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Top Ultralight Solar Chargers Reviewed (From 3.6oz)

best ultralight solar panels

Need an ultralight solar charger for backpacking or a thru-hiking trip? Here’s a thorough review of the best options based on overall weight, power-to-weight ratio, and features.

Most of the backpacking solar panels here are under 1lb.  Honestly, it’s hard to find a charger lighter than 1lb but which will still reliably charge your devices (if it doesn’t work, it’s just dead weight!). I’ve also included some solar chargers which are heavier but more powerful.  These could still be considered ultralight if you are backpacking in group and will share the weight between members.

Quick Picks:



*You want more watts per ounce with backpacking solar chargers.

ProductWattsOverall WeightWatts Per OzPorts
Anker PowerPort 15W1512.5oz1.22x 2.1A (2.1A max)
Anker PowerPort 21W2114.7oz1.42x2.4A (3A max)
Lixada 10W103.56oz2.81x1A
Goal Zero Nomad 5W512.7oz0.41x1A
Goal Zero Nomad 10W1017.6oz0.571x1.5A
Goal Zero Nomad 20W2033.6oz0.61x1.3A
ECEEN 13W1316oz0.82.2A (3A max)
Voltaic Arc 10W1010.9oz0.91x1.8A
BigBlue 28W2823.8oz1.182x2.4A (4A max)
Nekteck 28W2819.2oz1.452x 2.4A (4A max)
SunJack 15W1515.2oz0.992x2A (4A max)


Best Ultralight Solar Chargers for Backpacking

1. Anker PowerPort Solar Lite

anker solr lite solar charger

Best For: Fantastic power-to-weight ratio plus great features


  • Watts: 15W
  • Weight: 12.5oz
  • Size:11 × 6.3 in. folded / 18.1 × 11 in open
  • Auto reset: Yes
  • Ports: 2 x USB
  • Amps: 2.1 each (2.1A max)
  • Cost: $$ – Buy 15W here 


In pretty much every list of the top portable solar chargers, the Anker PowerPort  takes the #1 spot.  There is good reason for this.  The solar charger is very reliable, durable, and is lightweight for its wattage.  It’s easy to use on the trail because there are elastic loops for attaching the solar charger to your pack and a pocket for holding your devices.

There are two versions of the charger which are good for backpacking: 15W and 21W.  Of the two, the 21W is definitely superior.  It only weighs a tiny bit more but will actually charge two devices at the same time.   At 2.4A per port, it’s fairly fast – though note you’ll only get a max of 3A when charging two devices at once.  Unfortunately, it is often unavailable.

If you have perfect sunlight and angle it well, then you maybe could charge two devices at once with the 15W.  But it’s a lot faster with the 21W charger.

Unfortunately, the 21W solar charger is often out of stock — which is why the Anker 15W gets the #1 position.

The charging ports are locating inside a canvas pouch, which means the solar charger is (mostly) water resistant.

One slight annoying thing is that the Anker PowerPort charger closes with Velcro (which gets debris stuck in it).  I’d rather have a magnetic closure instead.

Buy 15W Here and Buy 21W Here


2. Lixada 10W Solar Charger

lixada backpacking solar charger

Best For: Insanely cheap and lightweight solution for backpackers who understand solar


  • Watts: 10W
  • Amps: 1.2
  • Weight: 3.5oz
  • Size: 10.2 x 5.5 inches
  • Auto Reset: No
  • Ports: 1 USB-A
  • Amps: 1A
  • Cost:  $ – Buy Here


I first heard about Lixada in discussions about solar panels on Reddit and backpacking forums.  Lixada doesn’t have the name recognition as brands like Anker or Goal Zero, but they are starting to develop a huge fan base with ultralight backpackers.  Part of the reason is because the Lixada solar panels are stupidly cheap and amazingly lightweight.

Starting with weight: At 3.56oz, the 10W Lixada solar charger gives you the most power per weight of any of the backpacking solar chargers reviewed here.

Not surprisingly, the Lixada is lacking in a lot of features. Most noteably, it doesn’t have an auto-reset feature – which means it will stop charging if a cloud passes over it.  You’ll have to unplug the device and replug to get it to start charging again.

It also doesn’t have a blocking diode, so it could actually draw power from your device in low-light situations.  I wouldn’t ‘use the Lixada to directly charge devices.  It’s more reliable for charging a power bank and then using that to power your devices.

As one user pointed out though, the Lixada is great if you are willing to put the effort into understanding solar.  Get yourself a multi-meter and test the solar panel under different scenarios (weather, light, cables, device…).  Once you understand this info, you will be able to get away with using such a cheap and lightweight solar panel for backpacking trips.

Buy Here


3. Goal Zero Nomad Solar Chargers

Goal Zero Nomad 5 solar charger

Best For: Backpackers who don’t mind a higher weight-per-ounce in exchange for more reliability.


