Are Solar Backpacks Any Good? Are There Any Reliable Solar Backpacks You Can Try Out for Your Outdoor Trips?

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The idea of a solar backpack is amazing. It is a very useful outdoor product for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, like campers, hikers, or backpackers, as it ‘technically’ enables you to collect a bit of solar energy outdoors and juice up your essential handhelds like phones, cameras, and more.

But I don’t think it is a good choice for a biker like me. I recently purchased a solar backpack from a top brand with the hope that it can produce energy as I ride and charge my power bank and phone. But I was wrong. It didn’t work the way I thought it would, but it worked rather fine while I walked with it on my shoulders in the sunlight. Yes, you get some extra vitamin D as well!

But to be frank, to make it produce worthy power, you need to place the backpack somewhere in direct sunlight, leaving the PV panel facing up to the sun. That will heat your backpack and all the other content inside, like your valuable phones and other electronic devices.

Solar Backpack Intro Image
Symbolic image

Anyway, we could see a lot of solar backpacks on the market. There are a lot of models from many brands on retail sites like Amazon and eBay. Moreover, new concepts and models often appear on crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, so I think I should explore some important things about these solar-panel-mounted backpacks.

First things first, solar backpacks are not expected to charge your devices and batteries while you are on a brisk move, but you can use them as a great choice to alternatively charge your handsets while you take some rest somewhere. In that case, you need to take better care of your electronic devices inside the backpack and protect them from exposure to the simmering sun.

Why Solar Backpack?

A solar backpack is an easy way for a hiker or camper to charge his or her must-have USB gadgets or power banks directly from the sunlight.

With a small solar panel attached to the rear of the backpack, you meet two basic needs with the product: accommodating your luggage and charging your devices from the sun.

Why Solar Backpacks

The main advantage of having a solar backpack is comfort and convenience.

If you get a model with a built-in battery pack, you are lucky enough to collect and store power all the time you roam through the outdoors and later use the stored power to charge your handsets in the wild and always stay connected to the rest of the world.

Why Not Solar Backpacks?

Simply put, a solar backpack can only deliver a small solar output. With a PV panel of around 5 to 10 watts, the total output it can produce is naturally very limited, as you can guess.

Solar Backpacks Any Good

As said earlier, to achieve its maximum solar harvesting potential, you need to place it somewhere in open sunlight, and that cannot be very good for your bag and the content inside in the long run.

However, for a hiker or slow walker, it can still be a decent choice. Something is always better than nothing, right?

Limited space! Yes, with a solar panel and sometimes a battery bank inside, you have limited space for storage, which is also a quite evident shortcoming of a solar backpack.

The Best-to-Buy Solar Backpacks

If you’re seriously seeking a high-quality solar backpack, it can be challenging to find any reputable brand that offers the kind of solar backpack you can confidently choose without hesitation.

No leading solar brands or solar-based power station makers like Renogy, EcoFlow, Bluetti, Goal Zero, or Jackery sell solar backpacks.

Leading Solar Backpacks

Instead, you can see brands like Eceen, Voltaic Systems, and several other small-time businesses with some simple designs of solar backpacks on Amazon.

Eceen and Voltaic have long been two top brands in the segment, but as of now, they don’t look to be very active in the making as well as the marketing of solar backpacks.

It looks like they are neither designing new models nor marketing their existing products on their social profiles or anywhere else.

Eceen’s website is not even loading properly as of this writing.

The Top-Selling Solar Backpacks

1. Eceen Solar Backpack
2. SunnyBag Explorer+
3. Voltaic OffGrid Solar Backpack
4. RuK Solar Pickleball Backpack

In the meantime, we have some new-generation brands and startups like Solgaard and RukPack, which offer one or two models of solar backpacks with no amazing features, though.

In my research, I see that Ruk Pack is more active with its Infinite Solar Backpack, which is a pretty big 40-liter backpack with a decently big solar panel.

Crowdfunded Solar Backpacks

As a keen observer of innovative products in green and solar technology for more than a decade, I have come across many solar backpack or solar bag projects on leading crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and I have also supported a couple of projects, including the one from Solgaard, which I would like to talk about in detail below.

A majority of the projects I had a look at unfortunately couldn’t succeed due to a lack of supporters who looked to be not quite excited about the concept of solar backpacks, I think.

In this part of the article, I would like to cover some of the popular crowdfunded projects in the segment of solar backpacks, covering both successful and failed projects, for sure.

Successful Projects

1. Solgaard Lifepack and Lifepack Hustle

Solgaard’s Lifepack is one of the most popular crowdfunded solar backpacks. It was launched in 2016 on Kickstarter by Adiran Solgaard and friends in a deliberate attempt to design a bag with more practical technologies and features built into it.

Solgaard Lifepack Solar Backpack

The solar backpack was, of course, an outright success, as more than 3000 people backed it to bring it to life, and later, the brand ventured into making different types of travel and business bags. The Solgaard Lifepack is still on sale on the brand’s website for $200.

The backpack comes with a 15000 mAh power bank and a small solar panel on the top side to charge it from the sun. Two hours of exposure to sunlight can charge the power bank up to 50%.

Solgaard Lifepack Hustle

Following the huge success of the Lifepack, the brand launched a shoulder bag with a solar power system called the Lifepack Hustle, which featured a small solar panel and power bank in a single unit that you can attach to the anti-soulder+backpack bag.

This project also attracted around 3000 backers to become one of the most successful crowdfunded solar bag projects over there, but this product is currently not on sale on the brand’s website.

2. Sunnybag: Leaf+, Explorer+, and Iconic

SunnyBag Kickstarter Projects

Sunnybag is another brand one must not forget to include in a talk about successful solar backpack projects in crowdfunding.

The first product from the brand was a backpack-friendly Leaf+, which is a 6-watt flexible solar panel with a 6000 mAh power bank. You can easily put this ultra-thin solar panel on your backpack as you are on the move, and it weighs up to just 200 grams.

View the Sunnybag Leaf+ on Amazon Here
Visit SunnyBag’s Amazon Store Here

This project was launched in 2016, and more than 700 backers supported it to bring it to life. Later, the brand launched a couple of full-fledged solar backpacks – the Explorer + and Iconic – in 2017 and 2018, which also attracted a decent number of backers on Kickstarter.

The interesting thing is that all these products are still on sale, and the brand is very active in marketing its products, along with several other items like solar chargers and small battery packs.

3. HelioFlex Backpack

The HelioFlex backpack is one of the recent (2023) Kickstarter projects. It is from the photographer apparel startup COOPH, the Cooperative of Photography.

HelioFlex Solar Backpack

As you can see, it is a typical photographer’s backpack with a solar front bag of 8.5 watts, developed by SunnyBag.

The project, though not a massive crowdfunding success, was supported by around 100 users, and the brand would start shipping it to the backers by mid-2024.

HelioFlex Backpack

The backpack comes in three shades, and the solar front bag is detachable, so you can leave it in the sun to collect some solar power in a power bank when you take a break amid your roaming around and later use the power to juice up your cameras, phones, and other USB devices.

4. Vivo Solar Bag

It is another cool solar bag project that had success in a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2014.

The Vivo solar bag had a small 2.4W solar panel and a 1600 mAh battery, and the bag was decently roomy and suitable for commuters, hikers, and campers.

Vivo Solar Bag

Around 100 people backed the project on the crowdfunding platform, but its maker looks to have lost interest in it as this product is no longer available on the market. You can see its Amazon page here, where it has attracted around 50 reviews with a decent rating.

In short, despite collecting the targeted funds for its crowdfunding project, this product can’t be projected as a completely successful solar bag project.


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