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Technology in the Wilderness — Camping Gear That Keeps you Connected

Article Highlights

  • Modern camping supplies can make outdoor excursions easier and more efficient for campers.
  • Campers should use common sense and practice proper planning on trips instead of relying on tech devices.

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Camping equipment was once solely the bare necessities needed to survive in the woods. Today modern camping gear has gotten a bit more plush. Modern camping supplies often include items like smartphones, laptops, and battery-powered televisions, to stay comfortable and linked to the outside world even in the wilderness.

“For me as a working professional and an online instructor, I am able to stay connected to work and what is happening in the world, while at the same time, enjoy a family vacation or even work as a pit-road firefighter at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway when the NASCAR Races are in town,” says Josh Dasher, Information Technology instructor at South University, Online Programs.

Dasher believes the addition of new high-tech camping gear has inspired more people to embark on camping trips and nature outings.

“There are all sorts of applications available today to assist a new camper or give added tools to an experienced camper,” Dasher says.

On the other hand, Daniel Soeder, outings chair for the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club believes modern camping gear has helped in some ways and hurt in others.

“Some people who are just getting into nature outings go a bit gear-crazy and load up on the technology,” Soeder says. “There are a lot of high-tech necessities and accessories for sale at the outfitter stores, and sometimes what is critical and what is just handy are hard to tell apart.”

Innovative Camping Supplies

Over the years, Soeder says camping supplies have become more lightweight, efficient, and durable, enhancing the overall experience.

“The modern shock-corded nylon dome tents are much quicker and easier to set up than the old Boy Scout-style canvas tents, and the dome structure eliminates the center poles, which were always a hazard when stumbling around in the dark,” Soeder says.

High tech should never replace common sense.

 Soeder says modern hiking boots now contain gore-tex lining, making them waterproof, which eliminates the need to coat the outside with wax or ‘bear grease’.

“Modern LED or compact fluorescent lights run for days on a set of batteries, and have replaced the old gasoline lanterns that used incandescent mantles,” Soeder says. “The LED lights can be safely used inside a tent, which could not be done with a hot lantern.” 

Camping supplies for preparing food in the wilderness have also received modern upgrades in everything from cookware to camping stoves, Soeder says. Heavy iron and steel cookware have been replaced with modern plastics, aluminum, and titanium, and newer stoves running on propane are now used in place of old gas burning stoves requiring pumping and priming.

“Lightweight backpacking stoves are technological marvels that weigh mere ounces, yet boil water in minutes,” Soeder says.

Soeder says new advances in microfiltration water pumps have made food and water taste better by removing pathogens from raw water, without adding the bad taste that came from treating it with iodine or chlorine.

“And freeze-dried trail food has gotten so good that adding a cup of boiling water to a bag makes a gourmet meal that simply cannot be achieved any other way on the trail without a lot of work and a lot of weight,” Soeder says.  

Dasher also believes tech devices like cell phones, laptops, and battery powered televisions can also add to the camping experience. 

“You can keep track of the weather, look up places to visit while on a trip, or even map out a trail that you may want to hike,” Dasher says.

While Soeder doesn’t mind some tech devices coming along on camping trips, he does believe they can defeat the purpose of spending time in nature.

“One of the downsides to the tech revolution is that electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, MP3 sound systems, battery powered televisions and so forth are showing up on outdoor activities, and detracting from the experience,” Soeder says. “Camping is for nature. I’m fine with something mellow like the Pink Floyd ‘Animals’ CD playing quietly in the background around the campfire, but if you want to talk on the phone, work on financial spreadsheets, watch the ballgame, or post your life on Facebook, stay home. The 4G network coverage is better there anyway.”

Modern Camping Equipment and Safety

Dasher believes modern tech devices also make camping safer.

“I have been at Talladega Superspeedway on two separate trips when the weather got bad and weather warnings were issued,” Dasher says. “Having weather apps on our smartphones assisted us in knowing where the bad weather was at and its potential of hitting the track or if emergency services personal needed to make plans to assist area campers at the track for the weekend race.”

Dasher says his smartphone has also served as a handy piece of modern camping equipment, as it allowed him to check the weather and plan the remainder of his trip accordingly.

Although Soeder agrees it can be helpful to have a cell phone on hand in case of an emergency, ultimately he thinks modern technology encourages people to go out in dangerous weather conditions or to places they shouldn’t be headed, because they can always call for help if necessary.

“I’ve seen this happen more times than I care to remember, and the rescuers can’t always get there in time,” Soeder says.

For example, he says a few years ago a group of hikers in Oregon set out to climb Mt. Hood although they knew a big storm was headed into the Pacific Northwest. The hikers got trapped on the mountain in the blizzard, and although they were able to contact rescuers and their families on their cell phones, no one was able to get to them in time.

Unfortunately none of them survived the trip. He says this could have been avoided if the hikers had simply postponed their excursion to another weekend.

“High tech should never replace common sense,” Soeder says.

Author: Laura Jerpi

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