Great gadgets for the great outdoors
Ah, summer! The perfect time to step away from the daily routine of your work and home life, seek a new trail to venture, and go on a camping trip. However, if the thought of leaving the civilized world for a few days puts you in a gadget-withdrawal funk, you need not worry. There are plenty of camping gadgets around to satiate your needs on your outdoor adventures. Kitchen gear
Cooking outdoors gets a modern twist with the BioLite, a small, self-contained stove that uses small branches, twigs, or pine cones for fuel. Once you have a fire going in the main chamber, a copper wire is heated to convert the heat into electricity. The electric current powers a small fan to help dissipate the smoke, as well as a USB port to help you power any gadgets you may have brought along. You are literally powering your gadgets with fire! Proceeds from the sale of the BioLite help fund non-profit efforts to furnish third-world communities with similar technology, so you can feel good about your purchase as you cook your meals or roast some marshmallows.
If you prefer to cook over a fire pit or propane stove, the PowerPot may be a better choice. Fill the main chamber with water and set it over a flame to boil. The PowerPot creates electricity using the temperature difference between the cold water and the heat source, in essence acting as a small thermoelectric generator. Plug your USB-connected device to the integrated cable and you'll be powering your gadgets as you cook some pasta or rice.
Coffee drinkers won't have to compromise their habit during a camping trip with the Coleman Portable Propane Coffee Maker. It looks and works pretty much like a home coffee maker, with the exception that it is powered by a small propane tank. In under 20 minutes you will have 10 cups of coffee ready to wake you and your fellow campers up so you can get on with your next expedition. If you're looking for a more compact alternative, check out the Esbit Coffee Maker. At just four inches tall and weighing around ten ounces, this little coffee maker can be easily packed away with your gear.
When you are ready to sit down and eat your meal, the MealKit 2.0 by Light My Fire makes the perfect dining set for the great outdoors. A small triangular package contains everything you need to prepare and serve your meal, including a bowl, a plate, two storage containers, a drinking/measuring cup and a handy spork.
You will survive
If James Bond went camping, he would likely carry the SOL Origin Survival Kit. This palm-sized container includes essential equipment you may need in an emergency situation such as a compact knife with a built-in LED light and high-pitched whistle, a compass, a fire starter with tinders, and a fishing line. There is also a built-in swiveling mirror that can be used to signal for help and a handy survival guide with tips on how to maximize the use of your tool.
Nothing is more important in a survival situation than staying hydrated. In the wilderness however, you won't always have access to potable water. There are many water-filtering systems for camping and outdoor adventuring, but when it comes to simplicity of design and function, nothing beats the LifeStraw. The LifeStraw is the simplest and most effective water purification tool you can carry with you. Use it just like a regular straw; as the water flows from its source into your mouth it gets filtered and purified, helping you stay hydrated and healthy until help arrives. The LifeStraw has proven itself effective in disaster situations all over the world, so you can be sure it will be up to the task in your adventures.
Of knives and lights
Having a good knife is essential on any camping trip. For the gadget conscious, the Gerber Steady Tool not only provides you with a good set of blades and tools, it also converts into a tripod. Use it to steady your camera for a perfect shot or to have a firm platform on which to set your phone or tablet.
When it comes to flashlights, campers have a wide range of different styles to choose from. For an ultra-bright compact solution that is rugged and waterproof, check out the Zebra Light SC600 Mk II. If you prefer lantern-style lights, Black Diamond's Apollo Lantern is a compact yet versatile solution with a collapsible body and folding legs to help you maximize packing space. For a hands-free option, check out the Revolt Headlamp, also by Black Diamond. This eco-friendly lamp has a built-in USB port to directly charge its batteries. For an all-in-one solution, the GorillaTorch Switchback is the way to go. This lamp transforms from a lantern to a headlamp, giving you maximum versatility with minimum bulk.
Camping with an Android
With their mapping capabilities, GPS radios, and compact form factors, tablet computers would be great companions on a camping trip. Unfortunately, their fragile nature is not ideal for braving the elements. Enter Earl, the crowdfunded Android 4.0 tablet designed to take on the harshest conditions. Engineered with explorers in mind, Earl includes sophisticated GPS and mapping software to help you stay the course in your outdoor journeys. Climate sensors keep track of the weather at all times, and a built-in two-way radio can help you stay in touch with your fellow travelers. It also includes a multi-band emergency radio, an e-ink screen to maximize battery life, and a built-in solar panel to stay charged no matter where you go. The Earl tablet is currently available for pre-order, and is expected to be released by the end of the summer.
Go big and go home
Looking like the love child of a VW Camper Van and the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, the Cricket Trailer is the ultimate gadget for explorers that want to take their home on the road. The Cricket was engineered by a former NASA architect who worked on designs used in the International Space Station. It positions itself somewhere in between an RV and a tent, giving you a comfortable, yet simple living space from which to set up base camp or go on a family camping trip. Equip it with the optional refrigerator and roof-mounted solar panels and you have a self-sustaining home on the go.
So take some time during the remainder of the summer to disengage from the daily grind and re-energize yourself by connecting with the natural world. And remember that no matter where your travels take you, there are plenty of cool gadgets to take along for the journey.