The most immediate challenge Jonathan and I faced in #ATSweetTooth revolved around technology. All the hikers we met were friendly, open, and generally game to talk about candy. However, keeping our phones charged proved another task entirely. Jon and I often found ourselves taking breaks at places along the trail that offered outlets such as the ATC’s Kellogg Conservation Center or Angelina’s Subs when the trail veered through Dalton. While we worked our way through this issue, companies are beginning to catch onto the consumer desire for high tech hiking gear and the next time we run a project in the wilderness it might not prove as difficult to keep our phones up and runnng.
Starting with the problem of charging, for the longest time solar cells were the only option, but these are bulky and pretty ineffective for the amount of pack weight they add. Now external, light weight chargers are designed such as the Cobra which offers about 1.5 charges and the Ancur which offers 3-4 full charges! If these are a little outside the budget, then Walmart offers a $30 PNY charger that thru-hiker Johnny Cash told us gave his android one full charge.
Don’t have a compass or map? Just Google Map it. Thru-hiker Juice who we interviewed for #ATSweetTooth told us about the times he’s used Google Maps as a quick reference to make sure he’s still on trail.
Finally, the app craze has reached hiker culture with Guthook. While Jon & I have never used it, thru-hiker UFC Guy described it as a service that allows hikers to comment on shelters, water sources, and other trail features Yelp style while also acting as an e-guide. A lot of hikers, especially weekend and other section hikers, were using Guthook to determine the quality of water sources since MA is in a drought and many streams were dry. The AT approach trail up Springer Mountain is free to download and after that hikers can purchase individual sections for $8.99.
We’re still a far cry away from Amazon drones dropping boxes of honey buns into a wilderness shelter, but technology is making it easier to stay connected in the great outdoors and I for one wouldn’t mind trying one of those chargers on my next hike.