Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Technology for hitting the trail, getting more from less.

My friend & Honorary Team member of Expedition Outreach, John Kolker is set to embark on an AT trail through hike to raise money & awareness in the fight against heart disease.  This article is dedicated to him. 

Technology is both a blessing & a curse for humanity but no matter what side of the fence you fall on, we have to admit it can enhance our experience of nature on extended hikes, bike tours & expeditions. I remember the days of carrying heavy satellite phones, laptops & large Motorola radios on expedition deep into the Alaskan wilderness of the Wrangell Mountains, all to broadcast live on television from our summit. I have dealt with all possible manners of technical difficulty. Back then I would have been the first one to make the argument that technology distracts us from the beauty of nature, but we have come so far in our advances that this new lightweight, mostly waterproof technology keeps us safer, happier & healthier, truly the power to enhance our experience on that long road through our own hearts to come back home once more.

My suggestions for a complete expedition technology inventory for a solo trip…  

·        A Smart Phone, preferably the new IPhone

·        A pair of waterproof wired headphones, EcoXGear

·        A waterproof case for phone check out the ECOPOD at EcoXGear.

·        A small Goal Zero solar system for recharging all your tech.

·        Contour Video/still camera with 2 extra batteries

·        DeLorme Explorer InReach

·        CamelBak Flow Meter

·        Princeton Tech Impulse (small, light but powerful flashlight) Hang this plus your Dermatone lip stuff right on your backpack to always have near.

·        Headlamp (Princeton Tec) (One that uses AA or AAA batteries & bring extra batteries in a zip lock baggie).

·        A Jaybird Rein Activity Tracker

·        Along with your favorite music in your Smart Phone add several Sound Technology Meditations from Brain Power Music & IAwake Technologies  

The hows & whys…

I use the IPhone, so based upon my own experiences, we will use that as an example though I understand most smart phones have similar APPs. It’s one piece of tech that does many things thus saving weight.

Add a pair of EcoXGear wired headphones, they do not need charging, they are totally waterproof, they weigh next to nothing & are stereo. There are several good waterproof cases out there I like the ECOPOD.  The IPhone has the following functions one might need.

·        An MP3 Player: With your favorite music, music is a performance enhancer & you will have LONG hours hiking or on the road. You have plenty of time to listen to nature but it’s also amazing to have a soundtrack playing. Music as a stimulant (when you need it most) instead of taking an actual stimulant.

·        Emergency safety distress beacon. Secondary to the DeLorme.

·        Contains maps of all the Trails & towns you will visit on your journey.

When meeting new friends on your trip you can use your phone to make notes & reminders, jot down names, exchange numbers, friend them on Facebook either then or later. You would not need a pen & paper as this serves that purpose. If you do carry a writing system bring a waterproof expedition notepad & NASA pen but with the Dragon Speaking Naturally APP you can go hands free! Check out the Trip Journal App.  

·        It’s a secondary altimeter, barometer & compass. A complete navigation & weather system.

·        A secondary backup watch & flash light

·        A calendar

·        A backup camera that posts directly to your Facebook page, & your group where people can follow you. It can pair with a DeLorme Explorer InReach so you can make posts to a Facebook page & live progress is possible! This along with MapQuest is a great feature to let friends, fans & family know where you are.

·        A weather APP gives more accurate weather readings than your barometer as you have professionals interpreting the drops & rises in pressure.  

·        Audio books allows you to read or listen to the books that you save in your IPhone & saves weight of a book, instead of bringing one, you can bring many. I recommend The Power of Now, Into the Void, Into Thin Air, The Perfect Storm, The Endurance, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Into the Wild, Marvel Comics, all classic trail reads…  

·        When resting you can make collages & edit your images so when you post they will be more interesting.

·        You can play games like Plants verses Zombies!

·        You can pare it with an activity tracker like The Rein by Jaybird    which gives you all kinds of health data.

·        I like the Map My Fitness & My Fitness Pal Apps to record calories burned & taken in to make sure I am eating & hydrating enough.

·        And so much more!

Along with music you can have sound meditations, they can cure insomnia, help bring you into the moment of now to increase appreciation, lift the blues on a rainy grey day & help you wake up in the morning.  

Speaking of hydration I recommend a CamelBak Flow Meter that fits right onto your CamelBak water bladder, a must to rehydrate properly.  Hydration is its own article but I just wanted to add this as it is technology.

Your primary camera should be all about telephoto because your IPhone excels at selfies & close range shots of new friends you meet along the way. Consider instead of or as an addition to, a Contour video camera which also takes these amazing wide angled photos that are similar to a Go Pro but I feel, better. Waterproof & fits in the palm of your hand. The Contour easily pares with your IPhone.

I carry an IPhone 5 but these new larger screen IPhone 6’s are better for reading your books & even watching videos.

This would be my system of technology all coupled with the appropriate Goal Zero Solar panel recharging system, they have many & it’s probably best to consult with them what is right for you once you select exactly what you will bring. I hang a small solar panel right off my backpack so something is always getting recharged up while I trek, climb, paddle or ride. Depending upon what you choose all this is only between ½ a pound & 1 ½ pounds total. Definitely worth the weight.

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