Best Portable Solar Chargers

Technology has made a big impact on our lives as humans over the past forty years. But now electronics are becoming more powerful and portable. Every single person travels with their phone or other favorite electronics on them, but what do you do when you see that terrible low battery signal and you are nowhere near a power outlet to charge? You could be lost in the middle of the woods and need a source of power to charge your device, but what could provide you with enough power to charge your device in the middle of the woods? The answer to getting a charge to your device is with a portable solar charger. These types of chargers convert energy from the sun to charge the devices that are connected to it. They are great accessories to have in your camping or emergency gear as you will always have the sun to provide you with energy and ensure your devices have power.

Now let’s say you want to add a portable solar charger to your gear so you’re prepared in case you run into a situation where you need an emergency source of power to charge a device, but don’t know the first thing about this technology or which charger would best fit your needs. We have saved you some hassle and done the research to list the top ten portable solar chargers on the market, and what makes each the best. We have also listed some criteria to make you more familiar with this technology and explain why it is a great piece of gear to have on hand.

Last Updated: September 14, 2018
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By Mackenzie Jervis:

This list of portable solar chargers has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed portable solar chargers to keep your devices and electronics charged even when you are in the middle of nowhere through the power of the sun. A portable solar charger to keep your eye on is the SunJack Solar Charger. We love this addition because it is highly rated, compact, and charges devices quickly.

Anker Charger
  • Anker Charger
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Dual USB ports
  • Price: See Here
RAV Power 16W Solar
  • RAV Power 16W Solar
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Eccen Foldable
  • Eccen Foldable
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Portable Solar Chargers

 

Anker Charger

Compared to the rest, you may not see anything new and innovative here. But, what you will see is pure-quality and a solar charger that anyone should be proud to own and use.
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Charging Technology

With dual-USB ports, the Anker Solar Charger can charge two devices simultaneously. Sporting 21-watts of power and an efficiency rate that ranges from 21.5 to 23.5 percent, you can rest assured that it succeeds where it matters the most.

Portability

Besides the fact that it is highly-portable in its own right, with a foldable design, it features stainless-steel eye-holes that allow for easy attachment to backpacks and other objects.

Durability and Protection

Anker ensures that the solar panel itself and your devices will both be perfectly safe and secure. For the panel, it is crafted from an industrial-strength PET polymer with weather-resistant properties. Meanwhile, short circuit and surge protection technology protect your electronic devices.

Seller Options

What you see is what you get here, but there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Included with the solar power charger is an 18-month warranty, a micro-USB cable and a welcome guide.

Overall

When you have access to direct sunlight, it is hard to beat this solar panel. However, as soon as cloud cover arises the unit will power down. But, as you have already seen, this is more than worth an investment.
Pros
  • Crafted from industrial-strength PET polymer
  • Compatible with several USB devices
  • Dual-USB ports can charge simultaneously
Cons
  • Even in full sunlight, does not reach maximum power
  • Under any cloud cover, the unit will shut down
 

RavPower 16W Solar Phone Charger

The RavPower 16W Solar Phone Charger is a great, moderately-priced option for those looking for a charger that will do the trick on those long nature hikes.
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Charging Technology

With its solar power technology, this case delivers ultra-efficient solar cells (over 20 percent) to power your phone when it has access to direct sunlight.

Portability

At just 15 ounces, the RavPower 16W is lightweight especially for a three-panel design. While not the lightest on our list, it's definitely up there with the lightest. For its size that's especially impressive.

Durability and Protection

While there are some more durable chargers on the list, the RavPower 16W scores moderately. Most reviewers don't see any damage on normal use but also noted that the panels didn't seem quite as integrated as other options on the list.

Overall

While there are some drawbacks to this option, there is plenty to like. The fast charge, compact and portable design, and ease of use is something that many outdoors people enjoy when wanting to charge their devices.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Reasonably priced
Cons
  • Won't charge multiple devices at once
 

Eceen Foldable

Eceen Foldable
This next solar charger excels in many areas, but unfortunately, does have a design flaw that many will be disappointed in. However, nothing is perfect, so do not think that this flaw automatically indicates this model is incompetent.
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Charging Technology

Equipped with a USB port, you can charge nearly every device that you can think of. When charging, this solar panel uses sun power solar cells to provide 13-watts of power at a 22 percent efficiency rate.

