I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of Technology in the Backcountry – you know like cell phones, satellite phones, GPS, personal locator beacons, Go-Pro movie cameras, digital cameras, headlamps, iPods, iPads, etc. There sure seems to be a lot of it these days. Throw in rechargeable headlamps, battery packs, recharging cords, solar panels: it really adds up and I find myself carrying more and more of it with each passing year, especially on overnight trips.
When I started backpacking, the only electronic devices I carried on hikes were a headlamp and a digital camera. Next, I added a cell phone (which I still keep turned off) and then a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger II, so I could send a daily OK message to my wife on an overseas solo hike to let her know I was safe. None of these required much extra power beyond carrying a spare set of batteries and the extra burden was minimal.
But I recently caught myself thinking about bring an iPad to Scotland to write with when I hike coast-to-coast this May on the TGO Challenge. I like writing about hiking, and I like blogging on my iPad, so it seemed like a natural thing to do. That is until I started to catalog all of the extra power generation and storage equipment I’d have to carry with me.
It took a while, but I decided not to bring my iPad with me and that I’d probably enjoy myself much more if I just focused on the hike and being with my friends. It’s easy to forget sometimes how refreshing and energizing being unplugged and out-of-touch can be. It’s always been one of the main reasons why I hike and backpack and I want to keep it that way.