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 article review, we are going to look at the five best solar backpacks available on the market right now.
Editor’s Pick: 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 solar panel size.
Building your own solar powered backpack it’s easier than you think!
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. Pretty much any kind of backpack can be converted into a solar backpack. Whether you are hiking, traveling, cycling, or doing any other sports, your backpack has to fit your activity, not the other way around.
Follow these two simple steps and you can have your awesome DIY solar backpack shipped your way today!
Step 1. Choose your favorite backpack
Amazon is by far the best place to find your ideal backpack. When searching for backpacks, read the customer reviews and pick the one that suits your needs and make sure it has many positive reviews from people that already bought it.
Step 2. Choose your favorite solar charger and battery bank
The most important feature of a solar backpack is the solar panel capacity and power bank capacity. Most solar backpacks come with 7-watt solar panels, which are enough for emergencies. They will recharge your phone when your battery is low, but 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 you’ll notice that the charging speed of your 7-watt panel is rather slow.
Actually, a lot of people who own 7-watt solar packs complain about the charging speed. The solar panel is not charging as fast as they expected, and their smartphones don’t charge as fast as they thought.
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 find out what amazing options are out there.
For example, the best portable solar panel reviewed by us recently, the Anker PowerPort 21W, can be attached to almost any pack and has a power output of three times more than most of the solar backpacks currently available on the market.
The same goes for a portable power bank. This Anker PowerCore Elite 20,000 mAh battery bank can store enough energy to recharge a smartphone about five times and comes with a great warranty offer.
Best Overall: ECEEN Solar Powered Backpack
If you’re looking for an all-purpose backpack with a high quality solar panel that would work well for school, on a camping trip, or when traveling then the ECEEN solar powered backpack is a great choice.
The ECEEN solar backpack is lightweight and has adjustable straps to make it easy and comfortable to carry around. The 7-watt 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 up to 22 percent energy transfer efficiency, you will have a steady flow of power for as long as you are under the sun.
Despite the fact that the solar panel is very small, it does not mean it is ineffective! In just 30 minutes of direct sun, the ECEEN 7W panel charged an iPhone 6 from 70 percent to 100 percent. The solar panel comes with a 5V USB port so you can recharge directly your smartphone, tablet or any other 5V compative devices.
The inside space provides plenty of 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.
To get the most out of your solar backpack, we highly recommend you a USB battery bank to go with this pack. For example, the Anker PowerCore Elite 20,000 mAh power bank is fully compatible with the ECEEN 7W solar panel and it can store enough energy to charge an iPhone 7 from zero to full six times. A portable battery pack like this one is a must-have since the solar panel itself cannot store energy and provide it during night time when the sun is not around. With a charged power bank, you are powered up 24/7.
Best Design: 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.
Best Quality: Voltaic Systems Array Rapid 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 when it comes to quality. 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 the best quality and functionality you can ever get on a backpack.
Most Lightweight: ECEEN Hydration Solar Backpack
This ECEEN solar backpack comes with a 2L hydration bladder, is very lightweight and has very stylish design that sets it apart from other solar powered backpacks. This is a great choice if you are actively doing sports and don’t need much space for storage. The side straps will keep the backpack tight to your body to prevent it from shaking.
While it doesn’t come with a battery bank, its built-in 7-watt solar panel does a decent job at keeping your devices charged while on the go. The Anker PowerCore Elite 20,000 mAh battery pack would be the ideal companion to this solar backpack.