Goal Zero Boulder 50 Review: A Portable Solar Panel for Camping

Is the Goal Zero Boulder 50 the right portable solar panel for you?

It’s certainly well-built and boasts the same high quality as all Goal Zero products. But it does have its limitations.

I’ve been using this solar panel with my Goal Zero Yeti 150 for the past two years. I know the panel inside and out, including its pros and cons and how they apply to most campers.

Below I break down my personal experience using the Goal Zero Boulder 50 while dispersed camping to help you make an informed choice for yourself.

Related Post: The Best Camping Gear for Dispersed Camping

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Quick Overview

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Portable Solar Panel

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Solar Panel

A 50 watt portable solar panel with a built-in kickstand to charge your portable power station.

The Goal Zero Boulder 50 is a rugged and durable portable solar panel for camping.

The 50-watt panel clocks in at 12 pounds 6.4 ounces and measures 26.75 x 21.75 x 1.75 inches.

While not exactly small, the panel is relatively lightweight and compact. It’s easy to move around your campsite, although it’s certainly far too large for backpacking.

The Boulder 50 is constructed with tempered glass and an aluminum frame. Extra protection on the corners further prevents bumps and bruises.

Use the integrated kickstand to get the best sun angle for the fastest charging – or mount the solar panel on top of your vehicle (mounting brackets sold separately) for on-the-go charging while driving.

A huge benefit of the Boulder 50 is the easy plug-and-play action. Straight out of the box, it’s compatible with almost all Goal Zero portable power stations.

Do note, however, that unlike a solar charger, you can’t charge your devices directly off the Boulder 50 – you can only use it to charge a power station or battery pack (which you then charge your devices from).

Need even more solar power? It’s possible to daisy chain two or more Goal Zero solar panels (buy a combiner cable separately) – or just opt for the larger Boulder 100 or Boulder 200 straight away.

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Features and Specifications

Here are the main features and specs of the Goal Zero Boulder 50:

50 Watts Capacity18-20 Volts Output
12 Pounds 6.4 Ounces26.75 x 21.75 x 1.75 Inches
Tempered Glass w/ Aluminum FrameAdded Corner Protection
Integrated Kickstand Able to Link Multiple Panels Together
Carry Case w/ Handle (Sold Separately)Mount to Vehicle (Brackets Sold Separately)

My Experience with the Boulder 50

Goal Zero Boulder 50 portable solar panel charging a Goal Zero Yeti 150 portable power station outside near a tree.

I’ve been using the Goal Zero Boulder 50 for around two years now.

Although I’ve personally never mounted it to my vehicle, that’s one of the most popular ways to use it (mounting brackets sold separately).

Instead, I use the Boulder 50’s built-in kickstand to set it up on the ground at my campsite. I pair mine with my Goal Zero Yeti 150, although it’s compatible with all of Goal Zero’s current portable power stations.

Goal Zero states that it takes about 8 hours to charge the Yeti 150 with the Boulder 50. I’ve found this reasonably accurate, although it tends to take slightly longer for a completely full charge (accounting for weather and the sun’s changing position). 

At 12 pound 6.4 ounces, the Boulder 50 is way too heavy for backpacking (look at a Goal Zero solar charger if you want on-the-go solar power for backpacking), but it’s still relatively lightweight for most dispersed camping and boondocking applications.

But, best of all, this Goal Zero solar panel is incredibly durable. It’s rugged design has stood up to two years of heavy dispersed camping with minimal signs of wear and tear.

Two quick notes: the Boulder 50 is compatible with other brands of portable power stations (like the Jackery Explorer 500, for example), but this does require a special adapter.

Second, I strongly recommend buying an extra-long extension cable for the Boulder 50. This gives you so much more freedom on where to place the panel while keeping your power station inside your vehicle.

Pros and Cons of the Boulder 50

Goal Zero Boulder 50 portable solar panel outside with kickstand out.

I’ve put this Goal Zero solar panel through the ringer the past few years. Here are its most notable pros and cons (when paired with the Goal Zero Yeti 150), in my opinion.

What I Like

Here’s what I like most about the Boulder 50:

  • Durable – Rugged construction and high-quality components means it will hold up to years of camping wear and tear.
  • Easy to Use – The Boulder 50 is incredibly simple to use, especially with a Goal Zero power station or power pack.
  • Built-In Kickstand – The built-in kickstand allows you to achieve the perfect angle with the sun for maximum charging efficiency.
  • Mount to Vehicle – Goal Zero mounting brackets (sold separately) allow you to securely mount the solar panel to the roof of a vehicle.
  • Quick Charging – As a 50-watt solar panel, the Boulder 50 provides relatively quick charging for your portable power station.

