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portable solar panels camping

Best Foldable Solar Panel For Camping 2022: Reviews &Guide

You have come to the right place.

Foldable solar panels provide the easy portability of solar backpacks, but with added power output.

The large surface area of the solar panel when unfolded allows you to charge your devices in less time.

That said, a foldable solar panel is unlikely to power your camping mini fridge and other appliancesdirectly. Foldable solar panels are designed mostly to recharge devices like smartphones, tablets,drones, power banksand cameras.

You can also use a foldable solar panel to charge a power pack, even one big enough to power small appliances. If you have a solar generator, having a foldable solar panel allowsyou keep the battery charged even when you are outdoors. 


What’s In this Buying Guide?

In this buying guide, we review and compare the best foldable solar panels for camping. We also explain the features to look for when shopping for a foldable solar panel.


The Best Foldable Solar Panels for Camping 

solar panels for camping
  • RockpalsSP003

  • Best overall
  • 100W output
  • 3 USB ports + 1 18V DC
  • Special ports: QC3.0
  • Folded size: 20.5 x 14.2 x 2.6 in
  • Weight: 10.1lbs

best solar panel for camping
  • RockpalsSP002

  • Best budget
  • 60W output
  • 3 USB ports + 1 18V DC
  • Special ports: QC3.0
  • Folded size: 13.8x 13.4x 2.4 in
  • Weight: 5.6lbs

camping solar panel
  • TwelSeavan120W

  • Best for charging large solar generators
  • 120W output
  • 3 USB ports + 1 18V DC
  • Special ports: QC3.0 and USB-C PD
  • Folded size: 20.5 x 14.4 x 1.6 in
  • Weight: 9.5lbs

best camping solar panel
  • BigBlue 28W

  • Best for charging devices
  • 28W output
  • 3 USB ports
  • Special ports: None
  • Folded size: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3in
  • Weight: 1.3lbs

solar power for camping
  • QiSa Solar

  • Best with power bank
  • 15W output
  • 2 USB ports + wireless charging
  • Special ports: None
  • Folded size: 7.2 x 4.3 x 1.8 in
  • Weight: 1.5lbs

portable solar panels for camping
  • Renogy 200

  • Best 200W Foldable Solar Suitcase
  • 200W output
  • No USB ports
  • Special ports: None
  • Folded size: 35.6 x 25.9 x 3.1 in
  • Weight: 44.6lbs

portable solar panels for camping
  • Goal Zero Boulder 200W

  • Best for Goal Zero Yeti power stations
  • 200W output
  • No ports
  • Special ports: None
  • Folded size: 40 x 26.75 x 3.5 in
  • Weight: 42lbs

portable solar panels for camping

The Rockpals SP003 is the best foldable solar panel for most campers. Its 100W output is enough to charge devices and recharge a portable power station.  

Pros

  • Wide compatibility with solar generators.
  • Three USB ports, with Quick Charge technology.
  • 18V DC output.
  • Water resistant. 
  • Folds into a portable suitcase

Cons

  • Not waterproof.
  • A bit heavy.

Our Review

The Rockpals SP003 comes ready to charge up your devices. You get three USB devices to connect your phone, tablet, kindle, camera, Bluetooth speaker and any other USB-chargeable device you have with you.

One of the USB ports as Quick Charging technology that charges your phone significantly faster than conventional USB ports.

The other two USB outlets are the normal type with 2.4A max output. The one other output is an 18V DC port that you use to charge a solar generator or power station using the included MC4 cable.

To ensure compatibility with most solar generators, theRockpals SP003 comes with 10 different DC connectors that are compatible with power stations from major brands like Suaoki, Goal Zero and Jackery (except Jackery 440).

The Rockpals SP003 uses high-efficiency solar arrays (21.5-23.5% conversion) to get the most out of sun’s energy. This allow for fast and efficient charging even on overcast days. Most users were able to get close to the full 100W output in different kinds of weather.

As for portability, the Rockpals SP003 folds into a compact briefcase that you can carry by hand or stuff into a bag.