  • Watts: 5w/10W/20W
  • Weight: 12.7oz/17.6oz/33.6oz
  • Size: 9.5 x 7. X 1.1 inches (5w)
  • Auto Reset: Yes
  • Ports: 1x1A/1×1.5A/1×2.1A + 8mm 1.3A solar port
  • Cost:  $$ – See price here at Amazon and here at REI.


The Goal Zero Nomad used to be considered the best backpacking solar chargers.  Now there are many other better options when it comes to weight. When you look at the amount of watts per ounce, the Goal Zero chargers are actually really heavy.  The 5W and 10W chargers are also very slow.

There is some good though.  Goal Zero Nomad chargers are very reliable.  The tech does a good job of matching charge output to device.  You won’t have to worry about the auto-reset not workingn or the charger draining your device if you let it sit too long. It’s also waterproof to IPX6.

If you are set on getting a Goal Zero Nomad charger, than I’d get the 10W or 20W.  They aren’t lightweight enough for most backpackers but deliver more power and are chainable.

Get it Amazon or REI


4. ECEEN 13w Solar Charger

ECEEN solar charger

Best For: Hikers who want a very cheap solar charger that works well enough in good weather


  • Watts: 13
  • Amps: 2
  • Weight: 16oz
  • Size: 7×12.7” folded, 14×12.7” open
  • Auto Reset: Yes
  • Ports: 2x USB-A
  • Amps: 2A each (3A max)
  • Connections: 2
  • Cost: $ – Buy Here


The ECEEN is one of the cheapest solar chargers you can get which is still lightweight enough for backpacking.

Considering how cheap this backpacking solar charger is, it surprisingly has a (mostly) reliable auto-reset feature.  It’s also waterproof, durable, and easily straps to your pack.

Now for the bad.  The ECEEN does charge in full sun but won’t charge at all – not even a trickle – in low light. It’s also unrealistic to expect to charge two devices at once.  The 2amps is only for ideal conditions and even then it won’t charge at a full 1amp per connection. Don’t bother with this solar panel for backpacking trips in fall, spring, or which will take you through shady forests.

Buy Here


5.  Voltaic Arc 10W Solar Charger

Voltaic Arc 10W solar charger for backpacking

Best For: Another budget solar charge for charging in sunny weather


  • Watts: 10W
  • Weight: 10.9oz
  • Size: Folded 10×6.4”, Open 10×13”
  • Auto Reset: Yes
  • Ports: 1 x USB-A
  • Amps: 1.8
  • Cost:  $ – Buy Here

The Voltaic Arc 10W solar charger seems fantastic at first glance.  10W is perfect if you only need to occasionally charge small devices when backpacking.  The watts-per-ounce is good and it’s a nice compact size.

In clear skies and bright sun, the charging is actually very good.   But, as soon as the weather gets a bit cloudy, the performance on the Arc 10W charger gets VERY slow.

I also don’t like that the charging port is completely exposed.  You’ll need to be careful that it doesn’t get wet or dirty. There’s also no pocket for holding your device while charging.

Get It Here


6. BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

BigBlue solar charger for backpacking

Best For: Backpackers with high energy demands or traveling in a group


  • Watts: 28W
  • Weight: 23.8oz
  • Size: Folded 11.1×6.3×1.3in; Unfolded size: 33.1×11.1×0.2in
  • Auto Reset: Yes
  • Ports: 2xUSB-A
  • Amps: 2.4A each, 4A max
  • Cost:  S$ – Buy Here


At 28W, the Big Blue solar charger is probably too large for most backpackers. But, if you have high power needs or there are multiple people in your group to share the weight, this is one of the best solar chargers you can get.

It has a lot of nice tech features like overcharge protection and the auto-reset features works.  The solar panels are actually efficient.  And, while you will never get 100% of the advertised charging amount, it performs better than most other solar chargers.

Do note that there doesn’t seem to be a blocking diode on the charger.  If you leave a device attached to the charger in low-light conditions, it will drain your battery instead of charging it.  You’ll need to unplug it in overcast weather, especially if multiple devices are attached.

Note: This charger is not compatible with the iPod Pro.

Get It Here


7. NekTeck 28W Solar Charger

nektek solar panel charger

Best For: If you don’t mind taking a risk with a generic brand


  • Watts: 28W
  • Weight: 23.8oz
  • Size: Folded 6.3x 11.1x 1.1″; 32.3x 11.1×0.7″ open
  • Auto Reset: Yes
  • Ports: 2xUSB-A
  • Amps: 2.4A each, 4A max
  • Cost:  $$ – Buy Here


If this solar charger seems too good to be true, you are right.  It doesn’t perform as well as some of its more well-known competitors and a lot of people were sent faulty chargers. Don’t expect to get a full 28W worth of charging power.  The auto-reset feature can be finnicky and you might need to unplug/replug to get it to charge in cloudy conditions.  The pouch is tiny and can barely fit many devices. And a lot of those 5-star reviews on Amazon seem to be fakes.

