Alright, let’s get one more of these “favorites” posts this year! Remember, these are just my favorites, they don’t have to be yours, but you can always leave a comment if there’s a favorite something you want to give a shout out to. Gadgets often translates to “electronic stuff” but that seemed rather limiting, so I have added a few totally random odds and ends that I think fall into the gadgets category. 1, 2, 3, let’s roll…
Favorite Satellite Locator / Rescue Beacon
- Delorme InReach SE: There aren’t a lot of contenders in this field. Being able to get a signal in box canyons is tough, and the InReach can do it, but as with any device of this nature every situation/location is different and there are times it will fail – which is important to realize. I only have anecdotal evidence to say that the Delorme seems to be more reliable at getting a satellite signal than another certain brand which I’ll refrain from putting the spotlight on, ahem! Feature-wise, what sets Delorme apart from the competition is 2-way messaging capability, live tracking capability, on-demand weather information, and an assortment of plans that can be terminated or re-activated at will. This is excellent for those of us who don’t adventure year round but want to have an SOS button on-demand. There is also an InReach Explorer model which adds GPS navigation to the feature set, however the screen and interface are lacking compared to what we can do on smartphones these days. The messaging of the InReach is probably it’s strongest selling point, and I’ll concede that a PLB operating on military channels and radio wave is still the gold standard from a pure safety perspective.
Favorite GPS Watch
Garmin ForeRunner 920 XT: I’ve already mentioned the Garmin 920 XT in another favorites post, however I just really like this watch! For hiking purposes, if not using the tracking capabilities, the battery will last over a week easily. I can occasionally activate the GPS to get accurate altimiter readings, or just use the barometric altimiter if being precise isn’t critical. I’ve found the GPS + Barometric readings to be +/- 50 feet (or better) on a consistent basis when checking against known altitudes; it makes for a nice navigational aide.
Favorite Recharging Device
- Anker Powercore 10000: I’ve been through a handful of recharging solutions, everything from solar to those that use AA batteries as a powerbank. Nothing has done the job as well as my Powercore 10000. Once fully charged, I can get about 3 full smartphone charges out of it. I can also charge up my camera, headlamp, and watch (if I bring the watch-specific charging cable… which I never do). For right around $25 and 6 ounces, I consider it a good buy.
Favorite Lightweight Camera & Accessories
- Sony RX100: I think the RX100 is a clear standout here. This little point-and-shoot is surprisingly capable. It lacks the dynamic range of cameras with SLR-sized sensors, however the built in “dynamic range optimizer” settings and using the right technique can close the gap. Knowing how to post process photos is always important of course, but all things being equal, the RX100 really has no equal. A plus is that it can be recharged via the micro-USB port on the camera, so on-trail charging is possible if you carry a charging device.
- Gorilla Pod: To go with the camera, a little tripod is helpful for long exposures and self portraits. The Gorilla Pod isn’t remotely close to a full sized tripod, but it’s very small, lightweight, and versatile with some creativity. I’m not a pro photographer, so I can get by without a “real” tripod on my backpacking trips.
- Adobe Lightroom: Lightroom is a great RAW editor as well as photo organization tool. The convenience to do everything in one suite is awesome, and it’s not the sandbox that Photoshop is, so the learning curve is much, much easier to deal with. The newest version is subscription based only, but standalone version 6 and below can still be purchased outright.
- Bosavi Original: I’m still using my Bosavi! I know there must be better lights out there now, but I’m impressed by the battery longevity in these (in terms of maintaining life over the years). I don’t think my next headlamp will feature a proprietary battery but for now, no complaints about the Bosavi!
- Brunton Type 15: I’ve had this compass for years, and although I rarely need it, when I do it’s easy to use and reliable. The declination doesn’t drift once it’s set, the bezel is easy to handle and stays put, the sighting window makes it easy to take and find bearings, it has glow in the dark points, a clinometer, multiple scales on the base plate, and feet that keep it in place when set on a map. I’m not sure that these are still made in Sweden… probably not, which may be the reason that mine keeps on keepin’ on.
- The Instaflator! Yes, this is one of the weirdest things I carry. After huffing up the mountain all day long and ending at 11,000 ft or higher above sea level, the last thing I want to deal with is blowing up an air mattress. This little thing saves the day. A few puffs and some rolling and my air mattress is a done deal. I chopped down my Instaflator to half length to make it a little more manageable in camp. Instaflate the night away!! 🙂
That’s About It!
It’s the outdoors afterall… half of this stuff could easily be left home to begin with, but I like to have some or all of these things with me when I go hiking. Enjoy those trails! Hike It. Like It.