The recent resurgence in popularity of outdoor activities like camping, biking, hiking, kayaking and rock-climbing has brought the postmodern man out of his shell like never before. No longer glued to game controllers and computer monitors, it seems that people of all ages are finally enjoying the outdoors again.
And thanks to advances in technology, the outdoors are nothing like they used to be. Campers and hikers have access to a wide variety of gadgetry designed to make the great outdoors safer, more comfortable or just a little more pleasant. Here are a few of the coolest gadgets out there for the tech-hungry enthusiast on the go.
Solar Sound System
For the outdoor buff who likes to listen to more than the crickets, one company has developed a special outdoor radio that requires absolutely no batteries – just a steady stream of sunlight. With the ability to be hooked up to any Bluetooth device, the radio can be placed back at the campsite while the playlist is run and controlled from a mobile device or tablet. The system not only sounds great, but it absorbs enough sun to play for up to eight hours on solar reserve.
Zero Degree Sleeping Bag
Campers and hikers who aren’t afraid of a little frost will be happy to take advantage of the latest in sleeping bag technology. Zero Degree Sleeping Bags use special fibers to reflect body heat. Within minutes of crawling in, occupants will feel as snug as a bug in a rug – possibly snugger. These bags are surprisingly roomy, with plenty of space for a pillow, a lamp and a good book.
The Hidden Bike Helmet
Outdoor enthusiasts who like to bike from place to place know that helmets are essential to proper safety. Off the beaten path, a bad fall can be serious business, yet a cumbersome helmet can seriously restrict one’s ability to take in the scenery. That’s why one manufacturer has created a special padded scarf that inflates when internal sensors are tripped – essentially forming an “airbag” for the rider’s head!
The New Outdoor Wardrobe
From bugs to beasts to the glaring sun, a number of wearable gadgets are out there to ease the outdoor blues. These items combine the best aspects of style, functionality and high-tech science into comfortable outerwear that goes virtually anywhere.
• Bug Repellant Shirt – The worst part of the outdoors is avoiding the bugs, so slip on one of these stylish treated Baja shirts and keep the bloodsuckers at bay.
• Glare-Proof Sunglasses – Cool wrap-around sunglasses that eliminate glare throughout the hiker’s entire 180 degree field of vision.
• Adventure gloves – Wet hands aren’t just a nuisance, they can also be a danger. Pull on a pair of these ultra-comfortable waterproof gloves for full protection and no loss of dexterity.
Self-Sanitizing Water Bottle
For the true adventurer who lives off the land, finding fresh water can often be a serious challenge. These water bottles erase that problem by packing a built-in UV-C light bulb that kills all harmful organisms in just 60 seconds. Better yet, the light can double as a lantern in a pinch.
Portable Natural Gadget Chargers
Even if one is armed with all the high-tech gadgets just mentioned, there’s still the ever constant problem of keeping them working. Batteries are heavy, generators are cumbersome and outlets just aren’t a possibility. Yet there are a number of special gadget chargers out there designed to run of mother nature herself. Most are solar-powered and can be used while at rest or on the go. Others are wind powered and can be affixed to a bike’s handlebars or dangled from tree limbs.
Countless Other Options
Not every gadget is about safety or sanity, those who are serious about spending some time in the wild may want to consider some of practical tools as well:
• Packable Pantry – foldable, collapsible plates and cookware that are easy to store and easy to carry.
• The Mini Chainsaw – firewood is a breeze with this handheld chain that uses nothing but elbow grease and gravity.
• Thunderstorm Detector – a handy gadget that identifies lightning and tracks storms up to 75 miles away.
• The Personal Planetarium – navigate old-school by learning to identify all of the objects in the night sky – just point, shoot and listen.
As more people move away from their computer and return to the outdoors, more and more companies will invent ingenious ways for technology to travel along. Whether its food, fun or just plain good sense, the right gadgets could mean the difference between “happy camper” and “where’s the hotel?”