Top Tech Gear for Camping
Must-Have Tech for Your Outdoor Summer Adventures
Whether you're camping in a tent, an RV, or a van, there are certain things almost anyone will find helpful while spending time in the great outdoors. As a child, my family and I camped in Northern California for a whitewater rafting trip. Funnily enough, I can't tell you much about my life during that period of time. But I vividly remember that week— hiking up huge boulders, roasting corn in foil over a flame, putting on a wetsuit for the first time, filling a notebook with nature poetry, appreciating an eight-minute hot shower immensely. Camping is a beautiful rollercoaster. Here's my favorite tech-geek products to make your next camping adventure just as memorable.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Speaker ($79.99– $99.99) A good speaker is important for, well, any occasion. But for camping, I prefer something waterproof and small that also has really great sound. Which is why I'm hugely impressed with Ultimate Ears' Wonderboom speaker. The Wonderboom is dustproof and has a waterproof rating of IP67, which means you can submerge it in more than 3 feet of water for up to a half hour. It delivers 360-degree sound and keeps playing even when you walk up to 100 feet away with your phone, thanks to its rock-solid Bluetooth connection. I tested this out myself, and it's no joke. The speaker offers ten hours of battery life. Size-wise, it's about the same height as a coffee mug and about an inch or two wider around. But my favorite part is that the sound stays crystal clear even when I max out the volume, which gets damn loud.
AquaVault 100% Waterproof Floating Case ($19.95)
There are lots of waterproof iPhone cases on the market, but do they float? If you're at the lake, the ocean, or any other body of water, dropping your phone is all it takes for it to be gone. No one wants that. That's why I wanted to try out the AquaVault 100% Waterproof Floating Case. This case is more like a pouch, except you still have full access to your screen and camera. It's waterproof up to 33 feet—yeah, 33 feet! Plus, it's universal, so it will fit any phone smaller than 5.7 inches diagonally. I had no problem fitting my iPhone X into the pouch, even with an Otterbox Defender case and a Popsocket attached to the back. But how did it float, you might ask? Fantastically; even when I dropped it from a few feet above the water, it rose right to the top.
goTenna Mesh (Starting at $179)
The Mesh is a device for off-grid communication. It allows you to send messages and GPS locations to other Mesh users without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. So, if you're camping in a remote area without cellphone reception, you can use your goTenna Mesh to send texts and find each other. From one device to another, you'll get up to four miles in open environments (plains, desert, beach, etc.) and up to half a mile in dense areas such as mountains and cities. However, the network grows stronger as more people use the devices since they work together to, essentially, ping the signal from one device to another until it reaches you. The battery lasts about 24 hours when in use; and it will hold a charge for a year. For the purposes of camping or international travel where you may not have cell service, this is a great device to have. You can go off in separate directions with no signal and still be able to communicate if needed.
Outdoor Tech Kodiak Plus 2.0 Portable Charger ($79.95)
I remember being in the middle of nowhere, outside of Taos, New Mexico, in a small earthship (which is a type of passive solar powered house) while traveling with a friend. The morning sunrise was the most beautiful I've ever seen, but every device we owned was completely out of power so we needed to get our butts to a cafe so we could work remotely. We would have been able to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings for a few more hours if we'd had the Kodiak Plus 2.0. This 10,000 mAh powerbank is impressively lightweight for the amount of power it holds. And it's ready to go camping with you—it's shock-proof and has an iPX7 waterproof rating. It has a builtin flashlight so it can double as a lantern, and it has two USB ports so you can charge multiple devices. This is a must-have item for anyone going on extended camping trips.
Anker PowerPort Solar Lite Charger ($49.99)
In my experience, solar panels that charge your devices are hit or miss when it comes to functionality. Yet it only took a few minutes of research to learn that the people of the internet highly recommend options from Anker. Now that I've tried it myself, I can see why. Like all solar panels, the PowerPort Solar Lite works best in direct sunlight at a nice temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. I've tried a couple other small solar panels for personal tech and this is by far my favorite for two different reasons. Firstly, it's very portable. The PowerPort Solar Lite has a trifold design, so it folds in on itself and closes using Velcro, which makes it feel like a long thin book under your arm. Second, it works on a practical timeline. In direct sun with plenty of warmth, I can get about ten percent charge in twenty minutes on my iPhone X; at that rate, it would only take a couple of hours to fully charge my phone with just the sun.
Bontend Flexible Tripod ($18.50–$35)
If you're taking your iPhone on a camping trip, you're probably going to be taking photos and videos too. But have you ever used a flexible tripod? I had not, and doing so was immediately a game changer for me. The Bontend Flexible Tripod is a universal tripod; it includes an adapter for both action cameras (such as GoPro) and smartphones. Plus, it has a mount screw for holding any other traditional camera that's less than five pounds. It has three legs, each with multiple joints that allow it to bend and be positioned at nearly any angle on any flat surface or uneven terrain. It's lightweight and compact, so it's perfect for throwing in your backpack. I will be using this on many, many trips to come.
Hidrate Spark 2.0 Water Bottle ($54.95)
Hydration is incredibly important, even more so on hikes and during physical activity. Which is why Hidrate Spark 2.0 is the perfect companion on camping trips to make sure you continue to have a fun and safe time. If you've set your hydration goal to the recommended daily amount, that target will adjust based on the temperature, humidity, and elevation of your current location. You can also integrate the app with your fitness tracker; so if you've taken a lot of steps, your goal will also rise. The bottle holds 24 ounces, which is a good amount. I hate bottles that are cute and fancy but hold less liquid than my coffee mug. On your next camping trip, consider the Hidrate Spark 2.0 for staying hydrated so you can enjoy your time in nature.
BioLite CampStove 2 ($129.95)
BioLite's mission is and has always been to bring a sustainably fueled, non-toxic stove to developing countries where a lack of electricity means expensive kerosene lamps and openfire cooking cause four million deaths each year. When you buy the CampStove 2 for your adventures, you're helping this company bring off-grid energy everywhere. Powered by the twigs and sticks you'll find at any campground, the smokeless flame can boil a liter of water in under five minutes. The generated heat is also turned into electricity, allowing you to charge your iPhone from the built-in 2600 mAh battery. You can purchase the compatible Kettle Pot and Portable Grill or simply use the cookware you already have.
Conner Carey is a feature web writer at iPhone Life and a contributing writer for Love U magazine. Her work has been published on Art Parasites Berlin and Chronically. She holds a bachelor's in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and resides in Fairfield, Iowa. You can find her personal blog at connerleecarey.com or follow her on Twitter @connerleecarey.