Portability

Clocking in at around one pound, you will hardly feel this solar panel in your backpack or bag. But, note, when you hang it from your pack it can cause the threads to tear.

Durability and Protection

Being crafted from a high-quality polyester, the solar charger is resistant to the inclement weather outdoors. Also, the unique design manages to stabilize the voltage to protect your devices while they are charging.

Seller Options

For the same price, there are two different color variations: black and camouflage.

Additional Noteworthy Features

So you can stand the panel up to achieve the best source of sunlight possible, this is equipped with a stand-support design.

Overall

Unfortunately, when you use carabiners to hang the solar charger from your backpack it can damage the threads that are being used to support it. But, this is only a minor blip in the radar.
Pros
  • A voltage regulator design manages to stabilize the voltage while charging devices
  • The USB-port makes it suitable to charge smartphones and other USB devices
  • The polyester canvas provides a perfect amount of protection
Cons
  • Does not charge super-fast
  • The threads are not suitable for holding the pack on your backpack
 

Instapark Solar Panel

Instapark Solar Panel
When this solar panel works, it is glorious. However, cloud cover can be an issue. Yes, they can still operate under cloud cover but this particular model will not very well. Again, on sunny days, this does exactly what it was designed to perform.
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Charging Technology

Instapark integrates dual-USB ports and 100 percent green energy to provide you with its charging capabilities. But, even when opaque clouds begin to roll in, this will discharge and stop working efficiently.

Portability

As this has a foldable design and can be packed away snugly, it will easily fit inside any travel bag that you have. To paint a picture, it folds up to the size of a hardcover book.

Durability and Protection

The panels will hold up well to moderate water, but it can’t be promised that it will survive under heavy rainfall. In addition, with the USB ports exposed, water can damage and corrode them.

Seller Options

The lone seller option only has 10-watts of power and there are no additional options for either capacity or colors.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Most notable here is the fact that Instapark backs this up with their one-year warranty. In the instance where you feel this is not as great as advertised, or you receive a defected solar panel, you can contact the seller.

Overall

Sure, this does not quite hold up to the other solar chargers on this list. But, it made the list and that says something by itself. On cloudy days, this may provide serious aggravation for you, but on those luxurious sunny days, this should satisfy your needs.
Pros
  • Comes equipped with multiple USB ports
  • When carrying it in your pack, it is very lightweight
  • Includes the manufacturer’s one-year warranty
Cons
  • Even under opaque cloud cover, this solar panel will stop charging your devices

Voltaic Systems Arc 20

Voltaic Systems Arc 20
The Arc 20 from Voltaic Systems is the embodiment of what all solar chargers aspire to be. It offers you fast charging, a waterproof exterior, and compatibility for any device you can think of.
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Charging Technology

With 20 watts of power, the V72 battery that is included can charge most laptops in 6.5 hours and around one hour for smartphones (under direct sunlight). The Arc 20 is designed to charge thousands of USB devices.

Portability

Past the fact that it weighs only 3.25 pounds, you have a few carrying options. You can either choose to stash it inside of a pack or mount it on a backpack or bicycle with the sturdy metal grommets.

Durability and Protection

Utilizing ETFE coating, you are promised folding panels that are waterproof, UV, and scratch-resistant. With this type of coating, you can expect it to last around three times longer than the average weather coating.

Seller Options

There are no further seller options available; you only have the option for a 20-watt solar charger.

Additional Noteworthy Features

For convenience, included with this panel is a USB-backup battery. So, even when the sun is not shining at all, you have a source of power as this battery will store its solar energy.

