back to article Ten... outdoor gadgets

Experiencing the great outdoors is fundamentally about escaping the trappings of modern life – leaving all the gadgets and gizmos we carry around at home – right? Well, maybe not – as there’s a mountain of technology ready to enhance, rather than detract from your chosen outdoor pursuit, however extreme or placid. To document …

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Weather Station

Not into outdoor activity much these days apart from the beer garden, but I want the weather station.

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FAIL

No Fuel Cells?

See title.

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Meh

Solar charging

Has it actually become viable yet though? Does it manage to charge its own battery in less than a day for example?

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Boffin

from experience, it depends.

if you leave them in a draw over winter, the self discharged battery will take quite a while to charge and youve probably fubared it anyway, by letting it go so low.

However, leave it on a windowsill, and jobs a goodun.

As for recharge rates, it depends on your usage, size/type of panel, and the weather. Most (non toy) units can probably manage 1 smartphone never seeing mains power, but that assumes panels are in a position to charge most of the time. Not just for ten mins when you notice the phone is beeping low battery.

If your going to try and run 3 phones and a digital camera off one, you are going to come unstuck.

For any more detail than that, you'll have to look at the specific figures per device. Eg my phone takes 1 hour to fully charge of a 5w charger. These panels will be lucky if they can charge their internal batteries at a rate of 1w (assuming expensive monocrystalline panels) , so plan accordingly.

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@ Solar charging

Your idea of viable is arbitrary to some. If you're out in the wilderness, presumably you didn't go there hoping to spend the day conversing with those back home. Instead, a solar charger can give you a few minutes of vital phone runtime in case of emergency... or just keep the phone with a charge for daily status reports, etc.

Can a tiny handheld solar panel recharge a decent sized mobile phone battery in a day? Usually not. Depends also on where you are, cloudiness, whether you're repositioning the panels to track the sun, have the optimal angle in doing so, etc. Most people would be better off simply taking a 2nd charged battery with them or for extended outtings, a non-toy-like crank generator.

Sort of makes you wonder though, why can't phone manufacturers just integrate a solar panel on the phone cover and back so you just lay it down unfolded for integral solar charging, or charge via body heat (zombies don't use phones much).

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Even better

A kinetic charger. As long as you're climbing up a mountain anyway...

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Wind-to-charge...

I agree with Valis.

I would have thought a wind-to-charge device ie a wind-to-charge torch would have been up there amongst them. I wouldn't count on solar to be honest.

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Liquid Image Impact HD720P

I so want a pair of these.

You guys get all the fun.

Re Spot - The Delorme inReach is far superior.

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Liquid Image

As someone who regularly hires out the liquid image camera mask to divers I can tell you this. It sucks.

Its good for people who want a photo of their first few dives, something for facebook etc. For actual high quality photos and videos? Invest in a real camera.

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Anonymous Coward

Suggestion for reviews like this

I have a suggestion for reviews like this: please tell us WHAT THE HECK THE THING IS in the title.

Consider the Knog Nerd 12 - The picture doesn't immediately tell me this is a bicycle computer, and I was 2 sentences in to a 4 sentence review (albeit one of those sentences is quite long) before I knew what it was.

Would it be so hard to have the title be "Knog Nerd 12 Bicycle computer"?

Or the Liquid Image Impact HD720P - "Oh, goggles. No wait - goggles with a camera!? Now I understand what HD720P refers to!" Given that manufacturers love to put random strings of numbers and letters after product names it's not worth trying to parse them. "Liquid Image Impact HD720P Goggle/Camera"

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TS
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Awesome camera!

We love the Limux TS2 and TS3. Awesome cameras!

The waterproofing is nice, not only in water, but in all outdoor conditions. Take pictures while snowshoeing and not worry about the snow getting in the lens... makes a huge difference! Taking pictures while kayaking, snorkeling, even just the extreme humidity in some areas.

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The Real World

Invented so geeks could have somewhere to use GPS.

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Top ten outdoor gadgets?

0) Water

1) A good pair of boots

2) Multitool

3) 7"Ka-bar

4) Fire starter

5) Good hat

6) hooks & line

7) Salt

8) 3x4 metres of 8 or 10 mil visqueen

9) Clothing appropriate for weather conditions

30 metres of quarter inch nylon line, a cooking pot, bedroll, good map

& compass, signaling mirror, small flashlight, basic medical kit, small handgun etc. are also handy, but hardly necessary. I've crossed the Rockies with no more than my top ten ... Survival training isn't exactly a walk in the park ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

small hand gun?

Sadly the authorities here in the UK tend to frown on hand guns. Would a water pistol be a suitable alternative?

