5 Gadgets for Campers Who Can’t Unplug

By: Kevin P. Allen

Ready to head into the wild? You don't have to leave your technological luxuries behind. See more pictures of national parks.
Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Thinkstock

It's really not that hard to understand. You love to camp, you just don't love some of the things that camping purists associate with being outdoors. Why don't other people get that? It's invigorating being beside the water or among the trees and breathing all that fresh air. It's just that the hermit lifestyle is not for you, even for a day or two. You want the niceties of city life and the connectedness they provide. And, yes, it's possible to have it all -- you just have to know how to make nature blend with technology. Rest assured, there are others who want the same thing you do, and they've created some amazing tools to help you seamlessly transition from urban living to sleeping under the stars with modern, high-tech style. Let's all say it together now, "Electricity is our friend!"

Picture a camping trip in which you listen to the crickets and the wind in the trees while watching a movie. Imagine waking up by the lake to the sound of coffee percolating. Can you envision a wilderness adventure that doesn't' entail the prospect of getting lost? After all, if you have an endless supply of electricity and the right guidance system in the palm of your hand, the risks of outdoor life are greatly diminished.


So throw out the notion that a nature-lover can't be a techie. You can be both. You can embrace the natural beauty all around you and harness the creativity that man -- and woman -- brings to this planet. You can conquer nature and soak it in. The right inventions prove that it's possible. Power up and head into the wild. This will be an expedition like none other -- You're about to find out how to become an outdoor techie enthusiast!

5: Brunton Solaris 26 Solar Array

Like Luke Skywalker heading off into the unknown, you have to "use the force" to have success as an outdoor techie. The force, in this case, is electricity.

The Brunton Solaris 26 Solar Array is a compact recharging system that harnesses the power of the sun. It's an 11- by 8.5-inch (28- by 21-centimeter) solar panel that, when unfolded to its full size of 21.5 by 37.5 inches (54 by 95 centimeters), can produce enough energy to charge everything from your mobile phone to your car battery. Yes, your car! With 26 watts of power, the force is strong with this one.


You don't have to have brilliant sunshine to keep the Solaris working. The manufacturer claims it'll work efficiently even in low-light. This gadget, however, doesn't come cheap. At more than $500, you'll be paying for the ability to keep all your electrical devices humming during your stay in the outdoors [source: Active.com].

Of course, your body doesn't live on electricity. You need -- caffeine!

4: Coleman 10-cup Coffee Maker

Mother Nature doesn't have a snooze button, so when a brilliant sunrise lights up your tent at 6 a.m., you need one thing -- coffee. Unfortunately, your local coffee shop can't help you in this predicament, but a portable coffee maker sure would come in handy. The Coleman Company, which has been around since the turn of the 20th century, offers a coffee maker for those with a 21st century addiction to a good cup of liquid invigoration. The Coleman 10-cup Coffee Maker is similar to the machine you likely have at home, except the carafe is made of stainless steel and it's fueled by a 16.4-ounce (0.4-liter) propane cylinder. The cylinder is disposable and the heating mechanism is turned on with the push of a button so you don't have to worry whether you can get it lit. Just fill the reservoir with water, pour your favorite coffee beans into the removable basket and, 18-minutes later you're enjoying a cup of Joe in the great outdoors [source: Camping World].


3: Satmap Active 10

Now that the caffeine is coursing through your veins, you can charge out into the wilderness in search of adventure. Chances are, however, that reckless abandon will get you lost unless you're excellent at orienteering or you have a Satmap (short for "satellite map"). The Satmap Active 10 is a GPS system about the size of a typical mobile phone.

It also has hundreds of topographical maps from more than a dozen countries which are available on SD cards that can be plugged directly into the handheld device. Headed to the Sierra Nevada? Plug in the Sierra Nevada SD card and you'll have a detailed description of where you are -- and how to get out. Traveling to Austria? The literal highs and lows of your destination are quickly at your disposal. If you run into bad weather or if you happen to stumble and drop your Satmap, it's OK. It's waterproof and comes in a shockproof case [source: Satmap.]


There are, however, dangers in the outdoors that have nothing to do with the terrain. Bad weather is one example. There's a gadget, as you might imagine, made just for that possibility.

2: American Red Cross FR500 SolarLink

Let's say that your trip has gone awry. Unexpected bad weather has settled in, and you've taken a tumble while exploring on a hillside. You need help. The American Red Cross FR500 SolarLink can be a lifesaver.

This sturdy gadget has it all: An AM/FM/Shortwave radio, complete with NOAA weatherband so you can monitor a storm. It also provides an emergency beacon and siren. Here's the coolest thing: There's virtually no way to lose power to your SolarLink. If your batteries run dead, it'll rely on solar power -- and if the inclement weather keeps any rays from getting through, you can use the devices hand crank. Who would've thought that a hand crank could be so important to a high-tech device? Sometimes the past and the present collide to keep you safe from harm [source: ETON.]


Now let's go with the best case scenario -- you remain completely safe from harm during your afternoon outing and settle in at your camp site as the sun fades over the horizon. What now? It's movie time, of course!

1: Eyeclops Mini Projector

It's just not feasible to take your big screen television on a camping trip, no matter how appealing it might be. But you can transform your camp site with an Eyeclops Mini Projector. This tiny tool can connect to everything from an iPhone to a gaming system, projecting a 66-inch image onto your tent or, perhaps, a rock wall. There's nothing quite like watching "The Blair Witch Project" in the environment in which it was created. Or you can play a classic romantic flick next to a crackling camp fire. And if, God forbid, you're concerned about that big meeting your leading when you get back to work, you can practice your PowerPoint presentation, then crawl into your sleeping bag knowing you're fully prepared for what awaits back in the city [source: Soard].

Ready to take technology into the wild? We've got lots more information to help you on your journey on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Active.com. "Brunton Solaris 26 Solar Array." (Aug. 30, 2011) http://www.active.com/gear-store/brunton/brunton-solaris-26-solar-array/
  • American Red Cross. "A Brief History of the American Red Cross." (Sept. 2, 2011) http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.86f46a12f382290517a8f210b80f78a0/?vgnextoid=271a2aebdaadb110VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD
  • Arnold, Thomas K. "What recession? Home video bucks downturn."Reuters. July 14, 2008 (Sept. 2, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/07/14/us-dvd-idUSN1434291920080714
  • Camping World. "Coleman 10-cup Coffee Maker." (Aug. 30, 2011) http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/coleman-10-cup-propane-coffee-maker/55574
  • Coffee-Statistics.com. "Coffee Statistics Report 2011." (Sept. 2, 2011) http://coffee-statistics.com/coffee_statistics_ebook.html
  • ETON. American Red Cross FR500 Solarlink. (Aug. 29, 2011) http://www.etoncorp.com/product_card/?p_ProductDbId=518333
  • Satmap. "Active 10." (Aug. 29, 2011) http://www.satmap.co.uk/about.php
  • Soard, Caitlin. "Eyeclops Mini Projector." Lovetoknow toys. (Aug. 30, 2011) http://toys.lovetoknow.com/Eyeclops_Mini_Projector