Even when you're trekking through nature with only the essentials on your back, you don't want to be entirely unplugged. The best power banks for backpacking ensure that, at the very least, your phone stays powered up in case of emergencies. For backpacking specifically, there are three main factors to consider when shopping for a portable charger: the battery capacity, the portability, and any extra features that will be handy on your trek.
Battery capacity is typically measured in milliamp hour (or mAh), which expresses electric power output over time. Basically, the larger the number, the more power it can hold on a single charge. A higher mAh might initially seem like the best option, especially when you're out in the wilderness with no access to power, but longer-lasting power banks are often more expensive and larger in size. When backpacking, every inch and ounce make a difference, so the best portable power banks balance power with a small, lightweight design — you can even find models that clock in at under 5 ounces. (Always check the size and weight beforehand to ensure that you've got enough space for it in your pack and won’t mind hauling it.)
Last but not least, consider the additional features that'll make your trip and your charging experience much more convenient. A basic power bank will definitely get the job done, but some have built-in flashlights or wireless charging capabilities, too. Others even have built-in solar panels that let you power your devices using sunlight.
From basic to advanced models, these are the four best portable power banks for backpacking — plus a versatile solar lantern that can also charge your phone.
1. The Fan-Favorite Power Bank
- Battery capacity: 20,000 mAh
- Size: 6.4 by 2.9 by 0.7 inches
- Weight: 12.8 ounces
If you're looking for a compact, high-capacity external battery pack that keeps your devices powered for days, the Anker PowerCore Essential has more than 30,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating overall for a reason. This one offers 20,000 mAh, which can provide five full charges for the Galaxy 10 and upwards of four charges for the iPhone 11. It also has twin USB ports for dual output and a USB-C and Micro USB input so you can recharge the power bank quickly. Last but not least, even though it's powerful, it's relatively lightweight and roughly the same size as a standard smartphone. Get it in black or white — each with a micro USB cable, travel pouch, and worry-free 18-month warranty.
One reviewer wrote: “This battery pack lasted a week while backpacking! Perfect for charging my iPhone 7 Plus, Garmin InReach Mini, plasma lighter for my stove, and tent rechargeable lamp. It's heavier than some but lasts much longer than others I've tried so it's the WINNER!”
2. The Lightest & Most Affordable Power Bank
- Battery capacity: 6,700 mAh
- Size: 3.8 by 1.7 by 0.9 inches
- Weight: 4.4 ounces
For shorter trips or for those who pack light, there's the Anker Astro E1. It's not the most powerful battery pack out there — it offers 6,700 mAh and a single USB port to provide about two charges to your phone, depending on the model — but since it's roughly the size of a candy bar and weighs less than 5 ounces, even the most space- and weight-conscious backpackers can find the room for it. It comes equipped with PowerIQ technology (which detects specific devices to offer the most efficient charge) and includes a micro USB cord and travel pouch.
One reviewer wrote: “Got this for a backpacking trip to Spain this coming year. My wife and I both have an iPhone 8 Plus. This will charge one and the other to about 70-80 percent. Not the two full charges I was hoping for. But I was trying to save on weight and didn’t want the extra ounces for the next size up. It does the job and looks nice.”
3. The Most Powerful Solar Power Bank
- Battery capacity: 25,000 mAh
- Size: 6.1 by 3.4 by 1.4 inch (when folded)
- Weight: 1.3 pounds (approx. 20.8 ounces)
It's definitely not the smallest or the most lightweight, but thanks to its 25,000-mAh capacity and four solar panels, the Hiluckey outdoor power bank is the battery-workhorse that just keeps on giving. Charge it before you go, and it'll deliver up to 10 phone charges and an average of nine days of usage — plus, you can wear it on your backpack to collect the sun's rays (and more power) as you walk. It's also waterproof, shock-resistant, and has a built-in flashlight for emergencies. Get it in three different colors and fold it up when it's not in use.
One reviewer wrote: “I used this on a week-long backpacking trip, and hardly ever had to charge it with the sun because the battery lasted all week! [...] The last day I put it in the sun just to test it, and it charged right up from half to full in just a few hours!”
4. A Power Bank With Solar Charger That Works Wirelessly
- Battery capacity: 10,000 mAh
- Size: 5.9 by 3.1 by 0.8 inches
- Weight: 9.3 ounces
The power bank itself isn't the only thing you have to make room for — you also need to factor in space for the wires and additional accessories. Luckily, the BLAVOR power bank doesn't require any cords while you're on the go: That's because it's both solar-powered and Qi-enabled for fully wireless charging with compatible devices. It also has a built-in dual flashlight and comes with a free compass. (Should you choose to use wires, this one offers two USB-A ports and one USB-C.) In terms of battery capacity, it can charge an iPhone 8 more than three times. Choose from five sizes.
One reviewer wrote: “Wireless charger works amazing. I can't express enough how nice it is on a backpacking trip to not need to open up the waterproof case, to charge a phone, and avoid dirt and grime getting into your case.”
Also Great: A Power Bank Lantern
- Battery capacity: 2,000 mAh
- Size: 6 by 6 by 1 inches (when folded)
- Weight: 8.5 ounces
Finally, there's the LuminAID PackLite, which isn't a power bank per se, but it will charge your phone while also providing far-reaching illumination. Its 2,000-mAh battery can recharge with the sun or via USB, and it powers both your devices and the inflatable lantern. The lantern has five adjustable brightness settings and offers an estimated 200 square feet of lighting. Since the base folds flat and the whole thing is waterproof, shatterproof, and durable, it's well-suited for backpacking and camping.
One reviewer wrote: “Was looking for an emergency battery bank for an upcoming 7+ day backpacking expedition and had yet to buy a lantern for my campsite. Lo-and-behold, this offers those features and more! The light is bright, and I love the multiple light settings.”