Overall

It is difficult to ask for much further than Voltaic Systems provides here. Outside of a minor issue with the LED lighting, as it does not properly signify how much power your device has, everything is as close to perfection as you can get.
Pros
  • Due to its compact and foldable design, it is easily transportable
  • Coated with waterproof ETFE for extra durability
  • The included V72 battery, in full sunlight, takes around 6.5 hours to charge
Cons
  • The LED indicator lights are flawed as they signify the wrong amount of battery life for a specific device

Voltaic Systems Amp

Voltaic Systems Amp
It did not take too long for Voltaic Systems to make another appearance on this list and their Amp Charger, while not quite as good as the last, is more than capable in its own right.
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Charging Technology

With its wide range of compatibility, this bad boy will charge thousands of devices. But, as long as you are under good sunlight, it also succeeds in charging devices with a total peak of 4.4-watts at 6 to 12 volts.

Portability

With a weight of just over one pound, this will easily fit inside any bag you stuff it into. This could include dry bags, backpacks, duffle bags or any other travel bags.

Durability and Protection

To withstand abuse from the most rugged of environments, the folding panels are coated with a self-healing urethane to provide a scratch-resistant, UV-resistant, and waterproof construction.

Seller Options

For the first time, there are actually different selections of colors. You can choose from charcoal, silver and orange.

Additional Noteworthy Features

In times when the sun is not shining, which is likely to happen at some point, there is an included V15 battery that will store solar power. This way, you still have a means to charge your devices.

Overall

The solar panels themselves do not offer an immense amount of wattage, but the backup battery can be used for additional power. Plus, its rugged craftsmanship makes it ideal for any occasion you can imagine.
Pros
  • It is compatible with DSLR camera batteries and thousands of USB devices
  • The panels are UV and scratch-resistant
  • Includes a 15-watt battery for backup purposes
Cons
  • Under moderate sunlight, it can take a long time to charge
  • Has a reverse polarity issue when the sun is not shining, as leaving your device plugged in can drain the battery

SunJack Solar Charger

SunJack Solar Charger
The SunJack Solar Charger is a great option for those looking for a sturdy and durable solar charger to take out into the wilderness. It will help to keep your devices charged while on the go and won't leave you stranded.
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Charging Technology

Being built with SunPower solar cells, this is able to achieve an efficiency percentage of 22 to 25. To achieve the maximum amount of power it can, which is 40-watts, it can automatically adjust the current voltage.

Portability

While it can be a little bulky, the panels can be folded down and fit snugly in any pack. But, if you wish to attach it, the eyeholes allow you to do that.

Durability and Protection

For your protection, more specifically for your devices, this solar panel is certified by the FCC, RoHS and CE. In addition, it has surge protection and short circuit technology to prevent your devices from potential electrical failures.

Seller Options

There are additional seller options, but they are all different from this version.

Overall

Bulkiness aside, this solar panel would make a terrific addition to your arsenal of technology. Its solar technology, safety features, and foldable design truly do speak for themselves.
Pros
  • Portable
  • Charge 2 devices simultaneously
  • one-year warranty
Cons
  • Can be bulky

BigBlue Solar Charger, 28W Solar Panel 

BigBlue Solar Charger, 28W Solar Panel 
A very wide compatibility capability with regards to using environmentally kind green energy for charging up all types of devices. The attachment for transferring the charge is via a micro-sized USB cabling which works with the majority of Android operated devices. You can charge the majority of other phones, Ipads, iPhones, iPods etc and a full range of brand names phones. If you have a none standard device you can obtain a charging cable to work with it.

This outdoor solar charger is good for hiking, exploring, camping, outward bound activities, wherever you are, if you want to create green energy this is the way to do it.
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Charging technology

The smart tech charging system gives a very good performance, when you plug in a device it is automatically detected and given the fastest charge-up speed while the panels remain under direct sunlight.

Sunpower transformation is very efficient at around 21.5% - 23.5%, this means charge-up time is halved compared to many other traditional panels.

High tech designed in Chip & Ammeter, the Solar Charger system is Big Blue 28W which reads out the number of amps and the internal chip which ensures a stable consistent charge.

Portability

This is very easy to carry and can easily be folded and stashed away in a holdall or backpack. This means you can take it anywhere without any difficulty. If you want to use it to charge your phone while on the move, you can use the provided straps to string the panels down your back and connected to your phone to keep it charged.