You can charge your devices on the go by attaching the solar panel to the back of your hiking bag using the holes at the corners of the solar panel. If you are driving, lay out the solar panel on your car’s or RV’s dash and it’ll charge through the window.

Issues and Limitations 

The Rockpals SP003 foldable solar panel is water resistant (IPX4), not waterproof. It’ll be okay if it’s caught in a light shower or gets some water splashed on it, but do not leave it out in the rain or snow.

At 10.1lbs, the Rockpals SP003 is heavy for a foldable solar panel. This is not an issue if most of the camping sites you’ll be going to are accessible by car. But if you plan to do lots of walking and hiking, we recommend getting a lighter foldable solar panellike the ROCKPALS SP002.


solar panels camping

If you are looking for something cheaper, we recommend the Rockpals SP003’s smaller sibling. The ROCKPALS SP002 has an output of 60W, making it ideal for charging devices and smaller portable power stations.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • USB fast charging.
  • Multiple DC connectors.

Cons

  • Not waterproof.
  • Charges devices slower compared to a 100W panel.

Our Review

60W is a significant step down from 100W, but it’s still much better than the 18W or 20W foldable solar panels that can only charge a smartphone.

With the ROCKPALS SP002’s three USB ports, you can charge any USB-chargeable device including smartphones, tablets and drones. One of the ports has Quick Charge technology that fill up your phone battery in record time.

The ROCKPALS SP002 also includes an 18V DC port for charging solar generators. The solar panel comes with a variety of DC connectors for wide compatibility with power stations from different brands.

Thanks to the high efficiency solar cells, the ROCKPALS SP002 is able to charge devices and power banks quickly even on cloudy days. With enough sunshine, charging a smartphone or tablet takes 2-3 hours. You can fill up a 200-300Wh solar station in 7-12 hours.

Carrying the ROCKPALS SP002 around is not a problem. It’s half the weight of the ROCKPALS SP003, making it easy to carry by hand.

Once you are done charging your device, it folds into a compact suitcase for easier portabity.

Similar to the SP003, the ROCKPALS SP002 has two corner holes you can use to hang it from the back of your backpack for on-the-go charging.

Issues and Limitations 

The lower wattage of the ROCKPALS SP002 means it charges devices slower compared to the 100W ROCKPALS SP003.

If you camp a lot in places with unreliable sunshine or if you want to charge a large power station quickly (over 300Wh), we recommend the ROCKPALS SP003 instead.

You can still charge a 300Wh or 500Wh solar generator with the ROCKPALS SP002, but it’ll take a few days of good sunshine to charge it to capacity (assuming you don’t drain the power station at night).


3. Best for Charging Large Solar Generators: TwelSeavan 120W Portable Solar Panel Charger

camping solar panels

If you have a 300Wh, 500Wh or larger solar generator, trying to charge it with a 60W or 100W foldable solar panel will take an entire day or even two.

The 120WTwelSeavan solar panel pushes out more power, allowing you to charge large power stations in a matter of hours.

Pros

  • High power output – faster charging.
  • Quick charge technology.
  • Comes with 10 DC connectors for wide compatibility.
  • 4 charging ports including QC and USB-C PD ports.
  • Includes kickstands for easier positioning.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • A bit heavy

Our Review

The 120W output comes in handy for campers who own large solar generators with a capacity of 300Wh or more.

Instead of waiting the whole days, or several days for a 60W or 100W solar panel to charge the battery, you can have the solar generator charged up in a matter of hours using the 120W TwelSeavan solar panel.

The output is split between four outlets: three USB ports and one 18V DC port.

The three USB ports consist of one conventional 5V/2.1A outlet, a Quick Charge (QC3.0) outlet and a USB-C PD outlet. Both the QC and PD outlets allow you to charge devices faster.

The 18V outlet lets you charge different solar generators using the included MC4 cable and one of the 10 DC connectors.

The TwelSeavan solar panel folds into a compact briefcase with a handle for easy carrying by hand. When you want to charge something, it takes just a few seconds to unfold the solar panel. We love that it comes with metal kickstands that allow you to angle the solar panels for better exposure to the sun.

It also includes four mounting holes, one at each corner. They allow you to mount the solar panel on the back of a backpack, on a tree, on the wall or roof of your tent or any other surface.