AC so they don't come to get me in the middle of the night...

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RE "Top ten outdoor gadgets"

"....small handgun....."?

What kind of outdoor trips are we talking about here, "Deliverance"?

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Anonymous Coward

Definitions.

Water is a gadget?

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But those are gadgets for people who will actually go ... you know ... "outdoors".

The article is aimed at cellar-dwelling ITboys whose idea of wilderness is when they drop out of 3G coverage.

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Bears

The US and Canada feature wild bears and it seems like most of Australia is prepared to have a go at shortening your lifespan.. The most dangerous thing you're likely to run into in the UK is a bull in a farm unless unlucky enough to step on an pissed off adder that's desperately trying to get out of your way, or perhaps a deer in certain areas.

Having said that, I'd presume the survival list is for summer hiking. For winter I'd forego one of the items for an ice axe.

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Yes. Water is a gadget.

One could make a case that ability to move and store water is the single thing that made civilization possible. Don't believe me? Try to get along without it for a fortnight or so ...

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Re: "small handguns" and "Deliverance".

For reference, see where I commented on "crossing the Rockies". Americus to Paonia, by way of Crested Butte (mandatory stop for a medical checkup). 80+ miles as the crow flies. In under 10 days. On foot.

"Deliverance"? This is the real world, not the movies. Live your life, you only have one ...

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Anonymous Coward

Ah. So ...

"One could make a case that ability to move and store water is the single thing that made civilization possible."

So ... you meant containers, not water. Still not gadgets though.

"Try to get along without it for a fortnight or so ..."

Better put "oxygen" as the minus first item on your list.

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geek kudos...

... for starting your list with number zero.

Also for the survival cleverness...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "small handguns" and "Deliverance"

Ha! "Live you life..." I love this! His way of living is the One True Way! Everyone else is Doing It Wrong.

Personally, after a billion years of evolution, I expect my play spots to be easily accessible by road and provide a decent hotel.

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@AC14:57

Moving water implies containers. I thought that was obvious.

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Re:Bears

You'd want a pretty powerful handgun to stop a bear. Pick one that doesn't quite have it and said bear will be even more pissed at you.

As for Australia, most of the life shortening wildlife is poisonous so a handgun won't be of much use - ambush predators and all that jazz.

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@AC17:06

I clearly said "live your life", not "live my life".

It never fails to amaze me how few commantards can parse written English ... and how even fewer understand the simple concept of "copy/paste" ...

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Anonymous Coward

English?

"Moving water implies containers."

Well ... "moving water" implies rivers to me, but never mind. What is implied is of no matter, you opined that water is a gadget. It isn't. Nor is the bottle you might be carrying it around in.

Shall we move on to how a hat isn't a gadget, and how salt isn't a gadget? Boots aren't gadgets either. Nor rope. A knife? A tool, not a gadget. Nice little USMC reference though. Pretentious? Toi?

Oh look, there you are castigating someone for not parsing your English properly. If it wasn't such self-congratulatory drivel ...

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@AC11:35

"Moving" also means "transporting". I can move a glass of water to my lips.

A "gadget" is a man-made tool or methodology, designed for a specific purpose or purposes.

Water is indeed a gadget ... It's a tool, tools are gadgets, ergo ...

Bottles are tools for carrying water. Tools are gadgets, ergo ...

Hats are tools for protection from weather or sunlight, ergo ...

Boots are tools to protect feet/ankles from rough or hot/cold terrain, ergo ...

Rope is one of the most useful tools I've ever learned to use, ergo ...

Knives are tools. Ergo ...

Not self congratulatory, rather tilting at windmills. Hopefully someone reading my drivel realizes there is a world out there, beyond their Mum's dusty cellar windows.

Semper Fi, but wrong branch. I was at Fort Benning[1]. However, the last year of my military life was at Camp Pendleton, trying to teach The Corps how to shoot over dawgs in rough country. Maybe they rubbed off on me. I can only hope ;-)

[1]http://www.usaac.army.mil/amu/index.asp

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Anonymous Coward

No.

"I can move a glass of water to my lips."

Yes. You just moved a glass. When did you last "move" some water? When did you last "transport" some water? Not that it's relevant. Water still isn't a gadget.

"A 'gadget' is a man-made tool or methodology, designed for a specific purpose or purposes."

Got a dictionary reference for that? Common usage suggests a mechanical or electronic device. Most dictionaries concur.

"Water is indeed a gadget."

So ... water is man-made ... ? Tell me ...what is water's specific purpose?

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Re: The most dangerous thing you're likely to run into in the UK....

Yeah - it wouldn't be anything in the countryside. A handgun might come in handy if you had to hike through certain parts of UK's larger cities - but carrying a handgun, a taser or even a knife is out of the question in the UK.

