best portable solar panels for camping

Portable solar panels are a great solution for meeting your power needs when you go off-grid when camping, but the right choice for you depends a lot on your needs.

If you only need enough power to charge a few devices, we recommend the BigBlue Portable Solar Panel. If you have more demanding power needs, the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Foldable Solar Suitcase is a great choice.

BigBlue Portable Solar Panel Charger
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Highly efficient
  • Comes with device protection features
  • Not battery-compatible

7 best portable solar panels for camping

Portable solar panels are great for camping, RVs, and other outdoor activities. We’ve pulled together our favorite portable solar panels based on price, efficiency, durability, and reliability, spanning a range of power output, size and weight.

1. BigBlue Portable Solar Panel

This 28-watt solar charger lets you charge up to three devices at the same time, thanks to its three 5V/2.4A USB-A ports, with a combined maximum current of 5V/4.8A. Its SunPower solar panel as a conversion rate of up to 24%, in line with most modern durable solar panels.

This impressive conversion rate means you’ll get the maximum amount of power from the sun available, which is great when camping, as even if it’s overcast you’ll still have enough power for essential functions.

The durable panel has a water-resistant PET polymer surface and a rubber cover to protect it from dust and water damage. This means it’s ideal for camping, when you need your panel to stand up to the rain, dirt or other extremities it will undoubtedly encounter.

The USB ports are fitted with smart charge technology that detect the attached device and provide optimal charging speed. As different devices have distinct charging needs, this is very useful to charge each device as quickly as possible while preserving its battery life.

They also come with overcurrent, overheating and short-circuit protection to prevent them from damaging your devices. This is particularly important when camping, when you may be really on your devices and won’t be able to replace or repair them until you’re back in civilization.

However, as it only comes with USB-A ports, you’ll need the extra original cable to charge Apple devices, and you can’t use it to charge laptops or AC devices.

What we like:

  • Very compact: Extremely small and lightweight, this solar panel is very portable, which makes it perfect for hiking, camping, and trekking. It’s easy to carry. 
  • Highly efficient: The solar panel boasts a high conversion rate of 24%, so you get an excellent amount of power for its small size, meaning you can charge multiple devices as long as there’s enough sun.
  • Keeps your devices safe: The panel includes overcurrent, overheating, and short-circuit protection to protect your devices and extend their battery life, saving you money on repairs, and making sure you’re not caught out in the wilderness because of technical issues.

What we don’t like:

  • Not battery-compatible: This solar panel is designed to charge devices via its USB ports rather than connect to a battery, so may or may not work for you, depending on your needs.

Weighing just over 20 ounces, you can fold the panel up into just 11.6 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches, so it’s small and lightweight enough to stash in your backpack, carry with you when hiking, or fit in a crowded car on your next camping trip.

2. Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Foldable Solar Suitcase

This Renogy 100-watt solar panel can deliver up to 500-watt-hours per day depending on sun availability, so is powerful enough to charge multiple devices and even runs appliances like a mini-fridge.

The kit is designed so that you can easily add additional panels if you need even more power. This is great for people with RVs or large camping set ups who have higher power demands and enough space to carry additional panels.

It also makes the kit very flexible, as you can bring extra panels when you have the space for them, or scale it back and just bring a single 100-watt panel for a pared-back camping trip. However, note that the included 20-amp charge controller is suitable for one additional 100watt suitcase panel, so if you want more energy you will need to upgrade to the charge controller.

The panel is made from high-quality grade A+ solar cells with multi-layered sheet laminations for longer-lasting, better-performing PV cells. It folds up into a suitcase measuring just 19.9 x 27.2 x 2.8 inches, making it easy to pack and take with you, while its protective case will keep it safe in transport.

It comes with an adjustable and corrosion-resistant aluminum stand, latches and heavy-duty handle for easy set up and transport, as well as letting you angle the panel to get optimum sun and have the most power available when camping.

What we like:

  • Versatile: As well as the included 100-watt panel, you can add more solar panels for additional power, and only bring as many as you need for your camping trip.
  • Foldable: The panel folds up into a compact suitcase for easy transport, which is great for camping trips and off-road adventures.
  • Durable: With a sturdy aluminum stand and protective case, this durable solar panel will stand up to heavy outdoor use without being damaged during transport. This is a particularly important trait in a portable solar panel – as it will need to stand up to movement, potential bumps and scrapes, and use in less-than-ideal environments. 

What we don’t like:

  • Only comes with a 20A controller: So you’ll need to buy a large controller if you want to build a system that’s bigger than 200 watts in total.