Issues and Limitations 

Not surprisingly, the TwelSeavan solar panel costs quite a bit more than 100W solar panels. If you are on a budget, consider the 100W or 60W foldable solar panel from ROCKPALS.

Another issue is the weight. Weighing close to 10lbs, the TwelSeavan solar panel can be a hassle to carry by hand over long distances. It’s certainly not the best choice for hiking.


4. Best for Charging Devices: BigBlue 3 USB Ports 28W Solar Charger

best solar panels for camping

If the main reason you want a foldable solar panel is to keep your smartphone, tablet, power bank or another device charged, you don’t need a pricey 100W solar panel. The much cheaper BigBlue28W foldable solar charger will do.

Pros

  • Low price.
  • Small and lightweight.
  • Smart phone charging technology.
  • Includes carabiners for use with backpack.
  • Great for hiking.

Cons

  • Doesn’t charge power stations.
  • No fast charging technology.

Our Review

If you don’t have a solar generator, you don’t need a 100W foldable solar panel. The cheaper and lighter 28W BigBlue foldable solar charger will keep all your devices charged.

With good sunshine, it’ll charge your phone or tablet to capacity in a few hours. You can also use it to charge a power bank for later use. It takes roughly a full day of sunshine to charge a 10,000-20,000mAh power bank.

The BigBlue solar panel has three 5V USB outlets, so you can connect multiple devices at the same time. Smart charging technology recognizes your devices and delivers the safest max current to optimize charging speed.

The solar charger will automatically protect your devices from overcharging, short-circuiting and overheating.

One of the best things about the BigBlue solar charger is its portability. It weighs a little over one pound and folds into a very compact size.

This makes it an especially good choice if you plan to do some hiking on some of your camping trips. You can carry the BigBlue in your backpack or even strap it unfolded at the back using the included carabiners for on-the-go charging.

Issues and Limitations 

The 28W output limits what you can charge using the BigBlue solar panel.It works best with USB-chargeable devices. And even then, it can struggle to charge high-capacity power banks. It may take the whole day to fill up a 10,000-20,000mAh battery.

One thing you cannot charge with the BigBlue solar panel is a solar generator. Not only would it take days to charge the battery, it doesn’t even come with an 18V DC outlet to connect a solar charging cable.


5. Best with Power Bank: QiSa 35800mAh Solar Power Bank

portable solar panels camping

One limitation with most foldable solar panels is that they don’t store power. The solar panel feeds solar power directly into your devices. If you want to store power, you have to connect a power bank or solar generator.

The QiSa solar charger saves you the cost of buying a power bank separately. The solar charger comes with a 35800mAh power bank that is charged by four small solar panelswith a total output of 15W.

Pros

  • Includes a large power bank.
  • Includes two USB ports and wireless charging.
  • Waterproof.
  • Integrated flashlight.

Cons

  • Charges slowly.

Our Review

The QiSa solar charger features four solar chargers that fold over the integrated power bank. The combined output of the solar panels is 15W, which is low compared to other foldable solar panels.

But it’s enough to charge the 35800mAh power brick over several hours. You can lay the solar panels on the ground, on the dash of your car or hanging from the back of your hiking backpack.

The huge capacity of the power bank means you can charge multiple devices or one device several times over before you need to recharge it.

And by the way, if you have access to a power outlet, you can plug the power bank in for faster charging. Leave the solar panels for when you are off grid.

The power bank gives you three ways to charge your devices: two USB ports with a max output of 3.1A and a 10W wireless charging function.

The wireless charging feature works with Qi-enabled smartphones.

With a waterproof, dustproof and drop proof design, the QiSa solar charger is designed to withstand rough outdoor use. It’ll hold up well through hours or days of camping, hiking, cycling and whatever other outdoor activities you love.

Issues and Limitations 

When charging the power bank through the solar panels, you’ll notice it takes much longer than it does when it’s plugged into an outlet.

At 15W, the solar panels don’t put out a ton of power. It takes several hours of strong sunshine to fill the power bank.

Thankfully, the power bank’s capacity is big, so it doesn’t drain quickly.

