panels.
The shoulder straps are adjustable, and it also has hip straps to leverage some of the weight off your shoulders. It has two large solar panels with 12 watts of power, 2 USB ports, but no battery pack.
It's quite a large, slightly bulky design, so would be great for taller, broader people. It would be great for travelers who carry quite a lot of stuff for weekend or day trips, as it has very roomy interior compartments.
It also has a hidden pocket for keeping valuables safe from thieves, which is handy for travel. It could also be a great choice for students who carry a lot of books and a few gym items to and from school.
4. Eceen Hiking Backpack with 7-watt Solar Panels
Hiking, traveling, fishing
Yes - fits most large laptops
This is a solar backpack made for serious hikes. It has padded shoulder and hip straps and breathable back panels for safe and comfortable hiking. The solar panels are rated at 7 watts, but it does have a 10,000mAh battery pack for storing power to use at night.
The solar panels are removable which is great as you can take them out, clean, them and replace them when needed. It also means you can use them separately from the backpack if needed.
It has a huge variety of multi-purpose pockets and sleeves for storage. At under 2 pounds, it's lightweight which leaves room for all of your hiking gear. Awesome for hiking, fishing, or riding an electric bike.
5. Haweel External Frame Backpack with 7-watt solar panel
School, work, commuting
20 x 11 x 7
No (but fits one)
This is a sleek-looking backpack with minimal exterior details. It has a 7-watt solar panel with a USB and earphone port. The solar panel is built into a protective cover to keep the solar panel safe from scratches.
While it’s not described as a laptop compartment, the back pocket is thin and slightly padded, perfect for slipping a laptop into, to sit closest to your back. The main compartments are large and roomy, perfect for books and clothes.
There are plenty of small, zipped pockets on the exterior sides and top of the bag, ideal for sunglasses, phones, small notebooks etc.
While it is durable and lightweight, it’s not the best for hiking or intrepid travels as it doesn’t have a hip strap, and is more aesthetically suited to urban commuting, school, or work.
6. Hanergy Professional Hiking Camping Solar Backpack
Hiking, fishing, traveling
No (but fits one)
Yes – 12 months
One of the more expensive options on the list, this solar backpack by Hanergy has a higher wattage than others, at 10.6 watts. It has 2 USB ports for charging straight from the solar panels.
This is the best solar backpack for outdoor pursuits and hiking. It has an ergonomic design with padded waist straps to keep the load off your shoulders. The material is lightweight, durable, water-resistant, and it comes with a waterproof cover for rainy excursions.
The interior is super roomy with enough space for hiking essentials such as clothes and food, as well as a laptop and books. There are lots of exterior pockets and pouches, including mesh drink bottle holders, and zipped pockets on the waist straps.
Definitely the best solar-powered backpack for long hikes, fishing, and intrepid travels.
Other Charging Options
Choetech 24 Watt Solar Charger Backpack Kit
Traveling, day trips
31.1 x 10.2 x 0.78 inches unfolded
Yes – 18 months
This option is a little different. The whopping 24-watt solar panels can be used on their own, such as hung off the back of a tent. Otherwise, you can make use of the fold-out backpack which comes with it, by hanging the panels off the back of the pack with the provided carabiner clips.
The backpack folds up into a small, portable packet which is super handy for traveling as you can stash it in your main luggage and use it for day trips.
Advantages of Solar Backpacks
The most obvious advantage of owning a solar backpack is that it’s extremely convenient. You can charge your small device right there and then, without having to search for a power source.
It means you can remain connected to the world while in far-off places such as deep in the woods or out on the ocean.
Solar power harnesses the sun, that’s it. It doesn’t require the depletion of any other resource, which is a huge benefit of solar backpacks.
A solar backpack (and solar power in your home, for that matter) is a great way to reduce your footprint on the environment.
Solar backpacks are fantastic for hiking and traveling adventures on a budget (or in areas with sparse power outlets). But they’re also proving to make a huge difference in the lives of people who have very little access to electricity in their daily lives.
School children in Africa have been enjoying the benefits of solar-powered backpacks, providing them with cost-free light by which they can study and read.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a solar backpack to charge my laptop?
Yes! It may take a while to get fully charged, but as long as you’ve got a strong source of sunlight coming in, you can keep a laptop alive.
Solar backpacks with battery banks are better for charging laptops as you can store up power from the solar panel and charge the laptop straight from the battery bank.
What happens if it’s a cloudy day?
The amount of power generated will decrease as the sun decreases. You’ll still get a small amount of electricity from your solar backpack panel, but it will be a fraction of what you'd get on a sunny, clear day.
What items can and can’t be charged?
How long does the charge last for?
It depends on what you’re charging. If you’re charging a smaller device with a small power requirement, then it will take far less time than a larger device with more power required in order to juice up. It also depends on how much power the solar panel can generate.
Where is the best place to buy backpacks?
Check with Amazon regularly for deals and discounts on all backpacks, including solar charged.
The best solar-powered backpacks combine the convenience of solar power with a durable, user-friendly backpack. Before making your selection, consider:
What do you need the backpack for?
What devices do you need to charge?
Keep these important points in mind when deciding. We hope our pick of the best solar-powered backpacks pointed you in the right direction toward making a top choice.