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Here’s 8 of the juiciest portable solar chargers that money can buy

Dead phones and tablets are no fun, and it’s even worse when you don’t have a power outlet nearby to juice back up right away. But all of us have a great natural source of power that is always on, and that’s the sun (well, during the daytime at least). So why not harness the power of solar energy to keep your devices running even when you’re in the middle of nowhere?

Related: Stealing Apollo’s Chariot — the inner workings of solar panels

We’ve scoured the web for some of the best performing and best value solar chargers out there. You’ll be surprised: most of these can charge several of your devices with a single charge, and have gotten much better in how well their solar charging functionality works — as long as there’s clear skies, of course.

Best solar chargers

Solartab ($97)

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  • Capacity – 13,000mAh
  • Outputs – 2 USB ports (2.1A)
  • Weight – 2.65 pounds (1.2kg)
  • Solar Panel – 5.5W

Solartab really impressed us with its 13,000mAh capacity and the ability to charge an iPhone completely in as little as 90 minutes. The design of it reminds us a lot of the first-generation iPad, although at 2.65 pounds, it will feel much heavier. The charger comes with a tiltable stand so you can always position the solar panel with the best angle to the sun, and a battery level indicator is available on the side. If you want, you can also charge the Solartab through the included micro USB cable, so you don’t always need to depend on solar power to keep the device fully charged.

Buy one now on:

Amazon

Voltaic Systems Amp solar charger ($100)

Voltaic Systems Amp solar charger Thumb
  • Capacity – 4,000mAh
  • Outputs – 1 USB port (1A)
  • Weight – 1.1 pounds (480g)
  • Solar Panel – 4W

While the Voltaic Amp doesn’t have the capacity of the Solartab, it’s lighter and foldable, rendering it much easier to store. You can also disconnect the battery completely from the solar panels, which allows you to use it separately as a portable battery. We also appreciate the fact that the fabric is made from recycled materials — soda bottles, to be exact — and that the casing is waterproof. The battery can be fully charged in less than 6 hours, which, in turn, allows you to charge your smartphone in about 4 hours. There’s also a protection feature that will shut off the battery if it becomes too hot, or the battery charge left runs too low.

Buy one now on:

Amazon

JOOS Orange ($150)

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  • Capacity -5,400mAh
  • Outputs – 1 USB port (1A)
  • Weight – 24 ounces
  • Solar Panel – 2.4W out of the box

While JOOS comes in as the most expensive solar charger we looked at, it’s worth it if you’ll be using it in places where it may fall or you’re likely encounter harsh conditions. The body is made of metal, and the panels are recessed to help prevent cracking should the device fall. You can also purchase reflector panels for an additional $25, which double the panel’s effectiveness and provide charging times that are close to what the Solartab offers. Another cool feature of the JOOS? It’s waterproof and capable of charing underwater.

Buy one now on:

SolarJoos

Solar Paper ($135+)

Paper Charger Thumb
  • Capacity – None
  • Outputs – 1 USB port (1A)
  • Weight – 4 ounces
  • Solar Panel – 5W

Solar Paper is the thinnest solar charger available. It measures a mere 0.45 inches at its thickest point, and though it doesn’t contain a built-in battery, a display on the top of the unit will let you know if the charger is receiving enough energy to charge your device. In theory, with no battery to worry about, this particular solar charger could last a long time. There are several different options available, from the basic 5W version ($135) up to a 15W version ($335). Just keep in mind that you’ll need the 5W model if you want to charge your phone, or the 10W if you want to charge tablets or more than one device at a time.

Buy one now on:

Yolk Station

Opteka BP-SC4000 Ultra Thin Charger ($20)

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  • Capacity – 4,000mAh
  • Outputs – 1 USB port
  • Weight – 6.5 ounces
  • Solar Panel – Not specified

Opteka’s solar panel may lack features, but it’s one of the cheapest devices on our list. It’s a steal at $20, especially given the charger comes bundled with 10 different tips, allowing you to plug in a variety of different devices. The charger will automatically shut off once it has charged your device, too, and a front-facing LED indicator lets you know how much charge you have left. This device isn’t very water-resistant, though, so keep it out of the rain.

Buy one now on:

Amazon

Anker PowerPort Solar ($62)

Anker PowerPort Solar Thumb
  • Capacity – None
  • Outputs – 1 USB port (up to 3A)
  • Weight – 14.7 ounces
  • Solar Panel – 21W

Despite having no battery storage capabilities, Anker’s PowerPort Solar wows us with up to 21 watts of power production, which is more than enough to charge any portable device quickly. Another feature, called PowerIQ, also adjusts the amperage of the power supplied to match your device, thus ensuring your device charges quickly and safely. The device’s compact design — it measures 11.1 × 6.3 inches when folded and 26.4× 11.1 inches when opened — makes it easy to store, too, and eye holes on each end allow you to anchor it to just about anything. While it might not work the best when there are clouds in the sky, in direct sunlight, the PowerPort Solar has little competition.

Buy one now on:

Amazon

SLXTREME Waterproof iPhone 6/6S Case ($150)

SLXTREME Waterproof iPhone 6 Case Thumb
  • Capacity – 3,000mAh
  • Outputs – Connects to Phone
  • Weight – 14.7 ounces
  • Solar Panel – Not specified

Rather have a case with a built-in solar charger? Snow Lizard offers several, one of which is for the 6 or 6S. The panel is built directly into the case, along with a 3,000mAh battery. This makes it super easy for you to charge your device, especially given all you need to do is turn your device upside down. Don’t have a iPhone 6 or 6S? That’s okay, the company also has a compatible case for the iPhone 5 and 5S.

Buy one now on:

Amazon

Solio Classic2 Portable Solar Charger ($100)

Solio Classic2 Portable Solar Charger Thumb
  • Capacity – 3,200mAh
  • Outputs – 1 USB
  • Weight – 10.1 ounces
  • Solar Panel – 5W

The Solio Classic Solar Charger seems like it has been out forever — in fact, one of the first solar chargers the author of this story had was the original Solio Classic. The Classic2 steps up the game, though, with bigger solar panels and the capability to charge the Solio via USB when the sun has set or it’s cloudy out. One of our favorite features is the design, which allows the entire charger to fit in a small purse or your pocket, as long as you aren’t wearing tight pants. While it doesn’t have the power capacity of some of the other chargers on our list, its portability garners it a spot on our list.

Buy one now on:

Amazon