5 Best Solar Chargers for Orienteering Trips: Top Picks for Reliability and Efficiency

July 01, 2024 7 min read

Planning an orienteering trip requires dependable equipment to ensure your safety and success. Among the essential gear, a reliable solar charger can be a game-changer. By harnessing the power of the sun, solar chargers provide a sustainable way to keep your devices charged without relying on traditional electricity sources.

Five solar chargers arranged on a rocky terrain with a compass and map in the background, surrounded by lush greenery and a clear blue sky

Choosing the right solar charger can significantly enhance your orienteering experience. There are various models available, each with unique features and benefits tailored to different needs. This article will guide you through the top five solar chargers that can help you stay powered up during your outdoor adventures.

1) Anker PowerPort Solar Lite

A rugged backpack sits open on a rocky trail, revealing an Anker PowerPort Solar Lite charger. The sun shines down on the charger, surrounded by a lush forest and distant mountains

The Anker PowerPort Solar Lite is an efficient and portable solar charger designed for outdoor enthusiasts. It features dual USB ports, allowing you to charge multiple devices simultaneously.

Weighing just under a pound, it’s an easy addition to your orienteering gear. The lightweight and compact design means it won't slow you down during your trip.

With 15 watts of power, the PowerPort Solar Lite delivers a reliable charge that keeps your devices powered. The panels are made from high-efficiency solar cells, ensuring optimal performance even under less-than-ideal weather conditions.

You can attach it to your backpack while you’re on the move, thanks to its rugged, cloth-covered exterior and convenient attachment points. This ensures that you can continuously harness solar energy all day.

The Anker PowerPort Solar Lite is built to withstand outdoor conditions. It’s durable, water-resistant, and capable of standing up to various environmental factors you might encounter on your journey.

2) Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus

The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus is a robust and compact solar charger, ideal for orienteering trips. Its foldable design makes it easy to pack and carry without sacrificing much space in your backpack. Weighing only 12.8 ounces, it won't add much weight, making it convenient for long journeys.

The device offers 7 watts of solar power to charge your electronic devices, like GPS units and mobile phones. Integrated smart technology optimizes charging speed and helps protect against overheating. This feature ensures efficient and safe charging, which is crucial during outdoor adventures.

The built-in kickstand allows you to angle the solar panel for optimal sunlight exposure, increasing charging efficiency. You can easily set it up when resting or during stops, maximizing energy capture. It's rugged enough to withstand outdoor conditions, being both water-resistant and durable.

One handy feature is its LED indicator, which shows the strength of sunlight and charging status. This helps you position the panel for the best results and keeps you informed about the charging process. It also has a detachable kickstand and monitoring system, giving you flexibility in its use.

Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus includes multiple charging ports, such as USB and 12V. This ensures compatibility with various devices, allowing you to keep multiple gadgets powered up. The versatile charging options and reliable performance make it a valuable asset on orienteering trips.

3) BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger

The BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger is a reliable option for your orienteering trips. It has a foldable design, making it easy to carry in your backpack.

This charger features three USB ports, allowing multiple devices to charge simultaneously. It also includes a digital ammeter to monitor charging current.

For durability, the BigBlue charger is made with weatherproof materials. The panels are protected against water and dust, ensuring it works in various outdoor conditions.

This solar charger includes a built-in smart IC technology that ensures optimal charging speed. It automatically adjusts to your device's maximum input.

The BigBlue 28W charger has a high-energy conversion efficiency rate, typically around 23%. This helps charge your devices more quickly, even in less-than-ideal sunlight.

With its portability and robust construction, the BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger is a practical choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

4) RAVPower Solar Charger 16W

A rugged landscape with a clear sky, featuring a backpack with a RAVPower Solar Charger 16W attached to it. Surrounding the backpack are orienteering tools and equipment, indicating a wilderness setting

The RAVPower Solar Charger 16W is a reliable choice for your orienteering trips. This compact device utilizes advanced solar technology to provide a steady source of power for your gadgets. With high-efficiency solar cells, it can convert up to 21.5% to 23.5% of the solar power into free energy.

Featuring two USB ports, you can charge multiple devices simultaneously. This is particularly beneficial when you're out in the wilderness and need to keep your GPS and phone fully charged. The charger is designed to ensure consistent charging under direct sunlight.

Its lightweight design makes it easy to carry around without adding much weight to your gear. Weighing only 16.5 ounces, it can be easily folded into a convenient size. This makes it highly portable and perfect for backpacking.

One of the notable features is its durability. The RAVPower Solar Charger 16W is built with rugged materials to withstand outdoor conditions. It’s water-resistant, which means it can endure splashes and light rain.

You can use the handy metal hooks to attach the charger to your backpack, allowing it to charge as you hike. This way, you make the most of the available sunlight throughout the day, ensuring your devices remain powered.

The intelligent charging technology provides the optimal current to your devices, preventing overcharging or overheating. This helps to extend the life of your gadgets and ensures safe and efficient charging. This charger is both practical and reliable for your adventures.

5) Nekteck 21W Solar Charger

A Nekteck 21W Solar Charger sits on a rocky terrain, surrounded by orienteering gear. The sun shines brightly overhead, casting a warm glow on the charger

The Nekteck 21W Solar Charger stands out due to its high efficiency. It utilizes SunPower solar panels which have a 21%-24% efficiency rate. This means you get more power from the same amount of sunlight compared to many other models.

