Best Hiking and Camping Gadgets

Let’s face it: we all know that person that can’t unplug even when they’re smack dab in the Great Outdoors.  Luckily for those people, there is now a wide selection of solar-powered camping gear, portable battery packs for camping, and all manner of cases to protect your valuable electronics from whatever Mother Nature can throw at you while you’re out hiking the trails.  For the gear-head in your life, I’ve put together a list of some of the best gadgets for hiking and camping.

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Cases for Cell Phones

No matter how careful you are, you will drop your phone.  Or get caught in a deluge and be soaked to the skin.  I cringe whenever I see someone pull their phone out of their pocket and they don’t have any kind of case to protect it, only because I know how many times my phone would have been smashed if it wasn’t for my Lifeproof case.  It is waterproof, dirt-proof, and (most importantly) drop-proof. 

GPS

No matter how much we love our phones, sometimes they let us down and it is usually at the worst time.  It’s bad enough when your phone sends you to the wrong restaurant but it can be downright disastrous if it gives you bad directions in the wilderness.  A handheld GPS often has better signal and can interface with your phone, allowing you to get messages and loved ones can keep track of your location.

Best Solar Panels for Camping

There are different kinds of solar panels: some are affixed to your backpack allowing you to charge your small electronics while on the move.  Others are larger panels that fold out once you’ve arrived at your site and are suited to multiple devices or laptops. Obviously, solar panels are only useful if the sun is shining bright enough to charge it.  In the case of cloudy days, you may want to consider… 

Portable Battery Packs for Camping

If you just want a little extra juice for your electronics, you may not want solar panels.  In that case, a small battery pack can easily fit into a pocket.  For endurance runners, many use one to charge their watches when they’re running 10 + hours.  Speaking of watches…

Sports Watches

These days, you can have everything that you need and more sitting conveniently on your wrist including altimeter, barometric pressure, GPS, and map functions.  Personally, I have a Suunto Ambit3 Run watch.  It has more features than I can possibly use and I can set the GPS function so that I have a 50 hour battery life; perfect for those 50 km training runs.  If you’re going into difficult terrain, the route function can help keep you from getting lost or so I’ve heard (ahem).    

Solar-Powered Lanterns

It’s good to have light when the sun sets and lanterns that don’t need you to haul around extra batteries is an added bonus.

Action Cameras

This is a group that is dominated by the granddaddy of all action cameras, the GoPro, but that isn’t the only option anymore.  Some cameras have small screens on the back of them which does away with the need to pair your camera to your phone.  Depending on what you’re using the camera for, some are far more economical than the GoPro and the footage can be edited without having to change the format.  

Drone

For some, drones are an obnoxious interference in the solitude of nature.  For others, they allow views of the surrounding terrain that used to be the realm of complex movie shoots.  If you want to bring a drone with you hiking or camping, make sure that you check local regulations: many national, state, and provincial parks as well as attractions ban the use of drones.  If you are in the market to buy a drone, check out this article by my friend Maureen over at Life on the Mediterranean.  I’m not saying that she’s the reason that I bought a drone (but she’s totally the reason I bought a drone). 

Camera Case Backpack

For day trips when you don’t need to carry a lot of gear but still want to keep your camera protected, I’ve found that a backpack is the best kind of case to use.  With a backpack, the weight is evenly distributed over both shoulders, it is close to my centre of gravity, and less cumbersome than carrying a pack and camera case.  Some packs have a quickdraw pocket which means that you don’t have to remove the pack to take out your camera.  My Evecase pack has a pouch on either side that is spacious enough for large water bottles, straps on the bottom for a tripod, and has a separate section for my laptop.  A compartment on the top of the cargo space fits plenty of snacks for a day of hiking.   

 

Wifi Hotspot

Some folks just cannot leave the internet behind.  For those, a wifi hotspot may be the answer.  I have never used one of these devices and cannot speak to their range or speed but heck, I didn’t even know these were a thing.

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