Some users also say the power bank feels like a brick; it’s a bit hefty and cumbersome to carry around. This is a problem if you plan to go hiking.

But remember you can strap the solar panel at the back of your backpack. It’ll charge on the go and you don’t have to carry it by hand.


6. Best 200W Foldable Solar Suitcase: Renogy 200 Watt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase

best portable solar panels for camping

If you want lots of power, foldable suitcase-style solar panels tend to have a higher output than other types of foldable solar panels.

A good example is the Renogy 200 Watt foldable solar suitcase. The high-output solar panel is ideal for charging battery banks and portable solar generators.

Pros

  • High output – charges large power stations fast.
  • Built-in charge controller.
  • Heavy duty aluminum stand.
  • Includes protective canvas casing.

Cons

  • Heavy.
  • Pricey.

Our Review

The Renogy foldable solar suitcase is designed specifically to recharge battery banks and solar generators. Unlike other foldable solar panels, it doesn’t even have built-in USB ports where you can plug in your devices.

Instead, it comes with cabling that feeds power directly into a solar generator.

The Renogy suitcase is a great choice for keeping large power stations (500Wh and higher)charged. The high power output provides quick charging even on cloudy days. It’s also a good choice for keeping your portable power station charged during extended camping trips.

To manage all that power, the Renogy suitcase comes with a built-in 20A PWM solar charge controller. This protects your solar generator or battery bank from overcharging.

The charge controller has a small screen so you can monitor the amount of power coming from the two 100Wsolar panels.

If you already have a charge controller, you can bypass the one that’s provided and connect the leads into your existing charge controller instead.

Issues and Limitations 

The Renogy foldable solar suitcase is heavy. Weighing 44.6lbs, it won’t be fun to carry it around by hand. We recommend it if you often visit campsites accessible by vehicle. That way, you won’t have to carry it by hand over long distances.

It’s also a great choice for RV camping. You can use the solar panel to keep your RV batteries charged.

Another issue is the high price tag. If you are shopping for a budget foldable solar panel, you’ll have better lack with the lower-wattage options we’ve reviewed above. 


7. Best for Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations: Goal Zero Boulder 200W Briefcase Solar Panel

boulder 200 solar panel briefcase

Goal Zero Yeti solar generators have special solar charging ports (8mm or HPP) that are not compatible with the cables included with most solar panels.

If you don't want the hassle of looking for the right adapter for your Yeti power station, we recommend buying Goal Zero’s own Boulder 200W briefcase.

It folds up into a compact portable briefcase, and the high 200-watt output allows you to quickly recharge a large Yeti power station.

Pros

  • High output.
  • Compact briefcase design.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Includes a carrying case.

Cons

  • Heavy.
  • Pricey.
  • Non-adjustable kickstand.

Our Review

boulder solar panel

Along with the Renogy 200W suitcase, the Goal Zero Boulder briefcase is the highest-output solar panel among our picks.

It’s great for recharging larger Goal Zero Yeti power stations such as the 1000X, the 1500X and the 3000X.

As with most solar panels, you probably won’t get the full 200W output most of the time. But users have reached as high as 180W on sunny days, and that’s pretty good.

It’s enough to charge the Yeti 1000X in 6-12 hours, the 1500X in 9-18 hours, and the 3000X in 18-36 hours. 

The Boulder briefcase comes with a sturdy kickstand that supports the open solar panel at an angle. A Yeti-compatible solar charging cable is also included. It’s 6ft long, but you can order a 15-feet extension cable if you need a longer reach.

As for portability, the Goal Zero Boulder briefcase is compact enough to carry in your truck or RV. When folded, it measures slightly over four feet long by about two feet high. It even comes with a case for easier portability.

But it’s heavy. We certainly don't recommend it for hiking. But if you are driving directly to the campsite, it’s perfect.

Issues & Limitations

If you are looking for a lightweight foldable solar panel you can carry by hand over long distances, the Goal Zero Boulder 200 is not it. It weighs 42lbs.

The Boulder briefcase is also not the best choice for campers on a budget. It costs more than even other 200W solar panels like Renogy.

