The 6 Best Solar Backpacks (That Actually Look Good)

solar backpacks header

If you like going on extended hikes, or backpacking—or just need a bag to bring to work—and you often find yourself needing to charge your phone, wireless earbuds, or other mobile devices… then might we suggest a solar backpack?

(And if you’re living off the grid and like to go exploring a lot, then this would be great as well.)

Let’s face it, we have to charge our phones pretty much every day (even if it’s relatively new, which is crazy), and unless you’re stuck to a wall with a charging outlet 24/7 or have access to other sources of power like a solar generator (more on those here), then you could probably use a more… mobile option.

Solar backpacks are a sustainable option that’s particularly useful for travellers and people who have to commute because you’re going to be outside anyway—you might as well juice up your phone for free, right until you can make it to the next office / coffee shop / car / apartment with a charging outlet, right?

But one of the biggest downsides to solar backpacks (at least for us) is that most of them just… don’t look that good. To be fair, they’re supposed to be functional more than anything, but if we’re going to splash out for a solar backpack, we’d want to be able to actually take it places without looking like we’re heading to Calculus class.

So, we’ve put together a list of the best solar backpacks you can buy—that also don’t look half bad. Skip ahead if you recognize any of these names:

  1. Solgaard Lifepack – Recognized as a World Changing Idea by Fast Company
  2. XD Design Bobby Tech Solar Backpack – Possibly the most aesthetic solar backpack
  3. Sunnybag ICONIC Solar Backpack – An Austrian Kickstarter success story
  4. Voltaic Systems Array Solar Backpack – A heavy-duty solar backpack designed for photographers
  5. Voltaic Systems Converter Solar Backpack – The lightest good-looking solar backpack out there
  6. Sunnybag EXPLORER+ Solar Backpack – A fun lightweight solar backpack with removable panels

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links through which we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you choose to purchase anything from a link on this page. That being said, these tools were curated from extensive research and consideration of reviews of the best options we’ve found.

The 6 best solar backpacks (that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to take to work)

1. Solgaard Lifepack Solar Backpack – $225

solgaard shore-tex solar backpack

The Lifepack is Solgaard’s flagship product. A solar-powered backpack with a ton of anti-theft features, the Lifepack looks good enough to both use for work and take on a trip.

It’s also extremely eco-friendly, as it’s made from Shore-Tex™️, Solgaard’s proprietary fabric. Shore-tex is made out of upcycled ocean plastic, and each bag removes five pounds of plastic from the ocean.

One of the things we like most about the Lifepack is that it comes with the Solarbank, a removable solar battery. Unlike the other solar backpacks, there’s no built-in solar panel—the window that you see on the Lifepack is where you need to position the solar charger to generate electricity.

With this Solarbank, a full charge will hold six smartphone charges, which means you can use it to store electricity for those cloudy days when you can’t just rely on having enough sunlight. (This is also one of the reasons why we’re okay with the higher price tag, since most of the other solar backpacks don’t include a power bank at all.)

For charging, there’s an integrated USB port, you can also charge the Solarbank with a wall outlet, and there are two output ports so that you can charge two devices at once.

Beyond that, there are a bunch of useful secret compartments and anti-theft features like cut-resistant fabrics and a security coil:

solgaard solar backpack anti theft

Solgaard’s really thought of the different scenarios you might find yourself in when travelling with a backpack, from working in coffee shops to exploring a new country.

Capacity: 18L

Dimensions: 11.6 x 18.5 x 7 in / 29.5 x 47 x 17.8 cm

Weight: 1.81 kg / 4 pounds

The biggest laptop you can fit: 15.6” (some 17” laptops)

What we love

  • The eco-friendly construction of the backpack
  • The thoughtful suitcase strap—our bags always fall off the side of the suitcase when we’re dragging them around
  • Super-protective drop-proof design to keep your laptop safe
  • They’ve put a ton of thought and care into the ergonomics of the backpack, with the plush shoulder straps and back support

What we don’t love

  • The price tag might turn some people off
  • It’s on the heavy side (and the Solarbank adds another pound)

2. XD Design Bobby Tech Solar Backpack – $280

xd bobby tech solar backpack

If you haven’t heard of XD Design, they started out on Kickstarter and are heavily invested in making bags through an eco-friendly design process.