Still, there are a lot of people who like this solar charger. It’s rugged enough to withstand abuse and the price is pretty cheap.  So, if you don’t mind taking a risk on a generic brand, go for it — but please test it to make sure it’s working before you take it backpacking! The brand is pretty good about issuing refunds if yours is faulty.

Get It Here



8. SunJack 15W Solar Charger

sunjack solar charger 15w for backpacking

Best For: Overall great solution for charging two devices at once


  • Watts: 15W
  • Weight: 15.2oz
  • Size: Folded 10.5x 6.5 x 1.2, open 20×10.5
  • Auto Reset: Yes
  • Ports: 2 x USB-A
  • Amps: 4A (2 per port)
  • Cost:  $$ – Buy Here


While they don’t get as much attention as Anker or Goal Zero, SunJack is a very reputable brand of solar chargers.  The weight is pretty good, especially considering how durable the solar charger is.  It is (mostly) waterproof.

There’s a mesh pocket for protecting your devices and the charging port.  The elastic band for holding your device in place is a nice touch.  I also like that they use a magnetic closure instead of annoying Velcro.

The technology behind the solar charger also seems to deliver as promised. It will actually charge two devices at 2A each in good sunlight.  There is smart overcharge protection too.  I would have listed this higher in my picks but it is often out of stock.

Get It Here


Tips for Choosing Lightweight and Ultralight Solar Chargers for Backpacking

1. Do You Even Need a Solar Charger?

Backpacking solar chargers are cool devices but, for most short trips, you really don’t need one – especially if you aren’t using many devices.  As David Roberts of says, “If you aren’t going to be in a place where you can count on at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day, then don’t waste your money.  Opt for a less-expensive power bank, instead.”

For example, on a 7-day backpacking trip, I might need to recharge my headlamp batteries, camera battery, and/or Kindle.   A lightweight 10,000mAh powerbank is more than enough to do this.  Further, a powerbank is a lot more reliable than a solar panel when it comes to charging.

See these top ultralight power banks for backpacking.


2: Inadequate Wattage = Dead Weight

Want a backpacking solar charger which weighs under 12oz? You’ll be hard pressed to find a setup which offers more than 5 watts of power.

As a general rule, you will need at least 10 watts in order to reliably charge phones and other small devices while backpacking.  Anything less than 10 watts means it will take forever to charge a device – even in ideal conditions!

Also note that some devices won’t charge at low power.  Nokia phones, for example, require 120mAh to start charging.  If the low-watt solar panel can’t produce this amount, then the phone won’t charge at all.

In a nutshell?

An ultralight solar panel might not meet your power needs. It’s better to carry a few more ounces for gear which actually works than lug around dead weight.


3. Look At Watts Per Ounce

Don’t make the mistake of just looking at the overall weight of a solar charger. Instead, you need to look at the watts per ounce. The more watts per ounce, the lighter the solar charger really is.

For example, the Anker PowerPort is 13.7oz but has 21 watts.  The Goal Zero Nomad 5 is lighter at 12.7oz, but only is 5 watts.  As talked about above, it’s usually better to carry a few extra ounces and have a charger capable of doing the job.


4. Don’t Forget the Weight of Extras

It’s worth noting that most manufacturers only list the weight for their solar panels.  This weight does NOT include accessories like cables, 12volt-to-USB adapters, or charge controllers.  These can add a few ounces to the setup.

Likewise, you’ll probably also want a powerbank to use with your solar charger – which means anywhere from 2.5oz to 10+oz more weight.  This will allow you to store power for later and many solar chargers simply perform better when used to charge power banks.


5. Reduce Your Power Needs

The best way to reduce your solar charger weight is to reduce your power needs.

The less you use your devices, the smaller of a solar panel you can get away with.  Normally you shouldn’t get less than a 10 watt solar panel, and that’s in ideal conditions.  To get away with a low watt solar panel, you’ll need to:

  • Keep your phone turned off or in flight mode (if you are using it for photos)
  • Turn down screen brightness or use an app like f.LUX to control the screen brightness
  • Use Greenify app to turn off background apps without having to uninstall 
  • Keep phone GPS off until you need it
  • If you listen to music on your phone, use earbuds instead of the speakers
  • Keep devices at “room temperature” Sleep with them on cold nights if you must.
  • Be stingy about taking photos and videos.
  • Set up camp on time so you don’t have to rely on headlamps at night.


6. Be Realistic About What Ultralight Solar Chargers Can Do

Don’t get me wrong: backpacking solar chargers are awesome and have come a long way.  They’ve gotten smaller, more durable, and much more reliable.

But they still aren’t perfect.

You aren’t going to be able to strap a small charger to your backpacking, hike through a shady forest, and expect your devices to get fully charged.


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Resources for this article:
Image credit: “2019-01-30_05-18-22” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by steevithak

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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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  1. Willem

    Hi there!
    Thank you for your useful information!
    Could you be so nice as to send me a link from where to download that “LUX to control screen background”?
    I can’t find it anywhere, and in Google Play it doesn’t exist.
    Thank you so much!
    BR, Willem

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