That said, we think it’s worth the price. Build quality is better than competitors, performance is great even in low light, and it’s likely to last longer.

However,, it would have been nice for Goal Zero to include an adjustable kickstand for the price. The one the Boulder briefcase comes with stays at a single angle, so you can’t adjust the solar panel tilt as the sun moves across the sky.

Overall, despite the high price tag and hefty construction, the Goal Zero Boulder briefcase is the best foldable solar panel for campers with a Yeti power station. Specifically, we recommend it for the bigger models - the Yeti 1000X, 1500X, and 3000X.

If you have a smaller 200Wh or 500Wh Yeti Power station, Goal Zero sells smaller, and cheaper, foldable solar panels that work fine for these solar generators.


Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Foldable Solar Panel for Camping 

portable solar panels camping

Here are the most important features to consider when shopping for a foldable solar panel.

Output 

The amount of watts the foldable solar panel produces determines how fast you can charge you devices and solar generator.

A 100W solar panel will charge your smartphone in less time compared to a small 20W panel. A 200W solar panel will be even faster at filling up a portable solar generator.

More wattage comes with other advantages, too. For one, a high-output foldable solar panel is better for charging a large solar generator.

Secondly, a high-wattage solar panel will perform reliable in a variety of weather conditions. Even when it’s cloudy, you can still get a decent amount of power from the solar panel.

Of course, the higher the wattage of a foldable solar panel, the more it’ll cost. You’ll need to balance between your power needs and budget.

If you only need to charge a couple smartphones and maybe a tablet, a 15-30W solar panel will do. If you want to charge your devices, consider foldable solar panels with an output of 60W and above.

100W is the best choice for charging most solar generators in addition to devices. For charging large solar generators with a capacity over 500Wh, get a foldable solar suitcase with a minimum 200W output.

Portability 

All fordable solar panels are, in a way, portable compared to large rigid panels. But the degree of portability varies from ‘I can carry it on a long hike’ to ‘I can only carry it a few yards from the car to the campsite’.

If you often camp in places not accessible by car, get a lightweight foldable solar panel that’s not too bulky. We recommend getting something that’s under 3lbs. If you want a solar panel you can use when hiking, get one that’s even lighter – around 1lb.

Just keep in mind that a lighter foldable solar panel means fewer watts.

If you’ll be doing most of your travelling by car or RV, you can afford to buy a heavier foldable solar panel with more wattage. Just make sure you can carry it over short distances.

Outlets 

Check the number and type of outlets the foldable solar panel has.

Most foldable solar panels offer at least three USB outlets plus one 18V DC outlet for connecting to a solar generator.

Smaller solar panels meant for charging smartphones and other devices may have just USB outlets and no DC port. Bigger foldable solar panels, such as the suitcase style 200W models, may have just the DC port and no USB outlets.

For most campers, the USB + DC combo is the best. You can charge your phone while topping up your Goal Zero or Jackery solar generator.

Don’t forget to check what kind of USB ports are available. We highly recommend getting a foldable solar panel with at least one QC-enabled outlet. QC stands for quick charge. It allows your phone to charge much faster.

Weatherproof

You are going to be using the solar panel outside, so it’s important to make sure it can withstand bad weather.

Get a foldable solar panel that’s at least water resistant, meaning it can withstand light showers and an accidental splash of water.

Some foldable solar panels are totally waterproof, providing added protection.


FAQs

How do I position a foldable solar panel for optimal performance ?

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, make sure you lay out the solar panel facing south.Do not lay the panels flat on the ground; instead, tilt them at a 30-40 degree angle towards the south.

How much solar power do I need for camping?

It depends on how many items and devices you want to charge. If it’s just a couple of smartphones and maybe a tablet, even a 20W solar panel will be enough. You can charge your phone directly or use the solar panel to charge a power bank.

If you have a few appliances that run off a portable power station, you’ll need at least 60W to charge the power station.

For most portable solar generators, a 100W foldable solar panel is enough to recharge the lithium battery over several hours.

How many devices can I charge with a foldable solar panel?

It depends on the number of outlets on the solar panel.Most have three USB outlets.

About the Author David Roberts

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.

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