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Camping trips are a lot of fun without technology. But if you can bring the right tools with you, you can make it even more enjoyable and avoid some of the downsides of the experience.
We’re not saying that you need to be scrolling through TikTok on your smartphone while you’re away. But we are saying that some technology is welcome. Unless, of course, you like returning to the stone age every so often.
But what technology, specifically, are we talking about? Let’s take a look.
The Month-Long Lantern
19th-century lanterns that burned whale oil could last a week. But, today, you can buy LED versions that will keep your tent supplied with light for a whole month before you need to charge them.
Keeping a fire lit is also dangerous and time-consuming, particularly if you bring it inside your tent. LED lamps powered by regular cells reduce risks dramatically and won’t burn your tent down around you.
Waterproof speakers are another option, and something you should bring with you if you love the great outdoors. These connect to your devices via Bluetooth or pick up radio signals if they have a receiver inside.
Waterproof speakers are practical and compact. Manufacturers use one of two technologies to make them waterproof. Either they create rubber seals around the chassis, preventing any water from getting inside. Or they coat all of the sensitive electronics inside with a hydrophobic substance that repels water and prevents short circuits.
Camping speakers are also extremely robust. Manufacturers make them to take a lot of abuse. You can leave them on the floor and they should be okay, even if there is a lot of moisture on the ground.
External Battery Packs
Some people leave all their devices at home when they go camping. But these intrepid individuals are a rare breed in this day and age. Most people want to bring equipment with them so they can communicate safely with family and friends.
Unfortunately, most smartphones and tablets only last a day, if that. Therefore, more people than ever before are choosing external battery packs. These handy devices usually contain enough energy for three or four days of consistent phone use. You just plug them into your device via USB and they’ll continue to charge it all night.
Note, though, that charging isn’t as quick as mains socket charging. Therefore, you’ll need to plug them in early the night before if you want your battery to be 100 percent by the following morning.
Bicycle Gyro Chargers
Solar panel chargers are okay, but they need to be large to provide all the energy your devices need. Unfortunately, the average modern smartphone uses way more energy than a small, one-square-foot array can generate on an average day.
Therefore, many happy campers are turning to bicycle gyro chargers. These fit to the front wheel and generate energy based on inputs from your body. Over time, this method charges your battery, letting you use it for all your devices in the evening.
Bicycle gyro chargers, though, require you to do a lot of pedaling. Therefore, they are a good option if you are cycling all day, but a bad one otherwise.
Taking headphones with you on camp isn’t exactly a necessity. Therefore, you can file this one under your “creature comforts” list.
Headphones make camping more enjoyable by letting you listen to music and audiobooks in peace. It can also blank out unwanted noise. Not everyone enjoys the sound of crickets, owls, and their partner snoring next to them. Therefore, using headphones to block out noise is a great strategy.
Ordinary thermometers are a sensible addition to any camping trip. You can use them to test the internal temperature of meat and avoid food poisoning.
The problem with regular thermometers is you need to be up close to operate them. You can’t prod meat remotely.
However, with Bluetooth-equipped devices, you can.
The way these systems work is pretty cool. You place the body of the device safely away from the cooking food and then stick the heatproof electrode in the meat via an extension cord. The main unit will then transmit temperature information to your phone in real-time, so you can see when your sausages are warming up. Then, when they are at the perfect temperature, you can flip them over and go back to your seat. It’s a miracle.
If the 30-day lantern wasn’t quite the right tool for you, then a long-life flashlight might be. These devices use LED bulbs and can put out significantly more light than standard torches.
Interestingly, most recommend you use non-rechargeable AAA batteries. That’s because these contain the highest amount of charge of any battery, even more than lithium-ion.
Taking a fitness tracker with you on your next camping trip is another cool idea. Remember, outdoors, you’ll be covering some serious ground and getting much more physical activity than usual. With a smartwatch, you can see how many miles you’ve walked, ran, cycled, or kayaked. You can also view how many calories you’ve burned.
Both Apple and Samsung make great smartwatches that offer practically all the features you need. They record your routes so you can see where you’ve been, and provide you with helpful information, like the UV index, so you know if you need to cover up.
Android users, though, tend to have the most options. Fitbit, for instance, has many fitness-related features. You can also review your health data to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
Fitness trackers also show you whether you’re getting enough sleep on camp. They can tell you how deep your sleep was and whether you need to take it easy today or not.
Crank Hand Charger
Crank hand chargers are a great alternative for anyone who needs to charge a battery quickly and can’t afford to wait for a solar charger. Hand crank chargers transform the chemical energy in your body into chemical energy in batteries. You lose weight and the battery gains charge to power all your devices, including your phones.
Remember, even if you have a solar charger, the sun doesn’t shine at night. Furthermore, if you’re camping in the winter, it can be difficult to get enough hours of sunlight to collect all the energy you need. Hand crank chargers can make up the deficit.
Don’t get a plastic one. Look for a large one made of metal, capable of supplying enough energy to your battery pack.
You might also want to consider investing in an action camera. These may serve you better than regular camping cameras.
Why? Simple: manufacturers make action cameras specifically to take action shots, the type of photos you’re more likely to take while camping.
Action cameras do this by taking many pictures in a row and then blending them together until they are sharp. They also take videos at a high frame rate so they look smooth, regardless of the on-camera action.
You can also voice-activate them which is great when you’re hiking. Just place the device on a rock, pose and then tell it to take a picture. No more timers. No more fiddling around.
The latest mobile phones have emergency satellite communication built into them. Unfortunately, though, these systems only work in limited geographic regions at the moment, such as North America and Europe.
Fortunately, you can get bespoke satellite communicators from third-party brands that work anywhere. For these, you’ll need to pay a small amount for the device itself and then pay an ongoing subscription for satellite coverage. Once you’re set-up, you can make satellite calls from anywhere, just in case you get into trouble.
Naturally, satellite communicators aren’t necessary if you’re just staying on a campsite in a developed area. However, they do come in handy if you’re going out into the wilderness for weeks with no one else to call for help if you get into trouble.
Camping and drones go hand-in-hand these days. Devices, like the Mini 3, make it easy to take fantastic shots and provide a real context in all your environments.
Drones can follow you automatically these days while you cycle and hike. Most have flight times of around 15 minutes, but they can last longer than this under the right conditions.
You can also bring spare batteries with you. If your drone comes back down to earth, you just swap the old one out for a new one.
Camping and technology are bedfellows. And if you think about it, that’s always been the case. Modern sleeping bags are packed with advanced material technologies, yet everyone takes them for granted.
The same is true of camping stoves. Companies put massive investments into these products to make them more convenient than traditional fires.
Now, though, the technology campers use is becoming more conspicuous. Expect this trend to continue as more people want to spend time in nature but take their creature comforts with them.