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Updated November 7, 2021
Let’s face it: we all know that person that can’t unplug even when they’re smack dab in the middle of 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. I’ve put together a list of some of the best gadgets for hiking and camping, perfect for the gear-head in your life.
I have included photos of some of my actual gear that I use and if I’m endorsing it, it’s because I like it. I have received no compensation of any kind for these items. If you are looking for more gift and gear ideas (for you or someone else), make sure you check out our post on Gifts for Travellers and their Dogs.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.
Cases for Cell Phones
No matter how careful you are, you will drop your phone. Or get caught in a deluge and 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.
Click here to search Amazon for cell phone cases.
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. The one that I use, made by BlueHive, has got a ton of power and has kept my phone charged for days when we weren’t driving from spot to spot. Many endurance runners use a tiny battery pack to keep their watches charged when they’re running 10 + hours. Speaking of watches…
Follow this link to shop for portable battery pack.
These days, you can have everything that you need and more sitting conveniently on your wrist including altimeter, barometric pressure, GPS, and map functions. I personally 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). I’ve had mine since 2016 and it has not failed me in any way other than needing to replace the strap; once.
Looking to buy a new watch? See what Amazon has by clicking here.
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.
Follow this link to shop Amazon for GPS units.
Best Solar Panels for Camping
There are different kinds of solar panels: some can be affixed to your backpack which allows 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. Cloudy days won’t be a problem if you also have a battery pack for backup. Portable units are easy to move to avoid shady spots or can be strapped into a sun-facing window while you drive.
Interested in solar panels? Check here to see what Amazon has.
It’s good to have light when the sun goes down and lanterns that don’t need you to haul around extra batteries are an added bonus. They are ideal for long stays in sites with plenty of daytime sun exposure.
Want to add some light to your life? Click here for solar-powered lanterns.
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 or screens on the front for selfie mode. More and more are being made waterproof without the need for a case. 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.
Want to capture the action? Check here for the gear.
If you’re going to get an action camera or you shoot a lot of video footage, a gimbal is a must. They are available for smartphones, action cameras, and various models of DSLR. I had an Feiyu Tech gimbal for my GoPro Hero4 and it’s small enough to fit into the pocket of my cargo shorts. Make sure that you consider the environment where you do most of your filming as some are water-proof or water-resistant. They will cost a bit more but it’s still cheaper than replacing cameras and gimbals.
Looking for some stability in your life? Click here to shop for gimbals.
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 when you go hiking or camping, make sure that you check local regulations: many national, state, and provincial parks as well as popular attractions ban the use of drones. Canada now requires a license to fly a drone over 250 grams.
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). They do get a bit of getting used to and are louder than you think they should be so be considerate of people and animals around you. One piece of advice from me: if you do get a drone, splurge on additional batteries. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a hot filming session and run out of juice.
Click here for drones and accessories.
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 for me a backpack is the best 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 place that is big enough for my laptop. A compartment on the top of the cargo space fits plenty of snacks for a day of hiking.
Follow this link to shop for camera backpacks and cases.
I’m always on the lookout for more gadgets and gear so let me know what your favourites are.