Compatible with gel, lithium, sealed, and flooded batteries, the kit comes with alligator clips, so you can easily attach it to your battery. This means you can quickly set up and pack down your system, which is great for camping, as it gives you more time to enjoy the great outdoors.

It has a 20A built-in 5-stage solar charge controller to avoid overcharging your battery or damaging your equipment, and equipped with an LCD display so you can easily adjust the operating parameters. This is especially great for beginners because it’s so easy to use.

3. Goal Zero Boulder 100-Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel

This 100-watt monocrystalline silicon solar panel is field-tested in all kinds of environments from extreme cold to extreme heat, so you can take it with you on any camping trip, regardless of the destination!

Made from durable tempered glass and rigid anodized aluminum frame, it also has added corner protection, which is great for transporting as you won’t need to worry about knocks and breakages.

It comes with a built-in kickstand so you can set it up anywhere and angle it to get the most sun, which is great for campsites where the shade may move around, or as the sun moves overhead. The panel comes with a two-year warranty and is made in the USA, meaning you can be confident about quality control, as well as less low carbon miles to reach your door.

Goal Zero is an eco-friendly company that offsets 100% of the carbon emissions it generates through shipping and uses 100% renewable energy at their corporate HQ and warehouse. The brand also gives back, with a range of community empowerment and disaster relief projects, so buying from this brand also means supporting people and the planet in more ways than one.

This is a panel only so you’ll need to buy a battery separately – it’s perfect to pair with the Goal Zero Yeti Power Station. However, it does come with all the cables and connectors you’ll need to plug it into the portable power station.

What we like:

  • Breakage-resistant: The panel has a sturdy frame and extra corner protection to prevent cracks and breakages in transport, so is great to take with you on your camping trips. The best portable solar panels will be able to stand up to this type of use; durability is an important feature. 
  • Made in the USA: As a locally-made product, it’ll generate less emissions to get to your door, as well as offering a guarantee of quality.
  • Eco-Friendly Brand: Goal Zero offsets its emissions, uses renewable energy, and gives back to the community, so you’ll not only help the planet by using solar power, but in other ways too.

What we don’t like:

  • Not as portable as others: Although small and lightweight enough to transport easily in a vehicle, this panel lacks some of the portability features of other panels such as a carry case or handle.

At 40 x 26.8 x 1.8 inches and just over 20 pounds, this panel is portable enough, but is more a solution for a RV or similar, especially as it doesn’t have a carry handle, nor does it fold up for easy transport. 

While this is one of the best portable solar panels on the market, it’s also one of the more expensive. It costs more than many comparable solar panels, but overwhelmingly positive reviews show that people think the quality and features are worth the cost.

4. DOKIO 110-Watt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel With Charge Controller

This foldable solar panel has an impressive amount of power for its size: the 110-watt panel is only half an inch thick and weighs just six pounds. This is largely thanks to the high-efficiency monocrystalline cells with a conversion efficiency of 23%, more than most solar panels on the market.

It folds up into a carrying bag complete with handle which just is 29 x 29 x 0.5 inches, so you can easily carry it when camping or hiking. The panel comes with a 9.85-foot cable, meaning you can connect it to the charge controller inside your tent or RV, so you can tap into the power of the sun while camping in the shade.

The panel comes with a LCO smart charge controller and connector cables for the panel to the charge controller, and also to connect the charge controller to a battery or power station (it includes cables with alligator clips as well as DC-compatible). 

It also comes with DC conversion adapters, so you have everything you need to set up your system, so is a good option for beginners.

The charge controller includes overpower protection, short circuit protection, and surge protection, to prevent your equipment from being damaged. You can connect the system to a 12V battery or portable power station, though you’ll need to buy these separately.

It also has built-in 5V 2A USB ports so you can directly charge phones and other devices with a USB charger.

What we like:

  • Good power for the size: This is an extremely thin 110-watt solar panel, impressive for its size! It will give you the maximum amount of power while being highly portable.
  • Complete kit: This kit contains a solar panel, charge controller, cables, and DC adapters, so has everything you need to set up your camping solar system.
  • Versatile: You can use this panel in a variety of ways: with a portable power station, connect it to a battery, or directly charge devices via the built-in USB ports.

What we don’t like:

  • Case poor-quality: Although the kit comes with a handy carry case, online reviewers report quality issues with the case fabric, which deteriorates over time.