Durability/Protection

Constructed with a durable Polymer material which ensures the charger is weatherproof against light rain, fog or damp mist, the key construction material is industrial grade (PET) Polymer Fabric which comes with a full 24-month guarantee.

Additional Noteworthy Features

The solar charger is compatible with iPad, iPhones, iPods,  Andriod operated phones from Samsung Sony, Nexus and comes with a micro USB cable (1x). Compatible with all USB devices which can run with a 5volt input. Generally, by obtaining an extra cable, this will charge all phones/devices.

Overall

This system opens the door to being able to use green energy with minimal environmental impact, through using this we all play our part in being environmentally friendly.

Cost

A little higher in cost than some other brands but a good device for creating green energy, nice investment

Pros

Will charge many devices

Green energy

very convenient to carry

Easy to set up and use

Can be used on the go

Good for hiking, camping, outdoor activities

Cons

Price is a little higher than some other brands

Allpowers Sunpower

Allpowers Sunpower
Slow and steady sometimes does win the race and this solar charger exemplifies that perfectly. While it can be a little slow acting, it does a fantastic job od not only charging your devices but also protecting them against surges.
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Charging Technology

The panel features dual-USB ports with iSolar Technology and also 18V DC output. This means you can charge 5V-powered gadgets and laptops alike. With 80-watts of power and a 22 percent efficiency rate, it will deliver the juice you need.

Portability

This exact same power output is 1/3 lighter than solar silicon. In addition to this, there are eyeholes that allow you to attach the solar charger to a backpack or other bag.

Durability and Protection

For outdoor use, the exterior is equipped with a dustproof, anti-shock, and water-resistant construction. But, these solar panels will also protect your connected devices from short circuits and surges.

Seller Options

Depending on the price, you can either select a 5, 7.5, 10, or an 80-watt version of the same charger.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Besides the solar charger itself, this also comes with carabiners, USB cables, a DC cable, an instruction manual, a clip line, and a cigarette lighter plug.

Overall

The addition of multiple wattage sizes is a nice touch, as those looking to save money can sport for less. However, truly noteworthy here is the superb protection and rugged construction. Rest assured, both the panels and your device will be safe.
Pros
  • It is certified by FCC, RoHS and CE
  • Includes eyeholes for an easy attachment to packs
  • The unique voltage regulator design manages to guarantee a stable voltage while charging
Cons
  • Takes a while to fully charge a battery
  • The cord from the panel to the clips is incredibly short

Yolk Paper Thin

Yolk Paper Thin
If nothing else, YOLK will turn some heads thanks to the way they designed their Paper-Thin Solar Panel Charger. With the panels having magnets, you can snap together as many as you wish. Each has a specific amount of wattage and snapping more together gives you more power.
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Charging Technology

Utilizing the most efficient solar panels in the world, YOLK manages to get around 23.7 percent efficiency from their panels. But, with the power of magnets, you can connect together as many as you wish for more wattage.

Portability

As the panels are held together by magnets, you can disconnect them at will. Plus, there are holes that can be used as connectors when traveling.

Durability and Protection

This solar charger has a water-resistance rating of IP54 and also is crafted to provide protection against dust. However, the USB-port can be susceptible to corrosion if any water gets inside.

Seller Options

As each panel has 2.5-watts of power, you have a few choices at your disposal. You can either select one, two or three panels (going from 5 to 7.5 to 10).

Additional Noteworthy Features

For your convenience, there is an LCD screen that displays the current power reading of your connected device and how much current is flowing through it.

