Young woman hiking with solar panel on her backpack

Just add sun: our favourite solar powered products

While getting outdoors gives us the chance to disconnect from our phones and screens, there are also plenty of times where you need a power source outside. It’s also nice to know you can charge up your devices if needed when you’re on a camping getaway, canoe trip or travelling in a new city. Solar powered products can be a great lightweight charging option (and I love that I’m obtaining usable energy just by being out in the sun).

Here are some particularly cool solar-powered items to tote along if you’re looking for a hot shower at your campsite, planning a dance party on the beach, want to stay hydrated (and seen) at an outdoor festival, or if you’re mindful of the environment and the precious space in your pack.

For your basic power needs

Solar panels are the most obvious solar-powered products, but they still deserve a mention. These are useful to pack if you know you’ll need to charge up your USB-powered devices during a hike, day trip or longer adventure. You can comfortably clip them on the outside of your bag, prop them up next to your chair at the beach or lay them on the roof of your car while you’re setting up camp.

The BioLite SolarPanel 5+ has a little kickstand to line it up just right.

The Goal Zero Venture 30 solar kit combines the powerful Venture 30 battery pack with the efficient Nomad 7 Plus solar panel, which supplies you with power (and a way to store it) for long journeys. The BioLite SolarPanel 5+ is another solid choice – thanks to its built-in tie points, you can easily attach it to your backpack or pannier to get as much charging action as possible during the day. 

For setting some mood lighting

If you’re heading out for a group camping trip in a small car (or if you just have a small apartment to store your camping gear in), it can be tough to know what gear is absolutely necessary for your weekend getaways.

When it comes to functional and space-conscious, a Luminaid light cube ticks both boxes. It packs down small – about the size of a paperback – and has a hanging strap to attach to your backpack or above your picnic table. The Luminaid Colour Changing Solar Lantern is ready for dance parties, and there’s also a simple white Luminaid solar lantern or a solar lantern that can charge your phone.

Luminaid colour-changing solar lanterns in glow mode.

For wireless dance parties

Sometimes, an outdoor adventure isn’t complete without the obligatory dance party. If your crew is staying in a cottage or cabin without power, if you’re BBQing at the beach, or if you’re hanging out at a campground with a music-friendly vibe, the Eton solar powered speaker has got you and your jamming desires covered. For every five hours it spends in the sun, you get eight hours of power. The speaker also doubles as a power bank, so you can use it to charge your phone or camera as needed (how else will you document your #goodtimesoutside?).

Solar-powered tunes + power charger in one

For trail running off-the-grid

Did you know there are solar-powered running watches? For anyone who plans to mix in some trail running while you’re camping or sneak in a 5K while you’re travelling, the Casio Solar Runner’s Watch is a top-notch choice. It works for up to 11 months before needing a recharge from the sun and it doubles as an alarm clock.

Whether you’re in need of a reliable power source for longer journeys or want a sustainable alternative to non-renewable energy, some solar powered gear is a sweet investment.

Top photo: Shutterstock / Vitaliy Mateha

Katie Schneider, writer
Katie Schneider

An Edmonton-based globe-trotting adventure enthusiast whose heart resides in all the mountain peaks, muddy trails and sunset-viewing spots she’s ever stood on.