What I Don’t Like

Here’s what I don’t really like about the Boulder 50:

  • Bulky – This solar panel isn’t exactly light. It’s quite heavy and bulky which limits its uses to car camping.
  • Expensive – At around $150, the Boulder 50 certainly isn’t cheap. There are more affordable options out there. But, at the same time, you certainly do get what you pay with this panel.

What Can the Boulder 50 Charge?

Goal Zero Yeti 150 portable power station being charged by the Goal Zero Boulder 50 portable solar panel.

The Goal Zero Boulder 50 cannot directly charge devices.

You must first use it to charge a power bank or power station. And then charge your devices with said power bank or station.

If you want direct charging, a solar charger is what you need. These allow you to directly charge small devices like smartphones from the solar panel itself.

Also understand that the Boulder 50 doesn’t hold a charge on its own. It’s simply a solar panel – it does not have a built-in battery.

I personally use my Boulder 50 with a Yeti 150, although it also works well with larger portable power stations, such as the Yeti 500 or Yeti 1000.

It takes me around 10 hours to fully charge my Yeti 150 with my Boulder 50 (depending largely on weather), although I typically don’t use enough battery in a day to ever require a full charge.

It’s easiest to use the Boulder 50 with a Goal Zero power station or battery pack, although adapters are available so you can use the solar panel with other brands of power stations.

Who is the Boulder 50 Best for?

Goal Zero Yeti 150 portable power station sitting next to a Goal Zero Boulder 50 portable solar panel in a carrying case.

The Goal Zero Boulder 50 is a great portable solar panel for campers.

It’s an especially good choice for those who already own a Goal Zero portable power station (or plan to buy one in the future) thanks to the quick and easy plug-and-play compatibility.

Although the Boulder 50 is great for campers that stick to developed campgrounds, it’s particularly beneficial for dispersed camping and boondocking. It’s also an ideal solar panel to mount to the roof of a van or other vehicle.

In addition to campers, the this solar panel is an excellent option for survivalists and preppers as well as those looking for a solar power system for power outages and other emergencies.

Other Goal Zero Boulder 50 Reviews

We’re far from the only ones who have reviewed the Boulder 50.

Although we certainly hope our review is helpful, we encourage you to look elsewhere for the most well-rounded understanding of this portable solar panel as possible.

In addition to our review, this detailed review by SOFREP is another great resource to read before you pull the trigger on the Boulder 50, especially if you’re looking for a portable solar panel for emergencies, prepping, or survival situations. 

Video overviews, like the YouTube video above from BC Boats and Canoes (which shows the Boulder 50 with the Goal Zero Yeti 150), are also extremely helpful before buying an expensive piece of camping tech like a solar panel.

Of course, reading user reviews on Amazon, REI, and other retailers is also beneficial. I personally find the reviews left on REI most helpful.

Finally, I encourage you to check out user reviews left on Reddit. This thread on r/preppers is a good place to start.

Other Portable Solar Panels to Consider

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Portable Solar Panel

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel

A rugged 100 watt portable solar panel with a built-in kickstand so you can charge your portable power station quickly.

Goal Zero offers a wide range of other portable solar panels in addition to the Boulder 50.

Other models in the Boulder line include the Boulder 100 and Boulder 200.

In addition to their standard Boulder models, Goal Zero even offers folding “briefcase” models to save space during transport, such as the Boulder 100 Briefcase.

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, the Goal Zero Nomad line of solar panels and solar chargers is well worth checking out.

These range from the super lightweight Nomad 5 all the way up to the beefy Nomad 200. The smaller Nomad solar chargers are perfect for backpacking while the larger versions are great for campers who want a solar panel that packs down very small.

Of course, Goal Zero is far from the only brand that makes solar panels for camping. Jackery and Renogy are two great alternatives.

Where to Buy the Goal Zero Boulder 50

The Goal Zero Boulder 50 is a terrific portable solar panel for camping, especially for use with a Goal Zero portable power station.

You can buy the Goal Zero Boulder 50 at REI or on Amazon as well as directly from Goal Zero.

More Help: jake@campnado.com