On the downside, online reviewers complain about the quality of the casing fabric, which deteriorates quickly with UV exposure. Having said that, reviewers agree that the panel itself and other accessories like the charge controller work well.

5. HQST 100-Watt Portable Solar Panel Suitcase

This portable solar suitcase includes two 50-watt monocrystalline solar panels, a 10-amp charge controller with an LCD screen, built-in aluminum stands, and a handy travel bag. You’ll have everything you need to set up your solar system wherever you are, so is perfect for beginners.

When folded, the case measures just 27.7 x 20 x 3.1, making it highly portable. The charge controller is compatible with 12V/24V systems as well as deep-cycled sealed, gel, and flooded batteries, so you can use this to charge or maintain your vehicle battery or power the appliances on your RV or boat.

The controller also uses four-stage PWM charging (bulk, boost, float, and equalization) along with temperature compensation to not only improve system performance but also protect your battery against reverse polarity, overcharging, short-circuit, and reverse current. This means that your battery will last longer, so you’ll save on the expense of having to replace it so often.

What we like:

  • Highly portable: Like all the best portable solar panels for camping, this panel folds up into a compact case, making it easy to take with you out on your adventures, or stow in your RV.
  • Four-stage PWM charging: With four stages of charging, you’ll enjoy better performance, and your battery will last longer, so you won’t have to replace it as often.
  • Compatible with different battery types: You can connect the kit to deep-cycled sealed, gel and flooded batteries, so can be used in a variety of different systems.

What we don’t like:

  • Low-quality case and stand: Though the panel itself gets overwhelmingly positive reviews, some users complain that the case and the stand aren’t very robust.

While this is still one of the best portable solar panels for camping – it must be mentioned that some online reviewers complain about the quality of the case and the stand. Anecdotal evidence shows that some people found that neither is very robust or durable. 

However, the performance of both the panel and the controller receive excellent feedback overall.

6. ACOPOWER 200-Watt Portable Solar Panel Kit

This battery-ready solar panel kit consists of four 50-watt grade A monocrystalline solar panels, a 20-amp waterproof charge controller, alligator clips, and an MC4 connector. The included connectors make it ideal to charge the 12V battery of your RV or maintain your car, truck, or boat battery.

The panels are attached in pairs, the setup consists of two pairs of panels, each with its own kickstand. This means you get an impressive 200 watts of power in a versatile, portable form that you can easily set up wherever you like, as you move to a new campsite, or to change the position of the panels for maximum sun exposure.

Note this kit is also in 100w version, with two 50-watt panels: the ACOPOWER 100W Portable Solar Panel Kit.

The panels come with a sturdy aluminum frame, lock latches, corner protectors, and a carrying handle for added portability and to keep them safe during transport.

What we like:

  • Powerful: At 200 watts, this kit is the most powerful on this list, so is ideal if you want to run appliances and charge multiple devices.
  • Versatile: The four 50-watt panels come in pairs on stands, so you can position them wherever is best for maximum sun exposure.
  • Multiple connections: The kit includes different types of connectors, making it easy to connect to a range of batteries.

What we don’t like:

  • Poor instructions: Online users say that the kit’s instructions are not comprehensive enough and difficult to understand, though the brand does offer excellent support.

One issue that online reviewers reported was that the kit comes with very poor instructions, making it difficult to set up and use, especially for beginners.

However, many users also mentioned excellent customer service and technical support, so if you struggle, you can reach out to the manufacturer for guidance.

7. Goal Zero Yeti 200X Lithium Portable Power Station

This complete kit includes a foldable solar panel and a 187-watt-hour power station. The 20-watt monocrystalline solar panel is lightweight, but it’s also durable, and made of tempered glass with an aluminum frame.

Can be folded and comes with built-in storage as well as an adjustable kickstand, so ideal for camping because it’s highly portable and easy to set up.

The portable generator produces up to 187 watt-hours (enough to run a portable fridge for eight hours, or recharge a tablet six times or a head lamp 38 times) and can be used to charge phones, tablets, laptops, and a wide range of appliances.

It has four different port options, including 12V and USB PD, so versatile enough to meet a variety of needs, as well as an efficient and long-lasting lithium-ion battery.

It also features a high-speed port that can charge USB-C devices in record time, so you’ll be able to quickly power your devices when camping.

What we like:

  • Foldable: This lightweight solar panel folds up into a case with built-in storage, so perfect for carrying with you while camping.
  • Portable generator: The kit includes a powerful and efficient portable generator, that you can pre-charge before your camping trip for extra power.
  • Quick charging: The kit features a high-speed USB-C port that will quickly charge your devices, which is great if you need to charge multiple devices in a short space of time.

