The Best Camping Gadgets For Technology Lovers

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Things have changed since your days of camping with mom and dad.

Today's explorers want to stay connected even in the wilderness. And, they can. Many manufacturers offer a wide range of products that let the 21st century explorer stay in touch with music, media content, friends, and the outside world while camping in the wilderness.

• Tents

Eureka tents have led the way with their built-in power supply to charge iPods, iPhones, and whatever other must-have electronics you need to take along. The Eureka N!ergy and accessory N!ergy power pack is the must-have for shelter in campgrounds. It sleeps 10, so you can invite friends along. Eureka also offers several accessories: a reading light, a fan/light, and a 12-volt adaptor cord for recharging.

Eureka's smaller tent is the Eureka Solar Intent. It sleeps six and has solar panels that provide up to eight hours of LED light for reading or nighttime fun.

•Free Power From the Sun

Check out the FatCat Power Solstice portable solar charger. It can be used to charge your iPod, Blackberry, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, LG cell phones, mp3 player, PSP, PDA or GPS unit. The FatCat's compatible with anything that will charge from a USB port and is recharged from the sun in about 5 hours. Charge it at home before a trip from any AC source.

A more modest power source is the Solio Bolt solar charger which will charge most smart phones two or more times. It's compatible with most USB powered devices like MP3 players, e-readers, GPS devices, and cameras. The Solio Bolt recharges from the sun, USB port or wall power.

For the ultimate power source, look at the Bruton SolarRoll 9. It's a flat 12-inch by 40-inch fluoropolymer constructed solar panel that rolls up for storage or transportation. At only 9.2 ounces it is easy to take along and offers 9 or 14 watts of power.

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• Where am I?

GPS devices have come a long way, too. The Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx handheld GPS makes it almost impossible to get lost when hiking. Follow your route, mark up to 50 reversible routes, and even find your way back with the TracBack feature. A built-in trip computer feature calculates your current and average speed, sunset and sunrise, trip time, and distance traveled.

And right now you're thinking "I already have GPS on my smartphone". Dedicated GPS devices have a number of advantages over smartphones. Most GPS devices are waterproof so rain, snow, or a dip in the stream is not a problem. Smartphones need a cellular signal to work. But, because GPS devices are satellite linked, they only need a view of the sky and most will work even under dense tree cover. Most handheld GPS units will run for 15 hours or more per charge.

Look for a model that includes a barometer to help track changing weather conditions, an electronic compass for direction finding, and an altimeter/barometer for a better understanding of where you are on a vertical plane.

• Zodi Hot Tap On-Demand Hot Shower

Don't give up your morning hot shower while in camp. With the Zodi compact portable shower you can heat over 60 gallons of water with a single-burner system. The temperature is adjustable so your hot shower is always just right. Powered by a propane cylinder and 4 D-cell batteries for the water pump.

• Night Light LED Mini-Lantern

The Freeplay Energy ML-1 mini lantern is a great accessory for your campsite. This lantern weighs 0.6 pounds and provides eight hours of light. LED-powered and rechargeable, the Freeplay features a dimmer switch, so you can conserve its power when you don't need the brightest light.

• Keep Your Outdoor Adventures Green

When looking for outdoor gear, choose rechargeable devices and keep batteries out of our landfills. There are a great many affordable solar solutions for camping and you'll save money on batteries.

Emergency radios like the Eton American Red Cross FR405 AM/FM Radio includes NOAA weather alerts, flashlight, siren, and cell phone charger. This is a great emergency radio if you live in an area with severe storms. It's self-powered and water-resistant. Keep your cell phone charged and use the flashlight and siren to alert rescuers to your location. Each radio includes American Red Cross disaster preparedness tips.

Camping Survival offers a variety of solar and hand-crank radios for AM/FM, NOAA and shortwave. All of them make great campsite accessories.

It's an entirely new wilderness out there with equipment to help you stay in touch with music, media content, and friends while camping. So, choose your equipment, get outdoors, and have fun.

Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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