Hiking/Camping Part 7 – Power Up

Transmission towers marching through the count...

Image via Wikipedia

Since the industrial revolution we now live in an age of innovation.  Electronic devices and gadgets exist to help with any problem or difficulty you can think of.  Not even the great outdoors and nature can escape this.  Tools for navigation, weather, surveying, monitoring, photographing, and generally making life in the great out doors easier exist in many shapes and sizes.  If you are going to go backpacking or camping there are some electronic devices which one might consider indispensable as well as some electronic which might just be nice to have.  I will try to list these tools requiring a power source in order of importance for appropriate consideration.

Finding Your Way

Head LampLED Flash LightLED LanternGas Lantern

One important tool that extends our ability to work and accomplish more is light.  You can’t do much if you aren’t able to see.  Wandering around in the dark is a good way to get lost.  Modern headlamps, flashlights and recently lanterns now use LED lights which use one tenth the energy of the older incandescent light bulbs.   The Maglite can run for 31 hours on two double A batteries. The Maglite also has a strobe and SOS mode which can be used in emergencies to scare predators or signal for help.  The trusty coleman lantern now has a partner using LED lights that can be detached from the charging base and carried to the washroom or on a short night hike.  But then we shouldn’t forget the old trusty Coleman lantern which revolutionized camping and smaller versions that run on butane or propane.  Many times fuel is easier to come by then batteries or power outlets.

Radio Charger ComboCompassGPSRechargeable Batteries

If you are going to find your way you might also want to know how mother nature might treat you.  An ambient weather radio and flashlight combo is useful to tune into not only radio stations but NOAA weather reports.  Information is a key to travel.  Some emergency ambient weather flash light radios also have built in power ports to charge cell phones or batteries.  Now that your path is lite and you know what the weather will be like you will need to know the direction to take.  A trusty compass and topo-map is the very basic tool but you will also want to consider a GPS to find your current location on a map. ALok SackAnother option is many smart phones have GPS chips built in and many applications are available that can add topographical and road maps to the smartphone as well.  But then you need to provide power.  At the very least you will want rechargeable batteries.  The Sanyo Eneloop or   Powermax Imedion low self-discharge batteries hold charges longer then other batteries when stored and are a good option for outdoor electronic gear.  Lastly you will want to consider waterproof transparent bags to protect your gear.

The Nice to have Electronics

Rugged Iphone CaseSmart Phone GPSWaterproof Video CameraKoolatron Cooler

In some respects a cell phone is a nice to have in the outdoors.  This is due to the fact that rural areas and state parks tend to have poor coverage and you will likely not find a signal.  But since most modern smart phones can also act as cameras, ebook readers, GPS with some apps storing maps on the phone, carrying a phone may be more of a necessity.  If you are lost you might just find a cell signal and it may save your life.  Another option would be tablets which have many of the features of smart phones listed above and some even have cell phone capability built in but they also have larger screens.  The larger screens enhance maps and GPS functionality and the built in office suites can allow you to journal about your adventures and upload to your blog if you find a signal.  On the fun side these devices also have multimedia capability.  Might be cool to tell your friends you watched “K2” hanging from a mountain side.  Don’t forget rugged cases and larger water proof bags.  Then you might want to record your adventures.  A waterproof dual video/photo camera can record your feats of derring-do.  Who knows, you might just end up on National Geographic.  Lastly, back at basecamp it might be nice to pull a bottle of wine out of a cooler that doubles as a portable fridge.

Avoid Black Outs, Power Up

Powerfilm USB+AAGoal0 Adventure KitGoal0 120 Watt +SolarGoal0 Escape Scout 150Goal0 Ranger 350

You can only carry so many double A batteries and the lithium power cells in your phones, cameras and other equipment will only go so far.  If you are going to be stuck in back country without power outlets for any extended period of time you will need away to provide power and recharge your batteries.  Companies like Brunton, Powerfilm and Goal0 have lower cost solar panels with AA battery chargers.  These companies also have larger solar panels (some which still pack down relatively small) and batteries with inverters that can power or recharge larger electronic devices.  Goal0 panels have been used in Haiti after the earth quake by relief workers and have been used at the south pole by explorers.  They are designed to be rugged.

Keep having fun in the great outdoors and remember to bring some toys because it’s about having fun.  You never know, some of those toys might just save your life.


About Last Fiddle
I have always had many interests; technology, science, philosophy, theology, politics, history, etc... Currently, life for the past twelve years has placed me in the area of technology fulfilling roles in System Administration and Architecture. But I have always been involved in the local church and enjoy researching and discussing issues of theology, philosophy, history and politics...

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