These days, car camping and overlanding typically involve a ton of gear, including everything from smartphones and tablets to drones and portable refrigerators. Most of it requires power and, if you’re going off-grid for any length of time, you'll need plenty of it. Thankfully, solar gear — including portable power stations and the solar panels that fuel them — has caught up to the needs of tech-savvy off-grid explorers.
Whatever your power needs, there’s an option for you. If you’re a solo backpacker who obsesses over every gram you pack, there’s an ultra-portable solar power solution for you. For overlanders who pack everything and the kitchen sink, there are heavy-duty battery banks designed to run any standard household appliance, including hairdryers, microwaves, and even power tools. Car campers seeking a middle-of-the-road option have the most choice of all. But dialing in the right solution for your on-the-go power needs can be tricky. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up the best solar gear for exploring off-grid in 2022.
Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station
Best for Overlanders
The Yeti 1500X Portable Power Station is among the largest portable power stations in Goal Zero’s arsenal. With a massive 1,500Wh capacity and a new 2,000W AC inverter, it’s designed to handle even the most power-hungry expeditions. It’s even big enough to double as a home backup during power emergencies. Plus, with the optional, the Yeti 1500X charges from zero to full in about three hours.
Anker 535 Portable Power Station
Best for Car Campers
Anker’s mid-sized 535 Portable Power Station stores more than 500Wh of power — an ideal capacity for car campers looking to keep small to mid-sized gadgets topped up while off-grid. The next-gen lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery is designed for better reliability and to outlast traditional lithium-ion power packs. A bright, built-in smart display relays all the station’s stats at a glance. With a drop-proof construction, it’s built to survive the rigors of hardcore car camping.
Einova Ultra Fast Power Bank
Best for Backpackers
Small, backpack-friendly batteries are rarely enough to power anything beyond a smartphone. Einova upends that idea with its aptly named Ultra Fast Power Bank. With 63 watts of total output and a 20,000mAH capacity, it’s capable of fast-charging up to three devices simultaneously via USB-A and USB-C ports. Despite its compact size (not much larger than a paperback novella), it’s even beefy enough to charge a laptop.
Dometic PLB40 Portable Lithium Battery
Best for 12V Appliances
For the explorer who packs light but always totes a portable fridge, Dometic’s PLB40 is the perfect solution. At roughly 10 by 8 inches square and weighing just over 16 pounds, it’s a compact alternative to larger portable power packs. The three built-in sockets are designed to keep portable refrigerators, small fans, and other 12V gadgets and appliances going off-grid with more than 512Wh of energy.
Pale Blue Rechargeable Smart Batteries
Best Rechargeable Batteries for Backpackers
Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries are nothing new. But fast-charging, eco-friendly lithium batteries that charge individually are. Pale Blue offers a variety of standard-sized batteries — AA, AAA, C, and D — for powering electronics that still need them. The batteries connect directly via Micro USB to a wall outlet, 12V car port, or even a small solar panel. Indicator lights on each battery detail when they’re charging and when they’re full. They’re the ultimate in portable power for weight-conscious hikers and backpackers looking to keep their camping headlamps, flashlights, and smaller electronics going.
Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel
Best Solar Panel for Overlanders
We love Goal Zero’s Boulder series of solar panels for their durability, portability, and solar power potential. The entry-level Boulder 50 is a versatile option for both car camping and overlanding. Out of the box, it delivers up to 50 watts of power. But with the flexibility of daisy-chaining up to three panels, that output maxes out at 150 watts — more than enough for even the most power-hungry off-grid explorers.
BioLite SolarPanel 10+
Best Solar Panel for Backpackers
For weight-conscious backpackers, BioLite’s SolarPanel 10+ is a featherweight solar panel that makes harnessing the sun’s rays easy. It provides up to 10 watts of useable power via a built-in USB port for charging smaller gadgets like smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras. A 3,200mAh onboard battery stores extra juice for days when the weather isn’t cooperating. The 360-degree stand includes an integrated sundial for finding the optimal angle to the sun. Plus, it weighs just over a pound and folds neatly into the size of an inch-thick stack of paper.
GoSun Go Portable Solar Oven
Best Solar Oven
Harnessing solar power isn’t just about keeping your electronics topped up. GoSun’s Go Portable Solar Oven uses the direct heat of the sun to boil water and even cook entire meals — no batteries required. Setup is lightning fast, and, with a maximum 550-degree interior temp, it’ll cook just about any camping meal in 45 minutes or less. At a little over a foot long and weighing just 2 pounds, it’s ultra-portable for off-grid exploration. Bonus: It’s a great bug-out bag essential for surviving the zombie apocalypse.
Advanced Elements Summer Shower
Best Solar Shower
With the right camp shower, going off-grid doesn’t have to mean forgoing regular hot showers. Advanced Elements’ Summer Shower 2.5 Gallon features heavy-duty, four-layer construction designed to last for years. Simply fill it with water, hang it on the nearest sturdy branch, and wait. On a 70-degree day, in direct sunlight, it’ll heat the water to 100 degrees in less than three hours using nothing but sunlight. It weighs only a pound when empty and rolls flat for easy storage. For couples and larger families, the is a great, upsized alternative.
Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box
Best Solar Rooftop Cargo Box
Yakima’s CBX Solar 16 Roof Box is a unique, all-in-one solution that combines a lockable rooftop cargo box with a solar panel and converter. The sleek storage container is sized just right with 16 cubic feet of space — plenty for most car campers. The built-in converter delivers 36 watts of power via two USB ports for charging smaller gadgets like smartphones and tablets.
Most of us escape into the wilderness to at least partially detox from the tech that surrounds us. But going off-grid doesn’t have to mean ditching all your favorite gadgets. With the right solar gear, you can take everything from laptops to portable espresso makers to pellet stoves far off the beaten path.
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