“If you’re gonna do it, do it right,” sang George Michael. And though he wasn’t likely referring to camping trips, he might as well have.
Bringing along a few great gadgets can turn your mediocre adventure into an extraordinary one.
Oh sure, some might think electronics turn camping into glamping. Whatever. But it’s hard to deny the right piece of technology could help keep you safe, entertained, and in communication with the outside world should you need it.
And so the following are a knapsack-full of ideas to tote along on a camping excursion this summer, be it with your partner, kids, or friends.
While not cheap, Cinch! Solar Bundle ($475 USD; cinchpopuptents.com) is a pop-up tent for up to four people.
Not only does it pitch in seconds, but it also includes solar power panels, an LED lighting system, and a 13,000mAh battery with USB ports (enough for five or six smartphone charges).
An Indiegogo success story, this fourth-generation UK-based tent also features panoramic inner doors, integrated canopy to control the tent’s climate, an enclosed groundsheet (read: no bugs), and more than a dozen different ways to layout the tent.
For those who don’t need the solar panels, or if you prefer a two-person tent, costs will be lower.
You don’t need to be a Boy Scout to know it’s wise to be prepared.
The Eton FRX5 BT ($99; etoncorp.com) is an uber-rugged and weather-resistant emergency radio, powered by a 2000 milliamp (mAh) rechargeable battery, hand-crank generator, and solar panel. In other words, this radio has you covered.
Along with its AM, FM and NOAA weather bands, you can choose to be notified whenever there are weather alerts. Not to mention, the radio will flash coloured lights to warn you of severe conditions.
Other features of this “kitchen sink” radio include, Bluetooth support to stream from mobile phones, LED light, alarm clock, phone charging (via USB), and more.
The Swiss are best known for chocolate, watches and army knives.
While the first two would be nice luxuries on a camping trip, the latter could be an essential companion. Now imagine you also need to do a bit of work on your laptop, while at one with nature. So you’ll need a place to back-up your data securely.
The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife — Midnight Manager @ Work ($89) multi-tool gadget adds a 16GB USB thumbdrive — and LED light to see in the dark — to its usual assortment of tools. A usual assortment that includes a blade, scissors, bottle opener, flathead and Phillips screwdriver, nail file, bottle opener, and more.
Music is part of any outdoor fun.
Good thing the Monster SuperStar S200 Wireless speaker ($199) is not only waterproof — so you can bring it to the pool or lake — but it’s also a floating wireless speaker. This water- and shock-resistant speaker connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth, and delivers loud and clear sound with its three-speaker configuration.
While you might not want to take a call while white-water rafting, the speaker does turn into a speakerphone, if needed. Battery life lasts up to 15 hours between charges. Plus its USB port means you can also charge up your smartphone.
The Monster SuperStar S200 includes a carry strap, too.
Ever hear of a campfire that can power up your smartphone?
Burning only wood, the BioLite Wood Burning CampStove ($129; bioliteenergy.com) creates a smokeless fire that not only cooks your meals and boils water, but also creates usable electricity, via a thermoelectric generator, for charging up your favorite USB-based devices.
With easy setup, free fuel (lying all around your campground), four fan speeds to control the size of the fire, and a fast-boil (one litre of water in just over four minutes), it’s no wonder the two-pound BioLite CampStove has an average score of 4.5 stars out of five.
This based on a couple of hundred Amazon reviews.
If you enjoy outdoor activities such as cycling or mountain climbing, you might opt for one of those trendy POV (“point of view”) cameras.
Still the brand to beat, the GoPro HERO6 ($599; gopro.com) captures all the action hands-free, from a first-person perspective, when it’s mounted to your helmet, chest or bike with the bundled straps.
This version can shoot up to 4K Ultra HD quality, up to a smooth 60 frames per second, along with 12-megapixel still photos (including a burst mode that takes up to 30 photos in rapid succession).
This GoPro features built-in and fast Wi-Fi connectivity to wirelessly share or upload the videos and photos, via a nearby smartphone.