Each of XD Design’s solar backpacks has reused 31 plastic water bottles, saving an estimated 18 liters of water. They’ve also partnered with JUSTDIGGIT, a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to “regreening” land (making dry land green again) by combining traditional rainwater harvesting techniques with modern technology. Ultimately, the goal is to increase underground water availability and reinvigorate the ecosystem.

Okay, now onto the solar backpack itself.

XD Design has a huge line of anti-theft backpacks, but the Bobby Tech is a very slick solar backpack with a built-in solar panel that allows you to charge your phone, powerbank, tablet, or other small devices on the go.

It has an integrated USB-C port, and supports 10-watt fast charging for Samsung and Android devices, and 7.5-watt fast charging for iPhones. On a sunny day, it should fully charge your phone in about 3.5 hours.

The Bobby Tech also includes a wireless charger, which means that all you have to do to charge your device is just slip it into the designated pocket—no tangled wires.

It has all the usual anti-theft bells and whistles that come with XD Design’s other backpacks, including cut-resistant material, hidden pockets, and RFID protection.

What we really like about the Bobby Tech is that the solar panel is fully integrated into the design of the backpack. It’s understated and minimalist enough to bring to the office, but it’s really designed to handle the rigors of travelling and backpacking. (It’s water-repellent and the front face is waterproof—very important if you’re going to be in unpredictable weather.)

It includes custom dividers that will make it easy to pack your bag like a suitcase, and there’s plenty of padding to keep your laptop or other tech safe:

bobby tech solar backpack compartments

For sustainability enthusiasts, you’ll be happy to know that the Bobby Tech is made out of RPET material, or Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate. Using cloth that started out as plastic water bottles, then shredded and woven into fiber, XD Design has created really minimalistic backpacks that look premium. Looks-wise, it’s our favorite of the bunch.

Capacity: 18L

Dimensions: 11.4 x 17.5 x 6.1 in / 29 x 44.5 x 15.5 cm

Weight: 1.2kg / 2.6 pounds

The biggest laptop you can fit: 15.6”

What we love

  • The super minimalist and not-bulky design
  • Lots of anti-theft features that make it perfect for travelling
  • The customizable dividers and compartments for neat freaks (which is a huge deal for us)

What we don’t love

  • It is pricey, so it might be for folks who really want to splash out on a solar backpack
  • Doesn’t come with a power bank or battery

3. Sunnybag ICONIC Solar Backpack – $124

sunnybag iconic solar backpack

Another Kickstarter success story (we’re seeing a lot of these innovative eco-friendly products getting their big break off of Kickstarter), the Sunnybag solar backpack is a very cool backpack that won’t break the bank.

Like the Converter solar backpack, this one also uses SunPower’s solar panels. (Anyone noticing a trend here?) These panels are even more efficient, at 22.4%, and can support a seven-watt output. If it’s a sunny day and you have full access to sunlight, the backpack will be able to fully charge your phone within two or three hours.

We don’t see a lot of Austrian designs represented in the solar product area, so it’s interesting to see how that design philosophy is reflected in the Sunnybag ICONIC. The built-in solar panels complement the backpack’s design really well, and the aesthetic overall is very much a “hipster-biking-to-work-possibly-at-a-tech-startup” vibe (which we dig).

It’s made out of Cordura, which Sunnybag describes as a “weatherproof textile” (it’s water-repellent) and has rainproof zippers—perfect for protecting your laptop and other precious tech.

🎒 Did you know? Cordura is used in everything from military wear to luggage and backpacks, and the technology was used in tires by the military in World War II. It’s also used in a lot of motorcycle gear today because it’s abrasion-resistant.

