It’s been a hot topic for some time now — the idea of taking high-tech gadgets into the wilderness.
I’ve seen some absurdities — like a trip-mate connecting mini-speakers to his iPod and blasting out AC/DC’s Back in Black or a SPOT Personal Locator Beacon activated to have a dog rescued from diarrhea.
I’ve also witnessed so-called purists refuse to bring along modern technology only to have a family member almost die because of it.
It’s a double-edged sword.
My personal believe is that as long as there’s logic and ethics behind bringing the high-tech devices with you, then pack them along. If they take over the true meaning of the trip, then leave them at home.
I equip myself with a GPS, SPOT Personal Locator Beacon, satellite phone and a stockpile of camera gear. I’ve never second-guessed packing any of the items (except for the camera gear at times). But I have questioned how to keep it all powered up.
In the old days of making wilderness films, I remember packing a car battery through the wilds of Ontario’s Wabakimi Provincial Park. That was insane. Thankfully, technology has greatly advanced. Solar power has been my choice for a few years now.
Goal Zero products have served me well on countless trips. There’s also the latest BioLite Stove — how cool is it to charge batteries by burning wood!? And that’s just the beginning. Just a quick look through the latest Kickstarter campaigns and you’ll see countless new ideas to create your own energy while away from an outlet. There’s the Hydrobee, which uses moving water; the FlameStower, that converts fire to electricity; and the Genneo that uses human motion, to name just three.
Then there’s the Go Kin Pack. I came across this unique energy-harvesting gadget a couple weeks back while visiting a friend, Bill Ostrom. Bill is behind the legendary Ostrom Pack Co. and he happened to be on his latest project at Queen’s University. Bill partnered up with some engineers there to package a device, which, when stored in a backpack or fanny pack, creates energy while you walk.
This thing is incredible. It generates 10 to 14 watts of power while the user walks three to five kilometres per hour. That means a couple minutes of walking can create enough power to boost your cellphone for 10 to 15 minutes, and a half-hour walk will give a full charge. Wow! Right now, this is the most powerful self-generating device I’ve come across.
Bill still has lots of work to do to get the Go Kin Pack to market, but he’s hoping to release it this April. The Kickstarter program may be his best way to keep things going towards production. I’d love to go on a backpacking trip and power my camp gadgets by simply walking. Even if I jacked up the AC/DC, I’d be doing it guilt free.
Stay tuned on Bill’s project. Change is good.