For those heading out on a month-long hike or wondering what they’ll take with them on a weekend camp, here are some of the essential camping gadgets that will be needed to have a fun and safe outdoor adventure.
Borrowing from survival expert Jessie Krebs, here’s a breakdown of the best hiking gadgets and camping tech, divided into three categories:
There are two options for each: a simple budget option for day hikes or campsites and an alternative for more ambitious adventuring.
Signaling and Communication
Day Hike Option
A signaling mirror the size of a credit card is something that can be thrown in a backpack or even kept in a wallet until it’s needed. It’s paramount to find an acrylic model like Luca Elf Aid’s military-grade survival mirrors, which are tough to break and have additional useful features like a small compass, whistle, and lanyard.
A signaling mirror can be used to alert aircraft, vehicles, and people over long distances if a person finds themselves in trouble. It’s vital to learn how to use it before a person sets out on their adventure.
If a person is going hiking in the Himalayas, it’s likely they’re planning on disappearing into the backwoods for a few weeks or longer. They should consider taking a satellite communicator, like ZOLEO’s pocket-sized two-way global SMS and GPS Location smartphone accessory.
With a satellite communicator, a person can send and receive messages worldwide using satellite, cellular, and Wi-Fi signals. ZOLEO’s accessory can be paired with a phone and set up to transmit regular check-in messages to let loved ones know if they’re safe. Additionally, they can also share their GPS location.
This device has a host of other useful features, like SOS alerting with 24/7 monitoring options, GPS location sharing, and the weather forecast for the user’s location, sent straight to their phone. It’s also lightweight, IP68 waterproof, shock and dustproof, and has 8-day battery life.
Light enough to be taken on a longer hike, the Platypus GravityWorks camping water filter system is a fantastic option whenever anyone is overnighting in the wild.
Available in 2, 4, and 6-liter versions, this is a super simple filtration device that requires no pumping. Once a bottle has been filled, it can be hung above the other to let gravity carry the water through the filtration housing. Water will be cleaned out while the camper is setting up their tent.
Note that while filtration will remove bacteria, parasites, and heavy metals, if there is a risk of viral contamination in the location where the camper is staying, they’ll need to add iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide to the filtered water or use a SteriPen (see below) to kill off any viruses.
Through Hike Options
Given how crucial a substantial supply of safe drinking water is while on a longer hike, there are two options to consider.
1. MSR Guardian Water Purifier
This all-in-one solution filters out bacteria, protozoa, particulate matter, and viruses, is super tough and filters 2.5 liters a minute. This nifty gadget provides a camper with all the clean water they need on a longer hike.
The long tube is handy for reaching water sources that aren’t right on the surface, or when water levels are low. It’s especially useful when arriving at a site only to find that the only water source, a natural spring, has almost dried up. The Guardian’s tube and silt filter meant it could be lowered right down into the muddy remains of the spring and still reach clean water.
Unfortunately, they can break, even if rarely. Although it was still usable, the handle snapped, which made pumping more difficult. The second option can be packed as a lightweight backup or an alternative.
2. SteriPen Adventurer + homemade silt filter
Now that people have the ability to drink cloudy water made safe with the SteriPen, will customers do it? The worst of the dirt from a pool of stagnant water is now removed. If that’s the only option, the SteriPen will kill off anything in there that might not be safe.
The SteriPen’s main advantage is that it weighs next to nothing. For example, after an MSR filter and a SteriPen were taken on a month-long hike in the Himalayas, the filter was left at a teahouse to collect on the way back since it wasn’t needed.
If there’s likely access to flowing water—rivers, streams, or springs—the SteriPen and a piece of muslin may be all that are needed.
Exploration and Navigation
Through Hike Option
The Suunto Peak GPS watch is the best available recommendation.
If time is put into the pre-trip to plot the route accurately, this watch can save hikers when fog or other challenging weather conditions roll in.
It should never be underestimated how easy it is to get lost in a moment when out in the wilds.
A couple of years back, while hiking in the Fagaras mountains in Romania, a hiker came across a guy hopelessly lost in the fog, less than 100 ft from the cabana he was staying in. The Suunto Peak that another hiker had kept them on the right track despite visibility under 2 meters and a lack of any clear path. They got back safely.
Once learning how to use it has been taken care of, a compass can, at a minimum, keep a hiker going in one direction, rather than round in circles.
Poor visibility won’t stand in the way, with the compass keeping the hiker oriented towards a target destination as they work their way around a clear trail in similar conditions. On a clear day, or paired with a detailed map, it can be a life saver.
An excellent option for learning how to use a compass is the low-cost TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass. This simple and cheap but rugged option is the ideal starter compass for learning how to navigate the old-fashioned way.
Gone are the days when going outdoors meant going back to the stone age and with these handy gadgets you’ll minimize the risk of getting lost or being unsafe while in the wilderness.
Moreover, it’s now easy to get well-equipped for long trails and have everything you need without wasting space or investing in expensive items.
Even if you don’t go far into the wild, these items can really come in handy on your journey, so consider them the next time you decide to go camping.
That’s it—happy camping!