Unlike the Bobby Tech, it doesn’t come with the wireless charger. You can buy it separately, but there is a nice special compartment in the solar backpack where you can put the charger and your phone to recharge it without any wires or cables. All you have to do is slip your phone into the side pocket and it’ll automatically start charging.

Capacity: 20L

Dimensions: 19 x 15 x 7 in / 8 x 37 x 17 cm

Weight: 1.12kg / 2.4 pounds

The biggest laptop you can fit: 17”

What we love

  • The price is very reasonable
  • The high-efficiency solar panels

What we don’t love

  • If you’re not a super tall person, it might look awkwardly bulky on you

4. Voltaic Systems Array Solar Backpack – $249

voltaic systems array solar backpack

Voltaic Systems creates a ton of solar gear, from actual solar panels to solar backpacks and even camera accessories and laptop adapters.

So it looks like their R&D team is hard at work, which is always nice to see.

They actually have a line of four or five solar backpacks, and we’ll feature two of them today. The Array is the premium-level solar backpack, and is actually designed with both travellers and photographers in mind. (It’s safe for air travel and there’s even a built-in tripod carrying strap.)

It has three high-efficiency (about 20%, which is very good) monocrystalline solar panels that are waterproof—and this is the really interesting part: they’re coated in a “self-healing” ETFE material, which makes them very hardy and resistant to scratches.

The Array solar backpack is made to work, and it comes with a built-in laptop battery, car charger socket, laptop adapter, and AC charger. Not a sunny day? No problem, you can charge up the battery in the backpack with a wall outlet.

Like the XD Design Bobby Tech, it supports 10-watt charging. The built-in battery can recharge your phone over seven times, a DSLR camera over five times, and a laptop 1.3 times.

Also like the Bobby Tech, it’s made from RPET material, and because it’s a bit bigger, it’s made from 33 plastic bottles (compared to 31 for the Bobby Tech).

Capacity: 25L

Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 7 in / 48.3 x 27.9 x 17.8 cm

Weight: 2.45kg / 5.4 pounds

The biggest laptop you can fit: 15.6”

What we love

  • It’s super functional and has lots of thoughtful features that take photography work and travellers’ needs into consideration
  • Pretty powerful solar panels and battery

What we don’t love

  • It’s on the heavy side at twice the weight of the Bobby Tech, and is definitely a workhorse type of backpack that we wouldn’t take around the city

5. Voltaic Systems Converter Solar Backpack – $129

converter solar backpack

Designed with SunPower’s (we wrote about them here!) high-efficiency solar panels than the Array solar backpack, Voltaic Systems’ other budget option, the Converter, is nonetheless still impressive.

It’s slightly smaller and weighs less than half as much as the Array, but has the same waterproof and UV-resistant ETFE coating.

That said, it does the job just fine if you want an emergency backup source of power to keep your phone charged.

It doesn’t come with quite as many cables as the Array does (just a USB battery pack and microUSB cable), so if you have many devices to charge beyond just your smartphone, you might want to keep reading through the rest of these solar backpacks.

Capacity: 20L

Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 6 in / 45.7 x 30.5 x 15.2 cm

Weight: 1.09kg

The biggest laptop you can fit: 15.6”

What we love

  • It’s one of the lighter solar backpacks on the list
  • SunPower’s solar panels are known for being excellent, so it’s cool to see them used here

What we don’t love

  • Not quite as versatile as some of the other backpacks (lack of cables, no wireless charging)

6. Sunnybag EXPLORER+ Solar Backpack – $99

sunnybag explorer+ solar backpack

Sunnybag’s EXPLORER+ solar backpack is its budget option, but if you don’t have exacting needs, it could be your best friend on casual / short trips.

It holds the “lightest solar backpack” title at just over two pounds (beating out Voltaic Systems’ Converter backpack by just a hair), and is about half the price of the other more “premium” solar backpacks on this list.

Its wattage output is just slightly lower comparatively at six watts, which means the power flow to your devices is just slightly less and charging times will be a little longer. The EXPLORER+ will charge a smartphone in three to four hours under ideal weather conditions (bright sun, no clouds or obstructions like trees).