Its design is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry during your orienteering trips. The folded dimensions are roughly 6.3 x 11.1 inches, and it weighs around 18 oz. This ensures that it won't add significant bulk to your gear.

With dual USB ports, you can charge two devices simultaneously. The charger delivers up to 2.0A per port or 3.0A overall when used under direct sunlight. This is suitable for smartphones, tablets, and even smaller devices like GPS units.

Durability is a key feature. The Nekteck 21W is built with a rugged canvas exterior and a PET polymer-faced panel which adds to its weather-resistance. This makes it ideal for use in various outdoor conditions ensuring it can withstand the elements.

To maximize usability, the charger comes with built-in hooks. These make it easy to hang the charger on your backpack or tent. Thus, you can charge your devices while on the move or while resting.

The Nekteck 21W Solar Charger integrates smart IC technology. This feature ensures it automatically identifies the connected device and provides the optimal charging speed. This prevents overcharging, short-circuiting, and overheating.

Overall, for those looking for efficiency, portability, and reliability, the Nekteck 21W Solar Charger is a solid choice for your orienteering trips.

Understanding Solar Chargers

A group of solar chargers laid out on a rocky terrain, surrounded by hiking gear and a map. The sun shines brightly overhead, casting shadows on the ground

Solar chargers transform sunlight into electrical energy using solar panels and are essential for orienteering trips to keep your devices powered. There are different types of solar chargers available that suit various needs and conditions.

How Solar Chargers Work

Solar chargers are equipped with photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. These cells are usually made of silicon and are arranged in a panel. When sunlight hits the panel, the cells generate a direct current (DC), which is then typically converted into alternating current (AC) to charge your devices.

Efficiency plays a significant role in the performance of solar chargers. Panels with high-efficiency cells capture more sunlight and produce more electricity. Weather conditions and the angle of sunlight also affect the amount of energy generated. Overcast skies can reduce the efficiency, whereas optimal sunlight conditions yield higher output.

Durability is another key aspect, especially for outdoor activities. Look for solar chargers with protective coatings and durable materials that can withstand rough conditions. Portability is essential, too, as you'll need a charger that is lightweight and easy to carry.

Types of Solar Chargers

There are three main types of solar chargers commonly used for orienteering trips: portable solar panels, solar power banks, and solar backpacks.

Portable solar panels are foldable and lightweight, making them easy to pack and deploy. They provide a larger surface area for capturing sunlight and are ideal for setting up at campsites.

Solar power banks combine a battery with solar panels, allowing you to store energy for later use. This type is useful when you need to charge devices at night or during periods with less sunlight. The capacity of the battery is crucial for backup power needs.

Solar backpacks integrate solar panels into the fabric of the backpack, providing a convenient way to charge devices while on the move. This type is beneficial for keeping your devices charged throughout the day without extra equipment.

Choose the type that fits your orienteering needs, considering factors like weight, portability, and energy storage capacity.

Features to Look for in a Solar Charger

A solar charger sitting on a rocky surface, surrounded by trees and a clear sky. The charger is compact, lightweight, and equipped with multiple USB ports

When choosing a solar charger, consider its portability, charging speed, and durability to ensure it meets your needs during orienteering trips.

Portability and Size

A compact, lightweight solar charger is crucial for easy transportation. Aim for models that weigh less than a pound and can fold or collapse for efficient packing. Devices with built-in hooks or loops for attaching to backpacks are beneficial. Dimensions matter because larger panels often generate more power but can be cumbersome. Balance power output with your capacity to carry the device comfortably over long distances.

Charging Speed

Charging speed is critical, especially in remote locations. Check the output rating (measured in watts) to understand the power a charger can generate under optimal conditions. A charger with a higher wattage (10W-20W) will typically charge devices faster. Consider chargers with USB ports that support fast charging technologies like Quick Charge or USB-C. Integrated battery storage is a plus, allowing you to store energy and charge devices later.

Durability and Weather Resistance

Durable solar chargers withstand the physical demands of orienteering. Choose models made from high-quality, rugged materials like industrial-grade plastic or reinforced fabric. Waterproof or water-resistant chargers ensure functionality in various weather conditions, including sudden rain showers. Look for an IP (Ingress Protection) rating of at least IP65, indicating strong weather resistance. Shock-resistant features can protect the charger from drops and impacts.

Selecting a reliable solar charger enhances your orienteering experience by providing consistent power in differing environments.

Maintaining Your Solar Charger

A solar charger sits on a rocky surface, surrounded by orienteering gear. The sun shines down, casting a warm glow on the charger as it harnesses the energy to power devices

Proper maintenance ensures your solar charger remains efficient and extends its lifespan. Focus on proper storage, careful handling, and regular cleaning to keep it in top shape.

Proper Storage and Handling

Store your solar charger in a cool, dry place to avoid moisture damage. Keep it in a case to protect it from scratches or physical impacts.

Avoid dropping or bending the charger, as this can damage the solar panels. When packing for a trip, place it on top, away from heavy items. If your charger has a battery pack, ensure it's fully charged before storage.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Regularly clean the surface of the solar panels with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they can damage the panels. For stubborn grime, a mix of mild soap and water works well.

Check for any cracks or damage to the panels and cables. Replace damaged parts immediately to prevent further issues. Periodically test the charger to ensure it's working efficiently before any big trip.