This means there’s always that need for a power outlet to keep them charged and keep us connected. Sooner or later, it happens to everyone: that moment when your smartphone battery is drained out and you don’t have an electrical plug nearby. This is especially common when you’re traveling, hiking, biking or in a remote place somewhere, for whatever reason. Such situations can ruin all the fun or even worse, put your life in danger if you need to make an emergency call.
How do we solve the “drained battery” crisis? Solar powered backpacks! Imagine carrying your own charging station in a backpack that would charge your mobile phone, iPod, tablet, digital camera, or what not. Solar backpacks work by absorbing sunlight through a portable solar panel and storing the energy collected into a power bank. Whenever you’re walking with your backpack under the sun, you will store solar power for immediate or later use.
In this guide, we are going to look at the top five best solar backpacks available on the market right now.
#1 DIY Solar Powered Backpack
If you really want to get the most out of a solar backpack, a DIY option is the best. While the backpacks reviewed below in this article are reliable and can do the job, they aren’t the cheapest, and there are only a few choices when it comes to style, color or functions.
Here are some good reasons you should go with a DIY option:
When you choose to create your own solar powered backpack, it means you can choose from a wide range of backpacks, as compared to mainstream solar backpacks, which offer very limited options. Whether you are hiking, traveling, cycling, or doing any other sports, chances are you will wear your backpack often. That’s why it’s important to pick one that suits your needs.
SOLAR POWER CAPACITY AND BATTERY POWER
The most important feature of a solar backpack is the solar panel capacity and power bank capacity. Most solar backpacks come with standard 10,000 mAh power banks and 7-watt solar panels, which are enough for emergencies. They will charge your phone from zero to full, and the solar panels do a decent job at recharging the power bank that comes with the pack. However, if there’s not much sun where you live, or perhaps you have additional devices that need more power flow, you may find it frustrating when your power bank’s energy drains too quickly and your solar panel cannot keep up with your recharging needs.
Actually, a lot of people who review solar packs complain about these two aspects. The solar panel is not charging as fast as they expected, and the solar bank is draining too quickly.
A great advantage of a DIY solar backpack is that you can pick your desired capacity of both the solar panel and power bank. And you would be surprised to know what options are out there.
For example, a $50 portable solar panel kit that can be attached to almost any pack has a capacity of three times more than most of the solar backpacks currently available on the market.
The same goes for a portable power bank. With just $30 you can buy yourself a 16750 mAh power bank that stores 50 percent more energy than the average one that comes with most solar backpacks. It charges a smartphone about five times, has a better warranty offer, and is also waterproof.
#2 Voltaic Systems Array Solar Backpack
Voltaic Systems — a company based in Brooklyn, New York — designs an incredible range of high-end solar equipment either as standalone devices or integrated into other products like this backpack.
The Array backpack is one of the best solar backpacks on the market today. It features three high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panels with a 10-watt total peak output when in direct sunlight. The panels are waterproof, lightweight, and scratch-resistant.
Inside the backpack is a compact lithium polymer battery with a 19,800 mAh capacity. This battery pack has enough power to charge a laptop from zero to full at least once, or a smartphone up to eight times. Just one hour in direct sun can power up your laptop for around 30 minutes of use. It comes with a wide range of adapters as well. It can be plugged into a wall outlet or even a 12v car charger.
The USB ports have three different output options (12v and 4amp, 16v and 3.5amp, or 19v and 3amp), so you will have to select the right voltage for the device you want to recharge.
The fabric of the backpack is made from recycled PET, giving the Array its eco-friendly and waterproof characteristics.
The shoulder straps are well reinforced and can be connected through an adjustable buckle for a good, ergonomic fit. High-density padding in the shoulder straps and back ensure great comfort over long outdoor hikes.
It has a 25L capacity and weighs around five lbs which is impressive when you consider that some similar-sized portable solar chargers with similar size can weigh three to five pounds without including the battery.
Aside from the many internal and external storage compartments, the backpack has external carrying straps for a tripod or sleeping pad.
The Array comes with separate warranties: a one-year warranty for the battery and a two-year warranty for the backpack, panel, and parts. While a bit on the pricey side, this backpack ensures quality and functionality.
Benefits highlighted by users in their reviews for the Array Solar Backpack
#3 Lifepack Solar Powered and Anti-Theft Backpack
This backpack is manufactured in Denmark by Solgaard Design and became extremely popular on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. It features a smart design that makes it perfect for traveling or everyday activities such as work, school, or nature walks.
It has anti-theft protection, a one-of-a-kind solar power bank that also acts as a Bluetooth speaker, four hidden compartments to keep important documents safe, and many other special features.
The battery pack has a built-in solar panel and its own special compartment that leaves the solar panel exposed so it can charge while you walk. At full power, you can get up to six full charges for a smartphone or play up to 96 hours of music from the built-in Bluetooth speaker. An hour of full sunshine is going to power up about 25 percent of your iPhone’s battery.
The backpack itself has a capacity of around 18L and is very comfortable on long walks. It’s water-resistant and even has a protective rain cover.
The anti-theft system on this backpack is simply amazing. You can secure all the compartments with a single retractable combination lock. All you have to do is close all the zippers in same direction and set the lock in place.
Benefits highlighted by users in their reviews for the Lifepack Solar Backpack
#4 ECEEN ECE-612 Solar Powered Backpack
The ECEEN ECE-612 backpack is lightweight at just 1.8 lbs. and comes with a high-quality waterproof 10,000 mAh battery. That means you can charge your mobile phone two to three times before you drain the battery.
The solar panel on this backpack is removable, so you can change its position anywhere you want or remove it completely for nighttime strolls. The solar cells (made by SUNPOWER, a U.S. manufacturer) are built into a hardened anti-scratch coating and sewn into high-wear PVC fabric to ensure waterproof and weather-resistant durability. With 22 percent energy transfer efficiency, you will have a steady flow of power for as long as you are under the sun.
The inside space provides 40L of volume with many pockets and compartments for all your items and hiking gear. The robust and durable nylon fabric gives this backpack its water-resistant characteristic, which is great for outdoors.
#5 Zuoao 7-Watt Solar Charger Backpack
The Zuoao backpack comes with a 2L water bladder and has plenty of room inside (42L of storage space). The included 10,000 mAh power bank is perfect for keeping your devices charged throughout the day. The solar panel that comes with the pack is removable, so you can change its orientation to get more sunlight, or leave it at home on cloudy days to reduce the overall weight of the pack.
The backpack is made of strong, durable and lightweight Ripstop-nylon fabric. The material is also water-resistant to ensure that the sensitive electronics within the pack are protected from rainwater infiltration.
A unique feature of this backpack is the TCS (Traction Control System) bearing system, designed to reduce the wear and tear on your shoulders on those long strolls. The side straps will keep the backpack tight to your body to prevent it from shaking.