It’s also not made of that cool military-grade Cordura fabric like the ICONIC is—the EXPLORER+ is made of a water-repellent polyester. However, it does come in a few fun colors (we’re partial to the grey version with yellow straps).

Capacity: 15L

Dimensions: 15 x 12 x 5.5 in / 37 x 29 x 14 cm

Weight: 1 kg / 2.2 pounds

The biggest laptop you can fit: 15.6”

What we love

  • The solar panel is removable, for those days that you don’t need it
  • The high-efficiency solar panels
  • The price(!)

What we don’t love

  • You need to buy a separate battery or power bank to store any excess electricity that’s generated—but this isn’t an issue that’s unique to this solar backpack and it only be more of an issue here because the output is a bit lower.  Sunnybag does has a specially designed power bank that can be used while it’s charging (not all of them can do that!)
  • The design of it, while still cool for a solar backpack, is more of a backpacker-look as opposed to a “take it to work” look—but if you need a travel backpack, this shouldn’t be an issue

Your solar backpack shopping list: What to look for

Okay, beyond the price tag (obviously budget is going to be a consideration and we’re not going to do that thing where we list “budget” as a factor you should look out for because that’s… obvious), what should you look for in a solar backpack?

✅ Is there a battery?

Many solar backpacks don’t come with a battery. What that means is that the solar panels can charge your phone or other small devices. But of course, solar panels only work when there is sun—and they themselves don’t store power.

That’s where the battery, or power bank, comes in. It stores it for you in case it’s a cloudy day (or if it’s night time)—and charging from a power bank also tends to be faster than charging with solar panels when you don’t have ideal sunlight conditions.

✅ What kinds of solar panels are you using (and where are they placed)?

Most solar panels on solar backpacks are smack dab in the middle of the back. Why? Because that’s the best place for them to absorb sunlight. This is one place you can’t get too fancy. If a solar backpack has the panels on the two narrow sides, you might want to pass on it.

And then, you’ll want to check out what type of solar panels are used in your solar backpack. Monocrystalline is currently the most efficient type, and there are also some backpacks that use high-quality branded solar panels like the Sunnybags.

✅ How many ports does it have / how quickly can it charge your devices?

There’s no magic number here as it’s really dependent on your needs. (We’d only ever be charging our phones really, and maybe the laptop in a pinch, but we’d almost never need to charge more than one device at a time. Then again, a photographer might disagree.)

✅ Is your solar backpack waterproof?

Some are, some aren’t. If you live in a very sunny place that doesn’t get rain very often, you may not need this, but if you do plan to travel with your solar backpack, then you might want to get a backpack that’s made of water-repellent or water-resistant material.

✅ How much does it weigh?

This is a big one for us because we generally like to travel light. If you’re packing your laptop or camera, that’s more weight that you’d have to take into consideration. (And then there’s the powerbank or solar battery.)

Most newer solar backpacks range from about one pound to four pounds, so make sure to choose a backpack with ample padding if you’re getting one on the heavier end.

✅ What will you charge with your backpack?

If you’re like most people, you’ll be charging stuff like your phone or Bluetooth speaker, and the good news is most solar backpacks are designed to support exactly those types of devices.

Laptops might be a bit more tricky—you might get one full charge out of half a day or a day of sunlight (we’d go for something closer to 10 watts as opposed to five watts, which is more common), so we wouldn’t depend on a solar backpack to keep a laptop juiced. Emergency measures only…

What’s the best solar backpack for you?

There are way more solar backpacks out there than these six, of course, but realistically, not a lot of them look good! (Totally understandable, since the technology is still relatively new and looks probably aren’t a top priority.)

But these are the best-looking solar backpacks that we could find—no bulk, not a ton of straps and other stuff hanging off of it, the material looks sleek and minimalist… We’d be perfectly happy to bring these backpacks around on a day-to-day basis or to the office, just as readily as we’d take them on our travels.

The 6 Best Solar Backpacks (That Actually Look Good)
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