How To Make A Solar Backpack (Step-By-Step DIY Guide)

As an increasing number of our tools are integrated into smartphones and other portable technology, having a portable power supply becomes even more convenient.  

Those power banks run out of juice. With a solar backpack, you’d still have solar power to rely on. Many prefer unique DIY solar packs to even the best solar backpacks on the market. 

Read this guide to learn how to make a solar backpack that will power your gadgets no matter where you are. 

Why Create A Solar Backpack? (Benefits Explained)

With a few simple tools, you can turn your favorite backpack into a practically limitless power source. Solar backpacks aren't expensive, but if you make your own, then any future repairs will be much easier. Your money will go further with a DIY solar backpack. 

Who might benefit from a DIY solar backpack? 

  • Students & Workers 
    Store up juice on the way to class or the office so you can charge your phone from the middle of a lecture hall or a crowded meeting room. 
  • Hikers & Campers 
    Even if you prefer ultralight hiking and camping, a DIY solar backpack can power the limited equipment you do have. Hike in a sunny locale, and you'll have enough juice stored up to reach remote locations with your phone, camera, compass, radio, lantern, or electric stove charged through the night. 
  • Emergency Relief Staff 
    Accidents rarely happen within range of a power outlet. Carry your fuel on your back, and you can stay in contact through the worst situations.  
man wearing a solar backpack

How To Make A Solar Backpack? (Step By Step DIY Guide)

What You’ll Need 

To complete your solar panel backpack DIY project, you’ll need the following items: 

And, of course, you need your favorite backpack. 

How To Do It (Step by Step Guide) 

We’re going to go really DIY with this step-by-step instruction - if you don’t know how to solder, you can just buy ready-made solar panels and skip the first technical steps. 

1. Find Your Solar Panels 

The internet is filled with different hacks for getting cheap panels. Some disassemble solar-powered lawn lights; others buy cheap panels individually off the internet. The important part is to make sure they'll carry a charge to your USB cable.  

2. Connect Them 

You can measure the output of your panels with the voltage meter - for this guide, all wires always go negative to positive. 5V is the standard power max for most USBs, although USB-C can go as high as 20. 

Pair your solar panels together from negative to positive until you get the proper voltage output from all of them together. Don't put all the wires in place on the back of the panels just yet. Only connect the wires for now. 

To do this, you need to cut the wires and then strip the ends of each one. Go ahead and do the same thing for the USB cable that matches your devices. 

3. Glue Your Panels Together 

If you bought or found a single-piece solar panel, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you need to use epoxy and glue the panels together by placing them face down and making sure the edges are all flush with one another. Also, ensure you have enough panels to cover your specific backpack. 

Cover the edges with glue or epoxy. You may also create twin horizontal lines at key points instead of placing glue along every break. Let the whole thing sit and dry for a few hours. 

4. Put The Wires In Place 

All those connections need to be glued in place on the back of the panels in a way that will minimize the space they take up and keep everything orderly in case you need to make adjustments later.  

The best way to do this is to create parallel pathways. You should map this out without glue first to make sure the USB charging connection is in the right place. Once everything is where it should be, put the glue down. Let it all dry like you did in the last step. 

5. Create A Backing & Protect Your Panels 

Some DIYers glue the whole thing to cardboard to give it a stronger structure, others cover it in plastic, and still others use waterproof sleeves. You can do any number of these things depending on your purpose.  

The cheaper way is simply to do cardboard and find plastic sleeves to slide around the panels. Close them off, and if you need to do maintenance later, then you can cut away the plastic.  

If you spent a fair amount on the panels and plan to take them into the elements, you could invest in ready-made waterproof sleeves that still let light through.  

6. Attach It To Your Backpack 

Some people leave it on their backpack permanently, and others attach it with a cord that allows them to flip it onto the back of their pack and put it in an interior pocket when they don't need it.  

If you have a blade handy, you could cut a hole in the bag and run the cable through it so you can charge your phone inside the bag while the panels gather sunlight on the outside. You may want to invest in a waterproof backpack to keep your electronics and new solar panels dry when not in use.

Either way, make sure you can still take the panels off if they stop working or one takes damage. Backpacks go through some tough situations, as we all know. 

7. Go Out & Enjoy Your Limitless Power 

Alright, you could still run out of juice if you don’t time things right. But you’re better prepared to keep a charge in your devices than you were before, and at a fraction of the cost. 

man standing on a mountain

What Materials Are Best For Solar Backpacks? 

  • Nylon is durable and lightweight, ideal for carrying around on your back. Most nylon products are tear-resistant and water-resistant, so your electronics won't be ruined. 
  • PVC fabric is similarly lightweight and is probably cheaper than nylon because it’s synthetic. 
  • Polyester is used by some of the highest-quality manufacturers. It can be recycled, and it's really tough and durable. 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much will it cost if you make your own solar backpack? 

If you buy the cheapest materials, you can make a solar backpack for around $40. You can invest slightly more and still be well beneath the price tag found on most manufacturer models. 

Are solar backpacks safe? 

You have to know how to make a solar-powered backpack safe if you want to avoid shorts and other problems. If you want it to keep working and avoid shorts and shocks, then you’ll need to understand basic electronics before getting your solar panel backpack DIY project off the ground.

How much power do I need for a solar backpack? 

1-5V is enough for charging most phones, Bluetooth speakers, and other small devices, but you'll want to aim closer to 10V+ if you want to fully charge electronics like computers or GPS trackers. 

How long does the charge on solar backpacks work for? 

Depending on sun exposure and weather conditions, your charge could last you through the night. Charging power banks will enable you to store electricity while your panels continue to gather more. 

How much does a solar backpack cost to buy? 

The average solar backpack costs about $200, although you can find less expensive barebones models and more sophisticated models with much larger price tags. 


A solar panel backpack DIY project is a fun way to occupy your free time, and it will create a one-of-a-kind product that will keep your gear charged up through long days of hiking, studying, or working.  

Now that you know how to make a solar backpack, you can start your first prototype and slowly improve your design over time. Solar backpacks are much less expensive and just as helpful at campsites, job sites, and in the classroom. 

  • January 5, 2022