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Gear Reviews

Three Backpacker-friendly Solar Chargers

These compact, hyper-efficient solar chargers will power your gadgets no matter where you travel.


Joos orange 445x260

JOOS Orange (Courtesy Photo)

Goal Zero Guide 10 445x260

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit (Courtesy Photo)

solio bolt 445x260

Solio Bolt (Courtesy Photo)

[most powerful]
JOOS Orange
High-grade mono-crystalline solar cells make the Orange up to 20 times more powerful than other chargers tested: We simultaneously charged the internal battery and an iPhone while using juice-Hoovering Skype on a sun-blasted Colorado trail. It even squeezed enough power out of a drizzly Olympic National Park day to recharge a smartphone overnight. A waterproof polycarbonate shell absorbs kicks, dust, and dunks. Tradeoff: It’s heavy and tough to lash to a pack. $149; 1 lb. 8 oz.; solarjoos.com

[fastest]
Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit
On a bluebird day, the Goal Zero’s dual postcard-size monocrystalline panels fully charged its battery pack in about two hours. The pack holds four removable, rechargeable AA or AAA batteries for use with non-USB gadgets. A lightweight nylon mesh skin has cord loops that make it easy to connect to packs, tents, and trees. However, low-light performance suffers: Scattered clouds slowed charging time; thick cloud cover stopped it dead. $160; 12.8 oz.; goalzero.com

[lightest]
Solio Bolt
This R2D2-cute charger is a lightweight, easy-to- pack insurance policy: “When I lost my way in deep snow, the sun was going down, my topo was smeared, and my phone was dead,” says a Cascades tester. “I set the Bolt out for an hour and got enough juice to power up a GPS app and find my way out.” Caveat: The Bolt’s lower grade (and cheaper) polycrystalline cells need direct sun, and minor obstructions (like pack straps) can halt charging. $60; 5.3 oz.; solio.com

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