Solar charged power banks

Can anybody advise on a portable solar and mains power bank small and compact that will be suitable for charging up a cell phone,GPS and camera ?

Hi Chris

If you are looking at Solar then the best product on the market is GoalZero and Powertraveller. Unfortunately with the best solar technology the price is quite steep. My suggestion would be the Powertraveller Extreme Solar which can be used to directly charge your units from the solar charger but that is only the solar charger which costs about R1299. You would then also still need a powerbank to store the energy and that comes as the Powertraveller Extreme package which retails for about R2499. The downside to solar is that it is not yet as lightweight and small as the powerbanks where you just charge it and then use it and it runs out.

On the GoalZero side you will be looking at the Nomad 7 Plus which can also be used to charge directly from the sun into a USB device. To be able to charge your phone and GPS etc you will look at the Guide 10 plus solar for about R2199.

Otherwise you can look at any other regular powerbank like Red-E, Romoss or GoalZero on the market.

Hope this helps.


I bought the Red-E for Tsitsikamma Trail, didn’t recharge properly, very very, slow. Walked whole day with it exposed to the sun - no luck. Took it back and it was replaced. Had the same problem on Whale Trail.
Afrikaans Saying: “Goedkoop koop, is duur koop”. Spend the money if you have to use a solar charger.

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Hi Chris,
I’ve been the happy owner of a Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme battery and solar pack for three years. It’s very robust and I find that if your requirements are just cell phone, GPS and camera (all must be 5V or 12V devices) and you spread your charging wisely, then your devices can be charged sufficiently to function for a number of days(depends on the amount of sunlight) The solar panel daisy chains with the battery unit so you can recharge it while the devices are charging from the battery. Charging up an iPhone6 from ‘low’ battery to full does draw about 50% of the battery but it’s relatively fast, it takes a few hours using the solar panel directly. I tend to use the solar to charge the battery and the battery to charge my devices. The solar panel also straps neatly to the outside of a back pack so it’s useful to charge the battery while hiking during daylight hours. So aim to keep the battery pack charged using the solar panel where possible. Overall, I’m very impressed with this product. It’s well worth spending the extra money for good technical gear.


Can confirm that, it’s cr@p. I lost mine luckily. Sure somewhere in the fine print it will state it need 48 hours in sunlight to charge full. :expressionless:

Closed topic, technology and our requirements move on.
Ive used a Power monkey pro with the extra solar panel and the Camera battery charger for the past few years. most Ive pushed it was to keep an iPhone charged throughout Kilimanjaro hike as well as charging two Li-ion camera batteries over the 7 days.I took 2 extra AA batteries for the GPS

But Im looking for something better now.

What i learnt was to carry a solar powered “bug” which vibrated very subtly when exposed to the Sunlight. I mounted this on the external panel so I had a subtle reminder that the panel was in the sun. It was not invasive at all and ensured that I could charge the battery pack twice in one day, allowing me to charge the phone between 11:00 and 12:00 then recharge in the afternoon and charge the camera battery after sunset.

You (generally) cant recharge a device battery at the same time as charging the power bank battery. Be aware of this, it might be why some devices appear to not work. look out for passthrough charging which does allow this.

My next investment needs to be capable of keeping the following devices charged:
Camera Li-ion battery 7.6v 1300mah 2 charges = 2600mah
Garmin watch 3.6v 430mah - 2 charges = 860mah
DJI Osmo Pocket 850mah 3 charges = 2550mah
Phone 1800mah - 5 times = 9000mah
Total 15010 mah
Writing that down I realise how we’ve come to rely on technology to remain motivated. (Im still not 100% sold on the GPS watch for remote regions its a mixed blessing. My casio Promaster has been running non stop for 8 years thanks to its solar charging facility, I doubt Ill be using the GPS watch in 8 years time!).

With up to 30,000Mah Power banks available weighing 610gms, I think Ill leave solar panels for charging car batteries to keep the beers int he fridge cold, not use it on the trail.

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Agree here. I looked at a bunch of the solar chargers, and for what they cost/weigh versus efficiency they don’t really make sense at the moment.

If you were doing a really long unsupported hike with high safety requirements around tech? Sure, I can see a place there. But anything a week or under, it doesn’t add up to not just use powerbanks. With the solar charger you are going to need to carry them anyway :man_shrugging:

Just seems like unless you are in a very specific circumstance they are almost always going to struggle to beat out a 20,000mAh bank for a longer trip. For the 3 or 4 day trips I normal manage to squeeze in a 7000mAh seems to be a great size to handle my phone/gps and headlight. And that is like 100 grams.

Different things for different circumstances I guess. But without a significant jump in tech, it feels like solar is few and far between at the moment.

If you are interested in powerbanks and hiking, then this is a great comparison index.

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