Toys and Technology


Most of us who spend time in the great outdoors, make use of many forms of technology, in our day to day activities.  As we venture further into the wilderness, technology makes our lives safer and more enjoyable.  The scope and breadth of equipment we carry becomes more and more specific to the activity we are involved in.  Many sports and disciplines have equipment that is activity-specific, but many items can and are used in multiple sports.  All this new gadgetry will make your life easier, but always be prepared for the glitches that can occur with these expensive new “toys”.

1)   Binoculars  

Modern-day binoculars have come a long way from their early beginnings.  Today’s binoculars are lighter, have more features, and have a greater range of purpose, function, and magnification.  Magnification can range from 8x to 20x and have wider fields of view (fov), ED glass, and fog proof and waterproof characteristics.  They can also be obtained for birding, hunting, and marine environments.  Binoculars in the 8x to 10x range are the most useful for quick target acquisition.


2)   Cameras

Cameras have become as common as wristwatches and cellular phones.  In fact, all modern cell phones have their own cameras.  Cameras let you capture special moments.  Modern day cameras come in a simple point and shoot function and more professional slr’s.  Camcorders and Go- Pro helmet – type cameras are also very popular and quite capable of capturing memories to impress our friends and family.

3)   GPS units

Global Positioning is a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information anywhere on Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to 4 or more GPS satellites.  GPS units provide navigation, barometer readings, elevation readings, store your routes and maps and have many other features and functions.

4)   Spotting Scopes

If you are a birder or a hunter, the spotting scope or fieldscope is an essential piece of glass tech that you will have to become familiar with.  There are two types of spotting scopes; the straight body and the angled body.  Magnification is almost always higher than that of binoculars and because of this, a stable platform is required.  This is provided by the tripod.

5)   Lightweight Stoves

Lightweight stoves are most often carried by backpackers and hikers who venture further into the wilderness and are more concerned with excessive weight.  These stoves burn liquid fuels, in the form of white gas, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc… or pressurized fuels such as isobutane,  butane, and propane.  Liquid fuel stoves can weigh in the 400-gram range while pressurized fuel stoves can weigh in the 70 to 80-gram range.  250 grams of pressurized fuel can have a burning time of 1 .5 hours.  However, these burning times vary with elevation above sea level.

6)   Satellite Phones

Satellite phones are simply telephones with more range.  On a recent deep-wilderness adventure my partner was unable to make contact with his satellite phone, but by pairing an In-Reach to a regular cell phone we were able to send and receive messages.  Murphy’s Law will sometimes follow you into the wilderness to make your day more interesting.  No matter which type of technology you bring into the outdoors it will sometimes refuse to work.  Hence, the need to bring a few expletives with you in your backpack!

7)   Water Filters

Treating your drinking water in the wilderness is an issue that should be of great concern to you.  There are many types of water filtration systems on the market and just because the water is fast flowing and glacier-fed does not mean that it is safe to drink.  This is why water filters have become a necessity.  Hydration is one of the most important concerns facing you in all of your outdoor activities, and even though boiling is the best way to disinfect your water supply, it is very time consuming and will burn up a great deal of your fuel supply.  A water filtration system is one of the most important pieces of outdoor tech that you should have with you.

8)   Solar-Panel Battery Chargers

One of the most frustrating feelings to have when you are two or three days away from your vehicle is grabbing any electronic piece of equipment, only to find that its batteries are dead.  This equipment is often heavy and important to your comfort and security.  One model that I own, will charge my cellular phone, that can be paired to an In-Reach devise, (which can send and receive text and messages anywhere on the planet ). This solar charger can also charge AA and AAA batteries. These two battery types are very popular in headlamps and GPS units.  The model that I carry weighs only 500+ grams and has served me well.  Be sure to purchase a charger that works for the equipment that YOU carry.

9)  Personal 

For me, on most occasions, I venture as far from my vehicle as I can.  This mindset has therefore required the lightest and most functional outdoor tech I could find and afford.  However, on some short weekend trips I do enjoy staying close to my vehicle, lounging in a camp chair by a dancing campfire.  A cold beverage, the the aromas of grilling meat or fish and a full moon to light it all up, sure seems a lot easier than lugging a heavy pack up a steep incline.

10)  Compass

Just an old fashioned compass for when all else fails.  Be sure to check the needle’s behavior.  Once I walked around a mountain, coming back to the same area only to learn that I was on top of iron ore deposits.  Ironically, it was one of the first times that I brought my son there and I was showing him how to use a compass.  He did learn a very important lesson that day,  but so did I.  We did get back safely, but only when I put my compass away.  As you’re walking into a new area, always look BACK to study the picture of how things will look when you come back out.

What are your thoughts?  Tell us what you think.  Please leave a comment below.

4 Comments on "Toys and Technology"

  1. Wow, what a blast from the past! I haven’t used half of these gadgets in years but this got me thinking of all the things I can use them for now. I may have to break out the binoculars for the next NFL game I go to. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by.
      I love these items and have great fun with them. My binoculars get lots of use during the Chiefs games we attend. Go Chiefs, mark my words, undefeated this year. What do you think?
      All these things are great fun. Please come back.

  2. These are toys that will serve well for any outdoorsmen. Technology has reached every facet of our active society. I hope this author can keep with this ever evolving technology.

    • Technology is changing fast and it is difficult to keep up with. These items are just plain fun to play with on those rainy days or on those days that nothing else is going right. Thanks for stopping by my site and please come back soon.

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