Overall

The best way to describe this solar charger is it is the daisy chain of solar chargers. Because you can keep on connecting solar panels, you can achieve as much wattage as you wish.
Pros
  • The magnetic connections reduce the wear and tear of panels
  • Achieve higher wattage capacities simply by connecting more panels together
  • Features an LCD screen to display current power readings for connected devices
Cons
  • The panels themselves do not feel very durable
  • While the magnets are a great feature, they need to be stronger

 

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

 Charging Capabilities and Technology

When discussing solar panels, the conversation should always start here. The power they produce and the efficiency at which they do it is important, but compatibility also comes into play. One of the first specifications you will notice in solar panels is the wattage that they are capable of producing. Obviously, the higher the number the more power it can handle. However, for whatever reason, it seems to be a universal ploy for manufacturers to exaggerate the actual wattage capacity their panels have. If you find that the solar panel you invest in is not performing at the power it was advertised as it does not become defective and many others have the same issue.

The efficiency, which usually ranges in the 20’s (in terms of percent), refers to the amount of energy that the panels can convert from the sun. Again, the higher the rate, the more efficient the panels will operate. But, also take a special note to solar chargers that can work under moderate sunlight. Some will be inoperable when the slightest cloud covers a portion of the sun. Finally, there is the factor of computability. Check for USB ports and DC outputs for thousands of devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, batteries, etc.

Portability

Given that this guide is for portable solar chargers, which most are anyway, portability does come to the forefront. For this section, it all comes down to the chargers’ compactness and carrying options. As solar panels can convert energy from the sun anywhere, chances are you will utilize this convenient technology on the go. As such, if you plan on storing it in your backpack or travel bag you do not want it to be too heavy or bulky. Solar panels that fold up, or even ones that can come apart, are a nice addition as you can pack them tightly.

But, perhaps even more important than this is integrating either carabiners or eyeholes to allow you to mount the solar charger on your backpack. This is so important because you may want to charge your device without feeling the need to stop. For example, with it mounted on your back and indirect access to the sunlight you can charge your smartphone while you are hiking or walking. Of course, this is also where the issue of cloudiness can come back to the forefront.

The Protection It Provides for Your Devices and the Panels

With any type of technology that is designed to flow voltage into electronic devices, safety will always be important. However, because these types of chargers will be used outdoors manufacturers also should add durability and protection to the solar panels themselves. For instance, you may see some with a waterproof and scratch-resistant coating. Even though you probably will not get much power when it is raining, this type of coating can be useful as it adds durability to the panels. This type of weather coating can also provide a sense of protection in accidental scenarios where water is poured on the panels.

But, more important than this is the protection that the manufacturers integrate for your electronic devices. In specific, protection against surges, short circuits, and stabilizing the voltage to prevent circuit damage. Without this protection, for example in the instance of a short circuit, your device is prone to many detrimental events. Such as the device overheating and causing a fire. This will not only fry your battery and render it useless but could also affect the solar charger itself.

The Seller Options that Are Provided for You

While seller options may prove more beneficial for other consumer products, they still matter in the world of solar panels. Even though some sellers will provide you with additional color options, which have no bearing on performance, the more important one to note is further wattage options. If the current solar charger you are looking into does not have the wattage that you want, taking into consideration that many exaggerate the actual amount, to begin with, you may want to spring for one with a larger wattage capacity. But, you may fall in love with a particular version and not want to steer away from it. In these types of situations, further options can prove to be very helpful.

Additional Features 

Truthfully, the best of the best has already been documented. But, that does not mean that there are no additional features that you can look out for. After all, hiding in the shadows may be a design implementation that puts it over the top for you. Or, it could be something as a simple as a backup feature. No matter, here are some other features to keep an eye out for.

Anytime you receive a manufacturer’s warranty on a product it is a bonus and solar chargers are certainly no exception. If you find that it is not performing up to the standards you expected, with a warranty you can simply return it. Also, when developers provide you with a backup battery it gives you the means to charge your devices when the sunlight is not shining bright enough. Of course, to get the best access to the sun, it is helpful when the panels are designed to stand-up at an angle. With a built-in stand or pegs, this is possible. Lastly, you may see some sellers provide you with additional accessories such as DC cables, USB cables or carabiners.

FAQs

Q:   Can Solar Panels Charge Through Windows?

Even though you may plan on taking your portable solar charger with you on perilous journeys and outdoor adventures, you still may want to use them at home. However, if you know anything about solar energy, then you are aware that it needs sunlight to operate correctly. This begs the question; can you utilize the energy of solar panels through a window? After all, light does travel through glass so one would believe that you can.