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Garmin

The bottom right icon on the Garmin GPS watch is obviously not from Somerset, otherwise it'd read "where's it to?"

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pricey

Would you really pay mega bucks for a watch and a chunky digital map when both can be obtainedfor free/next to nothing as smartphone apps? Okay, maybe the map has a more robust gps, but the watch....? Many free apps and an arm strap will do the same job.

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It's for outdoors, not a walk in the park..

The watch is intended for serious runners. The last thing you want is something that's heavy, has limited battery life, not particularly rugged and difficult to operate with gloves. Smartphones also aren't known to feature heart rate monitors.

The real question is whether the Garmin 410 is worth the massive premium over the 405, or if you're not training seriously, a basic Timex runners watch!

Specialised GPS vs a smartphone is a harder question, provided you already have the phone. Obviously a ruggedised and waterproof case will be necessary, but the software and maps are quite cheap. The question is whether the battery life is up to snuff for more serious hikes.

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Trollface

Would also have liked to have seen (or considered as alternatives to other entries)...

Motorolap Defy semi-ruggedised smartphone (got one of these for my gf, fantastic bit of kit in most circumstances)

Viewranger application for Android, Symbian and Iphone (which is also used by mountain rescue teams)

Powertraveller range of chargers inc the solargorilla

Obviously you can't please everyone, but still..

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Rob
Go

Plus 1...

... for the powertraveller mention, love their kit. My camera bag always has a fully charged power monkey with every adaptor they have just in case I come across someone in distress (i.e. they have a dead phone/iPod battery).

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Binoculars

One outdoor gadget I would recommend, though it is mighty expensive, is a pair of image stabalizing binoculars. I have a small pair of Canon 10x30s. Prior to a big holiday some years ago, I wandered into a shop intending to spend £60 or some cheap pocket binoculars. One look through these Canons and my attitude was recalibrated. Yours will be too. Basically you press a button and the image stops shaking. Never an impulse buyer, but these were a good buy. Google "cannon 10 x 30 is"

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Happy

@Garmin

the "where to?" icon would seem to indicate calling up directions so if it was using West Country localization then it would be "where goes I?" .... I think mfraz is thinking of "where's I to?" which would be the "my location" button.

N.b. for more on West Country accents see

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-14574419

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Other useful stuff

Aqueous Nikwax. Regular wax assumes your boots are already dry. If you're needing to reproof your boots mid-trip, chances are they probably aren't. Paint on some aqueous Nikwax, and job done.

Compeed plasters. Don't buy anything else. Sure they're expensive, but you can put one on and still have it protecting your blister/cut after 3-4 days, without the blister/cut going manky.

Assuming you're tenting and not bivvying, a Vaude tent. Biggest problem with tents is getting them waterproof quickly. Anything which pitches inner first is a dead loss in Britain or anywhere else with significant rainfall. From taking the tent out of the bag, my Vaude will have the ridge up (and hence be waterproof) in under a minute. Another couple of minutes after that, and the tent is fully pitched.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Other useful stuff

The problem with Compeed is that other blisters grow over it. If you use it, make sure you use it on every hotspot...

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Viewranger

As someone who walks and wild camps regularly, I can honestly say that Garmin sucks. The best solution is a map and compass (and know how to use them) but failing that get a good warterproof pouch (~ £20), a spare battery, and put ViewRanger on your smartphone. Hands down the best mapping software available.

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Map and Compass over GPS

Kudos to you for the comment.

I hate GPS systems...I've been hiking for near enough 10 years and I've yet to get lost using my map and compass...and given that my compass is around 7 years old and cost me only £3...and is more reliable that the sun coming up, I'm not inclined to change my system until the earth's magnetic field switches direction and N becomes S!

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WTF?

SatMap

"Employed by mountain and cave search and rescue groups across Britain"

How can it locate its position from inside a cave where there's no GPS signal? Does it also have some sort of inertial / gyroscopical 'dead reckoning' position estimate for when it loses GPS signal?

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those headphones

Those Outdoor Adventure look suspiciously similar to some Jaybird Freedom phones I got at Best Buy for US $99.

Absolutely awesome design and light as a feather but the sound they produced was absolutely nasty - thin, scratchy and totally lacking any bass. They did spur me to finally order the Sony-Ericsson MW600 Bluetooth heaphone adaptor, which I couldn't be more pleased with ($50 heaper, too, from Amazon).

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map and compass

Definitely not worth the money, I'm with Martin on this one I use my trusty map and compass

________________________________

rc planes man

http://www.nitrotek.co.uk/rc-planes.html

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