What we don’t like:

  • Not super powerful: Although this solar panel will produce enough power to charge a few devices, if you want to run your RV’s appliances, you’ll need something bigger.

You can charge the power station from the solar panel, or into a vehicle 12-volt outlet or a wall socket – the kit includes the 60-watt power supply needed to plug it directly into the wall. Although the 20-watt solar panel will charge the battery in 11 hours of full sun, it’s not super powerful, so best for campers with lower power needs.

Why buy a portable solar panel?

There’s nothing like going off-grid and enjoying the great outdoors, but this doesn’t mean you want to be without your devices and certain comforts, and for this you need power. 

Whether you’re hiking, camping, or visiting remote spots with your RV, you need to be able to charge your phone, tablet, camera, headlamp, and perhaps even a mini fridge.

woman cooking a meal using a stove powered by a portable solar panel

In some cases, you can rely on solar-powered devices such as solar ovens or solar-powered Bluetooth speakers, but the most comprehensive solution is to invest in a portable solar panel or solar kit that can charge all of your devices when you don’t have access to mains power.

There is a range of compact, lightweight solar panels that are ideal for camping and other outdoor activities. These range in power output, size, and weight, from smaller kits that you can carry in a backpack to more powerful ones that you can still easily carry in your vehicle and set up at your campsite.

Many come with built-in stands for easy setup, and extra corner protection to avoid damage in transport, and some have their own cases, handles, or carry bags for added portability.

What to look for in a portable solar panel for camping

With so many different options available, it’s important to be clear on the features you need before choosing a portable solar panel. The best portable solar panels for camping will share common features, such as being compact, durable, and powerful for their size. 

However, to work out what is important for you, you’ll first need to be clear on your needs and how you’re planning to use your solar panel.

Here are the key factors to consider when buying a portable solar panel.

Power output

Power output is a key consideration when buying any kind of solar panel, and portable solar panels are no exception. Solar panels are rated by watt: portable solar panels can range from 20 watts to 200 watts or more, though 50 to 100-watt portable panels are the most common.

Of course, power output is closely related to the size and weight of the panel. Generally speaking, solar panels with a higher power output are also larger.

Therefore, it’s not always best to go for the most powerful solar panel, as you’ll have to compromise on portability to do so. Instead, work out how much power you need, and choose the smallest solar panel that matches those needs.

Check out this guide to solar panel size to help you determine your power needs.

Size and weight

It’s also important to remember that portability is a relative term. Do you want to be able to pack your portable solar panel in a backpack, or just take it in your car without it taking up too much space?

portable solar panels on a roof of an RV

There are highly portable solar panels like the BigBlue Portable Solar Panel but these come with less power output and fewer features.

At the other end of the scale are larger and more powerful panels like the ACOPOWER 200-watt Portable Solar Panel Kit. You may not be able to stash these in a backpack or carry them for long distances, but you can certainly pack them in your car and take them out to set up without too much difficulty.

If you’re looking for a more powerful system and are able to install your panel permanently on your RV, cabin, or boat, you’re probably better going for one of these flexible solar panels or solar panels for boats.

External battery

Another important consideration is whether you want to be able to connect your panel to a battery via a charge controller, or simply plug your devices directly into the panel.

Some portable solar panels, like the DOKIO 110-Watt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel, come with USB or other ports that allow you to plug in your devices and start charging immediately. Other portable solar kits, such as Goal Zero Boulder 100-Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel, are designed to attach to a 12-volt battery to store the power the panel produces.

solar panel connected to an external battery

These are larger, more complex (and more expensive) systems, but they mean that you’ll have access to power day or night. If you want to power the lights, fridge, or other appliances in your campsite or RV overnight, you’ll need to have an external battery.

Although many portable solar panel kits come with a charge controller, cables, and connectors to attach to a battery (such as the HQST 100-Watt Portable Solar Panel Suitcase for example), they very rarely come with a battery, so you’ll need to buy this separately.

Final thoughts on the best solar panels for camping

Portable solar panels can give you the power you need whether camping, hiking, or heading off-road. The best solar panels for camping are durable, efficient, and easy to use, even for beginners with little experience using solar energy.

If portability is your priority and you don’t need too much power, we recommend the BigBlue Portable Solar Panel. However, for more power, our top pick is the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Foldable Solar Suitcase.

For more great solar options, take a look at our guides to the best solar panels for boats and flexible solar panels.

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