Smart camping gear, accessories and gear for off-grid adventures
If you love hiking in the mountains, camping and fishing on a favorite lake, or just taking a walk in the woods, you probably already know that time in nature does a lot of good for both physical and mental health. Researchers at the University of East Anglia conducted a meta-analysis of more than 140 completed studies in 20 countries that objectively confirmed these subjective impressions. Exposure to wild spaces reduces the production of stress hormones, lowers pulse rate and blood pressure, decreases sleep disturbances, and increases happiness, well-being, and even creativity. For many people, spending time outside, whether it’s in the afternoon or for weeks, means a break from technology. But there are so many practical benefits to having your phone with you! So before you escape into the woods to eat roots and berries and forget about human speech, think about adding some of these essential camping gear and gear to your packing list. As you do, check out our collection of travel, hiking, plant and bird identification apps.
Related: Must-Have Tech Gear For Your Camping Adventures
LifeProof FRE Waterproof Phone Case (From $ 66.99)
Let’s start with the basics; you are going to need more protection than usual for your iPhone. You’re probably familiar with the anxiety that comes with taking your device to the beach or on a camping trip. Sure, many recent iPhone models are waterproof, but few people want to try that feature and risk damaging their expensive device. This LifeProof case is a great way to keep your phone protected from the elements, so you can fearlessly capture all the vacation photos and videos you want.
The FRE is a completely waterproof phone case (submersible to 6.6 feet for up to one hour), can withstand drops of up to 6.6 feet, and seals your iPhone (including the screen) from the elements. This means that you can use your phone in dust, dirt, or snow; You can even submerge your phone to capture images of fish and other wildlife! Just be sure to attach the included lanyard as well; otherwise you may lose your iPhone in the river like our video producer Rheanne did.
Olloclip Film Kit (Starts at $ 199.99)
If you’ve fully explored your iPhone’s camera features and are ready to take your outdoor photography to the next level, give this Olloclip film kit a try. The set includes a phone clip, GoPro mount, mobile video grip, and five lenses to help you capture a variety of unique and creative shots. The fisheye lens, my favorite, allows users to take round photos with a distorted perspective that makes the center of the image stand out while the surrounding area appears to bend towards it.
Other lens options include super wide, which doubles your field of view and is ideal for landscape shots where you want to capture as much of the natural beauty around you as possible. If that’s not wide enough, try the Ultra-Wide lens for an even wider image. The macro lens works like magic for close-ups of insects, rocks, plants or any other small object that you would like to see in maximum detail surrounded by a magnificent bokeh effect. Telephoto is ideal for zooming in on subjects you may not want to get close to, such as wildlife.
The Filmer’s Kit is available for all recent iPhones, including the new iPhone 11 series. The set comes in a molded zippered case that securely compresses all components to prevent rattling and breaking during your expedition.
Midland E + Ready Compact Emergency Crank Radio ($ 46.91)
You’re keeping your iPhone safe, now let’s make sure they take care of you on your adventures too. In wilderness areas with little cell service, it is crucial to have access to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio for information on incoming temperature changes, storms, and severe weather. If you want to listen to some music around the campfire, this radio also picks up the full range of AM and FM stations.
The Midland Emergency Radio is compact and lightweight enough for even backpackers to make room and charge via a crank or solar panel, so you’ll never run out of power. This device works as a flashlight with an SOS beacon option and a full phone charger with a USB port. The piece of mind you’ll feel knowing you’ve covered all your bases makes this an essential purchase, even if you decide to leave your phone at home.
BioLite CampStove 2 Bundle ($ 229.95)
If you are the type of camper who likes to carry a camping stove instead of cooking over an open fire, you should check out the BioLite camping stove. This unique device burns twigs, small sticks or pellets, so you never have to buy or throw away cans of white gas again. I remember a two-week backpacking trip where a can of fuel leaked into our food supply and we had a choice of either eating the contaminated items or going very, very hungry. Burping white gas is no fun, and this stove will prevent that unfortunate situation from repeating itself.
The BioLite package includes everything you need to prepare a cookout, including a kettle for boiling water or cooking hot soups and cereals, a grill, and even a flexible light so you can continue cooking after the sun goes down. However, there is much more to this than meal prep. An internal fan forces air back through the stove’s combustion chamber for maximum efficiency. The heat created by the stove is converted into electricity (that’s what powers the fan), and any excess energy is stored in a 2600 mAh battery that you can use to charge your iPhone via a USB port. So, essentially, this stove will power both the human and electronic members of your party at the same time. Yowza.
To top it off, a portion of BioLite’s sales goes to developing products to bring stoves to homes without electricity in India and Africa. Its mission brings light and the ability to charge phones and other electronic devices to areas where these needs were previously inaccessible. The BioLite stove literally saves lives by keeping indoor air 90 percent cleaner than an open fire, preserving the lung health of people who previously had to breathe smoke every time they cooked.
Voltaic Arc 10W Foldable Solar Charger ($ 39)
If you’d rather not bring a camping stove on your trip, but still want an off-grid charger for your iPhone, check out this affordable, portable solar panel. You can connect the 10-by-13-inch accessory to your backpack while hiking, or place it in a safe, sunny spot at your campsite and connect your device via the USB port for quick charging right from the panel. When you’re done loading, the Arc folds in half to easily slip into your bag, and at just 0.68 pounds, you’ll barely know it’s there.
As for durability, I only tested this item on mild days, but many reviewers report that it has survived outdoor conditions from Mount Rainier to the Sahel desert. Outdoor enthusiasts have charged their devices in the rain, extreme heat, and even snow without any glitches or problems. I can’t wait to use this panel on future trips!
Nature apps that you will love
If you like hiking, camping, bird watching, identifying plants, or traveling and photographing outdoors, check out this collection of apps!
ViewRanger (Free in-app purchases start at $ 5.99)
Discover over 150,000 trails, download maps to use offline, track your hike progress, and use the AR option to identify geographic features and stay on track.
Audubon Bird Guide (Free)
Download this field guide before you hit the road and you’ll have access to photos, bird sounds, and distribution maps for more than 800 North American bird species.
Edible Plant Guide ($ 2.99)
Offline access to information and photos of more than 950 wild edible and medicinal plants, as well as information on toxic species to avoid.
Social media for outdoor enthusiasts! Research and plan trips, upload photos and videos, and follow members around the world to see the content they have shared.
Top Image Credit: everst / Shutterstock.com