“If at first you don’t succeed; call it version 1.0”
As the child of an Engineer and the grandchild of a clever inventor, I have geek running all through my blood. Now before your stereotypes of Steves (Jobs, Wozniak, Urkle) flood your mind, I mean that I am interested in computing, new media, and technical skills and imagination. I do have a social life. I don’t live in my parent’s basement -anymore. I did make my own Darth Vader outfit but I still managed to get married. Technology is why I tinker and dream about what could be done.
When I imagine my perfect camping adventure, it doesn’t involve all of those things which typically come with a camping trip. You know what I mean…the unexpected. Maybe it is a flat tire, a forgotten item, a change in weather patterns, being attacked by wildlife, injuries, or getting lost. I will likely never go on a perfect camping trip (which is partly why it is fun) but there are technological tools that can help make a trip a bit smoother.
As a teardrop camper, I don’t want every convenience in life. If I wanted that, I’d buy a big RV and stay on relatively well paved roads. However, there is just enough Robert Frost in me to seek rare and new adventures. This is why I don’t travel with a TV and a large selection of movies. I don’t spend a camping trip listening to music. My goal is to be in nature and to enjoy the solitude and therapy that nature provides. I do use technology to help but not to distract. After all, “there is a time and a place for everything under heaven.”
If you need some helpful technology for camping, I’ve made a list of the things I like. You can add to this list by making a comment or just copy it off and use it as your own.
Besides food and clothing, my favorite item to take camping is a camera. Sure there are the beautiful flowers, animals, and sunsets but my interest is people. To remember friends, family, and fellow campers and the stories is remembering the core of every camping trip. Some will use their phone cameras or point and shoot models. For me, image quality is quite important so it is an SLR that shoots both stills and a compressed HD video. I only have one warning about the camera for the techy camper. Don’t let it take over the trip. To be so excited about the “sweet blog post” that will come from the camp-out should not be the purpose of the camp-out. Let the enjoyment of the experience be the inspiration to document those valuable moments.
I love reading while camping. However, since I read several books at a time, I don’t like packing them all with me. The Kindle is great for camping because it has a long battery life (about a month) and uses digital ink technology (not LEDs like other tablets) and is easy to read in any light conditions. If it is lost, stolen, or damaged on a camp-out, it is easily replaced with all of the books installed on the new unit (including where you left off reading before disaster struck). Replacement is pretty inexpensive -compared to other tablet options- as well. If you’re into reading more than playing Angry Birds, this is a great device for you.
Phones, cameras, tablets, etc all run low on battery power eventually. Unless there are plans to install a large solar panel on your teardrop, this little device will take care of most small device power needs. For me, keeping my camera batteries charged is important because I love to remember the nature that I encounter while camping. This is an economical & small solution.
This is probably a good device to have on any camping trip. For the backwoods or overland camper, this is a must have. Many tragedies could be avoided if only people had these (e.g. “Into the Wild”). If lost, turn it on and a distress signal with GPS coordinates is transmitted for rescue personnel.
As convenient as these units are for our automobiles, the units for cars are not always camper friendly. Most will only have road maps in them and not give additional details about altitude and topography. They are also usually too big to easily carry along on a hike. A good small GPS is a great addition for the techno camper. It can be fastened to a wrist or belt and off you go for a hike. It will chart how far a hike is, how long it has taken, and how to get back. Getting a GPS could save lives and that is the best reason to have one.
When camping with a group of people it is handy to have a quick way to communicate. Maybe the kids are out for a mountain bike ride or a meal is ready and quick communication is necessary. These radios can ease communication problems during a camp-out.
If you’re seriously wanting to enter the realm of geek, look into getting a HAM radio license & radio. I have enjoyed being able to communicate long distances (even with other nations) while camping because of my HAM radio. When rescue operations are organized, a HAM radio operator can be a vital. Fires, injuries, and other emergency situations are within the realm of any camping trip. Long distance communication is a good asset in those times.
I’ll admit it. I was not an early adopter in the product life cycle of the data phone. However, after getting mine, I realize how stinking useful this device is. It isn’t just for gaming and shooting video or photos to be posted on my favorite social networks. These devices can be powerful tools for campers. In part 2.0 of the techy-camper blog posts I will focus on the data phone and how many ways it can helpful on a camping experience better.
Before you go thinking that I have a belt covered with electronics and LED lights that make me look like a Christmas tree, I need to say that I have these items while camping but rarely use them. For safety or convenince I occasionally access them. Most of the time it is just me, family, friends, a book, and the elements!
OH, and my camera.