However, the iron content that is used in glass windows will block some of the light; in addition to the already lost light that is being reflected. While it can vary, through a glass window, you could see in excess of a 50 percent power loss. The naysayers out there, though, will reference the fact that solar panels utilize glass in the first place. But, this glass is specifically designed to be thin and not block the rays of light.

Q:   How Are Portable Solar Chargers Designed to be Used?

This may have been a question you thought of the minute you clicked on this guide. How exactly are you supposed to use these types of chargers? As opposed to solar panels that you install on your roof or outside your home, it is not a good idea to leave your portable solar charger exposed to the inclement weather outdoors. Even though some are coated to provide protection from water and scratches, leaving the panels outdoors at all times may end up degrading their performance and lifespan.

But, they are designed to be used outside in all types of weather conditions. That is, depending on how efficient the panels are under light cloud cover. As far as how frequently you use them, as long as they have the ability to gather light rays from the sun and convert it into usable energy you can utilize it as long as you wish.

Q:   Can You Run a Device Straight from the Solar Charger?

Up until now, you may have been under the belief that to charge and use your electronic devices, you must plug them into the USB or other port. However, in some cases, depending on the type of device that you are using, you may be able to navigate on your device without the battery (using the power straight from the solar charger). Though, there are a few caveats that you need to be concerned with. First of all, if the device is voltage sensitive or requires an initial surge of power on it is best to veer away from running it straight from the solar panels.

Secondly, some solar chargers will shut down when they do not have access to sunlight. If you do not have a battery in your device and the charger shuts down or loses its ability to deliver power for even a moment, your device will perform a hard shut-down which is not good for the hardware.

Q:   What Happens to Solar Panels on Cloudy Days and Will They Work?

When discussing solar chargers, panels or anything to do with the technology of solar energy, possibly the most frequently asked question alludes to its effectiveness on cloudy days. Although it has alluded to a few times in this guide, it is important to fully understand their usefulness on cloudy days. To provide optimal performance, solar panels need the rays from the sun. This is not something you can get around, but they are not rendered useless on cloudy days (depending on the model). They will still produce power but at a less efficient and powerful rate.

To be honest, it does not matter if it is clouds or even a roof or massive tree cover, without direct access to sunlight solar panels does not perform to their maximum capacity.

Q:   What is the Ideal Temperature for Portable Solar Chargers?

Alright, so it is promised that you will not hear another reference to clouds in this guide! But, what about the temperature outside? Do solar chargers work better or need to be exposed to a certain climate outside? Well, the reality is temperature actually does make a difference in terms of performance. Optimally, most solar technologies will work best when the temperature is warm but not hot outside. One particular company, P3 Solar, states that an optimal degree would be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is worth noting, also, that this falls under normal atmospheric conditions.

But, do not think that solar panels are inoperable in other climates. The reality is most are rated to withstand bitterly cold days and excessively hot climates. But, in these types of climates, the power output will drop for most solar technologies.

Q:   Can You Connect Solar Charges in a Parallel Fashion?

One of the best solar chargers in the world, which made its way onto this list, manages to use a magnet design to allow you to daisy chain panels together for enhanced power. However, is this possible with multiple solar chargers? The short answer is yes, but if you do so in a parallel fashion. What happens when you do so is the power output and current are doubled, but the individual solar charger ratings are kept the same.

If you do plan on partaking in this to achieve a greater power output, you may want to do so with panels that have equal wattage capacities. Doing so will provide you with the most efficient charging capability possible, as there is no worry about half of the solar panels having a higher voltage than the others.

Final Thoughts

Look, the reality is portable solar chargers are terrific for providing you with a means to charge your electronic devices on the go. Solar technology itself can be quite complicated to wrap your head around, but try not to worry about every little factor of it. If you pay close attention to the criteria that were outlined in this guide, you will be set to make a sophisticated selection and find the portable solar charger that best fits your needs and will be a perfect addition to your gear.

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